The Institution of Structural Engineers The Institution of Structural Engineers
What is it like to be a structural engineer?

What is it like to be a structural engineer?

Date published

Structural engineering is a rewarding career that is perfect for anyone who wants to make a positive, creative impact on the world.

Anyone with an interest in maths, physics, art or design should consider a career in structural engineering.



Structural engineers are masters of all the materials we use to build, from glass and steel to concrete and bamboo, with a unique understanding of their qualities as building materials.

They are specialists in how best to arrange the beams, columns and foundations that make up a building’s skeleton. They combine this unique mix of abilities in highly creative ways to design structures which are as low-cost, easily built, efficient, strong and safe as possible.



Structural engineers are key specialists for designing and assessing buildings. They help determine the suitability of a site for construction. They identify potential challenges in an architect’s design and propose solutions.

They investigate problems with (or damage to) existing buildings and recommend repairs. They assess whether an existing building can be adapted or extended - and if a building or bridge is no longer safe to use.



Structural engineers work with other construction industry professionals like architects, surveyors and skilled and semi-skilled workers. That means working as a team and communicating complex technical issues is a big part of the job. It also means it’s an exciting chance to meet and work with all kinds of people on all kinds of projects.



As structural engineers work on complex projects and are concerned with safety they have to be highly qualified and keep up to date with the latest technology and working methods. Many engineers will study throughout their careers - first to gain a degree, then to become professionally qualified, then to acquire new skills.



Some structural engineers may work mainly in an office, but many will split their time between the office and construction sites. Some may work mainly in their own countries, but many others enjoy opportunities to participate in projects all over the world. Sometimes sites will be in tightly packed cities, others in wide open spaces. There is the potential for working on a huge range of interesting projects.



How much do structural engineers get paid? The average UK starting salaries for structural engineers are around £26,000 - 20% higher than average graduate starting roles. 

Earn up to £45,000 per year after five years of of employment

Earn over £55,000 per year as a senior structural engineer and as a Chartered Member of IStructE

Earn over £80,000 per year as a Technical Director

Rebecca Bleeze

Career Profiles
Amir Sheik-Warak, IStructE member

Amir Sheikh-Warak MIStructE

Amir Sheikh-Warak became a Chartered Member in 2018. Here he discusses what inspired him to become a structural engineer and what membership means to him.

Date – 29 May 2019

Poppy Burgess

Career Profiles
Ummer Daraz, IStructE member

Ummer Daraz MIStructE

Ummer Daraz became a Chartered Member in 2018. Here he discusses his own career and the kind of people who make great structural engineers. 

Date – 29 May 2019

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