Architect vs Engineer

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 15, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Engineer
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When you’re trying to plan your career, you might be trying to choose between becoming an architect or an engineer. These are two very popular and important careers. If you enjoy building and designing structures, both types of careers might fit.

These two careers can be very rewarding, but one may fit better than the other. Before you decide, let’s look at what each is and the differences between an architect and an engineer.

Architect vs Engineer

What is an Architect?

An architect is responsible for creating the plans for the design of a structure. You might design homes, industrial buildings, corporate offices, or any other type of building. It’s common for architects to use computer-aided design and drafting programs to create drawings. In some cases, drawings will be created by hand, however.

Architects are responsible for doing the necessary research when designing buildings, too. They have to research the building codes for the area, the types of materials to use, and any structural issues.

After confirming the project with a client, an architect may hire contractors to do the actual construction. They may also oversee the process and even spend time on the worksite.

What is an Engineer?

If you want to become an engineer that develops structures and buildings, you will become a construction engineer. There are many other types of engineers, too. For the sake of comparison, we will look at what a construction engineer is since it’s the closest option to an architect.

A construction engineer will oversee the project, which may include monitoring the budget, timelines, and specifications. They will also take care of making sure the designs, building materials, and construction methods are safe for the project.

As a construction engineer, you will start each project by meeting with the client. Then, you will review the plans and reports for the project. Your job will be to assess the risks including the construction costs, the environmental issues, and the government regulations. You may also be responsible for getting the proper building permits.

Construction engineers often use CADD programs to help create the designs for structures. They must have good computer and design skills. It’s also important to be very organized and great at solving problems if you want to become a construction engineer.

Architect vs Engineer: The Main Differences

While architects and engineers complement each other, they are very different. You will see differences in the salary, the work environment, and the requirements for both of these careers.

The Average Salary

If you decide to become an architect, you have the ability to earn an average salary of about $88K per year. However, some of the highest-paying jobs for architects top the $140K salary and can go up to more than $250K.

When you choose to become a construction engineer, you can earn an average salary of about $71K per year. The range for this career is not as high as the range for an architect. However, you can earn a higher salary based on experience, education, and specific certifications.

The Work Environment

Architects tend to do most of their work in an office with a computer. They might meet with clients outside of the office, but most of the work is in an office environment. It’s common for architects to travel to job sites, too.

Engineers tend to do many things in an office, as well. However, they often travel to job sites more often than architects. It’s common for an engineer to be out-of-the-office and on the job site for weeks or months at a time.

The Requirements

Becoming an architect will require at least a bachelor’s degree. You will need to get a Bachelor of Architecture, which takes about five years to complete. Most of the best architects will go on to earn a Master of Architecture degree. This can take another five years to complete.

Architects often complete internship programs to become licensed, as well. An internship will last about three years and will provide paid experience after graduating from a bachelor’s program.

If you want to become a construction engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). This degree will usually be a bachelor’s degree, but some construction engineers go on to earn a master’s degree.

The degree can be in civil engineering, design, architecture, or a related field. Usually, a bachelor’s degree will only take about four years to complete. The master’s program may take a few additional years, too.

Commonly, engineers will complete a co-operative program or an internship while they pursue their degree. Most bachelor’s engineering programs require a co-op program to gain experience before graduation. This internship or co-op will likely last a few months.

Licensing and Certifications

The licensing and certification requirements for both of these careers will vary from one state to another. However, every state requires an architect to be licensed, while not all states require engineers to be licensed.

an architect will need to complete the following to become licensed in most states:

If you want to become an engineer, you may not need a license. Many entry-level engineers don’t have to be licensed. However, if you want to advance your career, you will likely need to have a professional engineer (PE) license. This will allow you to sign off on projects and offer services to the public. To get your PE license, you will need to meet the following requirements.

The licensing and certification requirements are quite different for an architect compared to an engineer.

Deciding to become an architect or an engineer offers a great career. While they are similar, they are not the same. One may fit your career goals better than another.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!