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Become A Structures Engineer

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Working As A Structures Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • $78,794

    Average Salary

What Does A Structures Engineer Do

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education.

Duties

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze long range plans, survey reports, maps, and other data in order to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning the stages of, and risk analysis for, a project
  • Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies, verifying that projects comply with various regulations
  • Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Perform or oversee surveying operations in order to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or descriptions of property
  • Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure

Civil engineers inspect projects to insure regulatory compliance. In addition, they are tasked with ensuring that safe work practices are followed at construction sites.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer, public works director, and city manager. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. Civil engineers work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians.

Civil engineers prepare permit documents for work on projects in renewable energy. They verify that the projects will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. With regard to solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare roadbeds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on the shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep them upright in expected environmental conditions.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Construction engineers manage construction projects, ensuring that they are scheduled and built in accordance with plans and specifications. These engineers typically are responsible for the design and safety of temporary structures used during construction.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). In addition, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as buildings, bridges, or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan, design, operate, and maintain everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ship ports, mass transit systems, and harbors.

The work of civil engineers is closely related to the work of environmental engineers.

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How To Become A Structures Engineer

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Although licensure requirements vary within the United States, civil engineers usually must be licensed in the locations where they provide services directly to the public.

Education

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology include coursework in math, statistics, engineering mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics, among other courses, depending on the specialty. Courses include a mix of traditional classroom learning, work in laboratories, and fieldwork.

A degree from a program accredited by the ABET is needed in order to earn the professional engineer (PE) license. In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also will suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license.

About 1 in 4 civil engineers has a master’s degree. Further education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the PE license and previous experience, is helpful in getting a job as a manager. For more information on engineering managers, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Civil engineers often balance multiple and frequently conflicting objectives, such as determining the feasibility of plans with regard to financial costs and safety concerns. Urban and regional planners often look to civil engineers for advice on these issues. Civil engineers must be able to make good decisions based on best practices, their own technical knowledge, and their own experience.

Leadership skills. Civil engineers take ultimate responsibility for the projects that they manage or research that they perform. Therefore, they must be able to lead planners, surveyors, construction managers, civil engineering technicians, civil engineering technologists, and others in implementing their project plan.

Math skills. Civil engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Organizational skills. Only licensed civil engineers can sign the design documents for infrastructure projects. This requirement makes it imperative that civil engineers be able to monitor and evaluate the work at the jobsite as a project progresses. That way, they can ensure compliance with the design documents. Civil engineers also often manage several projects at the same time, and thus must be able to balance time needs and to effectively allocate resources.

Problem-solving skills. Civil engineers work at the highest level of the planning, design, construction, and operation of multifaceted projects or research. The many variables involved require that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They must be able to then utilize their skill and training to develop cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions.

Speaking skills. Civil engineers must present reports and plans to audiences of people with a wide range of backgrounds and technical knowledge. This requires the ability to speak clearly and to converse with people in various settings, and to translate engineering and scientific information into easy to understand concepts.

Writing skills. Civil engineers must be able to communicate with others, such as architects, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners. They also must be able to explain projects to elected officials and citizens. This means that civil engineers must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with little or no technical or scientific background.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a civil engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, approve design plans, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years working under a licensed engineer
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Advancement

Civil engineers with ample experience may move into senior positions, such as project managers or functional managers of design, construction, operation, or maintenance. However, they would first need to obtain the Professional Engineering (PE) license, because only licensed engineers can assume responsibilities for public projects.

After gaining licensure, a professional engineer may seek credentialing that attests to his or her expertise in a civil engineering specialty. Such a credential may be of help for advancement to senior technical or even managerial positions.

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Structures Engineer Videos

Structures Engineer (Aviation), Career Video from drkit.org

Civil Engineer Career Information : Civil Engineer Pros & Cons

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Structures Engineer Career Paths

Structures Engineer
Lead Engineer Architect Project Architect
Assistant Construction Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Engineer Project Manager Construction Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Consulting Engineer Contracting Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Construction Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Project Engineering Manager Engineering Manager
Engineering/Maintenance Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Engineer Operations Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Lead Technician Field Engineer
Field Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Architect Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Resident Engineer Senior Engineer Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
Project Engineering Manager Estimator Project Manager
Owner/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consulting Engineer Senior Design Engineer Design Manager
Project Manager/Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Construction Manager
14 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Design Manager Project Manager/Design Manager
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Chief Engineer Inspector Surveyor
Survey Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Structures Engineer?

Structures Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.3%

Female

15.8%

Unknown

6.9%
Ethnicity

White

47.4%

Asian

21.7%

Hispanic or Latino

13.4%

Black or African American

9.4%

Unknown

8.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.4%

Chinese

11.3%

French

10.3%

Mandarin

9.9%

German

5.6%

Russian

4.7%

Italian

4.7%

Arabic

4.2%

Cantonese

3.8%

Korean

2.8%

Persian

2.8%

Hindi

2.3%

Portuguese

2.3%

Japanese

1.9%

Urdu

1.9%

Romanian

1.4%

Armenian

1.4%

Carrier

1.4%

Turkish

0.9%

Thai

0.9%
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Structures Engineer Education

