Analyze soil and rock conditions underneath proposed construction sites.
Like a good human pyramid or a strong marriage, structures need sturdy foundations. As a Structural Engineer, you work with construction companies and Architects to ensure that buildings are secure enough to support their own weight as well as the people inside. You can work on structures of all types, from the basic like houses, stores, stadiums, and bridges, to the more unique like oil rigs, towers, and space satellites.
No matter what you’re helping create and design though, you find ways to make it safe, attractive, and environmentally friendly, without going over budget.
To judge whether a building can be supported by its foundation, or to tell if a tower’s solar panels are in the right spot, you’ll need a degree. Most undergraduate structural engineering degrees are actually civil engineering degrees with a focus or specialty in structural engineering. Like any engineering degree, this one is heavy on the math and sciences, so get ready to spend your time in classes like structural analysis or geotechnical design. If working alone and on your own schedule is more your thing, then check out an online degree, which many colleges and universities offer.
Once you graduate, you have a few options. With an undergraduate degree, you can get an entry-level position, although you first need to be certified in the state where you hope to work.
If you want to improve your job options and increase your earning potential, however, consider getting either a master’s or a Ph.D. in structural engineering. Though a Ph.D. looks more impressive, those with a master’s in structural engineering are also eligible for positions ranging from Consultant to Teacher to Contractor.
Certification is required for this job. To be certified, you must have graduated from a structural engineering program, have worked under an experienced Engineer for about four years, and successfully pass a series of tests.