Did someone recently suggest that you consider becoming an architectural engineer? Are you now considering this exciting career path, but you feel that you don’t know enough about it? Keep reading to learn everything you will need to know about this career path and what it can do for you. Architectural engineering is a degree program that will allow you to focus on the architectural disciplines, as well as the major components of an engineering degree. In order to become an architectural engineer you can expect it to take you approximately eight years to complete the educational requirements, the necessary work experience, and the licensing requirements. As an architectural engineer you will be using the principles of engineering and design to create buildings. On a daily basis you will be using problem solving skills that apply to the areas of math and science. It will be common for you to work on construction sites along with architects, construction workers, and other engineers. It is important to understand that while a bachelor’s degree will make it possible for you to obtain your license and work as an architectural engineer; you must complete a graduate level degree program in order to work in a research or development capacity.
To become an architectural engineer it will be necessary for you to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree program. You can expect your coursework to consist of extensive sequences in math and physics. Your curriculum will include many classes from other engineering departments (such as civil engineering and mechanical engineering) and may require you to complete sequences in analytic geometry and calculus, along with a class focused on differential equations. While the specific course requirements will vary slightly from one school to another, you will likely be expected to complete technical electives that incorporate architecture courses and studios. Most colleges will also require you to complete a design project or research project before you will be eligible to graduate. Some colleges will offer dual engineering degree programs within the college of architecture, while other schools offer concentrations such as structural engineering or construction engineering. Keep in mind, if you plan to practice architectural engineering in the public then you must have an active license. In order to obtain your license you will be required to earn a passing score on two examinations that are given by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. One of the exams, the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, can be taken prior to graduation from your bachelor’s degree program. Take a few minutes and check out the schools that are shown on the site. If you see any that interest you, request that they send you a free information packet detailing their degree programs. As a degree holder in architectural engineering it will also be possible for you to seek employment in other areas of engineering. For instance, you may be able to work in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, or even in an area of architecture.
Below are the top 10 engineering degrees and careers. It goes into detail explaining each area of employment as well as what type of degree level is needed to qualify for those careers.
Civil Engineering Degrees – The role of a civil engineer is to protect and maintain infrastructures. They are professionals who study climates including how weather plays a factor to the structures that are being built. Often civil engineers focus on a particular part of structures including drainage, foundation and even have an understanding of hydropower and solar. In terms of education you’ll need to have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering or Masters for the majority of the careers available. Civil engineers make between $55,000 – $75,000 per year. Your four year degree will focus on courses in: physics, structure and materials, mechanical structures, engineering science as well as more general electives that will make up the 120 credit hours needed. Once you graduate you’ll look for work both in the private section as well as public sector. Many find employment working to maintain our highways, design bridges as well as become engineer rail designers for our ports.
Mechanical Engineering – This is a pretty generic concentration compared to the other engineering degrees. The wide vertical allows you to work in a lot of different fields including those in automotive, machinery and manufacturing and even select areas of aerospace. Mechanical Engineers make between $85,000 - $117,000. You can become a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or ASME which is a great resource for those just entering the field.
Aerospace Engineering – One of the more advanced careers in engineering are those found in aerospace. You’ll focus on testing new aircraft, designing parts for shuttles and even working on advanced weapons. A lot of careers in this field are in the private sectors with companies like Boeing and Northrop Grumman having over 65,000 employees worldwide. Depending on your degree and knowledge you might work with propulsion, aerodynamics or even control systems. Due to the advance nature of the career having a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering is sufficient however a Master’s degree would be preferred. Salaries on average are $97,500 and the industry is expected to grow over 5% over the next 6 years.
