What is the difference between a Civil Engineer, who primarily works on structures and a Structural Engineer?
Let us begin by defining what a Civil Engineer does. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website (1),
Civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.
Okay, so then how is a Structural Engineer different?
In Washington State, the requirements for obtaining a Professional Engineering (PE) registration is a 4-year degree at an accredited university, passing the Fundamentals in Engineering Exam, plus four years’ experience, then passing the PE Exam. The Registered Civil Engineer has passed the Civil Engineering PE Exam. The Structural Engineering (SE) registration requires two additional years of experience beyond the Civil Engineering PE exam and an additional 16-hour examination.
When am I required to hire a Structural Engineer versus someone with a Professional Engineering Registration?
Someone who is registered as a Structural Engineer (SE) in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, Illinois, etc. is required when providing the structural design for certain structures. In general, SE’s are required for significant structures as defined by state law.
In Washington State, the significant structures, as defined in RCW 18.43.020(2), must be designed by a Registered SE are as follows.
I need a Structural Engineer, what are my options?
If your project includes a building or structure that meets the criteria listed above and you are looking for assistance with project feasibility, design, and/or construction administration, please feel free to reach out to Meier Architecture • Engineering, as we maintain several licensed structural engineers on staff with licenses in many states.