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Top 10 Structural Design Engineer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top structural engineering certifications available, highlighting their key benefits and requirements.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a structural design engineer in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and competency. They can provide employers with an assurance that the engineer is knowledgeable about the latest industry standards, regulations, and best practices. Certifications also provide potential employers with a way to easily verify an engineer’s qualifications and experience. Furthermore, certifications can be used to differentiate engineers from other candidates when competing for jobs. Ultimately, certifications can help structural design engineers stand out in a competitive job market and increase their chances of getting hired.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial certifications for Structural Design Engineers and how they can help advance their career.

What are Structural Design Engineer Certifications?

Structural design engineer certification is a professional designation that demonstrates a level of expertise in the field of structural engineering. This certification is granted by professional organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) or the Institute of Structural Engineers (ISE). This certification is designed to ensure that engineers are knowledgeable and competent in the principles and practice of structural engineering.

The certification process typically involves passing an examination and demonstrating experience in the field by completing a portfolio review or other requirements. The exam may cover topics such as structural analysis, design, materials science, building codes, and construction methods. Once certified, structural design engineers must adhere to high standards of engineering practice and maintain their certifications through continuing education courses or recertification exams.

Structural design engineer certification can be beneficial for both employers and employees. Employers who employ certified professionals can be sure that they are hiring qualified individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and skills in the field. Certified engineers may also be more competitive when applying for jobs since this designation shows that they have met rigorous standards for expertise. Additionally, certified professionals may enjoy higher salaries due to their specialized knowledge and skillset. Finally, having this certification can provide recognition among peers for having met certain industry standards and can open up opportunities for career advancement as well as networking within the profession.

Pro Tip: When considering a Structural Design Engineer Certification, look for programs that offer both online and in-person classes. This will allow you to learn the fundamentals of structural engineering, as well as gain hands-on experience with real world projects. Also, make sure to check if the program is accredited by a professional organization like the National Council of Structural Engineering Associations (NCSEA).

Related: What does a Structural Design Engineer do?

Top 10 Structural Design Engineer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Structural Design Engineers today.

1. Professional Engineer (PE) Certification

Professional Engineer (PE) Certification is a professional certification for engineers in the United States. It is issued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The PE certification is a voluntary process that demonstrates an engineer’s competency to practice engineering at the highest level.

In order to become a PE, an engineer must have a minimum of four years of experience working under the supervision of another licensed Professional Engineer and must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. The FE exam is typically taken after completing an engineering degree program, while the PE exam can be taken after gaining several years of professional experience.

The cost to take the FE exam varies from state to state, but generally ranges from $100-$200. The cost to take the PE exam also varies from state to state, but generally ranges from $300-$500.

Once an engineer has passed both exams, they must submit their application for licensure with their respective state board. Each board has its own requirements for licensure, which may include additional exams or courses, as well as an ethics review and background check. After all requirements are met, the engineer will receive their Professional Engineer license.

Overall, it can take anywhere from two to five years to become a Professional Engineer depending on individual circumstances such as work experience and education level.

2. American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Certified Steel Detailer

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Certified Steel Detailer is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and skill in the design, detailing, fabrication and erection of structural steel. The certification process involves passing an exam administered by AISC.

To become certified, applicants must have at least three years of experience in steel detailing or related work. They must also complete an approved training course, which typically takes between four to six months to complete. After completing the course, applicants must pass the AISC Certified Steel Detailer Exam which consists of multiple choice questions and hands-on exercises.

The cost for the AISC Certified Steel Detailer Exam is $400 USD. Additionally, there are fees associated with the training courses which vary depending on the provider.

Once certified, individuals will receive a certificate from AISC and will be listed on its website as a certified detailer. This certification is valid for five years after which time individuals must renew their certification by taking a refresher course or retaking the exam.

3. American Concrete Institute (ACI) Structural Design Professional Certification

The American Concrete Institute (ACI) Structural Design Professional Certification is a program designed to recognize the knowledge and experience of structural engineers who have demonstrated their expertise in the design of concrete structures. This certification is intended to provide assurance that an individual has the necessary skills and knowledge to perform structural design services in accordance with accepted industry standards.

To obtain ACI Structural Design Professional Certification, an individual must pass a written exam administered by ACI. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as concrete materials, structural analysis, and design principles. The exam typically takes 3-4 hours to complete and can be taken at any approved testing center or online.

To be eligible for the certification, applicants must have a minimum of four years of professional experience in structural engineering, including two years of experience with concrete structures. Additionally, applicants must also demonstrate their knowledge in areas such as mathematics, physics, engineering mechanics, and materials science through either coursework or professional experience.

