In general, the consensus is that structural engineering is quite difficult to enter compared to other university courses. Engineering is a difficult but rewarding career that requires a lot of work to get started, but with a big reward in terms of salary and job prospects. For many, one of the hardest parts is deciding which engineering discipline to study. After all, it is a broad field of industries and disciplines; each one focuses on a different aspect of daily life and requires you to understand and improve various processes.
Let's take a look at two of the most popular engineering disciplines to make your decision easier: civil engineering and structural engineering. Both have many similarities, but their salaries, job prospects and educational content are very varied. Basically, all engineering disciplines have the same basic education requirements. First, you must complete a 4-year engineering degree.
There is a slight difference at this stage, as a civil engineer needs a degree in civil engineering and a structural engineer needs a degree in structural engineering. According to NCEES, FE and EIT share an exam for certification. Obtaining an FE is actually a requirement for EIT certification in certain states. This test consists of 110 questions focused on specific engineering disciplines, and no matter what discipline you choose, you'll have six hours to complete it.
Speaking of disciplines, the FE exam is presented in seven different types. But for our discussion, only two of these are relevant: Civil PE Exam and Structural PE Exam. The subjects in italics are covered in both exams. On the other hand, the Civil PE exam focuses on several similar engineering disciplines, with structural engineering among them.
Therefore, if you are interested in being a structural engineer, you may want to take the civil physical education exam instead of other disciplines, especially if mathematics isn't your best subject. If you want to enroll in the physical education exam, you must have FE certification and 4 years of work experience in the engineering discipline of your choice. Unlike the FE exam, the cost of the physical education exam depends on the state in which you live and practice. Be sure to check with your state's engineering board to see what the fees are.
The physical education exam is where the education of structural engineers begins to differ from that of civil engineers. It can be confusing if you're interested in structural engineering, so if that's what you want, it's important to understand the next step. However, there is another option for you as an aspiring structural engineer, although it is considerably more difficult: there is a separate professional engineering exam which is known as the Structural PE Exam (also known as the SE Exam). It is twice as long as the civil physical education exam and takes two full days to complete.
Once you have completed the long list of educational requirements outlined above, you are ready to start working as a civil or structural engineer. In terms of workload, the two are quite similar. However, the growth rate of employment and available careers can be very different between the two. Civil engineers will be asked to build and maintain infrastructure projects in both the public and private sectors.
Chances are you'll find work as a city engineer, city administrator or public works director, but you can also find work in construction. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of civil engineers is expected to increase by 2% in the next decade - slightly lower than the average for all occupations - so you can expect some competition for these positions. Structural engineers have a much more specific area of work: they work on buildings and other major construction projects. Thanks to that, most of their work is done on site as they oversee the construction of the projects they have designed.
Its expected employment rate is 4 per cent - which is average among other occupations - so there will be some competition for these positions too. As you probably know already, engineering is a very lucrative career; civil engineering and structural engineering salaries are no exception to this rule. As you can see, civil and structural engineering overlap a lot in education but they may differ in terms of job opportunities and projected career prospects; at the moment structural engineers earn slightly more money and have more career opportunities projected in the near future according to research. It seems that the best career path after college would involve taking the FE Civil Exam then taking the Physical Education Exam with a deep focus on Civil or Structural depending on your final professional goal; if you opt for structural engineering passing the SE exam may be required depending on your location.
A career in structural engineering allows people to use mathematics and science for the benefit of society; they are responsible for ensuring that structures and materials are solid, well-supported and robust against mechanical stress from strong winds or earthquakes or just from weight of materials or people using them. Structural engineers evaluate various materials and construction methods against these stresses they expect their structures to endure; this helps protect people's lives through safety of these structures. In conclusion, structural engineering is an excellent and rewarding career for people interested in structures, science and engineering; it allows them to create iconic buildings and infrastructure that help society function while earning lucrative salaries.