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Top 5 Structural Engineering Software That You Should Learn



At present in the world of Structural Engineering, a lot of design enhancement and developments arises since the beginning of structural design. These developments include the use of structural design software which aims to enhance our ability as a structural engineer to come up with safe and sound designs especially when dealing with complex structures. Although this structural engineering software helps us to make our life easier, bear in mind that the fundamental knowledge and experiences theoretical or practical is still important at the end of the day. Because these software development are based on the fundamental knowledge that can only be understood by Structural Engineers. The author lists the top 5 Structural Engineering Softwares that a Structural Engineer should learn. They are the following:


ETABS is integrated building design software developed by Computers and Structures Inc, also known as CSI. This software is perhaps the most powerful software in structural engineering when the design of buildings and towers is a concern.  ETABS is software that offers a set of tools for structural engineers who design multi-story buildings from simple to complex, whether they are working on single-story structures or the highest commercial skyscrapers and towers. Modeling tools and templates, code-based load prescriptions, analysis methods, and solution techniques, all coordinate with the grid-like geometry unique to this class of structure. Basic or advanced systems under static or dynamic conditions may be evaluated using ETABS. For a sophisticated assessment of seismic performance, modal and direct-integration time-history analyses may couple with P-Delta and Large Displacement effects. Nonlinear links and concentrated PMM or fiber hinges may capture material nonlinearity under monotonic or hysteretic behavior. Intuitive and integrated features make applications of any complexity practical to implement. Interoperability with a series of design and documentation platforms makes ETABS a coordinated and productive tool for designs which range from simple 2D frames to elaborate modern high-rises.

READ ALSO:   CSI SAFE’s Slab Design Considerations Prior to Analysis

To know and learn more about ETABS you can visit their website at www.csiamerica.com/products/etabs, you can also download a trial or evaluation version of the latest ETABS in this link. Download it now!


SAFE is a structural engineering software that belongs to the CSI family as well and has been developed to carry out the design of foundations and concrete slabs. SAFE integrates all aspects of the engineering design process in an easy and intuitive environment. The layout of the models is fast and efficient thanks to the sophisticated drawing tools, besides it presents import options to bring the data of the CAD programs, spreadsheets or databases. The slabs or foundations can be of any shape and may include edges of circular shapes and spline curves. SAFE is immensely easy-to-use software for structural designers, providing all the necessary tools for the modeling, analysis, design and detailing of a concrete slab and foundation systems. It is a software tailored for the engineering of elevated floor and foundation slab systems. Slab modeling, analysis, and design procedures feature a suite of sophisticated tools and applications, couple with post-tensioning, punching-shear, and beam detailing, and integrate the influence of soils, ramps, columns, braces, walls (rectilinear or curvilinear), and other interfacial elements. Interoperability with SAP2000 and ETABS allows users to import models, loading, and displacement fields into SAFE for more advanced local assessment of slab systems within larger structures. A 3D-object-based model may originate in SAFE or import from SAP2000, ETABS, or CAD. Templates quickly initiate a model. Grid, snap, chamfer/fillet, trim/extend, circular- and spline-curve controls allow direct drawing of any slab shape.

To know and learn more about SAFE you can visit their website at www.csiamerica.com/products/safe, you can also download a trial version of the latest SAFE in this link. Download it now!

READ ALSO:   Understanding Seismic Parameters


STAAD.Pro is a 3D Structural Analysis and Design Software developed by Bentley. It considered also as the most complete structural engineering software that can design and analyze almost every type of structures. It can perform comprehensive analysis and design for any size or type of structure. It allows to design with confidence structures such as steel, concrete, timber, aluminum, and cold-formed steel structures anywhere in the world using more than 90 international codes. It designs and analyzes simple or complex structures for a wide range of loading conditions, including those induced by gravity such as dead and live loads, including skip conditions, in combination with lateral loads including wind and seismic. Some design capabilities of STAAD.Pro are the following:

  • Design and analyze by the finite element method.
  • Design and analyze structural models.
  • Design beams, columns, and walls.
  • Design lateral resistance structures
  • Generate design loads and load combinations.
  • Integrate foundation and block designs.
  • Integrate designs of steel joints.
  • Produce structural design documentation
  • Share structural models.


