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Architect vs Civil Engineer

WilsonWu
I've already known the difference between them from their definitions. What I want to know is that, according to your experiences, what are differences between these two in REAL world ! In a REAL WORKING PLACE!
 
Apr 23, 14 1:03 am
mszczere
Engineers make more $$$
Apr 23, 14 1:34 am  · 
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accesskb

You know exactly what your tasks are.. Go in, do your work, get it done quick and go home, unlike the maybe's, what ifs, not this or thats, and a dozen or so changes to try and satisfy your client you have to deal with as an architect. xD

Apr 23, 14 7:32 am  · 
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3tk

having practiced both:  civils usually work with more underground concerns and deal with traffic/water; architects more with spatial concerns and materials.  The work environment is more dry in civil, as the work has to do with making something work, rather than finding creative solutions.  The salaries are marginally better in civil, but the liabilities can be much greater (as you will find yourself in more life or death scenarios, hence the conservative attitudes in their offices).  Civils are usually 40hr work weeks, architects often much longer.

Apr 23, 14 9:53 am  · 
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tintt

I worked for a civil engineer, we did farm and industrial buildings like grain processing facilities as well as structural and design consulting and forensics on things like buildings, bridges, bike paths, soggy lawns and retaining walls. It is pretty straightforward in engineering, whereas in architecture the work can be very emotional, which is what makes it both fun (being creative and personal) and tiring (erasing more than drawing). Civil engineering is a big field, it encompass anything that is built by humans. For instance, my cousin is a civil engineer who works for a particle accelerator project. Sounds like a sweet gig to me. 

Apr 23, 14 10:11 am  · 
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WilsonWu
Thanks for sharing.
Apr 23, 14 10:50 am  · 
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Engineers don't from with some stupid theories and have more courage to get things done.

that's what Corbu said back then...

Apr 23, 14 10:50 am  · 
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chigurh

civil engineering deals with curb and gutter, streets, drainage, grading, and general site concerns.  

There is some confusion for newbies because structural engineering also falls under the term "civil engineering".  A PE can be a curb and gutter guy or a structural engineer, depending on where a majority of their experience lies, there is some overlap, but most firms tend to specialize.  Site civil firms don't get involved in building structures and building structural engineers don't slum it at the site design level.  They are different disciplines.  

I am assuming the OPs was referring to civil engineering in the structural sense, in which case, building structural engineers, design a building within the constraints (schematic design) provided by an architect, they make sure the structure is code compliant and won't collapse and kill people.  

Architects design buildings.

The difference in working between the two fields is huge, architects become the project lead for many consultants, the owner, and the contractor, and the engineer is just one of the project consultants.  Engineers spend a lot of time crunching numbers, and provide some fairly schematic drawings.  Where as, architects coordinate in all of the details from all trades into their drawings and make sure the whole building is assembled properly.  

That is a super general description, I think the only way to understand the work of either field is to work both.  It is not a bad idea for architects to work in CE or structural for a while to see what they are all about.  

Apr 23, 14 11:23 am  · 
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jon ammer

accesskb

Apr 23, 14 7:32 am

You know exactly what your tasks are.. Go in, do your work, get it done quick and go home, unlike the maybe's, what ifs, not this or thats, and a dozen or so changes to try and satisfy your client you have to deal with as an architect. xD

 

 

Astute observation. Too many variables in Architecture. Even when given free reign to design theres a never-ending internal battle “if i just did this or tweaked that, then this would be better...oh wait now ive gotta change this this and this because of that....."

Apr 24, 14 4:12 pm  · 
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grneggandsam

Architects spend their days making calls to vendors, drafting details for construction and planning, and occasionally making presentations for clients.  I'd say only 1 in 10 gets to make design decisions, so the work environments (of architects and engineers) are probably much closer than the schoolwork implies.  The main difference is: architects collect all the information from the engineers and compose the documents together (although engineers compose documents too).  They also detail roof systems, wall systems, and everything else to codes, such as the RBC, IBC, and ADA.  Engineers details structures to structural codes (so it wont break), architects detail other things to other codes that are less life threatening, but could cause lawsuits.

