How to Become an Architectural Engineer in 5 Steps

Review these five steps on how to become an architectural engineer, learning different features about the job to help determine if this career path is right for you. Schools offering Civil Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Architectural Engineer?

An architectural engineer makes sure that the design and construction of a building follow an architect's drawings, as well as verifying that designs are feasible and ready to construct. These professionals use engineering techniques to construct, renovate, and maintain commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings. They will most likely take a supervising position on-site, ensuring that workers install and build fixtures correctly. Explore the table for more essential career details.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Architectural engineering
Licensure Engineers who work directly with the public need to be licensed
Key Skills Structural stability assessment, major building systems assessment, lighting and space planning
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024 8% (all civil engineers)*
Median Salary (2015) $82,220 (all civil engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Research Architectural Engineer Career Duties and Education

An architectural engineer is not an architect, but someone who 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 2015, nearly 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 8% from 2014-2024. This job growth equates to 23,600 new jobs. As of 2015, the mean annual salary for civil engineers working in the architectural engineering industry was $88,820, 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.

What Are Some Similar Careers?

Architects work closely with architectural engineers, creating the plans engineers look over and follow when construction begins. Other types of engineers, particularly environmental and mechanical, also have similar duties, devising solutions to environmental problems and creating mechanical devices, respectively. Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects on-site, and they may work closely with architectural engineers. All of these positions typically require a bachelor's degree, though some construction managers qualify for their positions due to many years of construction experience.

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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