Architectural Engineer: Career Definition, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for architectural engineers. Get the facts about job duties, career outlook, salary, and education requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Civil Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Architectural Director?

An architectural engineer applies the principles of general engineering and structural design to the planning and construction of buildings, focusing more on function and feasibility over style. Architectural engineers, as well as those in the broader field of civil engineering, are often in charge of supervising many different kinds of construction operations, performing tasks such as surveying, planning, estimating costs, testing materials, managing workers, and more. Communication is key for architectural engineers, as they must often rely on the building plans of others and be capable of explaining their vision to project supervisors.

The chart below summarizes career information for civil engineers, a field that includes architectural engineers.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree from ABET-accredited program
Education Field of Study Architectural engineering, civil engineering, civil engineering technology
Key Responsibilities Analyze building plans for structural stability, consult with architects
Licensure State licensure required for engineers who directly serve the public
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (all civil engineers)*
Average Salary (2015) $87,940 (all civil engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Architectural Engineer Do?

Architectural engineering is a multifaceted discipline exploring how the construction, design, and operation of a building come together. Engineers focus on many areas; lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, sustainability, and fire protection are just some possibilities. Unlike architects that typically incorporate aesthetic and layout concerns, architectural engineers focus more on structure and stability.

As an architectural engineer, you work with architects to make sure the plan is structurally feasible by applying engineering knowledge and techniques. You must be familiar with electrical and mechanical systems as well as the impact of regular use and natural forces. A large part of your job is to ensure the building remains functional and safe. You may work on new construction projects or renovations to existing buildings.

What Education Will I Need?

To become an architectural engineer, you need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering or civil engineering from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). You can expect to take courses in areas such as engineering physics, mechanics of fluids, computer-aided design (CAD), thermodynamics, materials processing, and other technical electives.

Master's degrees and doctoral degrees are also available in architectural engineering, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that around 1 in 4 civil engineers have a master's (www.bls.gov).

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The BLS predicted an 8% increase in employment of civil engineers, which include architectural engineers, for the 2014-2024 decade. This growth should be spurred by the need to improve existing structures and repair aging infrastructure. However, the BLS also notes that construction and architectural job opportunities can slow during economic downturns. According to the BLS, civil engineers working in architectural, engineering, and related services earned an average of $88,820 in 2015.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Architects are closely related to, and often work with, architectural engineers, typically the workers who do the physical labor needed to construct buildings. Construction managers are also similar in nature, acting as supervisors on projects from start to finish, on-site. Landscape architects plan parks and other outdoor spaces which are designed to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Other types of civil engineers, such as structural and transportation engineers, also have similar education requirements to architectural engineers.

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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