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Top 10 Structural Engineer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications for structural engineers looking to advance their career.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications for structural engineers can be very important in the job market. Structural engineering is a highly specialized field and requires a great deal of knowledge and experience. With certifications, potential employers can easily verify the engineer’s qualifications and expertise in the field. Furthermore, certifications give employers confidence that the engineer has a thorough understanding of building codes, regulations, and safety standards. Certifications also provide assurance that the engineer is up to date with current technologies and trends in structural engineering. Finally, certifications are beneficial to engineers as they may open more opportunities for advancement or higher positions within their chosen field.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Structural Engineers and explains how they can help to advance a structural engineer's career.

What are Structural Engineer Certifications?

Structural engineer certification is a voluntary program offered by the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) to demonstrate that an engineer has met certain criteria for professional competency and experience in structural engineering. This certification can help engineers to demonstrate their qualifications, expertise, and commitment to the profession. It also helps to assure clients that they are being served by a competent, experienced structural engineer who is committed to practicing safely and ethically. The NCSEA certification program requires applicants to pass an examination demonstrating their knowledge of structural engineering principles, have at least three years of professional experience in the field, and adhere to a code of ethics. The certification process also includes continuing education requirements, which can help engineers stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the field. Ultimately, earning structural engineer certification can provide engineers with greater opportunities for career growth and advancement, as well as helping them gain respect within the industry.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in becoming a structural engineer, it is important to make sure that you obtain the necessary certifications. Certification can help to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field and may give you an edge when applying for positions.

Related: What does a Structural Engineer do?

Top 10 Structural Engineer Certifications

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

1. Professional Engineer (PE) Certification

Professional Engineer (PE) Certification is a license granted to engineers who have demonstrated the highest level of competency in their field. It is issued by state licensing boards, and it allows the holder to practice engineering in that state. The process of obtaining a PE license varies from state to state, but generally requires applicants to have at least four years of professional experience, pass two exams, and submit an application with documentation of their work experience and education.

It typically takes between one and three years to obtain a PE license, depending on the individual's experience level. To get started, individuals must first complete an accredited engineering program and then gain professional engineering experience through internships or working for an employer. Once they have completed these steps, they can apply for the PE exam.

The cost for taking the exam varies from state to state but typically ranges from $100-$500 per exam. After passing both exams, applicants must submit an application along with documentation of their work experience and education in order to receive their PE license. Depending on the state, there may be additional fees associated with applying for a PE license.

Once individuals have obtained their PE license, they are required to maintain it by completing continuing education courses every few years in order to stay up-to-date on any changes in the engineering field.

2. Certified Structural Engineer (CSE) Certification

A Certified Structural Engineer (CSE) is a professional engineer who has completed additional training and/or experience in the field of structural engineering. The CSE certification is granted by the Structural Engineering Certification Board (SECB), an independent, non-profit organization that administers the certification program.

The CSE certification process requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and experience in structural engineering through a combination of education, experience, and examination. To become certified, applicants must have a minimum of four years of experience in structural engineering and pass a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as building codes, mathematics, materials science, design principles, and other related topics.

The entire process usually takes between six months to one year from start to finish. Applicants must first submit an application form along with supporting documents such as transcripts or proof of work experience. Once the application is approved by the SECB, applicants can register for the exam and begin studying for it. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their CSE certificate from the SECB.

The cost of becoming a Certified Structural Engineer varies depending on the applicant’s location and other factors such as study materials or review courses taken prior to taking the exam. Generally speaking, however, it costs around $500-$1000 USD including fees for both registration and examination costs.

3. American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Certification

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Certification is a voluntary program that recognizes companies who have demonstrated the ability to fabricate and erect structural steel in accordance with the AISC Code of Standard Practice. The certification process includes an on-site audit, which verifies that all personnel involved in the fabrication and erection of structural steel are qualified and knowledgeable about the AISC Code of Standard Practice.

It typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete the certification process. In order to get certified, companies must submit an application and provide evidence that they meet the criteria required by AISC. This includes providing documentation such as drawings, shop tickets, quality control documents, welding certificates, etc. After submitting the application, an on-site audit will be conducted to verify compliance with AISC standards.

The cost for AISC Certification varies depending on the size and complexity of a company's operations. Generally speaking, it can range from $10,000-$20,000 for a small business to $50,000-$100,000 for larger businesses.

4. American Concrete Institute (ACI) Certification

The American Concrete Institute (ACI) Certification is a professional certification program for individuals in the concrete industry. It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those who work with concrete. The ACI Certification Program offers five levels of certification: ACI Field Technician Grade I, ACI Field Technician Grade II, ACI Concrete Construction Special Inspector, ACI Concrete Strength Testing Technician, and ACI Concrete Transportation Construction Inspector.