Apr 24, 14 5:06 pm  · 
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grneggandsam

Basically, anything that is very complicated (such as HVAC systems, Geotechnical magic, and structural systems) require an engineers seal and license to be constructed, generally, and architects hand the complex system over to engineers when it gets beyond them.

Apr 24, 14 6:01 pm  · 
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WilsonWu

Thank you! you guys are helpful!

Apr 24, 14 6:33 pm  · 
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WilsonWu
Can I say that civil engineers focus on more scientific aspect while architects, artistic and communicative?
Apr 24, 14 8:02 pm  · 
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Token AE

Not always. It depends on where you work.

In addition to what chigurh said, I would suggest researching the differences between:

  • Design Architect
  • Architect of Record (AoR)

I work as a technical consultant to both of the above. Design architects handle the aesthetics and hand the rest to us. Architects of Record can hire a design architect as a consultant, or offer those services in-house.

You  need a license to be an Architect of Record. You do not necessarily need a license, let alone an architectural design background, to design the form and aesthetics of a building. In the latter case, you will eventually need an Architect of Record to stamp it for approval.

Apr 24, 14 8:21 pm  · 
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Volunteer

Think of it as the difference between a psychiatrist and a surgeon. 

Apr 24, 14 8:35 pm  · 
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WilsonWu
I'm struggling between these two professions. I really like architecture and drawing, and I like science classes, too. The issue is that I'm a Chinese, which means communication is not my advantage. Plus my college has one of the best civil engineering programs(university of illinois, is it?) Comparing with engineering, I feel the curriculum in architecture program focuses too much on artistic aspect. I feel I can not gain that much knowledge from it (sorry to say that no offend) My dad is an engineer and I like engineering, too. Can someone help me? Thank you very much. I'm just a freshman now.
Apr 24, 14 9:21 pm  · 
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chigurh

If you are not into the "artistic aspect" of design, engineering will suit you just fine.

Architecture is about being creative and thinking out of the box, if your dad is an engineer, you don't want to focus on artistic practice, and you are chinese, chances are the creative side of you would be a real struggle to tap into which would make architecture school torture and the profession not much better.  Not to say it isn't possible, you would have to get some really good weed or shrooms and re-think your entire world view.  

Some people are more suited to crunching numbers for 8 hours a day with a 30 minute lunch in a cubicle in Irvine, California.  

Apr 24, 14 10:10 pm  · 
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Volunteer

And some engineers travel the world building bridges, roads, dams, ski lifts, tunnels. Anyone who has ever set eyes on the Golden Gate bridge realizes that engineering at it's best is an art no less than architecture - maybe more so. At least more so than 99 percent of the architectural dreck being designed today.

Apr 25, 14 12:25 pm  · 
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jedidiahbelciña(jed)

Uhmm, go read your books, the golden gate bridge was designed by an architect, Irving Morrow.

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Sharky McPeterson

It's an over-simplification to solely credit the structural engineers who worked on the Golden Gate bridges or Irving Morrow. The bridge would look much different today if Irving Morrow hadn't designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, pedestrian walkways, etc., and the bridge wouldn '

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Sharky McPeterson

...and the bridge wouldn't be as graceful without thoughtful structural design by the structural engineers, Leon Moisseiff and others.

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WilsonWu
Thank you...
Apr 26, 14 1:03 pm  · 
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Civil engineers have fewer idiots for clients.

Maybe.

Apr 26, 14 1:21 pm  · 
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WilsonWu
@Miles they may help you to improve English speaking skills. LOL
Apr 26, 14 2:57 pm  · 
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Bond 01

Hello everyone! Thank you all this is really helpful. And thanks to you too WilsonWu

Apr 10, 15 6:49 am  · 
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shellarchitect

civil engineering almost always has a "right answer"

architecture rarely does

I think some people have a hard time with the subjective nature of arch. design, esp. in school where design studios tend to take over everything else.

