In Summary - Structural Engineer
Structural Engineers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
Videos & Interviews
Videos on the Web
- Structural Engineer- from: Youtube Search
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- Structural Engineer - from: YouTube Video
The Work - Structural Engineer
Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering. Structural engineers deal with the design of framework and foundations for buildings and structures such as bridges, sports stadia, masts, tower blocks and oil platforms. They take into account their strength, shape and function. They make sure that a building or structure is stable and that it can withstand any forces to which it is subjected. This includes 'operational loads' such as people, equipment, machinery and traffic and 'environmental loads' such as snow, wind, water, soil and earthquakes.
Structural engineers are usually part of a design team with other professionals such as architects, quantity surveyors, building services engineers and environmental and financial consultants. At the start of a new project, the design team looks at factors such as the environmental impact, cost and function of the structure to decide if and how a project may proceed.
If the project goes ahead, structural engineers prepare documents so that construction companies can bid for the work. Structural engineers then produce detailed designs, which are the working drawings that the contractor uses to build the structure. The process of designing structures involves choosing suitable materials such as steel, concrete, brick, timber and synthetics like plastics. The design is then produced and the engineer makes checks and calculations to make sure that the foundations, roofs and floors are sound. Structural engineers often use computers to analyse structural designs and to produce detailed drawings. They must ensure that designs satisfy a given design which is dedicated to safety and service ability.
When the structure is being built, the structural engineer supervises the building of foundations and frameworks on-site.
Structural Engineers also play a role in designing machinery where structural integration of the item is a matter of safety e.g. aircraft, spacecraft. In recent years reinforcing structures against sabotage has become increasingly important.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Manage and direct staff members and the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
- Provide technical advice regarding design, construction, or program modifications and structural repairs to industrial and managerial personnel.
- Inspect project sites to monitor progress and ensure conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards.
- Estimate quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
- Test soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel.
- Compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications.
- Plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems and structures, following construction and government standards, using design software and drawing tools.
- Analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, and other topographical or geologic data to plan projects.
- Prepare or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.
- Direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Interests - Structural Engineer
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
As a structural engineer you need to be able to analyse and solve problems; sometimes in challenging working conditions such as on muddy construction sites. You must work well with other members of a team, be prepared to take responsibility and adapt to changes. A mind for physics and maths would be beneficial.
Entry Requirements - Structural Engineer
The usual route to formal qualification as a Structural Engineer, is to take a degree in Civil or Structural Engineering, and gain membership of a professional body such as The Institution of Engineers of Ireland and/or The Institute of Structural Engineers (UK). Most large employers operate a graduate training scheme of Initial Professional Development (IPD) to assist their employees reach chartered status. Once this is attained you are expected to maintain your skills through a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
You need a Master of Engineering degree or a Bachelor of Engineering honours degree in Civil or Structural Engineering to become a chartered structural engineer. Accredited degree programmes are available throughout the country.
However, there is more than one route you can take to acheive an honours degree:
The most direct way into engineering is to take an Honours Degree (Level 8) Engineering course. You can specialise in the engineering areas you are most interested in from the start of the 4-year course.
It is also possible to take a general course in engineering in year one or two and then choose an area to specialise in for third and fourth year.
Selection into engineering courses is on the basis of Leaving Cert results and the CAO ‘points system’.
A higher Leaving Cert grade in maths, together with a science subject is normally required for entry to engineering courses. Agricultural Science is accepted as a science subject for many programmes, but always check the specific course entry requirements.
It is possible to take a Higher Certificate course in engineering at an Institute of Technology without having higher maths or even a science subject in the Leaving Cert. These are two year courses leading to a Level 5/6 qualification as an Engineering Technician. Specialised technician courses are offered in many colleges for all of the engineering disciplines outlined. You could opt to work as a technician with this qualification or proceed to an ordinary degree (Level 7) and then follow on to an honours degree (Level 8).
There are many specialist courses available reflecting the different areas of engineering, from, mechanical, electrical/electronic, aeronautical, chemical automotive, civil, structural, systems, to mechatronic control and engineering design.
Last Updated: February, 2015
Pay & Salary - Structural Engineer
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 35k - 55k
Progression into management and director positions can see salaries rise into the 65,000 to 100,000+ range. (Brightwater)
Last Updated: January, 2019
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Structural Engineer
Useful Contacts - Structural Engineer
Construction Industry Federation
Institute of Civil Engineers
- 1 Great Georges St, Westminster, London SW1P 3AA
- Click Here
Institution of Structural Engineers