Automotive Engineering – Do you like working on cars or trucks? Do you like the industry but don’t want to become a mechanic? If so a degree in automotive engineering could be the best fit for you. As an engineer you’ll work on the actual concepts of the cars including design, safety and even future development. You should develop your skills by taking a lot of math courses both in high school as well as during your undergraduate degree. You can earn your Associate’s as well as your Bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering. Be sure to your degree from a college that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). We have seen mechanics that have continued with their training and started to specialize in a given area of engineering and went back to school to get their engineering degree. You can focus on engine part manufacturing, powertrain and a big push now is in alternative fuel. Companies like Tesla are leading the way in battery operated automotive. Auto Engineers earn an average salary of $117,600 but more specialized engineers earn considerable more.
Architectural Engineering – As an architectural engineer you’ll focus on structural design of buildings. Many end up working on things such as lighting where others focus more on safety including how to withstand natural disasters such as high forced hurricanes and even earthquakes. Colleges typically offer both a Bachelor’s as well as a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering. Salaries range from $70,000 to over $120,000.
Electrical Engineering – Earning your degree in electrical engineering allows you to work on things such as the design of electronic components used in such things as robotics and even car navigation systems. The increase of technology in cars has opened up a whole new field on how to make self-driving cars safe. You could even work in departments that focus on solar power. Schools offer both an introduction to Electrical Engineering Certificate and Associate’s degree but earning your B.S. in Electrical Engineering will give you the best chance at a job after graduation. The degree would be 4 years and you’ll cover course in electromagnetics, statistics, engineering mechanics, linear algebra (including advanced classes in physics and calculus). If math is your strong point then you shouldn’t have a hard time with the courses in college. You can earn your online degree for the Associate’s part of your degree and then transfer those credits into a Bachelor’s degree. After graduation jobs for electrical engineers range from working at radio and TV stations in their audio electronics division, working at large computer companies, working with cell phone providers and manufactures as well as working on electrical and HVAC systems. With a medium salary of around $87,000 it is an attractive field of study and lots of colleges and universities offer degree training.
Computer Engineering – It is not surprise that computers have taken over our world and the need for talented engineers to continue to grow our networks and connect everyone has never been in more demand. The massive size of computers these days is staggering and it all needs maintained. The infrastructure needed requires engineers that have years of training in the field. It is required a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Engineering be completed to qualify for the available jobs. Almost all salaries are over $100,000 and growing higher each year as companies pay big incentives to get the best talent out of high school.
Chemical Engineering – If you think you would love working in a laboratory and love chemistry then check out earning your Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. You can be responsible for design elements of labs and how to use chemicals to improve our lives. Production of plastics, compounds and even food preservatives are all areas of possible focus. The curriculum you’ll take will focus around chemistry mainly as well as analysis and design courses in biology and thermodynamics. Salaries range from $55,000 to $85,000.
Nuclear Engineering – As the title suggests you’ll be working as a nuclear engineer in perhaps the design and maintenance of reactors. Many end up working at the actual reactor itself where others are at the corporate level testing and designing new and safe ways to store and use nuclear energy. Those that are still in high school that know this is what they want to do after college should focus on science and mathematics. During college you’ll continue with chemistry and physics courses until you start courses in your major your junior year in college.
Manufacturing Engineering – As robots slowing start taking over tasks the design and development gets more complicated. The use of computers and robots in the manufacturing process has become very advanced. Earning your degree will allow you to apply for jobs that focus mainly in manufacturing. Large production sites in manufacturing all need full-time engineers to make sure things are running smoothly.
Engineers use math, science and technology to design products and solve problems. Engineering is visible at work everywhere, improving the ways people stay healthy, communicate, travel and work. The engineering field today offers more choices in career than any other area of coursework. The number of available degrees has increased greatly, with six major branches, including geotechnical, management, electrical, civil, chemical and mechanical. In addition, each branch has many subcategories beneath it.
What do Engineers do?
Engineers oversee public works, build machines and structures and design machinery and other items. They also address the problems and needs of society on many levels, all the way down to the molecular level, where engineers work on systems that deliver drugs into cells, to treat disease. At the macro level, engineers quantify pollutants’ flow through soil, to aid in cleaning oil spills and other areas with biohazards. In the space program, engineers design spacecraft for the exploration of other planets. Engineers are also responsible for protecting the environment, providing safe food storage and creating clean drinking water.
