Architectural engineers apply engineering principles while they are engaged in the planning and design of buildings or structures and need to keep in mind the constructional aspects of the project under consideration. They may quite often not be involved with the aesthetics or functional aspects of the projects that are being conceived but work in conjunction with the design architects and structural engineers of the project. They are required to have some knowledge of other disciplines that are involved in major constructions, like electrical, plumbing and water supply, fire protection, air-conditioning and other disciplines. They could also be concerned with the structural integrity of the building, acoustic and lighting issues and the latest in energy conservation techniques. They need to have knowledge of all the latest building codes and other aspects such as earthquake and other weather condition design.
Employment possibilities and salaries
Architectural engineers mainly work in the construction industry and are almost always included as part of a project team in building projects that entail the involvement of many other disciplines. It is quite a common practice for firms executing projects to appoint an architectural engineer for the tenure of a project and this gives a lot of scope to free lancers. Salaries could range from $75,000 for architectural engineers with about 8 to 10 years experience, with salaries upwards of $100, 000 not unknown for people with much more experience. A freelancer can hope to make much more money, but has to take the risk of remaining without work at some period of time. It is very essential for an architectural engineer to be a member of an association, which in turn can help to project him to prospective employers. Newcomers into the field can expect starting salaries of about $50,000 in major firms, but their advancement here will completely depend on the sort of projects they are associated with and the impact that they make on them.
With laws on construction set to grow more stringent and demanding with the advent of safety and environment, the role of the architectural engineer is becoming more and more important. A number of local building councils have made it now mandatory that an architectural engineer has to be part of a project team and would be required to give certain certifications before the building or structure is permitted to be used. This allows the architectural engineer to play a more vital role and is likely to boost his salary and monetary expectations. This, however, places an additional responsibility on the architectural engineer. Professional associations are likely to play an important role in such matters and it is likely that they will set standards for their member’s expertise and knowledge that may make the profession still more demanding. This in turn can help the salaries of architectural engineers.
The work environment for architectural engineers is generally quite comfortable, as they mainly deal with architects and engineers in their offices. They need to make site visits to review projects and ensure that their guidelines are being followed. This could involve visiting projects abroad and in hostile environments and could involve a fair bit of traveling.