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Engineering design

Structural engineer

Structural engineers help to design and build large structures and buildings, like hospitals, sports stadiums and bridges.

Annual Salary

£28,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 42 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm;

Future employment

There will be 3.4% more Structural engineer jobs in 2026.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • develop engineering plans using computer software
  • investigate the properties of building materials like glass, steel and concrete
  • advise on which material is best for the job
  • work out the loads and stresses on different parts of a building
  • use computer models to predict how structures will react to the weather
  • work out ways to improve energy efficiency
  • inspect unsafe buildings and decide whether they should be demolished
  • prepare bids for contract tenders
  • supervise project teams
  • give progress reports to clients and senior managers
  • work out why and how buildings have collapsed, like after an earthquake

Working environment

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

You could work in an office, at a client's business, on a construction site or on a demolition site.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and at height.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

You can do a degree or postgraduate course in:

  • structural engineering
  • architectural engineering
  • civil and structural engineering

Courses that include the opportunity to gain work experience through internships and year in industry placements may give you an advantage. Your university careers service can advise on how to find relevant work experience.

You can find out about courses accredited by professional engineering institutions from the Engineering Council.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and a science for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You can take a Level 5 Higher National Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering) at college. This may help you to find work as a trainee engineer. You'll need to do more training on the job to qualify.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national certificate or higher national diploma
For more information

You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship and take professional training afterwards to qualify in structural engineering.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information

You could start as a civil or construction engineering technician and study for a degree qualification while you're working.

More information

Career tips

If you're 11 to 18 years old, you can do 'taster' days and short residential courses with the Engineering Development Trust.

This will give you an idea of what it's like to study and work in engineering.

Professional and industry bodies

You can become a member of The Institution of Structural Engineers.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in structural engineering from The Institution of Structural Engineers and Go Construct.

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You could move into:construction design; project management; research; lecturing; freelance consultancy work, like providing services to building insurers; helping on construction and engineering projects overseas with disaster relief agencies like RedR UK

You've also got the option to specialise in an area of work. For example conservation projects, sustainable building materials or forensics, where you investigate why a building or structure has failed.

The Institution of Structural Engineers and Go Construct have more information about careers in structural engineering.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of building and construction
  • design skills and knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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