Choosing the Right Engineering Degree
Engineering is quite an extensive subject, and with the numerous career paths available, it can be difficult for students to determine in which area they wish to work. In order to make the decision easier, students must try to identify the areas in which they are most passionate. The areas that get students excited about work, and what they already spend their free time on, can help them to choose from the many career paths available. All engineering types include problem-solving, to one degree or another, and focus generally on making people’s lives easier. Students must determine which engineering-related solutions interest them the most. Choosing subjects that they are generally interested in will make it easier for them to remain motivated during their coursework, and remain involved with these subjects while pursuing a career in engineering. Engineers are in some way responsible for the greatest technology and inventions that are depended on by people everywhere. From bridges to air conditioning systems to spacecraft, if something needs to be designed, it requires an engineer’s work. In order to become successful in engineering, students need some specific qualities, like technical knowledge, communication skills, problem-solving skills and other qualities. Students can choose from many types of certificates and degrees, in order to make achieving their educational goals more likely.
Certificate/diploma: Usually scheduled as four courses or 12 credits, a certificate in engineering introduces students to systems and engineering concepts, including engineering processes, support systems, project management and risk analysis.
Associate: This degree takes about two years to complete, depending on students’ desired engineering fields and how many courses they take at a time. It helps students to develop engineering knowledge and skills to learn how to assist in designing, building, troubleshooting and repairing various products and systems.
Bachelor's Degree: This degree is normally the minimum requirement for students who want to enter the engineering fields with an “engineer” job title. Most students take four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Engineering students will need to complete work in statistics, calculus, basic sciences, humanities and English.
Master's Degree: A master’s in engineering usually takes between one and a half and two years to complete. More complex concepts are introduced to master’s level students, including courses like systems engineering and operational research.
Bioengineers solve serious issues in medicine and biology by applying sound principles of engineering and physical sciences. They apply biological principles to create new paradigms, like neural networking, biomimetic materials and DNA computing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for bioengineers is $85,620 and the projected growth between 2014 and 2024 is an amazing + 23%.
Materials engineers work with the properties and structure of materials often used in modern types of technology. They build upon the solid foundation of materials science, working to improve fabrication, optimal selection and design of the materials used in engineering, and the creation of new materials. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for materials engineers is $93,300 and growth from 2014 to 2024 is projected at just 1%.
Civil engineers are responsible for planning, designing, building and managing a wide range of physical systems. They include bridges, buildings, tunnels, dams, transportation systems, ocean and coastal engineering facilities and water & wastewater treatment systems, and other projects related to private enterprise and public works. The BLS shows that the median annual salary for civil engineers is $83,540, and the job outlook is positive, with an 8% growth rate projected from 2014 to 2024.
Mechanical engineers are responsible for applying the principles of energy transfer, mechanics and dynamics to the analysis, design, testing process and manufacturing of industrial and consumer products. They create some of the machines that are used in manufacturing vehicles, power-generating equipment, engines, and mechanical engine components. The work of mechanical engineers even extends to artificial components utilized in human prosthetics and a wide variety of other products. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for mechanical engineers is $84,190 and the projected job growth between 2014 and 2024 is 5%.
Agricultural engineers work in solving problems in agriculture, dealing with environmental issues, pollution, use of facilities and structures and machinery efficiency. Their work also covers the processing and storage of various agricultural products. The BLS median annual salary for agricultural engineers is $76,340 and the projected growth between 2014 and 2024 is 4%.
Chemical engineers work within the petroleum and biochemical industries. They also work on design and solutions in areas like advanced materials processing, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, systems engineering, nanotechnology and energy. They oversee chemical processes in many types of industries. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for chemical engineers is $98,340 and projected growth is 2% between 2014 and 2024.
Electrical engineers work on the development of theories, algorithms, devices and circuits. These are used in sensing, analyzing, extrapolating and communicating data. They also take action, responding to data that has been collected. The BLH reports the median salary for electrical engineers as $96,270. The growth rate from 2014 to 2024 is predicted at 0%, but as older engineers retire, there will be positions to fill.
