How Long Does it Take to Become an Architectural Engineer?

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Architectural engineers design many of the complex structures we use every day.
Architectural engineers design many of the complex structures we use every day. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Architectural engineers perform exciting work that blends elements of advanced mathematics, physics and design. These individuals handle the engineering aspects of designing and constructing new commercial, residential and public structures and buildings. They often work on extremely complex projects such as new bridges or entertainment complexes. Becoming a professional architectural engineer takes at least seven years, though many engineers go on to pursue advanced degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree: Four to Five Years

All architectural engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree, which takes most students four or five years to complete. Candidates may pursue a general engineering degree, an architectural engineering degree or an architecture degree with supplemental coursework in math, physics and other engineering-related classes. The first two years of an engineering program focus on fundamentals of math, physics and geometry; the latter half of the degree program involves more focused and advanced studies related to your areas of interest.

Licensing: Three Years

To become a licensed professional architectural engineer, you need to pass a series of exams, a process that takes around three years to complete. Upon graduating, you’ll take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to qualify as an engineering-in-training or EIT. With this distinction you can start working as an entry-level employee. You typically need two to three years of experience before you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, a test that measures your knowledge of advanced engineering topics. Those who pass this test become professional engineers or PEs.

Master’s Degree: Two Years

A master’s degree in architecture or architectural engineering is required for many positions in this career, especially for major, government-funded projects. Civil engineers, facility managers, landscape architects, developers and other architectural engineering professionals can widen their career options with this degree. Some schools offer the bachelor’s and master’s degree concurrently by tagging on an extra year of intensive study and internship experience to the bachelor’s degree program.

Doctorate: Six Years

A doctorate or Ph.D. in architecture or architectural engineering is the most advanced degree available to architectural engineers. This degree is required for candidates who want to teach at the university level. Students incorporate advanced research methods and become experts in the field. They may go on to work as professors, consultants and other high-ranking professionals. Ph.D. candidates must complete dissertations based on original research and defend their work before a panel of experts and peers.

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