I have no formal qualifications in Structural Engineering but I would like to become an independent researcher. I have self taught myself from university textbooks, found all the relevant professional criteria and from this created my own portfolio of essays, design work, past exam papers I have found online. Do you think it would be worth any of my time trying to break into this area considering I have no qualifications.

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    Hi, and welcome to Academia.SE! Unfortunately, it will be very difficult for strangers on the internet to judge what will be a personally satisfying use of your time. Is there any more objective question that you could adjust to ask instead? – jakebeal Apr 9 '16 at 3:40

Well, you certainly can't work as an engineer...

As a researcher..., as said in other posts, research is 'a world in itself', with its own set of rules. Anybody can publish, as long as the work is good and follows the usual format of the field.

By good I mean relevant and, usually, original. Which is hard to do if you are not familiar with the field. Even worse for the usual format, you would only know that if you had experience in the field.

Usually, that's why advisors exist. They guide the students, using experience earned from several years and degrees in the field. I would say it is tremendously difficult to publish anything worthwhile without experience.

Personally, I would not even consider advising someone that is not, at the very least, an undergrad student on a related discipline. And in this case, the student would have to be outstanding.

Keep in mind that, while most qualified jobs require some years of high education, professional academic research, on an independent level (without advisor), requires a whole lot of degrees and experience. It is a very skilled profession, with fierce competition, where a good part of the qualified people fail. I'm not saying you can't do it, but it would be a truly herculean task, if possible at all...

UPDATE: Just as a qualifier, engineering degrees usually take 5 years. A very fast phd would take 3-4 years (sometimes more, US for instance). Someone who did that, after these 8 years, would be considered, a 'entry-level' researcher, IF the phd was reasonably done. That's more than 5k hours of dedicated study (my eng. was ~ 3k, I'm rounding off on the phd to 2k, which would be short, mine took way more than that). All these years to be able to start...

Notice that, to work as an engineer, you would only need the first 5 years....

To be honest, what you are asking is almost like: "So, I want to be a heart surgeon, but I didn't go to med school. I read all the books, and did all the stuff, do you think someone would hire me to do a coronary bypass?" Would you trust this surgeon?

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    Also, working as an Engineer, a Professional Engineer, requires further testing and apprenticing. Most researchers in engineering don't have a PE license, but most states require such a license to work as a consulting engineer for pay. This is especially important in structural engineering where engineers sign drawings of things that get built in the world and inhabited by humans (roads, bridges, buildings, etc). – Bill Barth Apr 9 '16 at 14:23
  • @billbarth I disregarded that because rarely a fresh PhD will work as a de facto independent researcher. Postdoc periods, pretty much the same as the eng. qualifications, are almost mandatory... – Fábio Dias Apr 9 '16 at 22:50

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