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 £45,000 per year as a Chartered Member of IStructE
Earn over £65,000 per year as a Technical Director
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.
Ummer Daraz became a Chartered Member in 2018. Here he discusses his own career and the kind of people who make great structural engineers.