Structural engineering is part of the wider discipline of civil engineering, concentrating on the design and physical integrity of structures, allowing structures to withstand the pressures of human use and other environmental conditions. They are also responsible for choosing the type of material the structure is built with and also inspecting work to ensure reliability.
Although architects design buildings and structures, structural engineers must solve technical problems to help the architect achieve their goal. Structural engineers are involved in designing most structures. Projects can range from a simple, single building like an office block to major schemes, such as oil rigs or bridges.
Some famous structural engineers include:
- Ove Arup (founder of Arup Group and considered one of the foremost structural engineers of his time)
- Fazlur Rahman Khan (the father of tubular design for skyscrapers and structural engineer for the Sears Tower and John Hancock Centre)
- Peter Rice (structural engineer for the Louvre Pyramid, Sydney Opera House and the Lloyd’s Building)
All structural engineer roles are different, but some common responsibilities include:
- Analysing structural components of a building
- Calculating pressures and stresses of components under different circumstances
- Using CAD and other computer software to create simulation scenarios
- Considering the strength of various materials used on a project
- Communicating with other stakeholders, including architects and contractors
- Ensuring energy efficiency and sustainability of projects
- Maths & science
- Project management
- Managing budgets
- Decision making
You can become a structural engineer by either completing a degree or postgraduate qualification in structural or civil engineering, or going through a more vocational route such as completing a HNC, HND, or foundation degree. However, the latter route may mean you need to gain more qualifications should you want full chartered status.
Graduates in degree subjects that aren’t civil or structural would be able to enter the field by studying an MSc in structural engineering.
The median salary for a structural engineer in the UK is £29,600. Below you will find the approximate salary ranges dependent on experience. The senior figure varies widely due to the dependence of chartered status.
- Entry level: £22,000 - £28,000
- Intermediate: £27,000 - £35,000
- Senior: £40,000 - £70,000
Please note: these are third-party industry figures and do not reflect the average salaries of roles provided by NES Global Talent.
NES Global Talent Insight
Marnie Mack, Senior Recruitment Consultant in NES Global Talent's UK Construction team, commented:
"As modern structures become more complex the creativity required by structural engineers increases. Structural engineering professionals with commercial industry experience and who are chartered with the Institution of Structural Engineers or working towards chartered status are in high demand, particularly on a full time / permanent hire basis.”