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Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer
4

Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

(OP)
Do you think it is worth it spend 2 years to get a Masters after graduating to become a Structural Engineer?

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

It helped me, but it only took an extra year.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Fit it into a year, ideally as a coursework program (non-thesis) unless you can get it fully funded by research/thesis.

Otherwise, come back to it part-time after a few years working experience.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Depends on the specific field and type/size of company you want to work for. Give us more info.
Recommend working a bit first, then get a masters if desired. That way you can focus your courses on your interests and needs. Plus larger companies often pay the tuition if you go part time.
If you don’t plan to go into academia or a heavy r3search area, look for a masters program 5hat does not require a thesis.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

At least in my particular geographic area, it's certainly not needed to get a job. I think it would have the greatest benefit if you were to work for a few years first and then get it later.

Also, if you could get a job at a really good design firm with a great mentor who is able to dedicate some of their time to your development, I think that would probably be a better use of the 2 years than at school. This would have the added benefit of not increasing your financial debt. Of course, it's somewhat unrealistic to end up in this type of work environment with a great mentor who isn't also so busy that they actually have time to help you.

Overall, if your goal is to become better at the profession, whether you get a masters or not, you should expect to spend a lot of time self-studying. Get good at figuring stuff out on your own, and ask knowledgeable people questions when you're stuck. Study design guides and example problems. Go to this site and others like it where you get to discuss and learn about real world problems, not the friendly, sugar-coated problems you tend to get in a classroom setting.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

(OP)
Currently I am looking at thesis based only for the reason my GPA might not be good enough for a course based, I'm just above minimum. Where as with the thesis route, I have a professor that ensured me he can wave whatever requirement if I go about it the thesis based route, also schooling is free and I get paid like 3.3k a month which isn't great but better then nothing. About my career, I am fairly passionate about structural engineering, and want to hopefully work on complex projects, I don't have experience in structural engineering all my internships were in other fields of civil. I am from Canada, but I do want to work in the states, cause COL in Canada is insane plus I want work complex projects which are more rare in Canada. I plan to try and get a job there after I can get my PE. Also I feel scared if I start working right away I may never want to do school again.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

2
“.., also schooling is free and I get paid like 3.3k a month..”

Get your masters

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Go back soon after you get a PE license and you will have a lot better insight into what’s going on and get a lot more out of it. You will ask questions that are more practically useful as well.

Or you can be a good salesman and not even pass the PE exam and get promoted above all the engineers in your company. Entertain clients, etc.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Quote (CorporalToe)

...after I can get my PE.

Take (and pass) the FE exam before starting a masters program. In many USA states obtaining a masters degree in engineering will count as one year of experience toward a PE license.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

If your thesis advisor is a good mentor, and you don't have to pay for your education, go for it. Easy decision.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Free tuition plus getting paid. Get the masters now.

But look into the requirements for immigration to US and for getting a PE license in a US state. Don’t know if you can take the FE exam in Canada.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

(OP)
As some of you mentioned I do plan on doing my FE this summer, you can take the exam here in Canada but it costs a few hundred dollars more here. The professor I will be doing it under is fairly new, he is just becoming a PEng (Canadian Equivalent of a PE) and my co-supervisor is fairly experienced I hope to gain some mentorship under him. But I do feel that the mentorship I will be more research related then anything else.

I could try course based but it’s a risk because I might not get into that program. People that have done a masters, has it actually benefitted you at work? Did you get jobs/projects that you might have no gotten otherwise?

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Hey, hey, hey in Canada we have complex projects too!

I agree with others that if you have a fully funded M.Sc. then go for it. Rarely is a course based M.Eng funded and it is certainly better if taken a few years out of school.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I was able to get a master's degree right after the bachelor's. Had I tried to wait a few years, it'd doubtful I would have ever done that, due to time constraints, family, etc. So I'd so go for it while you can.
On the "complex projects", don't worry about that so much. My observation is that everyone wants to do the cooler projects, but there's more people wanting to do it than there are openings. So in ME, everyone wants to design the latest racing engine but somebody's got to design the door handles, too.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I got a BS degree in the US - then worked for 2 years - then came back and got my Masters.

Quote:

People that have done a masters, has it actually benefitted you at work?
After my Masters, light bulbs went off all over my head. I truly understood what I was doing compared to before the Masters. So yes - it helped me enormously.

By the time I was about 10 years into my career I was in a position to hire younger engineers and after a while ONLY looked at MS degreed structural engineering students.
I hired some that only had the BS degree, and did OK, but could tell the difference for sure - there were exceptions but for structural - the MS degree is pretty important.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Considering you would get paid to get the degree, that changes my answer above in favor of getting it now.

I had incorrectly assumed you were in the US and would have borderline crippling debt at the end of the two years.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I'd say it's not required, and I've hired employees without one. So much of what you need to know in practice is taught once you are hired. With that being said I went to grad school and I found it beneficial. I was able to take some more advanced structural classes that have helped me in my career.

