Architectural Engineering: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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Bachelor's and associate's degrees in architectural engineering can lead to a career as a drafter or engineering manager. Get the truth about the requirements, courses, and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Studying Architectural Engineering: Degrees at a Glance

When considering the field of architectural engineering, you might think of an architect designing buildings and other structures, but the field of architectural engineering focuses on designing engineering systems within structures. This might include electrical, air conditioning, refrigeration, and plumbing systems. In an associate's or bachelor's degree program in architectural engineering, you will take courses that will give you a strong understanding of the basic principles of this field but also specialized courses to reinforce your understanding of these engineering systems.

Graduates with associate's degrees might work as drafters, while bachelor's degree holders might become engineering managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both of these particular career paths are predicted to grow slower than average (6% increase for drafters and 9% increase for engineering managers), and so competition for these positions might be high.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry level positions in the field - Individuals seeking careers in the field
- People interested in advancing to graduate study in this field
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Drafter ($50,000)*
- Engineering technician ($60,000)*
- Construction manager ($94,000)*
- Surveyor ($59,000)
- Cost estimator ($63,000)*
- Sales engineer ($97,000)*
- Architectural and engineering manager ($129,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years of full-time study 4 years of full-time study or 2 years of full-time study for students transferring in from an associate's degree program
Common Graduation Requirements Core courses and electives Core courses, electives, and courses based on the chosen specialization track
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability None found at this time No programs specific to architectural engineering are available at this time, though some similar programs might be found

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Architectural Engineering

Students who complete an associate's degree program in architectural engineering are considered qualified for a variety of positions in construction and related engineering fields, though typically at a lower, support-oriented level. Graduates go on to work alongside of building contractors and engineers. It is also typical for associate's degree holders to transfer into bachelor's degree programs.

While studying architectural engineering in an associate's degree program, you will be introduced to the fundamentals of this discipline, such as mathematics, physics, drafting, and technical writing. In addition, studying practical areas in construction methods and materials will help to prepare you for your future career path.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • After completing an associate's degree in architectural engineering, you have the flexibility to begin working immediately or go on to complete a bachelor's degree program
  • Exploring the variety of topics available in an architectural engineering associate's degree program will help you make an informed choice about your career path
  • The BLS predicts that graduates trained in new software programs will continue to find opportunities in various industries*

Cons

  • A bachelor's degree might be required to advance past support-level positions in some fields
  • Though the BLS predicts future construction projects will create demand for drafters, the field is only predicted to grow at a rate of 6% from 2010-2020, slower than the average for all professions*
  • Since associate's degree programs focus on creating a solid foundation of mathematics and construction principles, you might not be able to concentrate on specific areas of interest at this level

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses

A strong academic foundation is an important component of an associate's degree program in architectural engineering, so it includes a general education component. You will also complete a curriculum of required courses relevant to the field, as well as courses that you select as electives. Your coursework will cover a broad range of topics, designed to prepare you for your career, or future study in the field.

Some common courses in an associate's degree program include:

  • English composition
  • Technical mathematics
  • Architectural drawing and design
  • Physics
  • Materials and methods of construction
  • Mechanical and electrical systems
  • Architectural CAD

Online Degree Options

Online degree options seem to be unavailable for associate's degree programs in architectural engineering. Traditional associate's degree programs allow students the opportunities to interact with faculty and other students to explore topics in the field, and collaborate on practical projects, which would not be available to students in an online program. If you do find any online programs in your research, you should consider them carefully, since they might not be from accredited institutions.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Since job opportunities for graduates are predicted to be better for those who have skills in new software programs, a good way to get ahead in the field is stay educated on new developments. Continued education is often available through professional associations. Certifications are also a great way to show potential employers that you have specialized skills. The American Design Drafting Association offers several certification programs that will help you demonstrate your comprehension of the professional skills so important to employment in the field.

Bachelor's in Architectural Engineering

While you complete a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering, you will explore topics that give you an excellent foundation of knowledge and understanding of the ways in which all systems are integrated in buildings and other structures. After you complete these more general courses, many bachelor's degree programs offer the opportunity to focus on a more specialized track of study. Common courses of study are programs with a mechanical concentration or a structural concentration. Focusing on an area of interest provides the occasion to prepare for a specific future career path in surveying or engineering management, to name a few.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bachelor's degree program in architectural engineering offers excellent preparation for graduate-level study
  • The choice of several concentration areas will allow you to find the path that fits you and your career goals best
  • Earning a bachelor's degree provides the experience and skill needed to advance in the field

Cons

  • Working under deadlines might cause stressful working conditions in some professions
  • The BLS predicts slower than average growth for jobs in architectural and engineering management, only 9% growth from 2010-2020*
  • State examinations and experience are required to be considered a professional engineer

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The core courses that you can expect to take in a bachelor's degree program in architectural engineering are nearly identical to those you will find in associate's degree programs. In a bachelor's degree program, however, you will have the chance to study more advanced topics in architectural engineering.

Some common courses you might take include:

  • Introduction to thermodynamics
  • Engineering economics
  • Introduction to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Linear engineering systems
  • Introduction to fluid flow
  • Hydraulics

Additionally, once you select a specialized track in some programs, you will take courses specific to that track. For example, a structural concentration might require a course in foundational engineering. For a mechanical concentration, you may take a course in heat transfer.

Online Degree Options

Online degree options for bachelor's degree programs in architectural engineering would be very rare at this time. There are some online options available, however, in similar fields. For example, a program in construction engineering technology would equip you with many of the same skills as a program in architectural engineering and prepare you for a similar career trajectory.

Stand Out with This Degree

Some institutions offer dual degree programs with architectural engineering and another related discipline. An example of one such program is an option to complete a bachelor's degree program in architectural engineering at the same time as a bachelor's degree program in civil engineering. Another option that is offered is a dual degree program in which you can earn a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering as well as a Master of Architecture. These programs often only require an additional 1-2 years of study and provide you with an added skill set as you seek to gain employment in the field.

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