Industrial engineers seek out ways they can eliminate wastefulness found in production processes. They develop efficient systems to integrate energy, information, materials, machines and workers to provide services or make products. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for industrial engineers as $84,310. The growth rate for the field from 2014 to 2024 is predicted at 1%.
Computer hardware engineers work with the applications, analysis, modeling and design of systems related to computers. They work in various areas, including graphics, computer vision, bioinformatics, computational systems biology, computer science theory, artificial intelligence, data and information management, programming systems, computer networks and computer system architecture. The BLS states that computer hardware engineers earn a median annual income of $115,080 and the field has a projected growth of 3% between 2014 and 2024. Environmental engineers utilize principles of chemistry, biology, soil science and engineering to develop viable solutions to problems in the environment. They work to improve air and water pollution control, public health, waste disposal and recycling. They also work to address more global issues, like environmental sustainability, unsafe drinking water and climate change. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for environmental engineers is $84,890 and the growth rate between 2014 and 2024 is projected at 12%. Overall, the BLS reports that the median salary for all the major engineering fields is $90,188 and the overall growth rate is about 6% between 2014 and 2024.
Essential Skills: Analytical aptitude, technical knowledge, attention to detail, excellent communication skills, creativity, logical thinking, mathematical inclination, problem-solving skills, team player ability. The mean annual wage for 10 main types of engineers: $90,188. The most popular industries: Environmental, computer-related, industrial, electrical, chemical, agriculture, biology and medicine.
Associate degrees are generally the minimum education level requirements to begin working in the engineering field at entry-level. Associate degree programs offered online are able to provide students with a useful background in the mathematical and technological concepts used by engineers to devise new products and systems. GED certificate holders and high school graduates with a strong math and science background can apply to online associate degree engineering programs.
What Does an Online Associate Degree Program in Engineering Entail?
Most online engineering programs at the associate degree level require students to commit to about two years of study if they take a full course load. The credit hours needed are 60-64. These online degrees provide a solid start for people who want to work in the various types of engineering fields. Students learn about historical and foundational theories and engineering principles, as they prepare to design and problem-solve in the field of their choice.
This course gives students a look into engineering design, with emphasis on the development of drawing techniques and skills for engineers. The contents of the course include computer-aided design (CAD), freehand drawing to aid design and visualization, dimensioning and sections and elementary pictorial and orthographic drawing. The statics course studies the application of mechanical principles to rigid bodies in equilibrium. The content of the course emphasizes methods of virtual work, moments of inertia, analysis of structures, center of gravity, centroids and areas of friction.
Properties of Materials
This course studies mechanical, chemical and physical properties of materials used in engineering. These include composites, polymers, ceramics and metals. The emphasis in the course is placed on structure and function as they relate to considerations in design.
The Dynamics course studies the fundamental principles of various bodies in motion, emphasizing kinetics and kinematics of rigid bodies and particles. It covers angular and linear momentum relationships, work-energy and moving reference frames as they apply to engineering problems. General education courses are also needed, like English, literature and math.
The elective courses in an online associate program in engineering include Digital Systems; General Chemistry I & II; Precalculus; Electric Circuits; Calculus with Analytic Geometry I, II and III; Magnetism and Electricity and Mechanics and Optics, Waves and Modern Physics.
Career Outlook for Graduates of Associate Degree Programs in Engineering
Graduates with an associate’s degree are called Engineering Technicians. According to the BLS, the median pay for all types of engineering is $54,480 per year. The overall outlook for growth is 2% between 2014 and 2024, which is a bit slower than average. However, some individual areas of engineering have growth rates projected as high as 23%. Students need to research the individual fields before making a choice.
Online bachelor degrees in engineering have electives in areas that include environmental, quality and mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering. Undergrad online programs in engineering highlight general engineering courses and sciences, to aid students who wish to evolve into well-schooled engineers who show strengths in their chosen areas of engineering. Students, while working online, still interact with faculty to choose sub-disciplines that complement the projected work environment for all the real-world applications.
