Institution of Structural Engineers > Education > Becoming a structural engineer

How to become a structural engineer

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

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.

A Levels

Scottish Highers

International Baccalaureate


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.


City & Guilds 


Technicians Make It Happen

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.

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