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Structural Steel Design Engineer

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Structural design engineers occupy a central and highly specialised role in the steel construction industry. They can be engaged by anyone who requires professional advice regarding the design, rehabilitation, repair and adequacy of structures. They use their technical expertise to translate their clients’ structural concepts into reality, combining safety with economy and elegance.

Structural engineers are some of the first people involved in tackling a new steel project. The specific requirements of the project are evaluated with regard to the structure’s framework including appropriate materials to use, cost-effectiveness, satisfactory timelines, environmental and safety issues. The result must be a strong, functional and reliable structure. To do this, the engineer needs to understand the materials used in construction and analyse the structure for the design forces.

Some structural engineers work in the design field for consulting engineering companies, others work for building contractors to be directly involved in construction engineering and management.

A typical day in the life of a consulting structural engineer might involve design work in the office, a site inspection and meetings with the client and/or other members of the project team such as the architect to ensure that the design is built as intended.

Alternatively a site engineer might be supervising erection, planning construction and monitoring costs.

Are you keen to identify, analyse and solve problems, able tocommunicate well both orally and in writing, to work independently and to accept responsibility? Are you practical as well as creative? Perhaps structural engineering is for you.

Subjects that are highly recommended as preparation for a degree in structural engineering are Physics, Chemistry and an advanced level of Maths.


A four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering. Membership and registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) of Engineers Australia.


Professional body: Engineers Australia

University course information:



SA & NT:




The Structural Steel Design Engineer

"I have always been interested in the way things work – as a kid I was always building things. I did well in Maths and Science at school and these subjects formed a good background for my civil engineering degree.

I enjoy the challenge of solving diverse problems to achieve a functional, safe and economical result. I often need to be creative and innovative in the quest for the right solution, something I love about the job. There is lots of variety in my work – it’s a great balance between inside technical work and external site visits. My work often brings me in contact with the client, the architect and the fabricator and detailer.

Structural steel is my favourite structural material offering fantastic design opportunities and aesthetically pleasing results. It is essential to keep abreast of new developments especially in areas such as 3D modelling.

Basically I love a challenge and I am prepared to accept responsibility, getting involved in major projects at a high level. Part of the fun is the variety of projects which are often located in far-flung corners of the country. There is plenty of opportunity for Australian engineers to spend time working overseas. The current shortage of qualified engineers guarantees fantastic job opportunities – this is truly a career with huge possibilities!"

Peter MacDonald
Principal Consulting Engineer

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