What Services Does A Structural Engineer Offer?
When looking into structural engineering you may wonder what actually is in a structural engineers job description? The main responsibility of a structural engineer lies within design and construction. The structures involved mainly include buildings, bridges and any other construction that is man made.
The art of this role is to ensure such structures are safe for public use, whilst proving durable to different loads. Each building must remain structurally intact and fit for purpose for the entire duration of its existence.
Another aspect of this role is to ensure the structural integrity of existing buildings. If modifications are required, the structural engineer would also be responsible for alterations or extensions to the structure. Then the structural engineer would design a refurbishment that is cost effective, whilst keeping the existing building in a condition that is deemed functional.
A structural engineer will be involved in the entire process from the initial build through to signing off the structure. Their role will also involve liaising with civil engineers and architects. The skill, innovation and creativity of a structural engineer is what allows the professional to analyse and come up with solutions that are sustainable. Inadvertently they are involved in crafting the world around us! This factor makes the role very rewarding.
What does a structural engineer do?
The role of a structural engineer is crucial to the building and construction industry as it is these professionals who make sure each and every structure is fit for purpose and safe for public use. This essential job cannot be overlooked in the building process.
Structural engineers work on a wide range of buildings and constructions. Anything from smaller projects such as houses to larger more complex structures such as hospitals or tunnels. Other tasks such as repair work, would also be included as part of a structural engineer’s job description.
What does the typical day of a structural engineer look like?
Most professionals of this position will spend a majority of their time in an office. However, they also visit the sites they are working on and liaise with its owners as well as other professionals working on the project. This is also useful to understand the status and progress of the project. Therefore, structural engineers spend a considerable amount of time travelling and it wouldn’t be uncommon for such professionals to work from home throughout some projects.
The day-to-day responsibilities of a structural engineer will depend on the project itself and who they are employed by. However, this can be quite similar, typical objectives will remain consistent and the main duties of this roles can be summarised as follows:
Draw up plans of new buildings and structures for the builder to understand. This task will use computed-aided design (CAD software). A structural engineer’s specialist knowledge comes in very useful here. Each force impacting the structure will need to be considered even in the initial design phase.
Understanding and analysing pre-existing buildings, to assess if a refurbishment would be satisfactory to fix its current condition. The professional will understand what has caused the deterioration and use particular methods to ensure it is very unlikely to repeat itself.
Partner with a geotechnical engineer to gain a wider understanding of how the ground it stands in can impact a building’s structural integrity. This is based on soil sample results.
Work with architects and creative designers to make sure that firstly, the design is safe and secure, and secondly to adopt this round the owners aesthetic expectations.
Travel to visit working construction sites and understand if builders are on schedule to complete the work on time, by marking their progress with individual deadlines. This ensures that new structures or refurbishments are structurally sound throughout the entire project.
Use knowledge of materials and resources to ensure each project is completed with the most suited equipment and materials for it’s design.
What qualifications must a structural engineer have?
The most popular way into this industry is through gaining a degree in civil or structural engineering. Following this, often graduates then become chartered members with IStructE. Due to this qualification’s favourability with employers, the individual is then on their way to securing their first job in the industry.
There are other routes into this role, but they are typically more complex and come with slower progression.
How to become a structural engineer
If the degree route isn’t for you, there are several other ways into which you could enter the world of structural engineering. Some companies, particularly the larger ones, take engineer apprentices. Which at the end of their training are as equally trained and qualified in the role.
You could also look into work experience opportunities in the sector to see if this is for you, and get your foot in the door with larger companies and a wider network.
Employers and opportunities in the engineering sector
Finding a job or an opportunity in the structural engineering sector can be difficult as it is a specialised industry. However, there are recruitment consultancies which can help you find a role. Most smaller firms will be more specialised with what they want from a role so it is important you know which aspect of structural engineering interests you the most, as a starting point.
Building and construction work takes place every day of the year, all around the world, so the right job opportunity will be there for you with the correct qualifications and work experience.