Related 4-year bachelor's degree programs emphasize structural analysis and geotechnical engineering. They aim to teach students about the construction of building foundations and walls. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll.
Students of a master's degree program could use computer simulation to test the integrity of concrete structures. They might study advanced concrete and seismic design principles. Typically, master's degrees take 2-3 years to complete. Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, such as the physical sciences or mathematics.
At the doctoral level, students prepare to oversee various construction processes. In addition to studying topics such as masonry structures, earthquake engineering and structural mechanics, they may conduct dissertation research. Doctoral degrees usually take 5-6 years total to complete. For admission into a doctoral degree program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a related field such as engineering, physical sciences or mathematics.
Licensing requirements vary by state, but professional engineers can obtain state licensing by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering examination.
Bachelor's Degree in Civil or Structural Engineering
In such programs, students learn failure testing, materials science and steel design in order to design retaining walls and foundations to buildings. The programs require collaboration on team projects for laboratory hours, working on both theoretical modeling and practical challenges. Some programs have classes or organizations that prepare students to compete in the National Concrete Canoe Competition. Administered by the American Society of Civil Engineers, this annual contest challenges teams of civil engineering students to use engineering principles while highlighting concrete's versatility (content.asce.org).
Courses in computer science, statistics and chemistry prepare students to build reinforced concrete structures, like foundations for skyscrapers, which are stable enough to withstand hurricane wind gusts. Other topics of study include:
- Reinforced concrete design
- Computer-aided design
- Geotechnical engineering
- Pre-stressed concrete design
- Structural analysis
Master of Science in Structural Engineering
Within civil engineering departments, graduate students can pursue a Master of Science in Structural Engineering. Students prepare to work as structural engineers by learning to test for empirical failures in structures like tunnels and dams. Laboratory work involves experimentation, and grad students can apply extreme conditions to built structures within a computer model simulation program.
Graduate-level structural engineering programs often require students to take courses in advanced concrete design, which teaches them how to construct a building foundation that will stay stable during an earthquake. Commonly offered coursework includes:
- Concrete structures
- Risk analysis
- Seismic design
- Structural dynamics
- Random vibrations
Doctor of Philosophy in Structural Engineering
Students learn to oversee the entire process of construction elements, like augured shafts, pipelines and spread foundations. Programs challenge students to develop a study plan with a dissertation in mind, using original and new research. Doctoral programs require that students take a candidacy exam and write and defend a dissertation. Doctoral students may earn their master's degree along the way.
Doctoral students apply mechanical principles to computational models to analyze stress, deflection and flexural capacity of existing structures. Programs offer such courses as:
- Advanced reinforced concrete
- Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis
- Masonry structures
- Earthquake engineering
- Structural mechanics
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 275,210 civil engineers, including structural, were employed as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The majority of civil engineering professionals worked in architectural services and engineering, though employment in non-residential building construction and local and state levels of government was significant. Engineers who offer their services to the public must become licensed, professional engineers. To gain the required amount of experience to qualify for licensure, bachelor's degree holders are supervised by experienced engineers, and they can find work as:
- Construction managers
- Transportation engineers
Engineers with doctorates commonly work in academia and research, but they can also provide their services to the construction industry. Common job titles include:
- Civil and structural engineering professor
- Environmental engineering researcher
- Geotechnical engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to BLS projections, jobs for civil engineers were anticipated to grow 8% from 2014-2024. Sharp increases in jobs for civil engineers were forecast due to population growth, as well as the need to fix the infrastructure of the United States. Engineers were expected to be in need to repair existing bridges and roads, as well as to construct new complexes and water supply systems. Civil engineers earned a median annual salary of $82,220 in May 2015.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
Professional engineers are licensed by the state in which they seek employment. Requirements vary by state, but they generally involve a 4-year degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Graduates from an ABET-accredited program qualify to take the first of two exams, which is called the Fundamentals of Engineering test. After gaining at least four years of experience, they may take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam. Re-licensure requirements also vary, but many colleges offer individual continuing education courses, including classes in concrete design.
Students can acquire concrete design training through engineering degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Students will need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to obtain state licensure in order to work.