To become certified at any level requires passing an exam that covers the knowledge and skills necessary to perform concrete-related tasks. The exams are administered by Prometric Testing Centers throughout the United States. To be eligible to take an exam, applicants must have a minimum of two years experience in their respective field or have completed an approved training program.

The cost of taking the exams varies depending on which level you are seeking certification for and how many exams you plan to take. Generally speaking, it costs around $225 per exam.

It typically takes about four weeks from the time you submit your application until you receive your results from Prometric Testing Centers. After passing the exam(s), you will receive your certificate within four to six weeks from when your results were posted online.

Overall, getting certified through the American Concrete Institute can be a great way to demonstrate competency in concrete-related tasks as well as increase job opportunities within the industry.

5. National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Certification

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is a non-profit organization that provides professional licensure services to engineers and surveyors. It is responsible for developing, administering, and scoring the examinations used for engineering and surveying licensure in the United States. The NCEES certification is designed to ensure that all professionals who are licensed to practice engineering or surveying have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities required to safely perform their duties.

In order to obtain NCEES certification, individuals must first meet certain educational requirements. Depending on the state in which they are seeking licensure, these may include a bachelor’s degree in engineering or surveying from an accredited institution, as well as any other specific requirements set by the state board of engineering or surveying. Once these initial requirements have been met, individuals must then pass two exams administered by NCEES: the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Principles & Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

The FE exam focuses on general engineering topics such as mathematics, basic sciences, engineering analysis and design principles. The PE exam covers more advanced topics related to a particular area of engineering practice such as civil, electrical or mechanical engineering. Both exams are offered twice per year at various locations throughout the country.

Once an individual has passed both exams they can apply for certification through NCEES. The application process typically takes around 8 weeks from start to finish and includes a background check as well as verification of education credentials.

The cost for taking both exams is approximately $500-$600 depending on location and other factors. In addition there is also a fee associated with applying for certification which varies based on state but generally ranges between $50-$100.

6. International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) Certification

The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) is an international professional organization that provides certification for bridge and structural engineers. IABSE certification recognizes the high level of expertise and experience of qualified professionals in the field. The certification is designed to ensure that bridge and structural engineers have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform their duties safely, efficiently, and cost effectively.

To obtain IABSE certification, applicants must first meet certain eligibility requirements. These include having a degree in engineering from an accredited institution, at least five years of relevant experience in bridge or structural engineering, passing a written examination, and submitting references from two professional engineers who can attest to the applicant’s qualifications. Once these requirements are met, applicants must submit a detailed application package outlining their background and experience in bridge or structural engineering.

The IABSE certification process typically takes between four to six months to complete. Applicants should expect to receive notification of their status within this timeframe.

The cost of obtaining IABSE certification varies depending on the country in which it is obtained. In the United States, for example, the fee is approximately $500 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees associated with processing the application package.

Overall, obtaining IABSE certification requires a significant amount of time and effort but can be well worth it for those looking to demonstrate their expertise in bridge or structural engineering.

7. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Certification

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is a professional organization that certifies civil engineers who meet its standards for professional practice. The ASCE certification program is designed to recognize the knowledge and experience of civil engineers who have achieved a high level of professional practice.

To get ASCE certification, an individual must pass an exam that covers topics such as engineering ethics, project management, and construction management. The exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). It typically takes six to eight weeks to prepare for the exam and it can take up to two years to complete all requirements for certification.

In order to become certified, applicants must have at least four years of professional experience in civil engineering or related fields and must also have completed at least one year of graduate-level coursework in civil engineering or related fields. Applicants must also submit a detailed application package that includes references from employers, transcripts from educational institutions attended, and other relevant documents.

The cost of the ASCE certification process varies depending on the individual's qualifications and experience. The NCEES exam fee is $350, plus additional fees for processing applications and issuing certificates. In addition, some states may require additional fees for licensure or registration with their state boards.

8. Professional Structural Engineer (PSE) Certification

Professional Structural Engineer (PSE) Certification is a professional certification program offered by the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA). It is designed to recognize structural engineers who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field. The PSE Certification is intended to provide employers and clients with assurance that the structural engineer they are working with has met or exceeded the standards set by NCSEA for professional practice.

The PSE Certification process consists of three components: an application, a written exam, and an oral exam. The application requires applicants to provide evidence of their qualifications, experience, and education. The written exam covers topics such as structural analysis, design principles, building codes, and construction methods. The oral exam focuses on more advanced topics such as project management and client relations.

