Architectural engineering is a hot field today especially its sub-discipline of mechanical and electrical systems. With companies focusing on green energy, architectural engineers are needed to design mechanical and electrical systems that will be more energy-efficient. There is a current shortage of architectural engineers, which means a good job demand and pay.
Architectural engineers do not just make building systems; they integrate everything including the plumbing, electrical and mechanical system. Their work is very important in today’s modern world especially with everyone being concerned about the natural resources. The architectural engineer can design every technical aspect of a building, which is more than what an architect can do.
Becoming An Architectural Engineer
To become an architectural engineer, you have to complete a 5-year bachelor’s degree program in architectural engineering. There are degree programs that will come with a master’s degree when you complete the 5-year program. The bachelor’s degree will cover construction methods, construction materials, design analysis, CAD and modern structural systems. Architectural engineering students mostly spend their time inside the studio or the lab to design building systems. You should look for a degree program that will give you the opportunity to focus on a single area like mechanical system or electrical systems.
The architectural engineering degree program should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). It is a must that you graduate from an accredited program because this is a requirement for the licensure examination. In 2010, there were 17 accredited architectural engineering degree programs in the US.
Before and after completing the degree, you must prepare for the licensure exam. This exam is to give engineers the license to practice engineering. To obtain the license, you must take part in two engineering exams and pass both. The National Council of Examiners administers the exams for Engineering and Surveying. The first exam you will take is called the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This is to be taken before you complete your degree. After getting the degree, you must gain 4 years of work experience to be eligible for the next exam called Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. If you pass this, you will be given the title of Professional Engineer. To retain the license, continuing education is required in some states.
If your state does not require continuing education, you can still earn continuing education credits. The American Society of Civil Engineers and the Architectural Engineering Institute offer continuing education courses. These course credits and certifications will help you land a good job and will increase your competency for work.
The Duties Of An Architectural Engineer
Architectural engineers are trained to analyze building systems and that submitted by architects. This is to ensure efficiency in systems, decreased cost of construction and safety of the building. Architectural engineers have to assess the electrical systems to guarantee occupational safety for tenants. Most of these engineers work in an office setting where they review submitted blueprints. Sometimes, if needed, they will visit the construction site to do inspections and making sure the blueprints are followed.
Part of the duties of an engineer focusing on architecture is to meet with architects and discuss the design of the building. The engineer will tell the architect about the needed power, load and structural requirements. The architect and the engineer will work on making sketches and blueprints regarding the acoustic, environmental and safety issues of the building. Most of the time, the architect does the designing while the engineer does the evaluating. Any issue found by the architectural engineer will be discussed with the architect and civil engineer working on the project.
There are engineers specializing in architecture that prefer to be consultants for acoustics and safety compliance. The duties of these engineers are ensuring that the building design complies with the government acts and regulations.
The Career Of An Architectural Engineer
The job outlook for engineers in the field of architecture is bright. The employment growth is expected at 19% until the year 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, this is a faster than average growth. However, the job opportunities will vary in different geographic areas. Nonetheless, as the population grows, buildings will need to be fixed and replaced. The annual mean wage for architectural engineers is $83,000. Starting salaries is at $52,000 a year.
Those who wish to expand their careers and earn more income can go for a master’s degree in architectural engineering. This higher-level degree program offers individual specialization on subjects like light structures, facades, construction management, acoustics, town plans and lighting. The master’s degree is more focused on structural design and energy design.
Career opportunities for an architectural engineer vary greatly. They can be employed as architects, researchers, contractors, consulting engineers, building component manufacturers and independent consultants. Their jobs will range from identifying design parameters, coming up with design solutions, documenting, communicating, presenting and supervising the operations of the project.
Why Should You Become An Architectural Engineer Now?
Architectural engineering is under civil engineering. You will be focused on designing different systems used inside the building. This will include the ventilation system, heating and cooling system, plumbing system and electrical systems. You can apply for an entry-level job after earning your degree but you will need additional training and a license to be able to work independently.
Is this the right time to become an architectural engineer? Yes it is. With the employment growth projected at 19%, there will be plenty of jobs for architectural engineering students. As organizations and companies are joining the green movement, the work of architectural engineers proves to be more valuable today than ever. In addition, with the current shortage of architectural engineers, the demand will lead to more career opportunities and higher pay.
However, before choosing this career path, you must be ready for a challenging career ahead. You will always follow deadlines, which lead to pressure and extended hours of work. You have to gain 4 years of work experience before obtaining a license and you will need continuing education to retain that license. Nevertheless, this challenging career is very rewarding.