The cost for taking the ACI Structural Design Professional Certification exam is $400 USD. This fee covers all administrative costs associated with taking the exam as well as any additional fees required by the testing center or online provider.

Once an individual has successfully passed the exam and met all other requirements for certification, they will receive an official certificate from ACI recognizing them as a certified Structural Design Professional. This certificate is valid for five years before needing to be renewed through continuing education credits or re-examination.

4. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Certification

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes the knowledge, skills, and abilities of structural engineers. It is designed to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the practice of structural engineering. The certification is valid for five years and must be renewed every five years.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain qualifications and pass an exam. Qualifications include a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or equivalent from an accredited university, four years of experience in structural engineering, and passing the ASCE Structural Engineering Exam. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion.

The cost of taking the exam varies depending on whether you are an ASCE member or not. For non-members, the cost is $1,000; for members it is $800. Additionally, there are fees associated with applying for certification ($50), renewing your certification ($50), and transferring your certification to another state ($25).

Overall, obtaining ASCE Structural Engineering Certification requires dedication and hard work but can be very rewarding for those who are committed to their profession. It demonstrates that you have achieved a high level of expertise in your field and have taken steps to ensure that you remain up-to-date on current practices in structural engineering.

5. International Code Council (ICC) Structural Plans Examiner Certification

The International Code Council (ICC) Structural Plans Examiner Certification is a professional credential that validates an individual’s knowledge and experience in examining structural plans for compliance with building codes. This certification ensures that individuals have the skills to properly review and approve structural plans for both residential and commercial construction projects.

To obtain the ICC Structural Plans Examiner Certification, applicants must pass an exam administered by the ICC. The exam covers topics such as building codes, plan reading, and structural design principles. Applicants must also provide proof of at least two years of experience in a related field or completion of approved educational courses.

The exam typically takes four hours to complete and consists of multiple-choice questions. The cost of the exam varies depending on where it is taken but generally ranges from $150 to $200 USD.

6. National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Structural Engineering Exam

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Structural Engineering Exam is a comprehensive exam that tests the knowledge and skills of engineers in the field of structural engineering. The exam is designed to assess an engineer’s ability to solve complex problems related to the design, analysis, and construction of structures. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion.

The written portion consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as materials, loads, analysis methods, design codes, construction practices, and other related topics. This section takes 8 hours to complete.

The practical portion requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge by solving problems related to structural design and analysis using computer software programs. This section takes 6 hours to complete.

To get the NCEES Structural Engineering Exam, you must first register with NCEES and pay the associated fees. The registration fee for this exam is $350 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees. After registering with NCEES, you will be assigned an exam date and location where you can take the exam.

Once you have taken both portions of the exam, your scores will be sent directly to NCEES for evaluation. It typically takes about 4-6 weeks for NCEES to process your scores and send out your results via mail or email depending on your preference at registration time.

7. American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welding Inspector

The American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) program is a certification program designed to ensure that welding inspectors have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their duties in a safe and effective manner. The AWS CWI program is recognized worldwide as the standard for welding inspection personnel.

It typically takes approximately six months of study and preparation to become an AWS CWI. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion covers topics such as welding processes, safety, codes, standards, materials, inspection techniques, and testing procedures. The practical portion involves demonstrating proficiency in various welding processes and inspection techniques.

To become an AWS CWI, you must first meet the prerequisites for taking the exam. This includes having at least four years of experience in welding or related fields such as metallurgy or quality control/assurance. You must also complete an approved training course in welding inspection prior to taking the exam.

The cost of becoming an AWS CWI varies depending on your location and other factors such as whether you take a self-study course or attend a classroom-based course. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500-$3,000 for the entire process including training courses, application fees, exam fees etc.

8. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) Structural Design Professional Certification

The National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) Structural Design Professional Certification is a certification program designed to recognize the expertise and knowledge of building inspection engineers in the field of structural design. This certification is intended to demonstrate that an individual has demonstrated a high level of competence in the field of structural design.

The NABIE Structural Design Professional Certification requires applicants to have at least four years of experience as a building inspection engineer and pass an exam administered by NABIE. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as building codes, materials, construction methods, and structural analysis. The exam must be taken within one year from the date of application and must be taken at an approved testing center.

In order to obtain the certification, applicants must submit an application form along with proof of their experience as a building inspection engineer, a copy of their valid driver’s license or state ID card, and payment for the examination fee. Once all documentation is received, NABIE will review the application and issue an authorization letter that allows applicants to take the exam.

