But you do not want to steer far away from civil and structural engineering, since it has become your passion. You accumulated a wealth of experience when you worked with structural designs, drawings, tender documentation, analysis and reporting, etc. You would not want to give that up just yet!
We have compiled a list of top alternative careers for civil and structural engineers who want to keep on applying their civil and structural engineering skills. These careers can help you develop additional skills that are different than what you get in a traditional consulting firm or contractor company. Ultimately, our goal in this post and in the Sturdy Structural blog is to help you maintain that drive and passion for civil and structural engineering... but with a twist!
Forensic Engineering/Expert Witness
For this job, you will have the opportunity to improve communication skills by providing testimonies, cross examining, and presenting findings in court proceedings. You will also be required to know about construction law and legal implications to provide quality advice for your attorney clients. You also will need to know about dispute resolution methods.
Real Estate and Property Development
Other than structural engineering skills, you will need to know about general real estate development techniques, such as land acquisition, real estate financing, liabilities, insurance, risk assessment, project management, project scheduling, budgeting, real estate valuation, contractual implications, sales or leases of property, etc.
It is common to have software developers develop these software, so you do not need to know advanced I.T. skills. However, you should know some basics, such as basic programming language (i.e. C, C++, Java, Python), process in software development, testing and debugging codes, operation and maintenance, process improvement, etc.
Your structural engineering skills can be used in this lucrative industry, since you will be providing your knowledge of structural engineering principles into the software. Some examples of structural engineering software that we recommend include VCMaster, Pensolve, and CHECKPOLE.
Technical sales and marketing
In addition to structural engineering skills, communication and presentation techniques will also needed as you will be pitching your products to customers in your sales visits, trade exhibitions, demonstrations, and product training sessions. Sales and interpersonal techniques will help you in the long run as you need to interpret your client’s requirements, answer product questions, develop customer satisfaction, develop new businesses, and maintaining long term relationships with existing clients. In order to optimize your sales, you will also need to know order management, terms negotiation, sales proposals, sales performance report preparations, etc.
There are many positions for this industry. You can be an environmental advisor, assessor for environmental certification (LEED, BEAM PRO, BREEAM, etc), environmental specialist, etc. Inspecting and monitoring for sustainable construction practices, conducting lifecycle assessments, and practicing sustainability are often part of the job description. You will also need to have knowledge in identifying key environmental issues, determining renewable energy opportunities, managing demolition waste, managing noise and pollution, implementing waste water treatment, etc. Green materials are especially essential in this industry. You can read more about sustainable materials here.
If you want to get started in this industry, you can actually practice sustainability in a consulting and contractor firm by assessing designs for structural optimization, improving lifecycle by using performance-based design, designing for future modifications and retrofitting, etc. OR you can steer away from consulting firms and contractor companies by going to a firm that specializes in sustainable practices.
Are there are other alternative careers for structural engineers that we missed? What are some innovative ways that structural engineers can contribute their skills?