What Does a Structural Engineer Do

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

What is a structural engineer, according to your perception? Is a structural engineer a person who builds the structure or does the designing of the structure? You will surely encounter such professionals when you decide to make a building or structure. If you are working on a construction project that involves the design and analysis of materials and the building, you will need a structural engineer. And to find such a professional, you need to have some know-how about it. How can a structural engineer help you in building an infrastructure? Let’s see how it is done.

Structural Engineer: One Step Towards Your Dream

A professional who is specialized in designing, constructing, and analysis of structures is a structural engineer. These structures can be buildings, towers, tunnels, and bridges, including all man-made structures. Structural engineers are responsible for ensuring the built structures and buildings are safe and sound.

Moreover, these structures should be designed so that they can withstand natural forces such as wind, earthquakes, gravity, etc.

What are the Responsibilities of a Structural Engineer?

As a structural engineer, you are directly involved in analyzing and researching structures and components of structures. Following are some of the main key responsibilities of a structural engineer:

Task/Responsibilities Description
Structural systems and components research and analysis Studying and understanding the materials, components, and systems used in structures
Renovation of existing buildings Developing plans for the renovation of existing buildings, taking into account structural integrity
Making reports on the stability of buildings Conducting assessments of the structural stability of buildings and creating reports
Creating design draft with structural calculations Designing structures and creating drafts with calculations for the structural components
Advice to builders, architects and civil engineers on structural engineering Providing guidance and advice on structural engineering matters to other building professionals
Supervision of construction site Overseeing work on construction site to ensure plans are executed properly
Advice in consultation with the architect Collaborating with architects to ensure structural design aligns with overall vision
Examination of the load-bearing structures Examining load-bearing structures to ensure they can support the weight of the building
Recording, documenting, and assessing the current state Documenting and assessing the current state of buildings, including potential structural issues
Soil surveys before construction Conducting basic surveys of the subsoil to assess factors such as contamination and groundwater levels
Discussion and negotiations with project members and other parties Conducting basic surveys of the subsoil to assess factors such as contamination and groundwater levels
Discussion and negotiations with authorities Collaborating with local authorities and other parties involved in planning to ensure plans are viable and can be approved
Adaptation of the design draft and compilation of documents for approval Making changes to the design draft based on feedback and compiling necessary documents for approval from building authorities

What Education Does a Structural Engineer Need?

Education does a Structural Engineer Need

A degree is proof that you are a professional in this specific field. Therefore, a four-year civil or architectural engineering degree is required to become a structural engineer. But getting a degree doesn’t mean that you have become a licensed professional.

So, to get a license, you must work under a licensed professional for a  required period. They closely observe you and help you fix the mistakes you make during work. This is the place where you have to put all the knowledge to work that you learned in your classroom.

Requirements to Become a Licensed Professional Structural Engineer

  • High school diploma
  • A civil or architectural engineering degree of four years
  • Must have worked under a licensed professional for at least 2 to 5 years
  • Getting through Professional Engineer’s exam

Further Optional Credentials

  • Doing specialization in structural engineering
  • Getting into research programs
  • Gaining experience in construction field
  • Learning computer-based advanced techniques and methods

Is there any Skill Required to Become a Structural Engineer?

When it comes to real-life projects, companies and people hire those professionals who are experienced and have a keen knowledge of their field. You must polish your skills through continuous work and effort to get recognized and get as many projects as possible. Some of these skills are mentioned below:

  • Strong grip on physics and mathematics
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Good communication skills to deliver your ideas
  • Familiarity with the latest methods and construction techniques
  • Knowledge of construction materials and their properties
  • Proper understanding of building codes and regulations
  • Able to complete projects in a short time and handle the pressure of work
  • Keen eye to details and high precision working
  • Excellent problem solver and efficient worker

What Kind of Projects do Structural Engineers Work On?

Projects do Structural Engineers

There are numerous projects structural engineer works on.  There are unique projects each day, and these professionals are working to meet the requirements and demands of their customers. Here you will get a detailed overview of almost all kinds of projects worked by structural engineers:

Residential Buildings

Wherever changes are required in an existing structure or even if making a new building, a structural engineer always comes into the equation. Many people do not realize it until they are advised by a city official or a professional working on their project.

Making Changes in Existing Structures

Let’s suppose you are considering renovating a portion of your house. You need to remove a wall, and you are thinking of making a kitchen or a living room. An architect might be able to do that for you. However, you will need a structural engineer to ensure everything goes safely.

Major Renovations

Whenever you are thinking of making a room or a portion of your house, you need such professionals to help you sort things out. They can help you make a  layout, design, and structure of all the portions you want to construct according to your choice.

Minor Renovations

Adding or removing a load-bearing wall in your house can be an example of a minor renovation. Structural engineers are well aware of these structures, and they can help you do that with minimum effort.

