Architectural engineering vs civil engineering


Hello all,

Right now I am going into my sophomore year and I have to choose between pursing a degree in architectural engineering vs civil engineering. I am way more interested in the architectural engineering curriculum because it the civil curriculum is very transportation heavy and I only want to work on buildings. I intend on working in construction or trying to work as a assistant project manager in a commercial real estate development company when I graduate.

In addition I like the architectural degree because it’s more focused on hvac/electrical, green building, and BIM with some construction courses too.

My question is will having an architectural engineering decrease my job opportunities because of the rarity of the degree.

In addition, I am wondering if it will hurt me if I want to eventually advance to a project manager position in construction or commercial real estate.

The reason I want the degree is because Iong term I want to pursue development and like the flexibility the degree has in terms of understanding architecture and building electrical systems.

Also if any of you have the degree can you tell me your starting salary after graduating school.

Nov 15, 18 2:43 am

I only read you going on about architectural engineering so I guess you already made up your mind :)

Nov 15, 18 3:30 am

lol I’m honestly open to both. I just want advice on If a civil one will open more doors job wise.

Nov 15, 18 7:44 am

You laid out a good case for why you want to pursue architectural engineering, so go in that direction.  They are probably similar enough that either degree will work for you.  There is no sure fire way to second guess the job market.  After a few years your degree won't really matter that much.

Consider getting some training in construction management or real estate after a few years of work (notice that I didn't say you should get another degree, just training)

Nov 15, 18 8:02 am

thanks I appreciate the feedback.

Nov 15, 18 8:08 am

Would anybody say that understanding building systems could be beneficial if one was going to pursue ground up development long term?

Nov 15, 18 8:10 am
Non Sequitur

having an understanding helps, definitively... but if you're developing properties, you'll be hiring consults who know and have real experience with building systems. Hard to sue yourself if/when you fuck it up.


You don't need to be an expert, but you should have a good working knowledge so that you know what questions to ask and so you know if the consultants are doing their job.


lol good to know. Thanks

Nov 15, 18 8:43 am

The emphasis is different.  Civil is more infrastructure scale, most programs let you focus more on a specific area (geotech/structure/water resource/environmental - I think env. has been broken out in most schools now though).  ArchEng is more focused on structure scale (MEP/Structure).  In some ways, yes, civil is a broader degree, but if the emphasis you want is not there, then it may be a moot point.  Structural generally requires a MS in order to get to the more complex projects.

Salary range is broad, when I came out in the 00s it was mid 40s to mid 80s: low end is most likely government jobs (DOB, DOT, Capital Projects type places), higher end will be consultants (the Burns and McDonnell types) and elite firms if you have some experience.  Note that higher end firms tend to want some type of masters degrees.

Nov 15, 18 12:54 pm

Civil engineering is a stream you can opt if you like the basic physics behind building things or saying it easy, you like HOW construction goes and not DESIGNING the structure.

Architecture is about DESIGNING the structure taking in mind feasibility and comfort of your structure. So, it is more of ART than of PHYSICS.

Both are two different innovative fields.

If you are looking for a scope to learn new things then Civil Engineering is the choice.

A civil engineer turned Architect can do anything technically.

  • Civil engineering adds strength.

Architecture adds beauty.

Both should go hand-in-hand.

Dec 7, 18 6:12 am

Beautiful answer given by manisha..!!! I loved the answer given by her.

Dec 8, 18 3:59 am

I did civil engineering in school but worked and took my PE in architectural engineering. You have to figure out if you like dirt, wastewater, highways, bridges, or if you like Buildings. 

I'd recommend doing structural focus if staying in civil, or just making the switch to Arch Eng. 

Dec 9, 18 9:39 pm

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