What Does a Bachelor's Degree Program in Engineering Entail?
By the time you are ready to earn your bachelor’s degree in engineering, you should have chosen a specific field of engineering in which to major. They are listed in Careers in Engineering, above. The courses listed below are common to various career paths, but focus most on civil and mechanical engineering, which are two of the largest fields and most populous of engineering. The online bachelor's degree in engineering typically takes about four years to complete.
General Chemistry for Engineers
This one-semester course introduces students to general chemistry. The class covers stoichiometry, chemical equations, gases, thermodynamics and molecular and atomic structure. It also looks into electrochemistry, polymeric, organic and inorganic materials, chemical equilibrium, states of matter, chemical bonding, molecular structure and the periodic table.
Calculus I for Engineers
This initial calculus course allows students to begin basic calculus drills and then more easily progress to engineering problems requiring integrating information learned earlier in the course. Students will develop a firm understanding of mathematic procedures, rather than just plugging the numbers into formulas.
Engineering and Technology
In this broad course, students are introduced to innovation and invention in engineering and technology. It will help them to realize the ways in which technology affects the world and the people in it. The course also covers why systems work in the way they do, and students learn practical examples of the impact technology has on the world.
Introduction to Engineering and Design
This introductory course introduces basic aspects of tools, methodology, philosophy and history, as well as contemporary engineering topics. It presents some of the emerging challenges faced by engineers in various areas. It provides a basic introduction to the methods used in engineering, and then shows students the applications of the basic methods and principles used in engineering.
This program aids students from diverse fields to better understand the ways used to manage complex systems and improve the processes used in the future. It upgrades the students’ knowledge and abilities, to give them a better chance to advance in their chosen area of engineering. Graduates can, depending on skills, become engineering managers, principal engineers, lead engineers and project managers in fields like manufacturing, government & defense, and aviation & aerospace. The two-year schedule of most schools offering an online master’s degree in engineering allows students a chance to add the degree to their engineering resume while they’re still working. The courses below are applicable to many types of engineering, but still focus on the broad fields of mechanical and civil engineering.
Mechanical Engineering Core Courses: This course covers the principles of dynamics. It speaks to the determination of normal frequencies and modes by integral and differential equation solutions. Emphasis in this class is on the derivation and solution to using matrix formulation to govern equations.
Mechanical Design: This course deals with the materials selected and how they affect mechanical design. Study includes analysis of load and stress, deflection and stiffness and failure due to fatigue or static loading. Students will study the importance of design as it applies to reliability and safety, and design-related statistical considerations.
Composites Manufacturing: This course describes recent advances in composites, adding essential information, examples and case studies that broaden the students’ knowledge of materials in composites and the methods used to manufacture composites.
Mechanics of Intelligent Materials and Systems: This overview provides an in-depth look at three different classes of multi-field materials and applications. It includes thermo-mechanical and electro-mechanical coupling as found in polymers, metals, ceramics and crystals.
Civil Engineering Project Management: This course covers the principles of management in civil engineering projects, including risk management, budgeting, quality assurance, scheduling, contracts and proposals.
Engineering Hydrology: This course deals with hydrologic design in situations of uncertainty. It factors in watershed models, reservoir design, river routing, design flows, and remote and conventional sensing.
Statistics for Environmental Monitoring: Statistics for Environmental Monitoring covers applications of certain statistics dealing with environmental pollution studies that involve the monitoring of soil, air or water. It also teaches students about censored data, trend analysis and sampling designs.
Civil Engineering Specialty Courses: Some of the essential specialty courses in civil engineering include Pumps & Wells, Engineering Hydrology, Irrigation Water Management and Irrigation Systems Design.
Students will also choose from Engineering Optimization courses and others in Independent Study of Water Resource Management, Computer-Aided Water Control and Utility and Infrastructure Management.