When a construction project is underway, structural engineers work alongside architects and builders to ensure that the building or structure is safe to suit the purpose it was designed for. From houses and office buildings to bridges and utility systems, structural engineers play a key role in the construction process, ensuring that each structure is built to stand up to weather conditions in the area as well as the weight that it will be required to bear in daily use. Extensive analysis is done in the planning stage, and as the project continues, the structural engineer remains involved to guarantee the integrity of the residential, commercial or public works project.
Structural Engineer Education
Structural engineers need a bachelor's degree in civil or architectural engineering. After obtaining the degree, an apprenticeship is usually required, and this can last between four and five years, including some formal classroom training. A certification is also necessary, and passing the test to obtain it is arguably the most difficult part of becoming a structural engineer. The exam can last as long as eight hours and consists of approximately 180 questions covering the full range of engineering topics.
Structural Engineering Job Market
Although in some regions of the U.S. the construction industry suffered during the recession, the job market for structural engineer jobs is growing bright. According to CNN Money, the number of job openings for structural engineers is expected to grow 24 percent by 2018. Many engineers find work with the governments of various states that are striving to maintain existing structures and repair the highways of the country. Areas with a lot of urban development in both the public and private sectors provide many opportunities for structural engineers to be involved in a city's growth.
Structural Engineers Salary
In 2010, structural engineers were reported by CNN Money to have a median salary of $83,000 per year, but some of the top-earning engineers make around $114,000 each year. Those just starting out in the market earn around $55,000 initially but can quickly increase their annual pay with just a few years' experience.