Apr 10, 15 11:23 am  · 
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edudronawork

Basically Architects design the layout whereas Civil Engineers execute the design made by the Architects.For further details visit,

https://edudrona.com/questions/question/what-is-the-difference-between-architecture-and-civil-engineering/?mref=srinivasansekar95

Jun 2, 16 4:47 am  · 
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Big steamy load of.....

Jun 2, 16 4:51 am  · 
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jedidiahbelciña(jed)

It is a common misconception that architecture only focuses on the artistic design of buildings. That is entirely false. Architects need to put in mind all the safety code the world has to offer, functionality based on proximity like where bathrooms should be located ( nobody puts bathrooms next to pantries), a certain amount of structural knowledge, and they are for the most part, the prime profession in a construction team. They are master planners, often planning and coordinating with their contractors, engineers, materials delivery, client demands and requests, logistics, and they need to oversee the construction to ensure the design is being materialized properly. Architects, may also design plumbing works for a building, as well as minor structural work.

Note: Studied architecture for 3 years before switching over to Mechanical engineering. Graduating this year.

Jun 1, 17 9:08 pm  · 
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Chuck71

Wow, Architects are supposed to do all those things?

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Chuck71

I'd like to add, there are numerous Architects on the project (I'm an Architect but work for the contract administrator, so not one of the designers) and I'm yet to see much of what you describe, as the design architects don't want to know about the site, or much else (heck, the site architect doesn't want to know, he wants to be design team rep instead)

When it comes to designing to consider codes or standards...if they don't already know it then apparently it wasn't worth knowing.

Scary when it includes things like fire strategy!

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z6jbishop

There has been so much specialization for every part of the building that the architect has to spend most of the time managing this wide range of the team rather than doing it him or herself.

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AdrianFGA

I'm struggling between these two professions

You should struggle probably for no more than 0.01 picoseconds, then go for Civil Engineering.

Jun 2, 17 9:00 am  · 
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Chuck71

Agreed, and I'm an Architect.

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z6jbishop

Go for architectural engineering. I did Civil Engineering in school but ended up working and getting licensed doing architecture. It keeps you away from boring site work and puts you in the building. Structural engineering within Civil is great too, but you will likely learn more about the wide range of architectural tasks from AE degree.

Jun 13, 17 12:15 pm  · 
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s=r*(theta)

two words: check size

Jun 13, 17 12:44 pm  · 
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AdrianFGA

Can I say that civil engineers focus on more scientific aspect while architects, artistic and communicative?

Generally speaking (starchitects, stray designers, and odd unusual design opportunities notwithstanding), at their core, architects are essentially contract administrators. Just use "art" and "contract administration" in the same sentence, in order to get an idea about the role played by art.

Also, generally speaking, engineers tend to be more scientific in attitude and training (restrained judgement, more factual, some respect for evidence, some structured thinking, etc). In reality, they also deal with a lot of red tape, code / regulations sifting, legal issues and so forth, although less so than architects.

Jun 13, 17 1:01 pm  · 
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Choose Civil Engineering.  Ask your father if he suggests going the Structural Engineer route or not.  Either one may be enjoyable for you.  

The architecture profession is too full of judgmental, mean-spirited douchebags, you don't want any part of it.  

"Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness." - Eckhart Tolle
 

Jun 13, 17 3:38 pm  · 
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architecture is full of stupid douchebags, ego driven assholes..take the civil engineering...as least it is usually boring, and as you end a career you will feel pointless...however, you will have some money...unlike most architects who worked for a Starchitect..or similiar...

Jun 14, 17 10:38 pm  · 
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z6jbishop

lol what is a Starchitect? A star architect?

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geezertect

A starchy architect: artificially rigid.

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eduardoruiz

So I’ve been reading this and  a lot of people do think architecture is just design and the artistry, that statement however is far from the truth. Of course the main part is to make the client happy with the result but architecture isn’t just art. I don’t know if it’s just in my university but we learn about more than just the art and design of architecture; to create a building means to have the building up to code (which we learn, it’s not just the engineers), materiality, environment friendly, orientation, sustainability, and most importantly to have the building actually work. 
If you want to a straightforward job go civil engineering since they do work with architects, only difference is that you’ll have more job opportunities as a CE than an architect. If you want to be part of the creative process go architecture. 
Architects do deal with the technical aspects of a building, making sure the building actually stays , and is up to code.
Never go architectural engineering, it’s pretty much a half assed architect and engineer, you won’t earn much money either since a full fledged civil engineer or architect can do anything an architectural engineer can do. AE get the small jobs in construction as they are at bottom of the totem pole when it comes to job opportunities and wage.