Making New Structures

Building a home, a cafe, or any place is always exciting. However, you will face many obstacles, from design to the structure of the whole building. That is the main reason you should not compromise when hiring a professional in this field. Someone who best understands all your needs and ideas and gives you a visual outcome in the form of a built structure.

Standard House Plan

Making a standard house plan is not difficult because it does not require engineering up front. But you should hire a structural engineer to review the plan before you get the construction materials and start building the house.

Custom House Plan

In addition, if you have always thought of making a dream house, here’s what you can do to make it happen. Go to an architect to get make a plan for your house. Then hire a structural engineer to add important details to your plan before you start working on it.

City Infrastructure

Structural engineers can also work side by side with civil engineers in the construction of tunnels, roadways, drainage systems, highways, etc. they analyze and implement the designs and develop infrastructures that ensure safety.

Commercial Projects

In almost all commercial construction projects, structural engineers are involved somehow. They have three primary responsibilities here:

  • Before construction begins, they are responsible for site investigations to ensure the soil is suitable for the land. They verify whether a site is good for constructing a certain structure.
  • They work closely with the design team are architects to make a construction plan and ensure it fulfills all safety regulations.
  • Moreover, they can also help in project management by ensuring everything is going as planned on the construction site.

Bridge Construction

Wherever a bridge is being constructed, you will find structural engineers working and supervising the construction process. Make sure you consider everything carefully for dead loads, snow loads, natural forces, and many other factors. Bridges bear heavy leads and are sensitive to vibration, torsion, seismic, thermal, and wind forces. A well-planned design can result in successful construction.

Additional Structural Needs

After the above discussion, it doesn’t means that you can only hire a structural engineer when you are building something. Suppose you suspect that there is a failure in a structural element in your house. And to verify your suspicion,  you need a structural engineer.  If you observe some of these things, this might be a sign for you to consult a professional:

  • Wall cracks
  • Foundations cracks
  • Standing water in basement
  • Uneven floor
  • Moister issues in structures
  • Window/door leaks, etc.

Storm Damage

Structural engineers are crucial in evaluating the structural damage of residential and commercial properties that natural disasters have damaged. They can be involved in two ways:

  • Insurance company hires them to evaluate and assess the property damage.
  • Hired by the third-party company by the property owner to evaluate the damages.

Home Inspection

Whenever you are buying a house, the first thing that comes to mind is that the construction of the house was not compromised. So, for your peace of mind, you can hire a structural engineer to inspect the house before purchasing.  If he finds any significant cracks in the foundations of the building, he will propose a solution.

Where Can You Find a Structural Engineer?

Find a Structural Engineer

Finding a skilled structural engineer for your project is not a difficult task. Mostly, structural engineers work under companies and firms. However, some also work independently. Make sure you reach out to professional experts in this field.

Here is a list of places where you can find structural engineers:

  • Construction companies
  • Local town planning authorities
  • Construction consultancy firms
  • Utility companies
  • Private engineers

What Does it Feel Like to be a Structural Engineer?

A structural engineer is a designer, safety expert, and problem solver. Here are some responses from people who work in this field:

“Being a structural engineer is challenging but also very rewarding. Every project is different, and there are always new problems to solve. It’s a great feeling to see your designs come to life and knows that they are helping people and making a difference in the world.” – Sarah, structural engineer

“Being a structural engineer is a fulfilling career, especially if you enjoy using your technical skills to solve real-world problems. It’s also a field with a lot of potential for growth and advancement, both in terms of salary and career opportunities.” – John, structural engineer

How Much You Can Earn as a Structural Engineer?

Earn as a Structural Engineer

The earning potential of a structural engineer can vary depending on several factors, such as their level of education and experience, location, industry, and employer. The type of industry in which structural engineers work can also impact their salary.

The median annual wage for structural engineers (which includes structural engineers) was $88,570, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020. However, the top 10 percent of structural engineers earned more than $144,560 annually.


What are some of the challenges that structural engineers face?

Structural engineers face several challenges, including working with complex designs, dealing with unpredictable environmental conditions, and ensuring structures can withstand extreme loads and stresses.

Is there a difference between an architect and a structural engineer?

While both structural engineers and architects work on designing buildings, there is a distinct difference in their roles. Architects are mainly working on the outer beauty and aesthetics of a building and making sure it looks appealing in appearance. However, structural engineers make sure that the inner of the building is strong and durable.

Learn More: Structural Engineer in Sutherland Shire

Wrapping Up

With the ever-increasing demand for infrastructure development, the role of structural engineers is more important than ever. As technology advances, structural engineers must stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques to design and build safe but also sustainable and cost-effective structures. Overall, the work of a structural engineer is vital to the success and safety of the built environment. This field offers exciting career opportunities for those who are interested in making a difference in the world of construction and engineering.

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