What Degree Do You Need To Be A Structural Engineer

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 3 minute read

Structural engineering, which is closely connected to civil engineering, is another well-paying bachelor’s degree option.

As a sub-discipline of civil engineering, structural engineering has a lot in common with civil engineering in terms of knowledge and techniques.

Structural and civil engineers both use civil engineering ideas and procedures, although they concentrate on distinct elements of the discipline.

It’s important to note that civil engineering comprises structural engineering as well as much more, whereas structural engineering is mainly focused on one or two specific topics.

Civil engineering’s broader focus

Engineers use science and mathematics to develop structures and systems for the built environment.

If this definition sounds a little unclear, it’s because that built environment encompasses so much; bridges, building structures, road networks, trains, dams, water utilities, airports, and more. 

Civil engineers not only deal with a wide range of constructed environments but also with a variety of project phases and procedures.

Some work on constructing new road systems, while others work on improving existing ones, such as pavement and concrete. 

Environmental engineering, or the application of engineering concepts to environmental issues such as decreasing pollution and protecting resources, is also a major component of civil engineering.

Because civil engineering is such a large discipline, civil engineers can have a wide range of employment duties and responsibilities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some civil engineers spend most of their time in their offices, while others spend a lot of time on building sites (BLS). 

Although civil engineers of all specialties – including structural engineers – can accurately identify themselves as civil engineers, the majority of civil engineers operate in specific sectors of the construction industry.

Civil engineering bachelor’s degree students can choose from a wide range of specializations in the disciplines of construction and geotechnical design and geomechanics, as well as environmental engineering and structural engineering or forensic engineering.

More than 325,000 American civil engineers are employed by their country’s government and private sector businesses.

A Structural Engineer’s Specialized Duties

In their work, structural engineers strive to make structures, particularly those that carry weight, as strong and sturdy as possible.

Structures like buildings, bridges, and even amusement park rides can all be the focus of structural engineers, but their primary concern is the quality of the materials and construction requirements used to create each one. 

Building structures, including walls, beams, and columns, are the focus of structural engineers’ attention because of the importance of their structural integrity.

Unfortunately, not every construction can withstand the test of time and use, much alone the weather. 

Sometimes, structural engineers are hired to investigate a structural failure, such as a bridge collapse. Destructive and fatal outcomes can result from structural breakdowns.

Many structural engineers focus on preventing structural problems from occurring in the first place.

They do complex calculations to determine the precise location, requirements, and materials required to build a safe, rigid building right from the start. 

To prevent a collapse, structural engineers must determine how and when to repair an unsafe structure. This is done through the use of testing.

To ensure that modifications to a building do not undermine its integrity, structural engineers are sometimes called in to oversee the process, whether it be for safety concerns or for functional or aesthetic purposes.

Structural engineers must also take into account natural calamities like earthquakes while designing their structures.

Earthquake-prone zones necessitate more thought, calculations, and modeling when designing new structures.

Degree Options in Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering

Determining one’s major might be an uphill battle. Many factors come into play, such as your preference for civil or structural engineering and your ability to enroll in a certain degree program. 

Structural engineering undergraduate degree programs are few compared to civil engineering programs at the current moment.

Many structural engineers begin their careers in civil engineering. Structural engineering graduate certificates and master’s degrees are available to individuals who already have a basic grasp of civil engineering.

When pursuing a career in civil engineering, you’ll have more options for specialization and a broader scope of knowledge than if you pursued structural engineering first.

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