Combining aspects of engineering with facets of architecture, architectural engineers concentrate on designing and creating the engineering systems found inside buildings, according to the Princeton Review. Those engineering systems include features we typically do not see or think about, like plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems and fire safety. The salary for an architectural engineer varies depending on several factors.
Across the nation, architectural engineers earn on average $74,000 a year for those with at nine to 10 years of experience in the field, according to Career Cornerstone using data from the Engineering Workforce Commission. The Milwaukee School of Engineering lists the starting salary for an entry-level architectural engineer between $40,000 and $67,860, with a national average of $51,229.
An architectural engineer's salary remains fairly steady throughout the country. The architectural engineering industry is closely tied to the construction industry, and those areas of the country with high construction rates have more job openings for architectural engineering positions, though they don't necessarily pay more. Areas with high construction rates include the southern and western states, where more and more baby boomers are moving to from the northern states. Architectural engineers, like workers in other industries, are paid more for living in areas with higher costs of living, like New York City, California and Chicago, where architectural engineers earn just under $80,000 a year.
Architectural engineering salaries improve based on how long they have been employed. Entry-level employees start around $51,000 a year, move up to $74,000 a year for nine to 10 years' experience and peak at $106,080 a year for 26 to 30 years of experience. Schools with architectural engineering degree programs offer associate to five-year bachelor of science degrees, with students pursing the longer degrees earning more money to start out. Working for a higher-end or more well-known firms that employee architectural engineers, such as Halliburton, NASA or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, can also mean a higher salary, along with other perks like health benefits and retirement.
Because of the connection between construction and architectural engineering, the demand for architectural engineers rises during a construction boom. Even in a construction recession, architectural engineers are still in high demand because fewer than 20 schools offer a degree in architectural engineering, making for few graduates to fill many spots. As mentioned, the demand for architectural engineers can especially found in areas with high construction rates, such as the south and west.