To know and learn more about STAAD.Pro you can visit their website at www.bentley.com/en/products/product-line/structural-analysis-software/staadpro, you can also download and request a free trial of the latest Staad.Pro in this link. Download it now!


Prokon is a commercial software application developed by Prokon Software Consultants and it is widely used worldwide. It composed of more than forty structural analysis, design and detailing programs for finite element method and structural engineering analyzing and designing of structures. This software is very comprehensive software with a user-friendly interface. The software provides quick and reliable answers to everyday structural engineering problems such as:

  • Frame and finite element analysis
  • Steel member design
  • Steel connection design
  • Reinforced and prestressed concrete design
  • CAD and reinforced concrete detailing
  • Timber member design
  • Masonry design

To know and learn more about PROKON you can visit their website at www.prokon.com you can also download and request a free trial of the latest PROKON in this link. Download it now!

READ ALSO:   8-Reasons Why ETABS takes too Long to Run Analysis

Other Structural Engineering Software

There is a lot more structural engineering software development over the years. They are usually developed according to its use.  Although it is not necessary, other structural engineering software that you should learn are SAP2000, TEKLA, RAM Structural, Robot Structural Analysis, Limcon, ACI RCM, Midas, Tedds, ADAPT and RAPT  to name a few.

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Online Structural Courses Available!

Want to learn more about some of the Structural Softwares mentioned above? Check out the available online courses below that our affiliate offers:

ETABSLearn Basics Of ETABS: No Experience Required
ETABSETABS For Structural Design of Residential Buildings
ETABSETABS Advanced Course Modeling and Design of Tall Buildings
ETABSThe Complete ETABS Professional- For Structural Engineers
STAAD.ProBentley STAAD Pro - Structural Analysis & Design Software
CSI SAFECSI SAFE Professional Essential Training Series [2019]
SAP2000CSI SAP2000: Structural Analysis Program for Engineers
REVIT STRUCTURERevit Structure from Scratch
ROBOT Robot Structural Analysis (RC building)
ROBOT Learn Robot Structural analysis

Every engineer has its different perspective on what software to learn for at his convenient. But the lists above are based on the author’s experience as a structural engineer when he started his career in Structural Engineering. What about you? Did you learn the same? Feel free to share your thoughts and leave your comment below. You can also subscribe also to our newsletter for any updates.

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  1. Nigel Watts

    Check out ProtaStructure. It’s a very powerful, easy to use, building design and detailing software. Comprehensive analytical capability, design to a range of international codes, full drawing and calculation documentation, industry leading BIM integration. A rapidly growing user base globally. http://www.protasoftware.com has more info

  2. Chris Kleinhaus

    I am doubtful of Prokon on this list, only commonly recognised in South Africa. User friendly but has it fair share of bugs. none the less, not bad at all if you are planning to design in South Africa only.

  3. Jalal A.

    There are lots of design categories in PROKON. In fairness with Prokon, so far using it I didn’t see any bugs. So I guess it is up to the designer’s judgment whether which of these categories to use in your design. You can always counter check your design using manual calculations or other software if you have doubt in the result.

  4. Peter Holmes

    I would definitely add Cross Section Analysis & Design software (here: https://www.engissol.com/cross-section-analysis-design.html) in order to perform check/design of arbitrary concrete, steel, composite cross sections under biaxial loading. This is a must for every structural engineer in my opinion

  5. wic

    Robot is the best same as Midas gen

    1. thestructuralworld (Post author)

      I guess each of the available 3D Software is unique in its own way and best in its own way as well!

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  7. Bruce Bates

    How could you not include RISA-3D? It’s the most popular structural software in the US by a wide margin; more engineers use RISA than SAP and Staad combined (in the US). I would also put Enercalc ahead of Prokon, at least in the US. I’m the original author of RISA-3D so I’m biased, but my assertions on software popularity are based on extensive unbiased market surveys.

  8. thestructuralworld (Post author)

    The TOP 5 Structural Softwares to Learn as listed above were categorized accordingly from the analysis and design to individual member design needed to complete a full structural design project. RISA 3D is no doubt one of the top 3D structural software, but ETABS is already on the list. We based the top 5 list not only for popularity in a certain area but for the number of users worldwide.


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