To obtain the PSE Certification, applicants must pass all three components of the process within a two-year period. Applicants must also pay an application fee of $200 and an additional fee for each component they take ($100 for the written exam and $150 for the oral exam). Upon successful completion of all three components, applicants will be awarded their PSE Certification from NCSEA.

In addition to passing all components of the PSE Certification process, applicants must also maintain their certification status by completing continuing education credits every two years. This requirement helps ensure that certified professionals stay up-to-date on current industry trends and practices.

9. National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) Certification

The National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) Certification is a professional certification that recognizes the knowledge, skills, and experience of forensic engineers. It is designed to provide an objective measure of competency in the field of forensic engineering.

To get NAFE Certification, applicants must demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience through a combination of written examination, oral examination, and submission of a portfolio. The written exam covers topics such as accident reconstruction, failure analysis, fire investigation, product liability and other areas related to forensic engineering. The oral exam consists of a series of questions related to the applicant’s experience in the field. Finally, applicants must submit a portfolio that includes examples of their work in the field.

The process typically takes several months to complete. Applicants must first submit an application along with supporting documents such as transcripts or letters of recommendation. Once approved by NAFE’s board of directors, applicants will be invited to take the written and oral exams. After successful completion of these exams, applicants will then submit their portfolios for review by NAFE’s board of directors.

The cost for NAFE Certification varies depending on the type of certification sought (e.g., Certified Forensic Engineer or Certified Fire Investigator). Generally speaking, it costs between $400-$600 for initial certification and $100-$200 for annual renewal fees thereafter.

10. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Certification

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes the knowledge and experience of individuals in the mechanical engineering field. It is designed to provide employers with a reliable measure of an individual’s qualifications and abilities.

To get ASME Certification, applicants must first meet certain educational and experience requirements. These include having at least four years of relevant work experience or a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from an accredited college or university. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by ASME to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the principles of mechanical engineering.

Once these requirements are met, applicants can submit their application for ASME Certification. The process typically takes around six months to complete, depending on the number of applications received. During this time, applicants will be required to submit documentation verifying their education and work experience as well as take an online exam. Once all requirements are satisfied, applicants will receive their ASME Certification.

The cost for ASME Certification varies depending on the type of certification sought and whether or not additional training is required. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere between $200-$600 USD depending on the specific certification sought after.

Do You Really Need a Structural Engineer Certificate?

The answer to whether you really need a structural engineer certificate depends on your individual circumstances. If you are planning to work as a structural engineer, then it is highly recommended that you obtain a professional certification from an accredited organization. This certificate will demonstrate that you have the necessary knowledge and experience to be a successful engineer in this field. In addition, having a professional certification may help you stand out from other job candidates, as employers often prefer to hire engineers who are certified in their field.

If you already have sufficient experience and knowledge in the field of structural engineering and do not plan to pursue any further formal qualifications, then obtaining a professional certificate may not be necessary. However, if there are opportunities for advancement or specialization within your current role, then having a recognized certification may help open up more job opportunities for you.

Finally, if you plan on starting your own business as a structural engineer, then having a professional certification is essential in order to gain the trust of potential clients. Obtaining this certification can also help demonstrate that you are qualified and knowledgeable in the field of structural engineering and can provide sound advice when needed.

In conclusion, while it is ultimately up to each individual's personal circumstances whether they need to obtain a structural engineer certificate or not, having this type of certification can certainly benefit those who are looking for career advancement or those who wish to start their own business.

Related: Structural Engineer Resume Examples

FAQs About Structural Engineer Certifications

1. What types of Structural Engineer certifications are available?

Answer: Professional Engineer (PE) certification, Structural Engineering Certification (SE), and Certified Structural Engineer (CSE) are the three main types of structural engineer certifications available in the US.

2. How do I become certified as a Structural Engineer?

Answer: To become certified as a structural engineer, you must meet certain educational requirements, such as having a degree in engineering from an accredited school, and pass a series of exams administered by the relevant professional engineering board.

3. What is the difference between PE and SE certifications?

Answer: The main difference between PE and SE certification is that PE certification requires more experience in the field than SE certification does. Additionally, PE certification requires passing additional exams related to professional ethics and management that SE certification does not.

4. How long does it take to become certified as a Structural Engineer?

Answer: Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 2-5 years to become certified as a structural engineer depending on your level of experience and education. Additionally, some states may require additional testing or continuing education courses prior to becoming certified.

5. What are the benefits of becoming certified as a Structural Engineer?

Answer: Becoming certified as a structural engineer can open up job opportunities with higher salaries and more responsibility within the field of engineering. It also provides recognition from peers within the industry for your skills and knowledge in this area of expertise. Additionally, it can provide you with access to specialized resources that may help you further develop your skillset in this area.