30 under 30: career tips for the 30yo structural engineer

30 Under 30: Career Tips for the 30yo Structural Engineer

There are many things professional structural engineers can do early in their education and career to set themselves up for success. With that in mind, the engineers at RISA have put our heads together to come up with our “30 under 30 list”. These are 30 suggestions for young structural engineers before turning 30.

30 Under 30

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in civil or architectural engineering, or a related field, with a focus on structures (and if you feel like you need to, go get your master’s degree)
  2. Gain work experience through internships or entry-level positions in the field
  3. Obtain professional licensure, which usually requires passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam
  4. Study. This can be for the FE, PE, and SE exams. But also when new code changes occur. #neverstoplearning
  5. Consider obtaining certification through a professional organization, such as PMP or LEED
  6. Stay current with industry developments and advancements through continuing education and professional development opportunities
  7. Be a Sponge. You can soak up advice/information from anyone; contractors, suppliers, architects, the list goes on and on…
  8. Learn from the Field. Understanding how your structure is built in the field helps you create better notes, details and specifications for your contract drawings.
  9. Network and Make Contacts. The AEC industry can be as big or small as you make it. Making new contracts helps you build professional relationships, mentorships, and friendships.
  10. Speaking of mentors. Find a mentor. Someone that can help you grow and answer questions.
  11. Become a mentor. Be available for the next generation and pass on your relevant knowledge.
  12. Learn how to write a professional report, permit comment responses, and specifications.
  13. Keep a copy of all your designs and calculations.
  14. Build something with your hands. Building a DIY project with your hands gives you additional construction and field experience that only comes from doing.
  15. Visit with fabricators/detailers to learn how your projects are assembled prior to going to the field.
  16. Start collecting code and reference manuals.
  17. Learn to use structural engineering software such as RISA or ADAPT.
  18. Learn to use drawing software such as Revit or AutoCAD.
  19. Attend seminars, online webinars and conferences.
  20. Learn to manage clients/schedules and create project proposals.
  21. Engage in collegiate research related to structural engineering & design
  22. Take as many opportunities to explore different paths and types of projects. (adaptive reuse, forensics, high rise, education, software)
  23. Manage a project independently from start to finish.
  24. Become the lead engineer on a project (and maybe even stamp your drawings)
  25. Plan your career development
  26. Invest early for savings and retirement
  27. Volunteer with youths. Such as 'Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day'
  28. Take care of your health
  29. Take on a hobby outside of work
  30. Join a professional organization

Are you already over 30? It’s not too late! Some of these suggestions can still be used by structural engineers at any stage of their career. For example #6, RISA offers live and on-demand webinars. These webinars offer PDH credits and you can learn more or even sign up here.

Contact RISA