Schools

University of Houston

7.8%

Pennsylvania State University

6.7%

University of Florida

6.5%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

6.3%

Texas A&M University

5.9%

Purdue University

5.3%

North Carolina State University

5.1%

Clemson University

5.1%

Illinois Institute of Technology

4.9%

State University of New York Buffalo

4.9%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.7%

Wayne State University

4.5%

University of Kansas

4.5%

Lamar University

4.3%

Wichita State University

4.1%

Drexel University

4.1%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

3.9%

University of Connecticut

3.9%

Michigan Technological University

3.7%

Florida International University

3.7%
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Majors

Civil Engineering

61.2%

Mechanical Engineering

12.9%

Engineering

4.6%

Aerospace Engineering

4.0%

Business

3.7%

Architectural Engineering

2.1%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.4%

Project Management

1.3%

Finance

1.2%

Management

0.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

0.8%

Drafting And Design

0.8%

Engineering Mechanics

0.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.7%

Construction Management

0.7%

Civil Engineering Technologies

0.7%

Computer Science

0.6%

Environmental Engineering

0.6%

Materials Science And Engineering

0.5%

Construction Engineering

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

41.7%

Bachelors

36.7%

Other

9.9%

Doctorate

8.0%

Associate

1.9%

Certificate

1.5%

Diploma

0.4%
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Structures Engineer Videos

Structures Engineer (Aviation), Career Video from drkit.org

Civil Engineer Career Information : Civil Engineer Pros & Cons

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Real Structures Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Structural Engineer G.A.S. Unlimited, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 13, 2015 $185,000
Principal Structural Engineer G.A.S. Unlimited, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 03, 2015 $185,000
Structural Engineer 5 Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Houston, TX Aug 28, 2015 $133,765 -
$163,020
Structural Engineer 4 Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. Irvine, CA May 18, 2016 $120,000
Lead Structural Blast Engineer Powell Electrical Systems Inc. Houston, TX Jan 02, 2016 $120,000
Structural Engineer Frazier Industrial Company Chester, NJ Mar 28, 2016 $116,771
Structural Engineer G.A.S. Unlimited, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 24, 2015 $114,400
Structural Engineer Joseph F. Risoli, P.E., LLC Riverside, CT Dec 15, 2016 $113,742
Structural Engineer National Engineering & Consulting, Inc. Lake Forest, CA Jan 07, 2016 $113,214
Structural Engineer 4 Jacobs Telecommunications, Inc. Irvine, CA Apr 01, 2016 $113,214 -
$131,542
Structural Engineer 5 Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Irvine, CA Feb 29, 2016 $113,214 -
$149,954
Engineer III-Structural Sofec, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 08, 2016 $112,486 -
$117,629
Marine Structural Engineer Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 16, 2016 $112,486 -
$180,000
Structural Engineer II Aker Solutions, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 03, 2015 $80,000
Structural Engineer DAL-Tech Engineering, Inc. Dallas, TX Jun 23, 2016 $80,000
Structural Engineer Axon EP, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 16, 2016 $80,000
Structural Engineer McMillen Jacobs Associates, Inc. Portland, OR Feb 02, 2015 $80,000 -
$90,000
Structural Engineer (Civil) Clyde Bergemann Power Group Americas Inc. GA Aug 14, 2015 $80,000 -
$83,232
Structural Engineer (Civil) Clyde Bergemann Power Group Americas Inc. MD Aug 14, 2015 $80,000 -
$83,232
Structural Engineer Viaero Wireless Fort Morgan, CO Mar 14, 2016 $80,000
Structural Engineer United Structures of America, Inc. Houston, TX May 27, 2015 $80,000
Structural Engineer ARUP Texas, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $69,600
Structural Engineer Aecom Technical Services, Inc. Glen Allen, VA Dec 14, 2015 $69,534 -
$74,110
Structural Engineer Moffat & Nichol Richmond, VA Sep 18, 2016 $69,534
Structural Engineer Superior Concrete Fence of Texas, Inc. Euless, TX Jan 09, 2016 $69,500
Structural Engineer Khatri International Inc. Sierra Madre, CA May 09, 2016 $69,497
Structural Engineer Basis & Associates, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 22, 2016 $69,497

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Top Skills for A Structures Engineer

  1. Structural Engineer
  2. Structural Analysis
  3. CAD
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Served as a structural engineer in the design of multiple residential and commercial buildings Supervised the construction of multiple residential buildings
  • Developed and assisted in the development of FEL3 packages and preliminary structural analysis for an existing Petrochemicals refineries.
  • Developed structural drawing using AutoCAD, MicroStation.
  • Operated daily in plants/facilities protected by the Department of Homeland Security and complied with all access requirements.
  • Detail and assembly level stress analyses utilizing classical and finite element analysis techniques on a variety of metal and composite structures.

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Top 10 Best States for Structures Engineers

  1. Alaska
  2. Michigan
  3. Texas
  4. Louisiana
  5. Washington
  6. Connecticut
  7. Colorado
  8. California
  9. New Mexico
  10. Pennsylvania
  • (53 jobs)
  • (491 jobs)
  • (1,444 jobs)
  • (154 jobs)
  • (645 jobs)
  • (286 jobs)
  • (470 jobs)
  • (2,830 jobs)
  • (93 jobs)
  • (625 jobs)

Top Structures Engineer Employers

Jobs From Top Structures Engineer Employers

Structures Engineer Videos

Structures Engineer (Aviation), Career Video from drkit.org

Civil Engineer Career Information : Civil Engineer Pros & Cons

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