Architectural engineers typically combine creativity with engineering concepts as they help design a range of physical structures. Earning an architectural engineering degree is usually necessary to get started in this field. Depending on your career goals, you may choose to earn an associate’s degree, which takes about two years to complete, or a bachelor’s degree, which you may earn in about four years. To open the doors to more job opportunities, you may even choose to go on and earn a master’s degree or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). No matter which type of degree you hope to earn, however, you’ll usually have to start out by earning a high school diploma and then applying to an undergraduate school.
Typically, you’ll need a high-school-level education to gain acceptance to an architectural engineering degree program. This usually means you’ll need to earn a high school diploma, but many schools will also accept a general educational development (GED) diploma instead. While you’re in high school, taking advanced classes in math and science may help you prepare for college coursework. Likewise, classes that build communication skills may help you prepare for working as a team member. Additionally, design electives may help you build basic design skills you can use in college and as you pursue this career.
If you want to earn an associate’s degree in architectural engineering, you’ll usually have to apply to a community college or four-year school that offers associate’s degrees. Many people are able to complete associate’s degree programs in about two to three years. To earn a two-year architectural engineering degree, you’ll typically take required basic courses in such subjects as history, science, and writing as well as courses that provide an introduction to architectural design and civil engineering.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering usually requires about four years of education. As with an associate’s degree program, a bachelor-level architectural engineering degree program usually includes classes in math, science, and composition, but will also require you to take classes that cover architectural engineering topics in more depth. For example, you may take classes that cover such subjects as construction methods, construction material, and computer-aided design (CAD) production. The courses you take will typically depend on the school you choose, however.
You may also consider earning an advanced degree in architectural engineering. For example, you may decide to pursue a master's degree or even a PhD in this field. In general, you'll need to commit about two years to earning a master's degree after earning a bachelor's degree, and you may need three to five years to earn a PhD. These programs usually involve advanced study of architectural engineering, and you may take courses in such topics as urban planning and building information modeling as part of one of these programs. You may also complete independent projects and research as you work toward earning an advanced degree.