Architecture= site, construction, orientation, creativity, sustainability, long work hours, satisfaction as you are part of the creative process of the building’s functionality.


CE= site, construction, sustainability, know what you are doing, gets paid a little more than an architect, and more job opportunities as you are not bound to just construction.

May 13, 18 5:56 pm  · 
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tintt

It isn't that you aren't responsible for technicals and codes, making a building work as an architect, it is just on you to learn it outside of school. It isn't taught in most schools.

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Schoon

I don't know what architectural engineering programs you're familiar with, but the program that I went through was basically structural engineering with added architecture history, studio, and building enclosure courses.  Many AE grads I know are working on big building and infrastructure projects in my city.  AE is a viable route but it is an engineering degree and doesn't prepare you well to do architectural design.  It does allow you to understand the perspective and needs of architects, though.

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lostpuppy8

As someone that has studied Civil Engineering for a little bit and is currently doing Architecture, I feel like I have a reasonable opinion. I have been doing them both for the same amount of time and my dad is a great Civil Engineer. I can say most probably that I am much more of a creative/artistic person than I am not, but even I agree that Civil is the better option. It is a much simpler route to the construction field than Architecture ever will be. And I am not the type of person that wants to go for the "simpler route" as I am an adventurous person. But Architecture is a whole different ball game. My school's architecture program feels completely like an art school which is what drives me away from it. The constant critiques and subjective grading, constant changes to a project, constant deadlines to creativity and more make it a burden. I like art/architecture but pursuing it as a field is just impractical and inconvenient unless you are some Frank Lloyd Wright type (highly unlikely). But if you love it, by all means, go for it. I am good at math but I am not a technical person. I guess I'm neither a Civil Engineer or an Architect. Hoping I find my way. Good luck to you all!

Aug 29, 18 9:09 am  · 
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AdrianFGA

I can say most probably that I am much more of a creative/artistic person than I am not

Art is essentially as useful to an architect as it is to an accountant.

My school's architecture program feels completely like an art school

This is perhaps the main issue. What they teach you in architecture school is as good in real life as, say, a textile arts background would benefit someone who is going into spot welding.

Aug 29, 18 12:21 pm  · 
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athensarch

@WilsonWu, if you enjoy civil engineering I would recommend getting your undergrad degree in that. If you still want to become an architect you can get an M.Arch in as little as 2 years.


Three years ago I researched going back to school to become a civil engineer. Even with my M.Arch I would have had to go for a second bachelor's degree. That is uncommon, would have taken 4 years as opposed to 2 for an M.Arch, and not all schools let you do it.


Starting pay/pay is also higher and given the poor state of infrastructure in the US you'll always be in demand. 

Aug 30, 18 8:12 am  · 
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Volunteer

In Roman times architects and civil engineers were one and the same. Maybe time to go back to that practice?

Paradoxically the architecture schools have produced legions of architects who can look at a crude, blank, rain-streaked concrete wall and wax poetically about its "strength" and "honesty" while the Roman architect/civil engineer would be busy applying travertine to the wall and figuring out other ways to make it not so unsightly. Go figure.

Aug 31, 18 6:00 am  · 
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randomised

They were so busy staring at their travertine they didn't even see the collapse of their empire coming. Go figure.

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Volunteer

Guess you missed the point. Go figure.

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randomised

Was just waxing my poetry..


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Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

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randomised

Those who repeat history are doomed to be ignored by it.

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JawkneeMusic

a civil engineer will know more about structures.  at cal poly you don't take foundation design as an architecture major, you don't take structural analysis, you don't take finite element analysis.  You MIGHT take timber or something.

