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Structural Engineering in Canada

Structural Engineering in Canada

Structural Engineering in Canada

Hi All,

I am an intermediate level Structural/Bridge Engineer with one year experience in designing building structures (in New Zealand using NZ code) and 1.5 years experience in designing bridges using BS5400 (British Standard) code in Asia. I am planning to move to Canada and work as a designer there.

Could you please recommend me any major text book that detail Reinforced Concrete Design and Steel Design in Canada that is sort of used as a guide in Canada?
I would like to familiarize my self on the local codes and design practice before I arrive in Canada.


RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Canadian highway bridge code
National building code of Canada
Provincial building codes

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Hi Dimuth,

Here are some resources to look up:
1. Reinforced Concrete: Mechanics and Design - Bartlett & MacGregor
This is the book we used in school. It's written for A23.3-94, but the design concepts are well structured.
2. Reinforced Concrete Design: A Practical Approach - Brzev & Pao
This is a more up-to-date resource and referenced a lot in BC.
3. Limit States Design in Structural Steel - Kulak & Grondin
This is a good companion to S16-14.
4. Structural Steel for Canadian Buildings: A Designer's Guide - Metten & Driver
Another good resource for steel design.

I would check in with an online course, if that is your style. CISC offers some and I believe most associations will offer some PD courses about building code, technical design, etc. Good luck.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

I think you might find the job market in Canada is substantially more difficult than the market in New Zealand. With your low level of experience, you will likely struggle to find work. New Zealand has a much, much stronger job market for engineers at the moment. just a thought.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

My recommendation list would have matched skeletron's verbatim. There really isn't that much available for the Canadian market I'm afraid. However, as someone who works regularly in both Canada and the US, I can assure you that practice in those two jurisdictions is nearly identical. As such, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that you invest time reviewing some of the excellent US market documents that are available. I think that you would be well served by reviewing:

1) The AISC design guide series for steel: Link

2) PCA notes on A318: Link

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Thank you for that information, it has been very helpful. Can I ask whether seismic design is common in Canada? Perhaps the West Coast of Canada?
I am planning on moving to Toronto though. Yes I am somewhat concerned about the lack of opportunity, but I will try my best, if I am unable to land a job in design, I will try working on the construction side. I do not think there is a country in the world where it is hard to get a site engineer job to work for contractors.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

And I am really hoping Canada is using Metric units rather than Imperial Units? Cause some of the literature has imperial units (poundes per square inch etc...)

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Seismic is a big deal on the west coast of Canada and, also, not insignificant in some eastern regions.

Personally, I wouldn't sweat the job market part of it:

1) I think that the issue of prime importance is simply getting yourself set up in the region where you truly want to live and raise your family (assumption). Canada has it's up and downs, like all economies, but we're a fairly advanced economy and, even if you don't land your dream job right out of the gate, I doubt that you'll have to wait long for an excellent opportunity to land on your table.

2) In my opinion, the current job market for structural engineers is still quite robust, particularly in Toronto.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Quote (OP)

And I am really hoping Canada is using Metric units rather than Imperial Units

Mostly metric but it depends what you're doing. Most institutional and commercial work will be metric but some residential still goes imperial. Regardless, I don't think this should have any meaningful impact on your decision making process.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Yes to everything Koot has indicated.

On the metric versus imperial debate, I would say most multi-tenant residential, commercial and institutional work is metric as Koot alluded to (I would venture the percentages are 90%, 95% and 100& respectively). For single family, or small multi-tenant it is almost 100% imperial due to the fact that the majority of homeowners know they're 6ft tall, not 1.83m. Some commercial renovation projects go imperial just out of preference of contractors and using the existing drawings.

Personally, my brain (and I'm not even that seasoned) understands stuff more in imperial but you get to a stage where your brain just automatically converts to whatever you're most comfortable in. It's essentially a language.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

All, Thank you for the information, it has been very helpful!

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Unless you get into wood construction, design will be almost universally metric, even if drawings are in imperial (i.e. even if you're doing imperial drawings you'll be calculating in metric and making drawings in imperial).

Definitely get the Brzev & Pao book for concrete. Metten's book is aimed towards steel, but is the best treatment on realistic design practices for small to midrise buildings in Canada. It's the closest you'll get to describing how you'll actually do things in a design office.

There are a couple of good free resources.