The cost for taking the NABIE Structural Design Professional Certification Exam is $250 USD. This fee covers all costs associated with taking the exam including registration fees, proctoring fees, and any other applicable fees.

Overall, obtaining this certification requires dedication and commitment on behalf of the applicant but can serve as recognition for their hard work and dedication in the field of structural design.

9. Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) Structural Design Professional Practice Exam

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) Structural Design Professional Practice Exam is a comprehensive exam that assesses the professional knowledge and skills of engineers in the field of structural design. The exam is designed to test the ability of an engineer to apply their knowledge and experience to solve real-world problems related to structural design. It covers topics such as material selection, load analysis, seismic design, connections, detailing, and more.

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and consists of multiple-choice questions. To get the exam, you must first register with APEGBC as a professional engineer or geoscientist. Once registered, you can purchase the exam from the APEGBC website for $350 CAD plus applicable taxes. You will then be emailed an access code which will allow you to take the online version of the exam at your convenience.

Once you have completed the exam, your results will be available within 48 hours. If you pass, you will receive a certificate from APEGBC confirming that you have successfully completed the Structural Design Professional Practice Exam.

10. Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Structural Design Professional Practice Exam

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Structural Design Professional Practice Exam is a comprehensive exam designed to assess the knowledge and skills of structural engineers in Canada. The exam covers topics such as structural design principles, building codes, and professional practice. It is a two-hour multiple-choice exam administered by CSA Group, an independent testing organization.

To get the CSA Structural Design Professional Practice Exam, you must first register with CSA Group and pay the applicable fees. The cost of the exam varies depending on whether you are taking it for the first time or re-taking it. The fee for the first attempt is $275 CAD while re-taking it costs $150 CAD.

Once registered, you will be able to access study material and practice exams provided by CSA Group to help prepare for the actual exam. After studying and preparing for the exam, you can schedule your test online or over the phone with CSA Group's customer service team.

The CSA Structural Design Professional Practice Exam typically takes about two hours to complete and consists of 80 multiple choice questions covering topics related to structural engineering design principles, building codes, and professional practice. Upon completion of the exam, your results will be available immediately online through your account with CSA Group. If you pass the exam, you will receive a certificate that is valid for five years from date of issue.

Do You Really Need a Structural Design Engineer Certificate?

No, you don’t necessarily need a structural design engineer certificate to be successful in the field of structural engineering. While having a certificate may give you an edge over other applicants for certain jobs and may even open up more job opportunities, there are many ways to become a successful structural engineer without one.

For starters, having a degree in civil engineering with an emphasis on structures is often enough to qualify for most entry-level positions in the field. Additionally, it is possible to gain experience through internships or apprenticeships that can help demonstrate your knowledge and abilities as a structural engineer. Finally, joining professional organizations like ASCE can provide access to resources that can further enhance your skillset and knowledge base.

Ultimately, obtaining a certificate in structural design engineering is not necessary to become successful as a structural engineer. However, if you think it would be beneficial for your career goals then pursuing one could be worth considering.

Related: Structural Design Engineer Resume Examples

FAQs About Structural Design Engineer Certifications

1. What certifications are available for structural design engineers?

Answer: The most common certification for structural design engineers is the Professional Engineer (PE) license from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Other certifications include Structural Engineering Certification from the International Code Council (ICC), Certified Professional in Structural Engineering from the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB), and Registered Structural Engineer from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

2. How do I become a certified structural design engineer?

Answer: To become a certified structural design engineer, you must complete an accredited engineering program, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam and acquire several years of professional experience before taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. After passing both exams, you can apply for your state’s PE license.

3. How much does it cost to get a structural engineering certification?

Answer: The cost to obtain a certification varies depending on where you live, but typically involves fees associated with registration, examination, licensing, and any other required materials or courses. In general, expect to pay anywhere from $500-$3000 USD depending on your location and specific requirements.

4. What is the difference between a PE license and a SE certification?

Answer: A PE license is required for professional practice as an engineer in all states; it is granted after passing two exams administered by NCEES, meeting experience requirements and completing additional requirements set by individual states. A SE certification is granted after passing an exam administered by ICC or SECB; it demonstrates knowledge in specialized areas such as seismic analysis or wind engineering but does not grant authority to practice engineering professionally in any state.

5. Is there continuing education required for maintaining my structural engineering certification?

Answer: Yes, continuing education is required in order to maintain your structural engineering certification with either ICC or SECB. Most organizations have specific requirements that must be met every 3-5 years; these may include attending seminars or webinars, completing online courses or workshops, or participating in other activities related to your field of expertise.