One semi regret I do have is I never actually got my degree. I took all the course work but left to work before my thesis was finished. Once I was working finding time to complete that wasn't in the cards for me.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Right out of the gate, a Masters would be beneficial as many have mentioned. I've found the curriculum to obtain a BS doesn't really prepare you for the design world. An MS gives you that competitive edge, but still a majority of what you're going to learn about being a structural engineer will occur in your working career. That's where you learn to actually practice our profession.

Once you're at a level to obtain licensure, it can become a mute point... unless you're trying to land at one of those few companies that only designs landmark structures.

Although, I would say that licensure isn't the end all. I've met plenty of PE's who left me wondering how they ever became licensed in the first place.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I graduated in 1972 during a poor job market, so I decided to stay and go for a non-thesis MS degree. I chose to be a Teaching Assistant and was then limited to 9 credits per term. The degree would take 5 terms. Over the summer term (1973), the main-frame computer was replaced and my Finite Element Project, which was over two boxes of Fortran punch cards, quit working.

During the fall term (my fifth term), even the computer geeks could not help me as they were all having problems with their own programs. So I decided to leave without completing my degree. None the less, the advanced structural classes gave me an advantage over my peers throughout my career. I only knew of two other engineers with MS degrees as contemporaries. Some of my supervisors did have advanced degrees.

Thirty plus years later I completed a MS degree through the University of Idaho Engineering Outreach Program.

gjc

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

It's certainly not required. I'd say that you'll learn more while working your first couple of years than you learn in a master's degree program.

That being said, if you could BOTH work on your master's degree AND work part time at a structural engineering firm, you will get the best of both worlds. It will be more of a challenge. But, you'll get more out of both your degree and your first work experience.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

It probably depends on how many structural engineering classes you could take during your BS program.

I've known people who got their BS and only had a class in analysis and one that covered steel and concrete. That's not much of a foundation to build on.

I've also known people who had most of the critical structural engineering classes (analysis class beyond the basics, steel, concrete, wood) during their BS program. They would be OK without going to grad school.

Colleges are shrinking the number of credit hours required for a BS. Also, they're requiring more non-technical classes. From that, it seems like the importance of an MS is probably increasing.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

A masters did not really help me progress toward the Structural license that much, but four years of practical experience and the tutoring of senior structural engineers did.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Similar to mtu1972, in 1975 the job market was kaka. I had a wall of rejection letters (that's what we did in those days) and a good assistantship (dorm advisor), so I just kept going to school. In a year I had a masters. It got me a dollar more an hour (remember this was 1976) and a lot more confidence.
My current firm had a goal of hiring masters engineers, so it checked a box when I applied. But things have loosened up and we can't afford to be picky anymore. I'd rather hire a curious engineer with no drama than a basket case with a masters.
However, a few years back, there was a push to require a master's for licensure. I think it was beaten down, because I haven't heard about it recently. But it might just be sleeping and it could come back.
In your situation, getting it paid for, seems tempting, especially if you like an academic type of environment.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Quote (msquared48)

A masters did not really help me progress toward the Structural license that much, but four years of practical experience and the tutoring of senior structural engineers did.
I think THIS is a critical piece of advice, especially if income and career advancement is your priority.

Around here in Kangaroo land a Masters degree on top of your Bachelor degree in a vocational profession, particularly immediately after, often sends a negative message. It suggests you lacked employment marketable skills so you went back to study to try to get ahead.

Also in general in most vocational professions further full time beyond bachelor study does not compensate for the opportunity cost of the time spent. Exceptions might be an MBA in some industries, but even these are being devalued.

Quote (Celt83)

“.., also schooling is free and I get paid like 3.3k a month..”

Get your masters
Yeah it does sound like a great deal, though as above I doubt it is if you are prioritising a quick and lucrative career path. But that isn't everything.
cheers
If you are enthusiastic about continuing a student life of freedom, fun and semi-poverty then go right ahead. Plenty of wage slaves spend the rest of their lives reminiscing about the fun times they had as students!
cheers

{BTW, for background on my comments. I got my Masters as I returned to study as a mature age student and it was the quickest path to engineering with my BSc undergrad. I found it 80% a waste of time, I already had the skills but I needed the recognised Engineering qualification. Having the Master has never got me anything that a graduate degree wouldn't have done. All my success has been from hard work AFTER completing my degree.}

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I went out and practiced for four years. I had already started taking a few courses for fun. But once I got my PE, I decided I wanted to stat my own consulting practice. I also knew I had some holes in my education. More specifically I wanted to learn masonry design properly and also cold formed steel design properly. So I ended up getting my masters.

I know a lot of people will say this wasn't the way to go. But I found going back later made the masters easier and more helpful than if I had gone straight through. For starters I knew what questions to ask, and I knew which things were unlikely to be used. So I didn't stress out about certain things. But I think what really helped was that I knew how to draft, I knew how things went together, I knew about having a proper load path, etc... So again I think I was able to ask practical questions to my professors on how to apply what they were teaching into the real world of design.

