How to Become an Architectural Engineer in 5 Steps

An architectural engineer makes sure that the design and construction of a building follow an architect's drawings. These professionals use engineering techniques to construct, renovate and maintain commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. An architectural engineer must hold a degree in engineering or architectural engineering and pass national examinations to become licensed. Schools offering Civil Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Step 1: Research Architectural Engineer Career Duties and Education

An architectural engineer is not an architect, but she or he works closely with them and others involved in building construction. The details that an architectural engineer attends to include following state regulations about such things as the distance between an exit door and an office.

Architectural engineers lend their expertise to the construction of a building by making sure that the actual design and construction of a structure mirror the architectural drawings. They are also responsible for overseeing the lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning elements of a construction, as well as electrical work and structural construction.

Professional architectural engineers should be able to communicate well and be detail oriented, analytical and creative. A career as an architectural engineer begins with a bachelor's degree in engineering or architectural engineering and a state license as a professional engineer.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Most 4-year universities and some community colleges offer engineering programs. Look into programs that are accredited by ABET. Some architectural engineering degree programs allow you to specialize in subjects like structural architectural engineering, building mechanics, acoustics, lighting or electrical architectural engineering.

Architectural engineering is an engineering specialization, and college courses often combine science and design. Courses such as math, surveying, computer programming, drafting and architectural history help prepare an architectural engineer for success in the field. Additionally, your program may include courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, electrical engineering, geotechnical engineering, materials mechanics, elastic dynamics, lighting design, building energy, noise control and advanced structural analysis.

  • Complete an internship: Summer or semester internships allow college students to gain hands-on experience and apply those skills after graduation. An architectural engineering intern may assist with drawings using computer-aided drafting software or help prepare construction documents. Information on internships is often found in the school's academic department.

Step 3: Become Licensed

If you will be providing services to the public, you'll need to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary slightly by state, but all require an applicable degree, some field experience and a written examination.

Prospective architectural engineers must first sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering examination and then, after obtaining four years of work experience, for the Architectural Engineering Principles and Practice of Engineering examination to earn their professional license. The architectural engineering exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and includes questions about mechanical, electrical and structural engineering.

Step 4: Find Work

After graduation and licensure, you may find employment in architectural and engineering firms, governmental offices, corporations and construction companies. Your job duties could involve designing buildings that are resistant to natural disasters or developing sustainable energy systems for homes and commercial buildings.

As of 2012, half of all civil engineers were employed in the architectural engineering industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job prospects for all civil engineers, including architectural engineers, were expected to increase by 20% from 2012-2022. This job growth equates to 53,700 new jobs. As of 2013, the mean annual salary for civil engineers working in the architectural engineering industry was $87,620, per the BLS.

Step 5: Advance Your Career

As an architectural engineer, you can remain knowledgeable and competitive by enrolling in continuing education courses and attending workshops and seminars. You could also consider earning a graduate degree in the field. Programs available include the Master of Architectural Engineering (MAE), Master of Science (MS) in Architectural Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Architectural Engineering.

MS and PhD programs are typically research-oriented and require a thesis or dissertation. Advanced courses you may take in these programs including building automation systems, building communication systems, masonry design and timber design.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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