Things to Know Before Studying for the SE Lateral Forces Exam

Structural Engineering is one of those fields that requires specialization in terms of skills and education. Structural engineers play a vital role in designing structures for buildings, bridges, and other structures. The certification obtained after passing the Structural Engineering exam is a great way to boost employer’s confidence in your abilities. It shows that you are qualified to handle the complex nature of the job.


The structural engineering exam is different than other FE and PE exams since it is taken in two parts. The licensing rules also vary according to the state in which you are appearing for the exam. The exam is also longer than other FE and PE exams.

What is Structural Engineering Exam

The structural engineering exam has two components: Lateral and Vertical. The components deal with different aspects of structural engineering. The intensive 16-hour exam takes place in two parts, during the morning and afternoon. The lateral portion is only offered on Saturdays. The two vertical and lateral parts are to be appeared for on simultaneous days. Before you register yourself for the exam, check the requirements.

These are:

  • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an engineering field.
  • Between two to five years of practical experience in structural engineering

The Lateral Forces Exam

The Lateral forces exam focuses on the wind and earthquake components of structural engineering. To prepare for the exam, it is important to find an SE Lateral Forces Course to review all the material. The exam is technical and preparation should be started well in advance. The exam will test the application of all the theoretical concepts you have learnt in college. Since the exam is timed, it is important to practice solving such problems within a time limit. Some problems might require extensive calculations, which you must be able to do quickly and efficiently.

Picking The Right Study Materials

To pick the right study materials, you will first have to determine how well you have grasped the basic concepts while studying. A master’s students will have a better understanding of the underlying concepts than a student who has only done his or her masters. Find an SE Lateral forces course that reflects your level of study. You might have to spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months preparing.

Students can enroll for online classes, webinars or even live interactive sessions with instructors. Classroom sessions are also an option, but that depends on the amount of time you can spend studying. Pick a course of study that is flexible, especially if you plan on studying during work commutes or on the weekends. When you don’t have the luxury of time that is required to brush up on all concepts, the right format becomes your partner and not a hurdle while studying. Courses should focus on problem solving and application of core concepts.

Create a study plan for yourself. Do not start preparing haphazardly. The exam is long and demanding, but with proper preparation, you will get through.


7 Must Have Features in A SE Lateral Forces Exam Prep Course

The growth prospects in the structural engineering industry are tied up with challenges at every stage of your career. Carving a niche in this industry not only requires consistent hard work, but requires some smart career moves. So, what does it take to build a rewarding career in structural engineering? If you thought creating a good impression on your employer fosters a brilliant career, you would be limiting yourself to short-term career growth. A brilliant academic record does not always translate to a successful career. What then is the right way to build a progressive career in structural engineering? Have you ever considered taking up the structural engineering exam (SE)? The SE exam evaluates your knowledge in structural engineering concepts and theories in great detail and also tests your problem solving capabilities.

se-lateral-forces-exam-prepPath to clearing SE exam

The path to SE license is not all that easy: you need sit through a 16-hour exam that is divided into 8 hours of SE lateral forces and 8 hours of SE vertical forces exam, that tests your structural engineering concepts in-depth. Furthermore, each state has separate license requirements which you need to carefully evaluate before taking up the exam. There are many tried and tested ways of preparing for the SE exam, some of which are discussed in the following sections.

What do you gain with SE license?

Given the above challenges put forward by the exam, you may start wondering if it is worth taking up the exam. Consider the following advantages, before you decide on taking up the exam. The SE license:

  • Is a great value addition to your job profile
  • Paves way for better career opportunities
  • Attracts better pay packages
  • Increases your recognition among peers
  • Establishes your authority in structural engineering

How to prepare effectively for SE lateral forces exam?

As discussed above, the SE exam consist of lateral and vertical forces sections, each of which span8 hours. Even before you start preparing for the exam, you need to be clear about the licensing requirements of the state in which you would be taking up the exam. Once you are clear about these requirements, you need to gather information about the exam format and content. After the initial spade work, next comes the preparation strategy for the exam. One of the most reliable ways of ensuring that you clear the exam in the first attempt is to enroll for a SE lateral forces exam review course.

Do not settle for just any review course; ensure that the course offers these features for a good performance in the exam.

1) Offers an overall study plan that covers all the exam critical topics and allocates time for practice and revision
2) Lays emphasis on solving full-length practice test papers
3) Provides highly experienced tutors
4) Enables seamless connect with peers and tutors
5) Focuses on time management
6) Provides instant feedback on performance in practice tests
7) Adheres to latest exam format
Above all these points the reputation and performance track record of the educator is equally important while choosing the course.

Route Map to Become a Structural Engineer

Engineering is what creates the physical world we live in. It is through the science and practice of structural engineering that we are able to enjoy the benefits of physical infrastructure like bridges, building, dams, subways, etc. a structural engineer is not merely an engineer. He / She has an even farther role to play in the making of a safe and livable physical world.


The typical job duties and responsibilities of a structural engineer

Structural engineers work in close association with a wide range of stakeholders. They remain in constant connect with clients, contractors, architects and engineering professionals from other related fields of engineering. In any given engineer project, a structural engineer will be handling job responsibilities like:

  • Developing the structural design with the aid of CAD (Computer Aided Designing)
  • Identifying which material (glass, concrete, steel, etc.) to be used for the structure
  • Developing designs for core structural arts like foundations, beams, arches, pillars, etc.
  • Defining structural strength for the structure through 3-D modelling
  • Devising strategies to keep the structure intact during changing weather conditions
  • Communicating and convincing the structural design to the team of engineers, architects and contractors
  • Coordinating with project teams for review and recourse of the structure design

How does a Structural Engineer become capable of doing all this?

A professional course/certification in engineering is the established route to become an employable structural engineer. Specific programs like a SE lateral forces course make the engineer expert in particular structural engineering forms that are much sought after in the civil engineering industry.

To be eligible to take a SE lateral forces course an individual must hold a UG or PG degree in engineering. Acumen in science and math are also desired since the occupation deals largely with complicated calculations. From weight measurements to angle calculations, a structural engineer’s daily life is literally immersed in a world of numbers and figures.

Training and development to become a structural engineer

Having a degree or equivalent course only makes a student eligible to become a structural engineer. Training and personal development is what makes the student capable of being a structural engineer. Along with the training, the student might also be required to undergo on-the-job experience in order to be a complete market-ready structural engineer.

This training cum work experience can span anywhere in between 3 to five years. On completion of the same, the student will be able to take the structural engineering exam, the passing upon which he/she can pursue employment or professional practice as a structural engineer. Job opportunities for structural engineers are abundant in global powerhouses like Middle East, Europe and Asia.