So I don't regret going back later one bit. I was also more mature. I really recommend it for engineers that feel like their are things they would like to learn more comprehensively.

John Southard, M.S., P.E.
https://www.pdhlibrary.com/

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Studying a master's degree is considered one of the most important engineering subjects, especially in the field of structural engineering. Studying these courses will raise your academic level very significantly. Studying for a master’s degree qualifies you to study for a doctorate in a logical and sequential manner. It also qualifies you to occupy one of the important specializations in civil engineering. For example, engineering designs for tall buildings, including resistance to winds and earthquakes. Also the issue of isolating the foundations against vibrations. It will certainly be very beneficial for your career, but it will also be costly in terms of material and time!

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Not needed to become a structural engineer at all.

If you want to become an actual practicing engineer, experience in the work is probably the most valuable. But a masters probably helps you fight the analysis paralysis of the common problem better.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I got a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Mechanical with emphasis on Signal Processing.
I took the PE in Mechanical and then went back and took it in Structural and I do mostly residential work.
If i were in your shoes, I would def. get the MS.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Depends a lot on how much beer you drank in undergraduate school and thus how much you remember.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

Quote (ALK2415)

Studying a master's degree is considered one of the most important engineering subjects, especially in the field of structural engineering. Studying these courses will raise your academic level very significantly. Studying for a master’s degree qualifies you to study for a doctorate in a logical and sequential manner.

I was going to flame you for these totally contradictory comments. PhD research is almost completely unrelated to real world engineering. A master's degree is absolutely necessary if you want to continue on towards a PhD, certainly. But, a PhD has VERY little to do with 98% of the structural engineering work done in the country. That work can be done quite easily without it. It can be done without a master's degree as well.

Then I read the last half of your post:

Quote:

It also qualifies you to occupy one of the important specializations in civil engineering. For example, engineering designs for tall buildings, including resistance to winds and earthquakes. Also the issue of isolating the foundations against vibrations.

Tall buildings, building isolation, vibrations, structural dynamics. Yes, a master's degree will help with that. So, will a PhD. I sometimes regret not getting a master's degree when I was young. But, mostly just because I'd like to have the MS after my name, not because I think I would know more now than I would if I had gotten it 25 years ago.

That being said, I have worked extensively with structural dynamics and vibrations. Worked on lots of earthquake design. And, feel like I have an excellent understanding of all of that. Heck, I used to teach classes on the subjects to other engineers.

I've taken plenty of Master's degree level classes (or seminars) along the way..... when there was a subject I wanted to know more about. I find those classes meant a lot more when they were taken with a real world grasp of the engineering involved in the projects and how it will be used.

But, the reality is if you don't get your MS now, you'll probably end up like me.... satisfied with your career and knowledge, but with only a BS and SE after your name.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I don't feel as though my masters helped me much at all. But, then:

1) I had my PE/P.Eng prior to completing my MSc so it didn't make a tangible difference to my employment prospects.

2) I'm a staunch autodidact so I've relished rounding out my education via learning outside of a classroom setting.

3) I did my undergraduate work in Canada where there aren't very many terrible programs that one might pass through and, as a result, be woefully deficient in the fundamentals.

Frankly, I think that I -- and many people -- would be better off with an MBA.

There are some firms that prefer candidates with masters degrees, particularly for new grads. And a disproportionate number of those firms will be the ones doing the big, sexy projects that interest you. So that may prove a limitation. At the same time, it is my perception that those firms also tend to be the ones where business training carries the most weight. Mega projects desperately need capable project managers to ensure that they don't become mega fee gobblers.

Plenty of MSc's and PhD's wind up spending their careers trying to prove their worth to their B.Eng/MBA overlords.

But, yeah, if you're bound and determined to be a dedicated computational modeler of wind damping systems at Thornton Tomasetti, Magnusson Klemencic, etc, back to school you go.

RE: Is a Masters needed to be a Sturctural Engineer

I pursued a Master's at the end of the 2010's and completed it in a year. I completed it at a top 10 civil engineering university according to US News rankings. It helped me get my first job (it was a preferred qualification/soft requirement) but I think it was absolutely a waste of time and money if the goal was to make me better at structural engineering. A key thing to research even for a top university is the availability of courses and actual course requirements. My university was a heavy research based university and while my degree was course-based, it just wasn't very practical.

The most difficult class I took was an advanced math class that I was forced to take that had absolutely nothing to do with structural engineering. None of the other five courses accepted for that requirement were actually taught that year, which was certainly a surprise to me. Also the professor that taught masonry took a sabbatical (no replacement) and the concrete professor broke his wrist (concrete courses cancelled for a semester). Plastic analysis of steel went from taught every winter to taught every other winter in the year I would have taken it. The most practical class I took was a wood design course taken through the architecture school. It was a struggle to even find available courses.

Like I said the degree did help me get my first job, but that was more for the piece of paper than the actual education.

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