An architectural engineer is a specialist who applies science and technology in order to design buildings. It is a highly complex profession, which often calls the architectural engineer to take a combination of different but equally important factors of building design into acount – from a building’s structural integrity all the way to its fire protection and lighting system.
An architectural engineer is, by definition, a problem solver. Should you enter the profession, you will often find yourself asking questions like, “how can I make a building wisthand a natural disaster, like an earthquake, a storm or a tornado?”. You will be expected to design, build and operate by employing the latest technological innovations, including computer based building design and analysis software.
It is, at the end, a very rewarding way to earn your living, both financially – the pay is more than adequate, compared to most other professions – and psychologically. In essence, you are constantly spreading value to others and improve their quality of life through your work. Whether you save them from death by disaster, due to building a durable, long-lasting structure or improving their viewing experience, by designing a lighting system for a stadium, the impact of your work will be significant.
How much do they make in a month?
The average monthly payment for architectural engineers largely depends on their level of experience and expertise, as well as their location and industry as is the norm for the vast majority of professions. Generally, their professional career can be segmented into four, separate levels:
- Internships: The “starting point before the starting point”, an internship is widely used by by schools and universities to allow promising students earn first-hand real world work experience. According to PennState’s College of Engineering data, students on an architectural engineering internship can expect to earn about $17.00 per hour of work.
- Starting Pay: After an architectural engineer student has graduated to a full-fledged architectural engineer, they can safely expect to earn more than $53.000 annually, according to data provided by The Missouri University of Science and Technology. Evidently, there is a significant increase in financial gain compared to the previous evolutionary step of an architectural engineer’s professional journey.
- Experienced Engineers: According to a survey organised by the American Association of Engineering Societies, experienced architectural engineers have an average total annual income of $103,497. Survey respondents that felt below the 10th percentile earn a base salary under $56.000, whereas those at – or above – the 90th percentile can earn up more than $160.000 annually. These vast differences can be attributed to factors unrelated to experience – such as work ethic, location and opportunity.
- Architectural & Engineering Managers: The final stage for an architectural engineer, being an architectural & engineering manager comes with a lot of perks. As of 2016, the median annual pay for architectural and engineering managers rounds up to $134,730. In order to become one, you would need extensive work experience and at the very least, a relevant bachelor’s degree.
Architectural Engineer vs Architect
A common source of confusion is the thin line – at least at first look – that that separates architectural engineers with architects. If you get down to it, however, you will see that the numerous similarities between the two professions are merely superficial. Even though both study the same topic, their focus is radically different.
The essence of their difference can be summarized as follows: Whereas the architect practices their art by designing for aesthetics and function, the architectural engineer creates the designs that will support the building and it’s operation – such as cooling, lighting, structural support and integrity. None of the two professions is strictly better than the other – both have a vital role in building design and improving our society.
How to become an architectural engineer
If you’re looking to enter the architectural engineering profession, there are a few steps you need to follow.
- Education: First you need to find the right university or college in order to earn your Bachelor’s Degree. Most 4-year universities and some community colleges do offer engineering programs – look into programs that are accredited by ABET. Their site could be very helpful in doing so.
- Specialization: Depending on where you want to end up to, you might want to pick a specialization program in a particular aspect of architectural engineering like acoustics, lightning or electrical engineering.
- Internship: Make sure you complete an internship while earning your Bachelor’s Degree, as the relevant work experience will be invaluable to you.
- Become licensed: Licensing requirements vary per state, but they generally include a written examination. Highly important factors are also your field experience and, naturally, whether you have an applicable degree or not. By getting licensed you are enabling yourself to provide services to the public. Failing to do so will prohibit you from doing so, and likely decrease your chances of employment on the private sector as well.
Job outlook & Prospects
According to the United States Department of Labor, during a period ranging from 2014 to 2024, employment of architecture and engineering occupations is going to increase by 3 percent. In other words, during that period, about 67.200 new jobs are estimated to be added to the market. The growth rate of the profession, is slightly slower than the total average of all occupations.
As for advancing your career as an architectural engineer, you can improve your prospects and become more competitive by investing in your continuous education. There are many highly valuable educational courses, workshops and seminars you can easily enroll in. Likewise, earning a graduate degree will significantly impact your relevance on the field.
As usual, however, the deciding factor in your career will be your own, personal skillset and character traits. Constantly honing your craft with consistent exposure to real life situations and problems, along with a steady increase of your work experience is a sure way to improve your chances of a successful career in architectural engineering – and any other field or discipline.