Structural Engineering

Hello everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Lehigh is currently in the midsts of exams so most of us are buried in books trying to relearn 4 weeks of materials in these few days. I’m currently in the library right now and figure I’ll write something about structural engineering as a study break.

This post is a continuation of the civil engineering sub-discipline segment I started earlier this week. I am creating this segment because as a new player on the field, I knew virtually nothing about all the different disciplines that civil engineering have. Hopefully this post can help someone! On this post, I’ll be writing about structural engineering. I’ll touch briefly on structural engineers’ history, current projects then shift gear into career oriented subjects such as their salaries.


Roman AqueductEngineers have been a part of our history forever. Mechanical engineers invented numerous innovations such as replaceable press and the windmill. Civil engineers constructed roads – allowing the idea that all roads lead to Rome.

In my opinion, before the rises of chemical and electrical sciences were available for chemical and electrical engineers, structural engineers was the element that made civilizations great. Ancient Egypt is immortalized by their Great Pyramids of Giza – built by structural engineers. The Great Wall of China, the Roman aqueduct, the Eiffel Tower, and all other landmarks and wonders were all built by structural engineers. People usually identify glory of a civilization by the works that structural engineers have created.

Maybe it’s just my obsession with infrastructure and my brother will kill me for posting this, but don’t you think that Burji Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world, is so much cooler than a tiny little space shuttle? Just my opinion!!!!!

Buildings by heightCurrent Projects

What do structural engineers make?

Easy answer is buildings. Structural building engineering includes all structural engineering related to the design of buildings. It is the branch of structural engineering that is close to architecture. However, while the lead architect is usually the main designer on a project, the structural engineer usually acts as a sub-consultant. There are many concerns that goes into creating a building, aside from the usually calculations, structural engineers also have to be familiar with other sorts of fields:

–          Earthquake engineering

–          Façade engineering

–          Fire engineering

–          Roof engineering

–          Tower engineering

–          Wind engineering

Aside from buildings, structural engineers also work on a lot of other projects. However, like all other engineering fields, are broad and overlap with other disciplines as well. Structural engineers could be expected to work with more traditional projects such as bridges or buildings, however, some of them also work in tunnels or railways.

The following lists of projects all fall under structural engineering:

–          Buildings

–          Bridges

–          Dams

–          Earthworks

–          Foundations

–          Offshore structures

–          Pipelines

–          Power stations

–          Railways

–          Retaining structures and walls

–          Roads

–          Tunnels

–          Waterways

–          Water and water infrastructure

Three Gorges DamSalary

There are a lot of factors that goes into deciding a salary. Location, job, company, degrees held, etc are all included when coming up with a number for salary. I picked out a few averages from multiple occupations so you can compare it for yourself.

Structural Engineer I – $56,060 (50th percentile)

Structural Engineer IV – $101,775 (50th percentile)

Civil Engineer I – $59,103 (50th percentile)

Civil Engineer IV – $93,831 (50th percentile)

Mechanical Engineer I – $62,164 (50th percentile)

Mechanical Engineer IV – $100,580 (50th percentile)

Chemical Engineer I – $65,987 (50th percentile)

Chemical Engineer IV – $107,307 (50th percentile)

Electrical Engineer I – $63,245 (50th percentile)

Electrical Engineer IV – $103,299 (50th percentile)

*IV means that 50% of the engineer usually had 5 – 10 years of experience

Well, that’s it for this time. On the next post, I’ll write something about Environmental Engineering. I’ll try my best to have it done by next week but like I said we’re in the midst of exams so forgive me if I can’t get it done by then!



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