Field of Study: Architectural Engineering Technology
Architectural engineering technology programs prepare people to help architects and engineers. Students learn to study building sites and build models. They also learn to draw plans and write reports.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is very pretty. But we're all lucky that most buildings stand up straighter than that. It's a fact that architectural engineering technology has improved a lot since the year 1173.
In architectural engineering technology, you start with a good helping of math and physics. Then you apply this knowledge to understand soil mechanics and structural mechanics. These subjects give you the ability to predict the forces that cause a tower to lean or stand straight. You study how to represent buildings and building sites by drawings. You learn how to translate a drawing into specifications that builders use. For example, you may need to know how many cubic yards of concrete are needed to create the foundation that appears in a drawing. Of course, nowadays most of this is done with the help of computers.
You study the principles of architectural design. Some of these are artistic traditions; others are practical concerns. You also learn about techniques and materials that are used in construction.
About 190 technical and community colleges offer an associate degree in this field. The degree usually takes two or three years. From there you can go on to a bachelor's degree (by studying an additional two years) or enter the work force. With the associate degree, you may work as an architectural drafter, or you may create building specifications from plans.
Most bachelor's degree programs require four years of full-time study beyond high school. You learn more math and science, plus more about construction management, so that you can land a job in which you play an important role in supervising construction. Or, you may help an architect work out technical aspects of a design. About 20 colleges offer this degree.
If you're willing to get more education (maybe further down the road), a bachelor's is a good first step toward graduate school and a number of career paths. You might study architecture with the goal of becoming an architect. You might get more education in engineering and pursue that career. (In that case, your undergraduate program should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.) Or, you might get a master's in business administration and specialize in managing construction.