Aug 31, 18 8:09 am  · 
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Non Sequitur

I did structural analysis in architecture.

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AdrianFGA

"you MIGHT take timber..." - depends where you are. There are structural classes at schools in some earthquake-prone countries which are far more advanced than that.

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AdrianFGA

"I did structural analysis in architecture" - yes, but it's nowhere near the structural analysis taught in your average CE course.

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Non Sequitur

CE labs were provided in my 1st year arch. Most students had to retake them 2 or 3 (3 is the max allowed) over their BA degree.

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AdrianFGA

Did you do FEA? Tensor analysis? Did you take up linear and tensor algebra?

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Non Sequitur

Hell to the yes for Linear, no to tensor... most likely. FEA seems overkill for architecture.

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AdrianFGA

^ Exactly, hence my previous post about structural analysis in architecture being nowhere near the one studied by CE students.

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Rusty!

"a civil engineer will know more about structures." Jesus Christ. Civil engineers have fuck all to do with buildings. Sewage, water table analysis, and highways, baby!

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Non Sequitur

what people here fail to realize is that Jawknee is a clueless wanker at best.

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AdrianFGA

"...Civil engineers have fuck all to do with buildings. Sewage, water table analysis, and highways..."

In a broad sense civil engineering may include structural engineering.  However, even within the limited description mentioned above, CE's use design and structural analysis skills in finding solutions for structures like bridges, dams, the occasional English Channel Tunnel, perhaps even pyramids. Also, even a humble highway is challenging in as much as road design is complex as it requires some pretty complex geometry. 

Aug 31, 18 5:05 pm  · 
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Volunteer

But CE is so boring...

Sep 1, 18 6:34 am  · 
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chiragkumar

An architect designs and draws up plans for buildings, bridges, and other structures. The key difference between an architect and an engineer is that an architect focuses more on the artistry and design of the building, while the engineer focuses more on the technical and structural side.

Oct 31, 18 7:22 am  · 
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monu1

Architects take care of designing a house and decorating in a modern way where as civil engineers construct the apartment building. 

Nov 1, 18 3:51 am  · 
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z6jbishop

Civil Engineering in school, focused on roads and bridges. Also learned about waste water plants, ocean engineering, some structural steel. Working as a civil engineer I was doing site planning, drainage, management of MUD districts, then I did some underground tunneling. 

Switched to architectural engineering, working on building envelopes. Roofs, curtain walls, waterproofing, detailing, building testing and envelope commissioning. Much different type of work, more enjoyable IMO. If I could go back in time I would've done architectural engineering in school. I guess it took me a while to figure out working on buildings is more interesting than working on dirt.

Nov 6, 18 10:04 am  · 
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lostpuppy8

@z6jbishop How is architectural engineering different than civil and architecture? I think about going into that instead as I have done Civil and Architecture but don't like both for different reasons. I feel architectural engineering is a possible solution. Thank you!

Nov 11, 18 10:30 pm  · 
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lostpuppy8

that's true. Thank you for your helpful comment. Do you think Architectural Engineering is a "Dead" profession that doesn't have good job prospects?

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Civil engineering and Architecture are both careers that involve building. Civil engineers focus on public infrastructure, and architects focus on both public and private buildings. Both careers require a bachelor's degree.

Mar 27, 20 10:11 am  · 
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uzaykaradağ

As of now I have wrapped up the sophomore year of my CE Bachelor. I study at the top university of the field in Turkey. However I feel a strong urge to change majors (and even universities) to pursue a career with passion which seems to be Architecture. Even though I am good with numbers I have always been the one to be more on the creative side. Is it worth taking the plunge and letting go of 2 years when I can graduate in another 2?

Jul 30, 20 6:38 pm  · 
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rcz1001

Complete your engineering degree. After that, you may choose to pursue architecture. Don't stop short of completing the engineering degree. You would be able to work in engineering offices even when you may not have a job in architecture. If you can do both architecture and engineering, that would be great.

Unless you aren't doing good in engineering, I wouldn't switch major. You can possibly pursue architecture at the masters level or as a second bachelor's degree.


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