Home News What Is Structural Engineering and What Do Structural Engineers Do?

What Is Structural Engineering and What Do Structural Engineers Do?


Buildings and other structures’ solidity and safety are the primary concerns of structural engineers. One subfield of civil engineering, structural engineering makes sure buildings and other structures can withstand weight without collapsing. The analysis and planning of the building are its primary concerns. 

A structural engineer is a specialized engineer who ensures the safety and durability of man-made structures.  The field of structural engineering, however, is now recognized as an independent division of engineering with various specializations. Currently, aspiring professionals pursue structural engineering courses in order to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to make a success in this field that is constantly evolving.

Structural Engineering: What Is It?

When it comes to improving the safety and stability of structures, structural engineers use measurements of the force exerted on them to make adjustments. This discipline uses the quantitative methods of mathematics and physics to quantify these physical forces and predict how various structural parts could react to them. People in this discipline apply these ideas to any construction that withstands vertical or horizontal loads, such as houses, bridges, or commercial structures.

Vertical loads, also known as gravity loads, are a key consideration in structural engineering since they account for the whole weight of a building’s contents. Humans and automobiles on a bridge or structure increase the vertical load. Due to the inherent unpredictability of these factors, it is even more crucial that buildings have a solid foundation and sturdy construction to survive them.

The Duties Of A Structural Engineer

It is common for structural engineers to divide their time between the office and the building site. Locations may be diverse, including employment in urban and rural locations. Depending on the project’s magnitude, structural engineers may also be expected to work long hours – in teams comprising professional, skilled, and semi-skilled personnel.

Structural engineers need to be well-versed in physics, have excellent conceptual abilities in three dimensions, and be able to think outside the box when faced with a challenge. Structural engineers’ duties include, among other things, the following, in addition to their capacity to apply mechanical, mathematical, and physical concepts to the construction of safe, sustainable buildings:


Many institutes focus on structural design, which involves determining how much weight and pressure a building can sustain. Structural engineers should be able to factor in the diverse characteristics and strengths of various building materials and understand how to include support beams, columns, and foundations.


Before construction can begin, structural engineers conduct site inspections and soil tests to ensure the land is suitable for the planned endeavor.


Engineers, environmental scientists, architects, and landscape architects are just a few disciplines that structural engineers will need to coordinate and consult with on their projects. They may also be asked to help government organizations with their project inspections.


A large portion of a structural engineer’s time is spent planning for and coordinating the delivery of the necessary building supplies and machinery. The need for on-site labor management and monitoring should, therefore, not be discounted.


Structural engineers must meet rigorous levels of education and training due to the gravity of the dangers they face on the job. A bachelor’s degree in engineering or a closely related field is usually required to enroll in introductory courses in structural engineering. Following graduation, structural engineers pursue professional credentials by becoming Associated Members and, subsequently, Chartered Members of the Institution of Structural Engineers.

Applicants to highly competitive structural engineering programs can aim to strengthen their applications with relevant work experience. Gaining experience in a field after formal education is an excellent way to begin a career and build a professional network.

Introduction to the Profession of Structural Engineer: History and Requirements

Engineers in this field often have backgrounds in either civil or architectural engineering. A master’s degree in structural engineering is a common next step for civil engineers after undergraduate school.

Contrarily, undergraduate programs in structural engineering may be found at several institutions across the globe. The fields of mechanical and aeronautical engineering also produce structural engineers.

Companies look for structural designers and builders with degrees and years of relevant work experience.

What Are The Work Environments In Structural Engineering?

Structural engineers often take on advisory or contracting roles. Consultants often spend most of their time in an office setting, where they may focus on planning, project management, and creating blueprints and reports. Most of their time is spent at a desk, and they usually work during regular business hours throughout the week, although they may sometimes put in extra hours if necessary. They periodically attend building sites, although this frequently takes up just a tiny percentage of their time.

Contractor structural engineers spend most of their time on the job site, where they are responsible for directing construction crews and keeping an eye on ongoing projects. Sometimes, these structural engineers will collaborate with outside firms. 

Since they are in charge, they usually supervise all work on the construction site while teams develop structural plans. Also, structural engineers often develop domain expertise in one sector. By doing so, they can better understand the problems and needs of their particular field. As an example of the many possible areas of expertise for structural engineers, consider the following:

  • Airports
  • Buildings
  • Bridges
  • Nuclear power and energy production
  • Railways
  • Highways
  • Tunnels
  • Hydrology and community health facilities

Final Thoughts

Becoming a structural engineer requires significant time and effort, particularly in education and training. However, even after obtaining the necessary credentials, there is always more to learn as the construction business adapts to the ever-evolving processes and resources. Jobs in structural engineering may take place anywhere in the globe, on some of the most fascinating building projects in the world.


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