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How to become a structural engineer

If you enjoy subjects such as mathematics, science, computing, art, geography, design and
technology, and have an interest in unusual buildings or structures, then structural engineering
could be the career for you.
There are various ways of starting a career in structural engineering and these are:
GCSEs/Scottish Standard Grades/high school qualifications/IGCSE
When choosing which subjects to study at the age of 14 to 16 it is worth considering what you
enjoy as well as what you do well in. The national curriculum requirements set down by most
countries will ensure that you study mathematics and science to the appropriate level. Other
subjects which you may wish to study include:


Design and technology



14 to 19 Diploma
The diploma qualification in England offers 14 to 19 year olds a combination of classroom
learning and hands-on experience. To pursue a career in structural engineering you may wish to
consider a diploma in engineering or construction and the built environment. This will be useful
to support your next move whether it is to continue onto higher education or into the world of
A Levels/Scottish Highers/International Baccalaureate
Studying qualifications at this level will be useful if you want to go to university. Desirable
subjects when applying to university are mathematics, physics, other sciences, design and
technology and art. Remember structural engineering is an art and a science.
Work-based qualifications
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs and SVQs), Vocationally-Related Qualifications
(VRQs) and apprenticeships are work-related qualifications that aim to develop specific practical
skills and knowledge needed in a specific industry. For careers in structural engineering,
vocational qualifications must usually be in engineering, construction or related subjects, and a
qualification demonstrating a good level of competence in mathematics is normally required.
They provide a stepping stone to further education, training or employment and can last from
one year to five years.
National Certificates and Diplomas
National Certificates and Diplomas are vocational qualifications which can lead to employment,
progression to Higher Nationals and/or routes to higher education including degree
University courses
The Institution of Structural Engineers works with other leading engineering bodies to approve
degree courses that provide the most comprehensive training.
For details of degree programmes accredited by the Institution please refer to the Joint Board of
Moderators (JBM) website.

The Institution of Structural Engineers is the worlds largest professional

body dedicated to structural engineering, having led the profession
worldwide for over 100 years. Committed to maintaining high standards, the
Institution promotes safety, efficiency, sustainability and excellence in the
work of its members. The members are qualified by assessment of their
professional competence in structural engineering design and bound by the
Institutions strict code of conduct. As a result, the Institutions members are
recognised worldwide for their technical and professional expertise.
Supporting the industry is at the core of the work of the Institution, whether
this is through its range of authoritative technical publications, its
comprehensive programme of training courses, lectures and debates or
services such as a bi-monthly journal and a comprehensive library.

introduction to the Institution

The Institutions headquarters are situated in the heart of Belgravia in
London. The building is home to the Institutions secretariat, its library, as
well as a suite of conference rooms. With members in over 100 countries,
the Institution has developed a global network of branches, divisions and
representatives supporting the membership. One century down the line, we
are still looking ahead, and our members continue to change the world.

The Institution is recognised as the worlds leading professional body for
structural engineering.
Only the best thinkers, designers and innovators successfully meet our
exacting entrance requirements. Its a tough journey, but it has to be.
Being a member of the Institution is an international passport to practice.
Once accredited, a member can enjoy worldwide recognition as a structural
engineer working at the highest level of technical and professional
expertise. For many, the Institution is the preferred route to the top.
Membership confirms competence as an engineer working to the highest
standards in the world.
With members in 105 countries worldwide, membership includes an
automatic introduction to a local branch or regional group, where members
will be warmly welcomed. Local groups run their own programmes of events,
and provide essential support and networking opportunities.
Our membership options encompass a wide range of grades
from student to fellow, ensuring suitability for all levels of proficiency and
the opportunity for continual career development.
Our membership department is the first port of call to talk about the best
route to membership. Our staff are committed to supporting engineers along
their journey from student member through all grades to becoming a
Chartered Member or Fellow.
Our membership department will:
confirm academic eligibility
find the best route for each individual and help candidates to meet the
requirements of the membership grade that is aspired to
guide the candidate through the individual training requirements that
need to be met
provide support through the professional interview and exam.
Joining details for all grades of membership can be found at Contact us at

Engineering expertise
The Institution undertakes a broad range of technical activities which keeps
it at the forefront of worldwide structural engineering practice.
This ensures that structural engineers, wherever they are working, can have
access to the most up-to-date thinking and guidance from within the
profession. It also means that legislators and code drafting bodies regularly
ask for comment and input from the Institution when developing building
regulations, standards and codes of practice.
All the Institutions design advice undergoes a continual process of revision,
research and reinvestigation, while technical meetings and courses ensure
the latest developments and innovations in the structural engineering field
are rigorously discussed

The Structural Engineer

All members receive a free copy of our leading international journal, The
Structural Engineer:
it keeps members in touch with the Institution, industry and professional
developments including job opportunities
each issue includes news and exclusive peer-reviewed technical papers
the journals portal on the Institutions website gives member-only access
to the Institutions comprehensive archive of technical papers. With over a
centurys worth of leading thinking and research, the online
archive is one of the most formidable technical knowledge resources for
structural engineering in the world.

