Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

I've got a BE degree (honour) in civil/structural engineering degree in NSW (Australia). But I still can get a job because I don't have practical experience. I wonder if I can study by myself to be a practical engineer or not. How can you do that ? Reading some practical books ? (where can I buy them ?) ? ? ?   

 Thanks a lot.

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

Wrong forum. Try How to improve myself.....
I'd be surprised that you can't find a job as companies like to take on fresh graduates. They're easily mouldable into the company philosophy, whereas older people tend to be thought of as just mouldy and are less likely to be recruited. Give it more time.


RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

That's unfortunate to hear that you are struggling to obtain employment.   I'm a practicing Professional Engineer in Australia and my take on the employment market for Engineers is that it’s quite buoyant, particularly in places like Gladstone and Perth, although December and January are usually the quieter months.

Engineering is one of those professions, like many other I suspect, where a lot of the practical aspects are imparted by mentors and peers or simply picked up along the way.  I believe the best way for you to obtain these skills is to get into employment, whether with a consultancy or with a constructor.

I suggest you get in touch with the major consulting firms, like GHD, SKM, Hatch, Flour, Worley, Halliburton KBR, Maunsell, Bechtel and Connell Wagner, as well as the smaller firms in your area.  If you are interested in construction, get in touch with some of the major contractors like Leighton, Thiess, John Holland, Clough, Multiplex, Baulderstone Hornibrook, United KG and Monadelphous.  Check out the employment links at their websites and give their HR departments a call.

Are you prepared to move to a regional centre like Newcastle or interstate to places like Brisbane, Gladstone, Perth, Bunbury, Port Hedland or Karratha?

I think you just need to hit the Internet and the phones.  If you are flexible you should find your way into employment and hopefully a rewarding career.

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

To 280275,
I wonder if the comment concerning lack of experience is from one or from all interviews?  If it is from one, it may be a nice way to tell you he does not have a present position.  

Sounds like 'dbuzz' has some good advice.  Keep looking.  Then when you get a job, keep practicing.  Practice leads to practicality.  It is a lifetime effort.

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

All I can say is 'chin up'. I know how you feel having just graduated a year and a half ago. I live in Winnipeg Canada, which although not the same continent as you, is relevant in the fact that Winnipeg is considered by most a dying city. I had convinced myself that I wouldn't find any engineering work, let alone in my field of interest. But low and behold, I've been six months in a dream position right in my home town.

What I can suggest to you is this. Don't expect to get a job that's being advertised through conventional methods. I found, in the end, that the majority of engineering jobs that get posted are because the company is looking specifically for someone with experience. There are tonnes of companies who want newbies, but imagine the landslide of applications they would get from an ad for somebody with no experience.

Instead, try applying for co-op postings at the local university. Our company put up a just an ad and got no respondants. Yet we would have been more than happy to take a graduate.

Another tip is this, watch the paper for articles announcing a new big contract that involves an engineering company. Then do a cold call to that company. And don't forget to do your research on the company, the importance of this cannot be understated.

Good luck,

and remember, chin up


RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

If you lived in Las Vegas, USA, I'd hire you today. No questions asked!!

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

Thanks to Dbuzz and everyone for nice replies. I'm working as a structural draftman at the moment. I am getting some experience and going to struggle for an engineering job. It takes time anyway.

 Thanks everyone again.

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

280275... and the answer is 42?

The second engineering job I had was with a German structural engineer... and it was his practice to have the engineers draft their own projects as well as detail them... and undertake construction review... this has helped me immeasurably over the years... it gives an appreciation for the construction as well 'putting things together' in the field... you may want to check with your employer to see if you can get some field experience... also help.


from Winnipeg, eh?  could be worse <G>... Winnipeg is sort of a rural economy city... it doesn't change much over the years... not a boom and bust environment.  

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

I can understand your plight.  When I first left school it was tough going.  This was especially odd because at the time my geographic area was one of the fastest growing areas in the USA and rated as one of the best cities to live and work in.  I had a mechanical engineering degree with honors and my concentration was in connections & FEM. I also had a lot of construction co-op practical experience.  I couldn't find a job in the structural arena so I took a job as a building inspector thinking it was temporary.  I loved the job and gained tremendous exposure to all of the local firms, not to mention the wealth of plans to review to gain practical experience. Another point was that I learned the Building Code...something that takes most engineers years to grasp.  It was great going to a jobsite with plans in hand and seeing it constructed; also, the contact with engineers and construction managers provided me with a resource to ask questions. After two years on the job, I had local and regional firms calling me.  I don't know about Australia, but in the USA an engineering graduate can walk into an inspections job with no experience and advance fairly quickly...provided you take every opportunity to learn.  The down fall is that inspection jobs don't pay very well, but for me it has paid huge dividends in the long term. I am now a practicing structural engineer in my own firm.

I would agree with the others that it does take time.  Take every opportunity to learn.  When you see or hear something that doesn't immediately register with you, make a note to research it and learn more about it.  You are on the right track to seek out books on the subject, but books alone are not the answer. Always question what you read and understand the application before you practice.  Best of luck!

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

To 280275,
You are starting where I started, as a structural draftsman.  My first job required 3 months on the boards.  A structural engineer needs to be able to draw as a means of expressing his ideas, not to mention knowing how something is going to fit together.  

School only gives you so much.  You have to get the rest from the practice.  

All things considered, I figure it took me over 10 years to begin to "feel" confident as a structural engineer.  That means being able to walk into a project and have a sense about it, whether steel, concrete, wood, or fiberglass as it applied to a building, bridge, dam, drilling rig, etc.

Always keep your eye on the long term view.  It pays dividends later.  

Michael Mills

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

Well I think I am in the same position.  I am working for a consulting firm and the job position is for a structural engineer (design).  I only wished i had worked under someone before whereby to ask questions and learn from.

Hang in there.

RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

MGMtulsa ,
 It took 10 years for you to be confident in everything. That's not too long !!!.


RE: How can I be a practical structural engineer ?

To 280275,
 Catch the nuance:  10 years was only a beginning point at which confidence began to be present along with the doubts and questions.  

And you are correct, it is not too long.   Unfortunately, too many new graduates think they can progress more quickly.  Experience is experience and it only comes with time.  Time cannot be hurried, though it can be wasted.  

Michael Mills

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close