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Structural Engineer

Structural engineers ensure structures can withstand the stresses and pressures imposed by use and the environment. They calculate stability, strength and rigidity and make sure the right materials are used for each project, whether it is a new-build, conversion or renovation. As a structural engineer, you could work on residential projects, shops and offices, bridges and offshore rigs, theatres, museums and hospitals, or even space satellites.

Average salary*

£19000

-

£55000

Typical hours per week

40-42

How to become a structural engineer

There are several routes to becoming a structural engineer. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university or college course, or an apprenticeship. If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job. You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site. 

University

You can complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in civil, structural or architectural engineering. For this you’ll need: 

  • 2 - 3 A levels (or equivalent) including maths and a science (undergraduate degree)
  • A first degree in a relevant subject (postgraduate study).

Afterwards, you could apply for a place on a graduate trainee scheme with a construction firm or engineering company.

College/training provider

You may have to attend a specialist college or training provider in order to study as a structural engineer.

You could complete a Level 5 Higher National Diploma in civil engineering. Afterwards, you may be able to work as an assistant or trainee engineer and do further training on the job to qualify fully. 

You’ll generally need 1 or 2 A levels (or equivalent) for a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND).

Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry.  Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship and then undertake further professional training to qualify as a structural engineer.

You’ll generally need 4 or 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels (or equivalent) to do a degree apprenticeship.

Work

If you have relevant skills or experience, you could find work as a civil or construction engineering technician and study part-time for a degree to qualify.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


What does a structural engineer do?

As a structural engineer you could be:

  • Using computer modelling simulations to predict how structures will act under varying conditions, i.e. high winds, flooding or earth tremors
  • Calculating loads and stresses on structural foundations, beams and walls
  • Ensuring projects meet legal, environmental and health and safety standards
  • Advising on suitable materials for a build
  • Inspecting buildings to assess their structural integrity
  • Advising on building repairs or demolition
  • Preparing bids for tender
  • Working with designers to develop construction plans and blueprints
  • Improving a structure’s energy efficiency
  • Delivering progress reports
  • Analysing building behaviour over time
  • Assisting with renovations, or restoring heritage buildings to extend their lifespan
  • Working at a client’s business, on a construction site or in an office, often outdoors or in noisy, dusty and cramped conditions.


How much could you earn as a structural engineer?

  • Newly trained structural engineers can earn £19,000 - £25,000
  • Trained structural engineers with some experience can earn £25,000 - £45,000
  • Senior, chartered or master structural engineers can earn £45,000 - £55,000

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status. 

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest structural engineer vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could gain chartered engineer status. This would allow you to progress into senior project management roles within construction companies and earn a higher salary. 

You could become a project manager or focus on construction design. 

Some structural engineers go into teaching or research positions. You could also become a project consultant.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Structural engineer technician Play a key role in the design of buildings & investigate the best materials for ...
    Read more
  • Current role Structural Engineer Using computer simulations, design structures ready to withstand the stresses of...
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  • Current role Project manager Oversee construction projects from start to finish in order to achieve successfu...
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