Electronic newsletter Regular briefings will keep you in touch with the
latest developments across the Institution and industry.

Technical meetings Regular technical meetings are held worldwide. Visit

www. for events in a particular region, at our London
headquarters, or to download recordings of the latest technical seminars.
Technical publications The Institutions technical publications provide
essential, technical and regulatory information on basic structural design
concepts through to design guidance, reports, manuals and codes including
the latest developments in Eurocodes. Visit for
a full list of publications.
Training courses The Institution provides a comprehensive programme of
courses designed for those working at all levels to expand and reinforce
their structural engineering knowledge, debate the results of new research,
and to shape the future direction of the profession.
The wide-ranging training supports the Institutions CPD and IPD schemes
throughout the year and covers five broad areas of a structural engineers
professional development: technical, management, personal skills,
engineers and law, and examination preparation. Visit for more information.
Technical meetings Free to all, the meetings provide excellent networking
opportunities and help members and others update their knowledge and
understanding. The meetings are broad in ambition; encompassing debates
on government policy, new design codes, the future of the profession,
design of well known structures, use of materials and autobiographical
lectures from high profile structural engineers.

The library
The library is one of the worlds definitive centres for structural engineering
research and technical information. Members enjoy free access to our wellstocked library, with its up-to-date collection of books, journals, reports,
standards, and papers:
loans to members same day loan service
enquiry service and literature searches
electronic dissemination of material
support of two qualified librarians
partnership library arrangements is a comprehensive database of
structural engineering practices across the UK that puts clients in touch with
the best structural engineer for any project. Only firms that have at least
one Institution member can register. Visit for more

Conference room hire The Institutions headquarters in the heart of

Londons Belgravia, between Buckingham Palace and the stylish Kings
Road, is the ideal setting for an event. The three meeting rooms in this
Grade II* listed townhouse provide for a variety of occasions from evening
dining and large conferences, to seminars and small meetings. From board
meetings to formal dinners, a range of catering options are available to suit.
The Institution also offers technical support with equipment available to hire

The Structural Awards
The Structural Awards celebrate the best in structural engineering
Winning is a coveted distinction, the ultimate recognition of ability for
professional structural engineers. Only members can enter their projects for
consideration. Visit www. for more information

Gold Medal
The Gold Medal is the Institutions highest individual award and is made for
personal contributions to the advancement of structural engineering.
Winners of the medal are invited to present some of that knowledge to the
wider membership at a Gold Medal Address. Previous winners of the Gold
Medal include Ove Arup, Santiago Calatrava, Edmund Happold and John

The Educational Trust
The Educational Trust aims to encourage young people to enter the

structural engineering profession and support their development. Its principal activities fall into
three categories:

The award of educational scholarships and travel grants

The arrangement of competitions and award of medals and prizes
The production of teaching materials for schools

To access the files, you must be a member of the Educational Trust

The Educational Trust relies mainly on contributions and any donations made will enable the
Institution to support a greater number of deserving proposals. The financial support of
Institution members, other individuals and firms has allowed the trust to sponsor a number of
educational initiatives such as competitions, travel grants, academic bursaries and scholarships.
Make a donation
Donations to the Educational Trust can be by contacting our Accounts department.
Apply for funding
The Educational Trust supports the following activities:
Competitions and travel grants:
Engineering Architecture Prize
The Pai Lin Li Travel Award
The Young Structural Engineers' International Design Competition
Academic Bursaries and
Arkwright Scholarship Trust
Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) bursary
Enhancing the teaching and understanding of structural concepts
The Scottish Romanian universities exchange (SRUE) programme
Other competitions, prizes and awards
- links with other organisations:

Maths inspiration
We can sell engineering to everybody!

Some other activities in recent years

Engineers without borders
Engineering for everyone - primary schools project
Hackney building exploratory
IDEERS earthquake engineering challenge
University of Bristol - Clifton bridge cross competition
Young structural engineers award
Educational trust: Registered Charity Number 1001625