Institution of Structural Engineers > Education > Becoming a structural engineer

How to become a structural engineer

A career in structural engineering offers an exciting opportunity to contribute to the design of the built environment.

If you enjoy subjects such as mathematics, science, computing, art, geography, design and technology, and have an interest in unusual buildings or structures, then structural engineering could be the career for you.

There are various ways of starting a career in structural engineering and these are:

GCSEs/Scottish Standard Grades/high school qualifications/IGCSE

When choosing which subjects to study at the age of 14 to 16 it is worth considering what you enjoy as well as what you do well in. The national curriculum requirements set down by most countries will ensure that you study mathematics and science to the appropriate level. Other subjects which you may wish to study include:

  • Computing
  • Design and technology
  • Art
  • Geography

14 to 19 Diploma

The diploma qualification in England offers 14 to 19 year olds a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience. To pursue a career in structural engineering you may wish to consider a diploma in engineering or construction and the built environment. This will be useful to support your next move whether it is to continue onto higher education or into the world of work.

A Levels/Scottish Highers/International Baccalaureate

Studying qualifications at this level will be useful if you want to go to university. Desirable subjects when applying to university are mathematics, physics, other sciences, design and technology and art. Remember structural engineering is an art and a science.

Work-based qualifications

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs and SVQs), Vocationally-Related Qualifications (VRQs) and apprenticeships are work-related qualifications that aim to develop specific practical skills and knowledge needed in a specific industry. For careers in structural engineering, vocational qualifications must usually be in engineering, construction or related subjects, and a qualification demonstrating a good level of competence in mathematics is normally required. They provide a stepping stone to further education, training or employment and can last from one year to five years.

National Certificates and Diplomas

National Certificates and Diplomas are vocational qualifications which can lead to employment, progression to Higher Nationals and/or routes to higher education including degree programmes.

University courses

The Institution of Structural Engineers works with other leading engineering bodies to approve degree courses that provide the most comprehensive training.

For details of degree programmes accredited by the Institution please refer to the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) website.


All of the pages on this website are the copyright © of The Institution of Structural Engineers.

The Institution of Structural Engineers, 11 Upper Belgrave Street, London, SW1X 8BH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 4535 Fax: +44 (0)20 7235 4294
Registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales No. 233392 and in Scotland No. SC038263
Follow us on: Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Youtube The Structural Engineer Jobs