How to Become a

Structural Engineer

The complete career guide to be a Structural Engineer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $87,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Structural engineers work alongside architects to determine and improve the structural integrity of planned construction projects. They evaluate plans, suggest materials, and evaluate how weather, natural disasters, weight, or erosion may impact the integrity of structures over time.

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What is a Structural Engineer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in structural engineer roles:

  • Evaluate the structural integrity of plans for new buildings, bridges, tunnels, interstates, and other construction and infrastructure projects
  • Analyze how different situations/elements may impact the integrity of structures, and revise plans to improve project durability
  • Suggest materials to be used in the construction of structures and infrastructure
  • Work alongside architects and project managers to develop plans that ensure safety and fit within allocated project budgets

A Day in the Life

Structural engineering is a specialization of civil engineering that is concerned with the structural integrity of planned construction and infrastructure projects. Structural engineers review plan blueprints created by project architects to evaluate the likely integrity and durability of proposed structures. In rare cases, the structural engineer signs off immediately on proposed plans, but in most cases, the engineer must work with the architect to revise plans and create a more durable and safe building plan.

To create plans for durable and safe structures, structural engineers must consider many factors. Environmental impacts must be taken into consideration: structural engineers consider how heavy snow may impact a structure, or how a structure would hold up in an earthquake. For infrastructure projects like bridges, the structural engineer determines if suggested materials will bear the weight of bridge traffic over time, and will suggest materials that will not be damaged through weather exposure.

The ultimate goal of a structural engineer is to design functional and safe buildings and infrastructure systems, but a secondary goal is to help ensure that projects can be completed within established budgets. This requires structural engineers to work with architects and project leaders to brainstorm alternative plans for construction and/or materials that represent a cost savings without compromising the safety or integrity of the structure being built.

Typical Work Schedule

Most structural engineers work full-time during normal business hours. Overtime may be required on occasion, but is required infrequently. Most structural engineers are off on weekends and major holidays.

Projected Job Growth

Growing populations and aging infrastructure through the United States is expected to increase demand for structural engineers in the coming decade to assist with planning for new construction projects, as well as major renovations to existing structures and infrastructure.

Typical Employers

Most structural engineers are employed by engineering companies, local, state, and federal governments, and construction companies. They may also be contracted on a freelance basis by architects.

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How To Become a Structural Engineer

The first step in becoming a structural engineer is to earn a bachelor’s degree. The type of program you choose to enroll in is somewhat flexible: you could study general civil engineering, or you could find a program that specializes in structural engineering. Completing a bachelor’s degree program in a relevant field will allow you to take an initial licensing examination that—if passed—will allow you to work as a civil engineering intern or apprentice. With the initial license, you can begin accruing experience.

Many hours of supervised training with an internship license is required. In these programs, you’ll work as an assistant or apprentice to an experienced structural engineer where you’ll learn the techniques of the role. The number of hours or years of apprentice training required varies from state-to-state—each state maintains their own licensing requirements—but the end goal is to earn the prerequisite number of training hours required to take the final licensing exam to become a professional structural engineer.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, completing the required supervised training, and passing the professional exam, you’ll be able to find work as a structural engineer. However, some structural engineers also choose to continue their education further by pursuing a master’s degree. While a master’s degree is not required for most structural engineering roles, it’s often required for management positions, so those with leadership aspirations may decide to pursue graduate degrees.

Structural Engineer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Structural Engineer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Structural Engineer's can make an average annual salary of $87,940, or $42 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $64,750 or $31 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #106 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Structural Engineer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Structural Engineers

  • 4%   Doctorate
  • 25.7%   Masters
  • 56.9%   Bachelors
  • 4.7%   Associates
  • 6.2%   College
  • 2.3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Structural Engineer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 23,600 jobs for a total of 305,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #263 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Structural Engineers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Engineering services 130,700 15,200 15%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 36,500 600 1%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 29,800 1,700 2%

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