Hiring a Structural Engineer: A Full Guide | Modis US

Hiring a Structural Engineer: A Full Guide

Modis Posted 03 October 2019

There's something nerve-racking about staffing an engineering team -- especially if you've never done it before.

We know hiring the perfect structural engineer can be intimidating, but we've got you covered with this comprehensive guide. Take a look at our best tips on hiring a structural engineer here and check out our main site for more information.

Let's dive in and check them out!

Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering and structural engineers are the people who make sure stationary and mechanical structures -- like buildings, bridges, tunnels, aircraft, and other machinery -- are safe. They do this by calculating the loads (like snow, wind, or earthquake forces), fitting the structure to the architecture, and deciding which structural systems to use.

Although structural engineers are typically hired for the design of new buildings, sometimes they help with the demolition or dismantling of a structure. They also inspect structures both during and after construction to make certain they are built properly.

If you're wondering which soft skills engineering candidates should possess, you're in luck because we have an entire article dedicated to common personality traits of a good engineer. Of course, if you want the short version, when hiring a structural candidate you should look for applicants who possess interpersonal and leadership skills, communication skills, curiosity, creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

These skills are important because structural engineers work on projects ranging from single-family homes to highway systems and international airports

For example, one engineer, Cameron Jenkins, P.E., worked with FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other entities to assess and perform dam breach modeling for 37 essential dams in Puerto Rico immediately after the Category 5 hurricane that struck the island in September 2017.

ZFA Structural Engineers was part of the project team that renovated and retrofitted a historic structure built in 1864 that was originally used as a school for U.S. Navy apprentices. Because the building had been vacant since 1993 the team did a seismic retrofit to bring the property in line with the California Historic Building Code.

These are just two examples of the wide range of projects structural engineers are involved with.

Engineers working

Structural Engineer Costs

One of the biggest concerns employers have when hiring a structural engineer is cost. How much will it cost to hire a structural engineer?

There are a few factors to consider when evaluating how much to hire a structural engineer.

The first is timing. Schedules are typically tight on construction projects in order to meet deadlines. Meeting deadlines and avoiding delays is crucial so if you want to know when to hire a structural engineer, the best time to hire a structural engineer for a typical client is a few months prior to the start of a construction project.

Secondly, are you hiring a structural engineer both for a full-time or for a project based role? It makes a difference because salaries and hiring practices differ. For example, according to LinkedIn Salary data the median base salary for a structural engineer in a full-time role in the Greater Philadelphia Area is $75,000/yr. The salary range in the same area is $59,400 - $107,000/yr. Part-time structural engineer roles pay $75,000 - $100,000 a year. On the other hand, there are project-based structural engineering jobs on Upwork range from $500-$2000 per project.

U.S. Department of Labor data shows structural engineers earn $84,770 per year and $40.75 per hour on average although salaries vary based on experience, zip code, and whether the engineer works independently or with a firm.

For detailed salary and compensation information refer to our 2020 IT & Engineering Salary Guide.

Where to Hire Structural Engineers

When preparing to start a construction project, choosing an architect and engineering team is one of the most important decisions. That's because structural engineers have a lot of weight on their shoulders to perform the job well.

To help you choose wisely, here are some tips on how employers can select and on-board the right structural engineer.

  1. Always Look At Their Qualifications -- In most cases, look for a Bachelor's degree in Structural Engineering and that candidates are Licensed Engineers (PE/SE). All 50 US states issue state-issued licenses.
  2. Focus On Project-Specific Experience -- Ideally, you want an engineer who has experience with projects of a similar size and scope. If you're building a bridge and they've only built churches, you may be in for a surprise. Find out how many projects applicants have successfully completed.
  3. Look For Thorough Construction Knowledge -- The successful candidate will have a strong understanding of structural engineering concepts and principles as well as a working knowledge of construction materials, construction methods and industry standards.
  4. Ensure Familiarity With Building Codes -- You want someone who has knowledge with all necessary codes, including but not limited to: IBC, ASCE, ACI 318, AISC and NDS.
  5. Where can you find a reputable structural engineer to hire? For residential construction projects you may be able to use sites like Angie's List or Tumbtack. For larger projects, ask for referrals from your network of local engineering consulting firms. For project-based roles you can check freelancing website or work with a trusted recruiter that has engineering talent available, For example, if you're looking for diverse team cultures and projects, you can always ask us about our staffing solutions for both large and small projects.

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