Structural Engineering and Technology

Structural engineers analyze and design buildings, bridges, oil platforms and other load-bearing constructions. Continue reading to learn more about education requirements, salary potential and the employment outlook for this field.

Is Structural Engineering and Technology for Me?

Career Overview

Structural engineering is a specialty within the field of civil engineering. Structural engineers ensure the safety and stability of structures and work in a variety of industries, including agriculture, construction, aerospace and architecture. Structural engineering technicians and technologists usually receive more training in practical and supportive application aspects of engineering and work under the supervision of a licensed engineer.

Work Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you can often qualify for entry-level engineering technology work with an associate or bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). Graduate programs in structural engineering can further prepare you for research and academic positions. In this engineering field, you might design elements of buildings or assess load capacities. As you gain experience, you can move into supervisory positions or design new bridges, skyscrapers and other complicated structures. You can also choose to specialize in a specific area, such as concrete or transportation engineering. You can find jobs at private construction and engineering businesses, government agencies and consulting firms.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The BLS reported the median salary for all civil engineers was $77,560 as of May 2012. Civil engineering technicians received a median yearly wage of $47,560 in 2012. According to the BLS, civil engineers should experience strong employment growth of 20% from 2012-2022, but civil engineering technicians are expected to see little or no change in the number of job opportunities during that same period of time. However, engineering technicians with knowledge of current industry software have a better chance at finding employment.

How Can I Become a Structural Engineer or Technologist?

Education Programs

Degree programs in structural engineering and technology cover structural loads and weight-bearing materials. Bachelor's degree programs in structural engineering usually prepare you for entrance into the field or for further education. Structural engineering master's degree programs can offer you research opportunities and a deeper understanding of issues of material, building and construction integrity related to structural engineering. You can often specialize in areas such as earthquake or aerospace engineering.

Licensing

Every state regulates licensure if you lead or work on public projects. You usually need to graduate from a degree program accredited by ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. You can start the licensing process by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam prior to beginning an apprenticeship. Full licensure requires you to work for four years and pass an exam covering engineering principles and practices.

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