Structural engineering is an off-shoot of civil engineering. Unlike in civil engineering, in structural engineering, the job responsibilities of a structural engineer are far sophisticated and critical. There is no room for error, since even the slightest miscalculation can cause disastrous results, both financially and otherwise. Perhaps, it is this high risk nature of the profession that attracts the best engineering minds to become structural engineers.
Structural engineering is composed of several sub-disciplines each of which, like building blocks, when assembled together stand tall as a complete structure. The various sub-disciplines of structural engineering include:
- Facade engineering
- Fire engineering
- Earthquake engineering
- Wind engineering
- Roof engineering
- Aerospace structures
- Mechanical structures
- Medical structures
What it takes to become a structural engineer?
A structural engineer must obtain license from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) (www.ncees.org) in order to practice as a professional SE. The licensure process is divided into 2 exams: Fundamentals of Engineering and Professional Engineer Certification.
The FE exam is taken after completing a degree in engineering or related disciplines. After passing the FE exam, the candidate must obtain 4 years of working experience with a professional engineer and also take simultaneous SE exam courses to become ready for the exam. On completion of the PE exam, the candidate will become entitles to practice as a professional engineer.
Engineering professional with PE qualification are also entitled to practice as professional Structural Engineers. Only in certain States, is an engineer required to take additional exams relating seismic principles to become a qualified Structural Engineer.
Is it worth the effort?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of Structural Engineering jobs to grow at 19% from 2010-2020. The average salary ranges for structural engineers in United States as of 2015 ranges from $54,000 p.a to $109,000 p.a. Most of the States are also witness to a steady increase in the pay packages, in some states as high as 25%.
These statistics confirm a promising career ahead for those who are signing up for SE review courses. The industry is marching on with a steady gait and with the advent of smart cities and mega township projects, there are plenty more job opportunities opening around the world for Structural Engineers.
Other alternative career to opt for
A Structural Engineer has a myriad of engineering possibilities laid open. If civil engineering is not exciting, there is other disciplines to opt for like Architect, Civil Engineering Technician, Aerospace structural engineer, etc. Structural Engineers can also launch their own individual practice with a firm name attached to them.