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Architectural Engineer: Job Description & Career Requirements

An architectural engineer helps create efficient buildings and building systems. Architectural engineers often work on projects with other professionals, including construction workers and architects. A bachelor's degree and licensure are typical requirements. Possible employers include the government and private corporations.

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Architectural Engineer Job Description

Architectural engineers apply mathematical and scientific principles to building design, concentrating on structural demands and functionality while taking into account economic and safety factors. They may design systems within a building pertaining to, for instance, heating and air conditioning, lighting and plumbing. Architectural engineers need to be able to diagram designs manually as well as through computer-aided drafting (CAD). Since they often work in teams, good communication skills are necessary. Architectural engineers must also be comfortable in different work environments; they often divide their time between offices and construction sites.

Requirements to Become an Architectural Engineer

Educational Requirements

Architectural engineers must complete a bachelor's degree program, which generally lasts five years; some 5-year programs also award a master's degree along with the bachelor's upon program completion. Typical architectural engineering coursework in a bachelor's degree program covers construction materials and methods, CAD, design analysis and modern structural systems. Architectural engineering degree candidates spend a significant amount of time in design labs and studios. Many programs offer the opportunity to concentrate on a single area of architectural engineering, such as electrical or mechanical elements.

Graduating from a degree program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be necessary; many states set this as a requirement for licensure purposes (www.abet.org). Completing an accredited program also informs possible employers that certain standards have been met. As of October 2010, ABET accredited 17 architectural engineering programs in the U.S.

Licensing Requirements

Engineers who offer their services directly to the public must be licensed as professional engineers (PEs). To become licensed, aspiring PEs usually must pass two exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (www.ncees.org). The first exam is the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which can be taken by a student about to graduate from an engineering program. After four years of work experience, individuals may sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam to attain full licensure. Continuing education may be necessary for licensure maintenance, but requirements vary between states.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From 2010-2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 19% job growth for civil engineers, who design and supervise construction of buildings, roads and systems. In 2012, the BLS reported an annual average salary of $79,000 for architecture and engineering occupations in general, with civil engineers in particular earning $84,140 on average, at that same time.

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