Job Description

Structural engineers analyze, design, plan and research structural components and structural systems to achieve design goals and ensure the safety and comfort of users or occupants. The primary goal is to develop a support system that will allow the structure to stand safely, and to minimize the risk of collapse.

Rewarding Aspects of Career

“Structural engineers must be very detail-oriented and systematic in how they solve problems. They often get ambitious designs from architects and must figure out how to make the structures stand while staying true to their design intent. Sometimes the work can be tedious, but figuring out a design solution and seeing the project become built makes the hard work well worth the effort.” Christina Cho Yoo, Professional Engineer

The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life

“You may be running building system analysis programs on the computer or doing structural calculations. Sometimes you are required to draw out detail connections or systems. You may also be meeting up with architects and other engineering consultants to coordinate your drawings with theirs. During construction, once in awhile you may be going to inspect how things are going at the building site.” Christina Cho Yoo, Professional Engineer

Skills Needed on the Job
  • Analytical
  • Creative
  • Detail-oriented
  • Computer skills: Revit, Rhino, SAP, ETABS, RISA, Excel, Word, maybe AutoCAD
Where do they work?
  • Engineering firm
  • Government entity
  • Research or consulting firm
Current Industry Trends

Structural sustainable design, computational geometry, façade engineering, digital fabrication, building information modeling

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Enjoyed building and organizing things.
  • Tried to figure out how to fix things.
  • Enjoyed drawing.
  • Enjoyed math and science.
Education and Training Needed
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering or Architectural Engineering.
  • Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering.
  • Pass the EIT (Engineering in Training) exam.
  • Licensure: Professional Engineer licensure which is passing a series of exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying; Structural Engineering licensure in some cases.
Things to look for in a program

Is the school focused on research or practicum? Theory or design?

Top Educational Institutions

MIT, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Imperial, Caltech, ETH Zurich, UCLA, UT-Austin, Cornell

Things to do in High School and College

Take the following classes:  Physics, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, art, woodshop.

Typical Roadmap
Structural Engineer roadmap gif
How to Land your 1st job
  • Get an internship during school or in the summer.
  • Put together a resume and list of references. As in any industry, it is often most effective to have a personal reference direct you to a certain job. Don’t be afraid to speak with your professors or inquire of alumni from your school.
How to stay competitive
  • Stay abreast of the latest computer programs and engineering technologies.
  • Get LEED accredited and/or licensed.
Recommended Tools/Resources
  • Magazines: Structure, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • Professional organizations: EERI, Structural Engineers Association – International (SEAINT) or your local chapter
Plan B
  • Key transferable skills: Organized, systematic problem solving; knowing how to make things stand up and stable.
  • Alternate careers: Architect, contractor, patent lawyer, finance – quantitative analysis

Click here to download the infographic

Gladeographix Structural Engineer


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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale

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