Architectural engineering is a relatively new licensed profession, emerging in the 20th century as a result of the rapid technology advancement of the Industrial Revolution. Architectural engineers are the engineers that specialize in making buildings. This is a particularly important profession today, since our world is immersed in two major technological revolutions,
(1) that of rapidly advancing computer-technology, and
(2) the parallel revolution arising from the need to create a sustainable planet.
Architectural engineers are at the forefront of both historical opportunities. Built on a legacy of thousands of years of gradual innovation in construction technology and scientific advancement, architectural engineers apply the latest scientific knowledge and technologies to the design of buildings. For those of us living in the United States, we spend on average 70 of our 79 years of life inside of buildings. The structural safety and reliability of these buildings and the quality of the air we breathe inside of them are designed by architectural engineers. Since 40% of all energy in the U.S. is consumed by buildings, the energy that we can conserve, and the construction technologies required to build sustainable cities are important issues that architectural engineers are skilled in. Working closely with architects and construction teams, architectural engineers enable the making of our everyday buildings as well as our monumental buildings. From reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the construction of resilient buildings, architectural engineers are at the forefront of addressing several major challenges of the 21st century.
If you’re interested in the aesthetic and technical elements of building construction, a career in architectural engineering may be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more education, employment and licensing for architectural engineers.
Is Architectural Engineering for Me?
An architectural engineer must understand and master the principles of the mechanical, functional, structural and aesthetic elements of building design. If you pursue a degree in this field, you need to be able to solve problems mathematically and design complex systems that meet health, safety, environmental and economic standards.
As an architectural engineer, you could work in firms that design heating, cooling, structural and electrical systems for industrial, commercial and public facilities. Some architectural engineers work in specialty firms that focus on the design of a single building system. You could also become a facilities manager, construction manager or consultant.
Employment and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) does not report employment and wage information specific to architectural engineers. However, according to the BLS, employment of civil engineers was expected to grow by 20%, or faster than average, from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). As reported by PayScale.com in June 2014, the median annual salary for an architectural engineer was $57,455.
How Can I Become an Architectural Engineer?
To become an architectural engineer, you’ll need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering. These rigorous courses of study include topics in geometry, calculus, chemistry and building construction. You might also study lighting system design and statistics. Graduate programs are also available and can lead to a master’s degree in architectural engineering or doctoral degree in engineering.
According to the BLS, all engineers who work directly with the public must be licensed by the state. Requirements include approximately four years of post-college work experience. Licensing exams are administered and scored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying .