About the Job Title "Structural Engineer"

Structural Engineer Job Description

A structural engineer is a civil engineer who is responsible for designing and assessing major projects, such as buildings, bridge or dams. They must ensure that these buildings are strong and durable. Structural engineers will need a bachelors degree, and to complete some on-the-job training.

Structural Engineer Job Profiles: This is a general writeup based on our research into Structural Engineer positions in the Civil Engineer career area. For individual, real-life job profiles of actual people with this type of job, check out our job profiles page.

What's it like to be a Structural Engineer?

Duties and responsibilities

A structural engineer is a civil engineer who is responsible for designing and assessing major projects, such as buildings, bridge or dams. They must ensure that these buildings are strong, durable and capable of withstanding the elements which they will be exposed to. Their key tasks include:

  • Preparing reports, designs and drawings
  • Making calculations about loads and stresses to projects
  • Selecting the appropriate construction materials to ensure a building is safe and durable
  • Providing technical advice
  • Obtaining planning and/or building regulations approval
  • Monitoring and inspecting the work undertaken by contractors
  • Administering contracts
  • Inspecting properties to check conditions/foundations.


Structural engineers need a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering or civil engineering. During this time, they will study subjects such as mechanics of materials, engineering hydraulics and structural steel design. The college should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

To increase employability as well as their knowledge and skills, structural engineers can choose to pursue a master’s degree as well.

Skills and relevant work experience

Structural engineers will start their career as an engineer in training and will have to pass more exams in order to become a structural engineer. This on-the-job training teaches them many of the skills they need. However, structural engineers will also need skills such as:

  • Math skills, as structural engineers will need mathematics and physics to design structurally sound projects
  • Problem-solving skills, as problems arise regularly on construction projects and structural engineers must solve these problems
  • Organizational skills, as structural engineers will need to ensure they keep on top of things so that projects can be delivered on time
  • Leadership skills, as structural engineers will need to manage projects and direct other people (e.g., architects, construction workers)
  • Communication skills, as structural engineers must share their ideas, both in written and verbal format, with clients, architects, construction workers and all other professionals involved in the process
  • Analytical skills, as structural engineers must be able to analyze facts and figures before making judgements
  • Technical skills, as structural engineers will have to use various softwares to design structurally sound and durable projects


Structural engineers are likely to work full time hours (40 hours per week). They may have to travel to different projects, which can mean that they may work over this 40 hours.


According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for a structural engineer in the United States is $66,799. The lowest 10% earned less than $44,072 and the highest 10% earned over $74,694.


Structural engineers are normally fairly senior in construction projects. To progress further, structural engineers could move into construction design, project management, research and lecturing. They may also specialize in specific projects (e.g., conservation projects, where they will use sustainable projects, or forensics, where they investigate why a structure failed). Structural engineers may also progress into consultancy work.

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