Guide: What Is Structural Design In Civil Engineering?

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 3 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When designing structures of buildings and commercial properties for various communities, it is important to consider their safety and longevity. Structural designers perform structural analysis and apply scientific methods in designing buildings that can withstand earthquakes, cyclones and other stresses. If you are interested in working in civil engineering, an understanding of structural design can help you ensure that new structures in a community are safe and effective. In this article, we answer, "What is structural design in civil engineering?", learn about its key principles and explore the different types of careers involving structural design.

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What Is Structural Design In Civil Engineering?

If you are considering a career in engineering, you may ask, "What is structural design in civil engineering?". Structural design is a branch of civil engineering that involves designing safe and durable structures, such as commercial and residential buildings, bridges, train stations and tunnels. Using their knowledge of material science and physics, structural designers can analyse a structure to understand the forces that might affect it so that they can design the structure to safely withstand those forces.

In their structural analysis, structural designers consider the position of forces on the structure, as forces could affect particular areas of the structure. They also study the direction of the exerted force since knowing that can help them to plan and install reinforcements in the structure. Finally, they consider how the magnitude of the exerted force affects the building. Based on the information they gather from their structural analysis, structural designers decide to use specific design concepts and select appropriate construction materials for the structure. They make structural plans that enable the building to withstand external and internal stresses safely.

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What Are The Key Principles Of Structural Design In Civil Engineering?

Here are some key principles of structural design:

Design structures to bear specific loads

All building structures are designed to withstand different loads and pressures. One important principle of structural design is that structures can bear the loads they are designed to handle. This might include environmental, live and dead loads. Environmental loads can include wind, rain and other weather-related factors. Live loads are loads that are not connected to the structure, including people and vehicles. Dead loads are elements connected to the structure and weigh on it, and they can include building materials and other elements of a structure.

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Use the right materials to build structures

Choosing the right construction materials for a building is important to ensure its safety and stability. That is why, when designing structures, it is crucial to select building materials that suit the local climate and are tough and durable. It is also essential to consider how the different materials might work together. Structural designers often choose materials based on their strength, durability and other factors. This can help them ensure that buildings are safe and able to withstand external and internal pressures.

Ensure that structures remain stationary

Due to the constant external pressure being exerted on them, some structures may experience warping or shifting to some extent. It is possible to avoid this and make sure that the construction remains stationary. Installing deep and firm foundations can help. You can also use strong construction materials and reinforce them periodically. It is advisable to carry out regular structural audits to ensure there are no major flaws that could impact the safety of the building.

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What Is The Purpose Of Structural Design In Civil Engineering?

The principal purpose of structural design in civil engineering is to guarantee the safety, durability and structural soundness of buildings and infrastructure. That is why it is essential to investigate different design approaches, construction materials, building methods and land topographies. You can then select the most suitable ones and build well-designed structures for stability and strength. Such constructions are likely to withstand various forces and loads and require minimum maintenance or repairs over the years.

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Types Of Careers Involving Structural Design

While structural designers are primarily responsible for designing structures, there are many careers in civil engineering that can involve structural design. Here are a few examples of careers that can involve structural design:

1. Design engineer

National average salary: ₹18,991 per month

Primary duties: Design engineers research and develop ideas for new products and systems. They also design and test prototypes for new products and review existing products to identify any risks and problems in them. These engineers also implement solutions to improve the efficiency and performance of existing products. Using design and engineering software in their prototyping work, design engineers create blueprints, engineering plans, product drawings and product models. They also maintain records of engineering designs. Additionally, they estimate production costs, oversee the manufacturing process and collaborate with other engineers and manufacturing personnel in their work.

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2. Materials engineer

National average salary: ₹19,245 per month

Primary duties: A materials engineer develops, processes, tests and evaluates various materials, such as concrete, steel, alloy and wood, for use in a wide range of structures and products. They give technical advice on using suitable materials for specific products, oversee quality control, inspect problems and undertake repairs and maintenance work. Along with providing the process and design specifications of using the materials, they develop new manufacturing methods. As part of their work, they may supervise technical staff and coordinate with manufacturing personnel and suppliers.

3. Civil designer

National average salary: ₹20,848 per month

Primary duties: Civil designers use design software to plan and draft 2D and 3D designs for various municipal building and construction projects. These can include roads, bridges, waterways, sewage lines, drainage systems and utilities. They refer to maps and topographical surveys for grading land and nearby structures and use the information to develop plans for commercial and residential building projects. They review engineering drawings to ensure they are accurate, get proper building permits from government authorities and follow local regulations and building code requirements. Civil designers stay updated on local coding laws and work with project engineers and civil engineers.

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4. Environmental engineer

National average salary: ₹21,013 per month

Primary duties: Environmental engineers carry out land assessments to determine the impact of commercial activities such as construction and development on the local environment. They gather and analyse the environment and human influence data for this purpose and write detailed reports on their investigations. They advise builders and policymakers on adopting environmental best practices and modifying project designs to ensure compliance with established environmental regulations. They assist them with planning and developing pollution and waste management technologies and systems to resolve pressing problems and protect the environment.

5. Structural engineer

National average salary: ₹21,697 per month

Primary duties: Structural engineers are responsible for using scientific concepts to design safe buildings that can withstand forces and loads. Structural engineers may create blueprints for structures and oversee the construction of structures, and they may specialise in engineering certain types of structures.

When creating structural reports, designs and blueprints, structural engineers consider the human and environmental factors that might affect the buildings and calculate the potential stresses and pressures. They determine how to counter these by using building materials of appropriate strength. They also design buildings that are structurally sound and oversee their construction. Structural engineers work in collaboration with architects, engineers and contractors.

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6. Structural designer

National average salary: ₹22,217 per month

Primary duties: Based on project requirements, structural designers use their knowledge of industrial methodologies and design software to create structural drawings and digital models of bridges, buildings and other structures. While designing, they consider the construction materials that the builders may use and the designs of electrical, plumbing and sewage systems. They review and revise the structural drawings, designs and models to meet client and engineer requirements and maintain a record of the changes they make. When they prepare final structural plans, they ensure that the structures are safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

7. Mining engineer

National average salary: ₹23,692 per month

Primary duties: Mining engineers assess the potential of mining sites and carry out safety and feasibility studies for surface and underground mining operations. They also consider the impact of mining activities on the surrounding environment and find solutions to minimise the damage. Using specialist mining software, they design plans for new mines, determine locations of tunnels and shafts and ensure there is proper ventilation in the underground areas. They oversee mine construction work, mining production processes and monitor and direct staff activities.

Mining engineers also establish mineral extraction systems, plan how mining operations can take place and assess the safety and effectiveness of mining equipment. Additionally, mining engineers review the designs of existing mines and determine if it is possible to reclaim specific sites and if it is necessary to fill up mine shafts that are no longer in use. They keep records of the work they undertake and manage work budgets.

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Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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