The Canadian Precast Concrete Institute publishes their design manual for free now. It's obviously intended for applications in precast concrete, but it has design examples and commentary that are useful for cast in place as well, and you can't beat free.


The Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute also publishes some design manuals for free. One of them is a pretty solid walkthrough of the basic national building code loading provisions for buildings. It's obviously focused on low to mid-rise light gauge steel, but still a useful primer.

CSSBI B15-17 and CSSBI B15-17A


RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

In reference to the book Reinforced Concrete Design: A Practical Approach by Brzev & Pao. I highly suggest getting the latest 3rd edition. I used to have to first edition in school and this 3rd edition is very very much an improvement in terms of quality and quantity of the content.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Hi All,

I have arrived in Toronto and I am currently seeking work.
Can I ask:

1) What is the best way to search for work in Toronto? Is it to apply to companies directly or to apply to recruitment agencies? (and if so what is a good recruitment agency for structural engineers?)

2) Thanks for all the design guides. Where can I find the loading code? For example, how can I know the combination factors for ULS and SLS combinations? Which document has this information?

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

The National Building Code of Canada 2015 is now available for free online:

In Toronto you'll have to also be familiar with the Ontario Building Code which should draw some, if not most, of the content from NBCC 2015.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Apply to the companies directly, we get unsolicited resumes all the time and people get hired via that approach.
At your level i would not use a recruiter, they will charge the company hiring you a fee ( 10 - 15% ) of your salary to hire you. For someone new to Canada with limited experience that's a big downside in my opinion
Good luck in your search.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Thank you guys, it is a cultural shift for me. I am more used to the New Zealand and UK market where everything is done through recruiters. I don't think anyone over there gets directly hired by companies anymore.

When in rome, do as the romans do right. I will give it my best shot.
Thanks for the tips.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

I agree with @Rob416. I have gotten all my jobs by applying directly and never through recruiters or job postings. I always found someone to contact directly and chat. I once cold called someone that worked at the company because they used to work at the company I was working for at the time. After a short chat, they asked if I was looking to join them and long story short I got hired.

On a side note, I know two structural engineering companies in Kingston ON that are looking for structural engineers right now. The nice thing is you will likely get paid as much if not more in Kingston, and the cost of living is lower and you will have a very short daily commute. (source: this was my experience).

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

Hey Guys,

I have applied for 50+ consultancies in Toronto, but I did not get an interview yet. So as expected the market is tough.
I am working night shifts doing a factory job to keep me going.

I do not want to drop my career completely though and have a big gap in my CV. I am thinking of doing some Technician training cause may be I can get my foot in the door as a technician. I am looking to improve my drafting skills and I am looking in to doing some courses. Perhaps I can work as a Technician and at least that is something I can put on my CV right.

My question is in Canada, do you use Revit or AutoCad for drawings?

Also @P205, unfortunately, I got a 1 year lease in Toronto now, so I would not be able to move too much at the moment.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

we use both revit and autocad depending on the clients needs.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

If you don't mind me asking, how hard was it to get into the country without a job already lined up?
It strikes me weird that they would let someone enter on a working visa without any current employment - If you are trying to work a technical job on a tourist visa you are going to have issues. Firms aren't going to want to skirt the rules.

Don't fret about not finding a gig in your first 2 weeks - going a month between application and interview and then another month between interview and hire isn't unheard of here; but I have seen the process move quicker.

If you haven't already start getting into PEO, as a foreigner you are going to have to jump through hoops to get registered.

RE: Structural Engineering in Canada

@Signious , yes it is a perfectly legal 2 year exchange visa (which allows employment in Canada) that was issued by the Canadian government. These visas are reciprocal between countries, meaning Canadians can come to my country with out a job and looking for work as well. My visa was not hard to get, I just had to pay loads of fees, do medical tests and submit police reports and pay for my own private health insurance and be under 35 years of age.

I have been to couple of work shops where I met a lot of foreign engineers and I think majority of the people come to Canada without a job offer. Only the Star candidates and executive level guys would be getting job offers if they are not even in the country. There is a point system where if you get the right score, the goverenment will give you permanent residency and invite you to move to Canada.

I have already registered with PEO and they are checking my academic qualifications. I am pretty much guaranteed EIT. With a certain period of work experience locally in Canada, I think I am eligible for P.Eng

As you say, yeh it can take some time. I understand, I will be patient with the process. Cheers.

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