What Is Architectural Engineering? (Plus Job Descriptions)

Updated April 20, 2023

Architectural engineers work in the engineering and construction industries to design mechanical and structural systems for buildings. They work to increase sustainability, safety and comfort by designing high-performance structures to meet the changing needs of society. If you have an interest in science, math and building processes, learning more about architectural engineering can help you determine if it's the right career path for you.

In this article, we explain what architectural engineering is and list career paths you can pursue in the field.

9 architectural engineering jobs

There are several different types of architectural engineering jobs that you can pursue within this profession. The following is a list of a few of the most common careers in the field of architectural engineering. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries:

1. Engineering technician

National average salary: $55,417 per year

Primary duties: Engineering technicians work with industrial engineers to create and implement designs for effectively using equipment and materials throughout the construction of buildings. They study how staff perform tasks and use equipment to enhance overall staff productivity, and they may suggest changes to standards or operations that may result in increased production and quality of work.

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Related: How To Become an Engineering Technician in 4 Steps

2. Senior draftsperson

National average salary: $62,846 per year

Primary duties: Draftspeople are responsible for turning the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings that can be used in the construction of new buildings. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to design the schematics of products and buildings that can then be put into building information modeling (BIM) systems to be constructed. Drafters typically specialize in one sector of engineering, such as architectural or civil engineering.

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Related: How To Become a Successful Architectural Drafter

3. Production supervisor

National average salary: $67,078 per year

Primary duties: Production supervisors oversee a team's overall efficiency and typically work in industrial or factory environments. They're responsible for ensuring that workers are as efficient as possible and that production is supervised from start to finish.

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Read more: Learn About Being a Production Supervisor

4. Mechanical designer

National average salary: $81,097 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical designers, who may also be referred to as "mechanical drafters," design mechanical equipment and other mechanical products. They may also work with engineers to formulate ways to increase manufacturing processes and systems. They often use CAD software to develop mechanical models before they're produced.

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Related: Mechanical Designer vs. Mechanical Engineer: What's the Difference?

5. Architectural project manager

National average salary: $84,435 per year

Primary duties: Architectural project managers oversee all aspects of the design and production of a building project. They may perform duties that include developing construction plans, ensuring that a project meets zone requirements and managing the construction team. Architectural project managers may work on industrial, residential or commercial construction projects.

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Read more: Learn About Being a Project Manager

6. Manufacturing engineer

National average salary: $85,445 per year

Primary duties: A manufacturing engineer is responsible for the planning, designing, coordinating and monitoring of the manufacturing process. They may research and develop new manufacturing tools, equipment and machinery and help integrate these into the production process. Their primary goal is to transform raw materials into viable products that are both efficient and economical.

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Read more: Learn About Being a Manufacturing Engineer

7. Civil engineer

National average salary: $87,143 per year

Primary duties: Civil engineers design, build and oversee the production and construction of buildings and other infrastructure. These engineers may create and build various aspects of society, including water systems, bridges, roadways and seaports.

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Read more: Learn About Being a Civil Engineer

8. Structural engineer

National average salary: $91,567 per year

Primary duties: A structural engineer focuses on ensuring that the structural aspects of an architectural project are structurally sound. For example, a structural engineer may analyze the foundations, floors and beams of a building to make sure they meet safety standards, cost and aesthetic criteria. Many structural engineers specialize in a particular type of structure, such as hotels or factories.

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Related: What Is Structural Engineering? With Duties and Salary

9. Electrical engineer

National average salary: $93,362 per year

Primary duties: This type of engineer is responsible for designing and creating electronic technology and equipment and may work in a variety of industries. Electrical engineers may sketch schematics, use computer technology to compose electrical models and oversee the construction of a prototype. They may work to enhance current electronic products or focus on developing new technology related to electrical systems.

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Read more: Learn About Being an Electrical Engineer

7 more architectural engineer careers

These are some additional jobs you can pursue as an architectural engineer:

10. Building envelope engineer

11. Coastal engineer

12. Green roof designer

13. HVAC engineer

14. Building information modeler (BIM)

15. Sustainability consultant

16. Facility manager

What is architectural engineering?

Architectural engineering, also called architecture or building engineering, is a dynamic and rewarding profession that combines the principles of engineering and architecture to create innovative, functional and sustainable buildings. As an architectural engineer, you may have the opportunity to design and develop complex mechanical and structural systems that meet the needs of society. This profession requires a strong foundation in math, excellent problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills. You may work closely with architects and contractors to ensure that buildings are safe, comfortable and energy-efficient.

This career field is relatively new and was first introduced during the 20th century in response to the new technologies that arose as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Architectural engineers primarily focus on how to unite the advanced computer technology available today with the increased need for sustainable architectural solutions.

Related: Learn About Being an Architect

Architectural engineering vs. architecture

These are some differences between architectural engineering and architecture:

  • Education: An architectural engineer attends an engineering program, while an aspiring architect doesn't. During their programs, engineers may focus more on math and physics than an architect may in their program.

  • Licensure: Architectural engineers become licensed as engineers, while architects receive their credentials as architects only.

  • Purpose: An architect focuses more on the building's design, while the architectural engineer may focus on the structural and mechanical components that allow the building to function properly.

Read more: Architect vs. Architectural Engineer: What's the Difference?

What do you study in an architectural engineering program?

Architectural engineering programs help you learn to apply theoretical and practical knowledge when designing buildings and systems. You can pursue both an undergraduate and graduate-level program in architectural engineering. These are some topics you may study in an architectural engineering program:

  • Lighting and electrical

  • Construction engineering

  • Construction management

  • Heating and air conditioning

  • Building ventilation systems

  • Design and structure analysis

  • General chemistry

  • Calculus

  • Thermodynamics

  • Mechanics of materials

  • Fluid mechanics and heat transfer

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Civil Engineer vs. Structural Engineer: Definitions and Examples

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