Sometimes considered a specialty within civil engineering, structural engineering deals with the conception, analysis, design, and construction of buildings and large structures. However, structural engineers are also involved in the design of machinery, automobiles, aircraft, and spacecraft. Anywhere structural integrity is critical, a structural engineer has a role to play. Indeed, structural engineer have made their iconic mark throughout history: Roman aqueducts, the Eiffel tower, and more recently, the International Space Station. In all cases, knowledge of solid mechanics enables structural engineers to assemble columns and beams into a structure that will withstand the forces of gravity, wind, snow and even earthquakes. Beyond steel and concrete, structural engineers now work with new materials such as polymers and reinforced plastics. Significant also is the fact that it is structural engineers who translate the concepts devised by architects into physical reality. This can often be a challenge. Witness the structural engineering ingenuity that was required to take an architect’s drawings and create the Sydney Opera House from them. A heightened sense of the aesthetic is also part of a structural engineer’s life. The flowing lines of many of the world’s great bridges are a prime example of beauty instilled in a functional structure.
Requirements for Engineering Licensure in Canada
If you are not licensed to work as an engineer in Canada you must be prepared to work under the direct supervision of a licensed professional engineer. To work independently you must obtain a P.Eng. designation awarded by one of the provincial or territorial engineering authorities whose role it is to govern the engineering profession in Canada. Although they differ slightly among the provinces and territories, the basic requirements for licensure are:
- An engineering degree awarded by a Canadian or Canadian equivalent university;
- A minimum of four years of relevant engineering experience of which one year must have been gained in Canada;
- Successful completion of a Professional Practice Examination;
- Canadian citizenship of proof of permanent residency in Canada;
- Be of good character as vouched for by three referees.
The process of obtaining your P. Eng. can start even before you arrive in Canada. Visit the Roadmap to Engineering in Canada at newcomers.engineerscanada.ca. This takes you to the Engineers Canada website. There you can link to the provincial or territorial body where you plan to work and obtain the necessary application forms and list of required documentation.
Alternative Careers in Engineering Technology
Engineering technicians and technologists may offer non-regulated engineering and technical services directly to the public. They must, however, work under the supervision of a Professional Engineer when providing professional engineering services to an employer or the public.
Technologists apply theoretical and practical methods to design, plan, develop, test, manufacture, construct, install, commission, operate and maintain engineered products, processes, systems and services. Technicians apply theoretical and practical methods to assist with the design, development, manufacturing, testing, construction, installation, commission, operation and maintenance of engineered products, processes, systems and services.
If your training and or work experience is in engineering but you chose not to become licensed as a professional engineer you may be qualified to work in a wide range of technology occupations as a professional technician or technologist. Discover the many alternative career pathways to rewarding and well paid occupations in engineering technology.