Structural engineer

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Structural engineers help to design and build large structures and buildings, like hospitals, sports stadiums and bridges.

Salary Range: £22,000 to £50,000

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How to become a structural engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
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University

You can do a degree or postgraduate award in:

  • structural engineering
  • architectural engineering
  • civil and structural engineering

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and a science for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

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College

You can take a Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Civil Engineering at college, which may help you to find work as a trainee engineer. You’ll do more training on the job to qualify.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national certificate or higher national diploma

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Apprenticeship

You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship and take professional training afterwards to qualify in structural engineering.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as a civil or construction engineering technician and study for a degree qualification while you’re working.

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Career tips

If you’re aged between 11 and 18, you can do ‘taster’ days and short residential courses with the Engineering Development Trust to get an idea of what it’s like to study and work in engineering.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in structural engineering from The Institution of Structural Engineers and Go Construct.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of building and construction
  • design skills and knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • developing engineering plans using computer software
  • investigating the properties of building materials like glass, steel and concrete
  • advising on which material is best for the job
  • working out the loads and stresses on different parts of a building 
  • using computer models to predict how structures will react to the weather
  • working out ways to improve energy efficiency
  • inspecting unsafe buildings and deciding whether they should be demolished
  • preparing bids for contract tenders
  • supervising project teams
  • giving progress reports to clients and senior managers
  • working out why and how buildings have collapsed, like after an earthquake

Working environment

You could work at a client’s business, on a construction site, on a demolition site or in an office.

Your working environment may be cramped, dusty, at height, outdoors some of the time and noisy.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

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Career path and progression

You could move into construction design, project management, research and lecturing. 

You could also move into consultancy work, like providing services to building insurers, or work overseas on construction and engineering projects with disaster relief agencies like RedR UK.