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Structural engineer: job description

Structural engineer: job description

Structural engineers design, plan and oversee the construction of new buildings and bridges, or alterations and extensions to existing properties or other structures.
It can be very satisfying to have the chance to see something you've had a part in become a reality.

What does a structural engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Structural engineers are primarily concerned with designing aesthetically pleasing buildings and structures that are safe and capable of withstanding the elements to which they will be exposed.

Key tasks include:

  • preparing reports, designs and drawings
  • making calculations about loads and stresses
  • selecting appropriate construction materials
  • providing technical advice
  • obtaining planning and/or building regulations approval
  • liaising with relevant professional staff
  • monitoring and inspecting work undertaken by contractors
  • administering contracts
  • managing projects
  • inspecting properties to check conditions/foundations

By the very nature of the work contracts are often short term allowing for variety and new challenges on a regular basis. Plus you'll get the chance to take part in seeing something you've had a part in become a reality. On top of all this there are excellent opportunities for international working.

Typical employers of structural engineers

  • Private companies
  • Utilities
  • Local authorities
  • Central government organisations
  • Consultancies
  • Contractors

Vacancies are advertised by careers services and recruitment agencies, by TARGETjobs and in national newspapers and magazines such as TARGETjobs Engineering, Building Services Journal, Construction News and New Civil Engineer as well as their online equivalents.

Many employers offer sponsorship, vacation work and year-out placements which can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession.

Not all structural engineering happens on site. Depending on if you choose to work for a design or construction organisation you might end up working in an office or out on site.

Qualifications and training required

To become a chartered structural engineer it is necessary to possess a postgraduate degree (usually an MEng) in civil or structural engineering.

A period of Initial Professional Development (IPD) that provides pre-determined vocational skills and experience must then be completed with an accredited employer, or on an individual basis with the assistance of an approved mentor. Relevant experience, whilst not essential, can be helpful.

Key skills for structural engineers

  • Creativity
  • Commercial awareness
  • Teamworking
  • Mathematical skills
  • IT skills
  • Analytical skills

A good working knowledge of construction materials is important.

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