Architects vs. Engineers: Which Major to Choose?

Architects vs. Engineers: Which Major to Choose?

If you’ve traveled a lot, you’ve probably come across some magnificent buildings, structures, and bridges that blew your mind. Well, they are all part of the marvels of architecture and engineering. If you’ve taken an interest in such, you might have wondered what you should study between the two, what’s the difference, and which is more fulfilling? Read on to find out.

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Deciding between the two fields of study can be a tough and confusing process. Even though they complement each other, they are in no way similar.

What Is Architecture?

Architecture is the art of designing and constructing buildings and structures. Architects get involved in the design, alteration, extension, and restoration of buildings from start to finish. Their construction knowledge and drawing expertise are crucial in the influence of a building’s look and style.

An example of an architectural masterpiece in the world is Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The award-winning design captures the light in magnificent ways thanks to the titanium-clad exterior. The magnificent building draws up to a million tourists each year.

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Duties of an Architect

Some of the duties and responsibilities involved are to:

  • create and design buildings;
  • come up with high-quality drawings by hand or through computerized applications;
  • write reports, proposals, contracts, and applications;
  • work with construction professionals, engineers, interior designers, and quantity surveyors on the execution of new projects.

The skills required to get the job are as follows.


Developing aesthetically pleasing buildings and structures requires one to use their imagination to draw and draft.

Legal Background

When designing and building a structure, you must comply with the given state’s codes, regulations, and policies.

Computer Skills

Knowledge of computer skills and architecture software is mandatory. Some of the applications include:

  • AutoCAD
  • Revit
  • Computer-Aided Design

Career Prospects for Students with an Architectural Degree

  • Urban Planner
  • Designer
  • Workplace Consultant
  • Project Manager
  • Interior and Spatial Designer
  • BIM Manager
  • Building Surveyor
  • Historic Buildings Inspector

Best Universities and Colleges Offering an Architecture Program

  • Leeds Beckett University, the UK
  • University of Melbourne
  • Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands
  • University of Tasmania (UTAS)
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

What Is Engineering?

In simple terms, engineers use sciences and mathematics to fix complex issues in designing and construction. Engineering is a broad subject that is divided depending on specialty. There are modern-day electrical, software, mechanical, and civil engineering specialties. Those responsible for designing and constructing buildings and structures are civil engineers.

While architects need to develop artistic designs that result in aesthetically pleasing structures, engineers do not. They use their creativity with expert knowledge in maths and science to develop solutions to real-life challenges.

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Skills of an Engineer

Technical Skills

Engineers must have a full grasp of mathematics and physics to use design software such as AutoCAD.

Designing and Implementing Skills

Engineers are responsible for designing critical systems, e.g. sewers, machines, chemical compounds, etc. They have to be good at putting different parts together to come up with whole working systems.

Critical Thinking

The ability to come up with elegant solutions amid various challenges such as regulations, public safety, and laws of nature requires critical thinking.

Career Opportunities for Students with Engineering Degree

  • Civil engineer
  • Electrical supervisor
  • Physicists
  • Scientist
  • Nuclear expert
  • Project manager
  • Workplace consultant

Best Universities Offering Engineering Degree

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California–Berkeley
  • Tsinghua University
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • University of Oxford
  • National University of Singapore (NUS)

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Which One Should You Choose?

Now that you know the differences between the two, which major should you choose?

Since different engineering options lead to different career paths, the multiple options mean that you are better off choosing an engineering program. Solving complex issues in society and coming with new solutions is more fulfilling in the end.

Generally, engineers also earn more than architects. Their average salary is $92,220 while their counterparts earn  $78,470.  It also takes less time to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering than architecture, and this is because it takes up to 170 credits to complete a course. Architecture majors take pre-architecture courses in their freshman year in college, which means that their counterparts often save on tuition costs.

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Yet, this doesn’t mean a career in architecture is not appealing. If you need more guidance, consider this.

Choose an architecture program only if:

  • You don’t want to be involved in the construction process.
  • You prefer sitting in the office and coming up with designs.
  • You only want to take part in the design of structures.

Choose an engineering program if:

  • You desire to take part in both fieldwork and office work.
  • You enjoy the technical part of solving complex issues.
  • You want to be involved in every step of the construction process.

Final Word

Whichever course you choose, remember that what matters is passion. In addition, it is wise to select the right university to help you gain the best and most appropriate skills. At the end of the day, if you like what you do, you can succeed no matter the profession.

Ayhan Fletcher

"Subtly charming zombie nerd. Infuriatingly humble thinker. Twitter enthusiast. Hardcore web junkie."

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