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Career profile: Structural engineer

Career profile: Structural engineerAre you interested in the design and structure of buildings? Would you enjoy carrying out investigations and problem solving? Then work as a Structural engineer could be for you.

A what?

Structural engineers are involved in the design and construction of a range of structures, including large buildings, bridges and tunnels.

On the job

Structural engineers often work alongside architects, and are responsible for working out how buildings will be made to stand up to the stresses and strains placed upon them.

They may also be involved in the demolition or repair of a standing structure, and inspecting and assessing structures for safety, both during and after construction.

Typically, the job involves preparing drawings and building specifications, investigating ground conditions and analysing results of site tests, calculating the loads and stresses placed upon structures, testing models on the computer to ensure that the structure can withstand forces such as wind, gravity and earth tremors, and visiting sites to check that the construction is in accordance with the design.

How much does it pay?

Salaries may range from around £22,000 to £50,000 a year.

How do I get there?

Most entrants have a degree. Entry to an accredited degree course is generally with a minimum of two A-levels/three H grades or equivalent, plus five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3). A levels/H grades in maths and physics are often preferred. Other useful subjects include computing, business studies and design and technology. Entry requirements may vary, so candidates should check with individual universities.

Many employers expect candidates wishing to progress to chartered engineer status to hold a Masters degree in structural or civil engineering. This entails a further year of full-time academic study.

It may be possible to train as an apprentice at technician level in structural engineering and then take additional courses to qualify as a Structural engineer.

Apprenticeships which may be available in England are Young apprenticeships, Pre-Apprenticeships, apprenticeships and Advanced apprenticeships. To find out which one is most appropriate log onto www.apprenticeships.org.uk or contact your local Connexions Partnership.

It is important to bear in mind that pay rates for apprenticeships do vary from area to area and between industry sectors.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information contact My World of Work (Scotland), Careers Wales and for Northern Ireland contact COIU.

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