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How to Become an Architectural and Engineering Manager

By Ajoke Aminu

Published:

Do you aspire to lead and oversee complex architectural and engineering projects? Then this comprehensive guide is for you! Explore the necessary qualifications, skills, and career progression to excel in this dynamic and rewarding field.

Career Summary

Architectural and Engineering Manager Salary

Architectural and Engineering Manager Salary

The architectural and engineering manager salary range per year is:

  • Entry Salary (US$129k)
  • Median Salary (US$143k)
  • Executive Salary (US$225k)

In 2020, the average annual wage for those working in the U.S. was close to US$69,000 meaning that an Architectural and Engineering Manager’s wage is generally higher than the national average.

What does an Architectural and Engineering Manager do?

Architectural and engineering managers are the superhumans behind the scenes that ensure a structure stands tall and strong. They use their technical prowess to supervise planning, designing, and constructing buildings, bridges, and other structures.

However, their jobs go beyond the drawing board. They ensure projects are not only beautiful but also functional, efficient, and safe, which requires a keen sense of leadership and problem-solving. Furthermore, these managers must have a savvy mindset to effectively ensure projects are on budget, timelines, and scope alongside a team of engineers and architects.

Architectural and Engineering Manager Career Progression

  • Junior Architectural/Engineering Designer: This is an entry-level position where individuals assist senior designers and engineers in creating architectural or engineering drawings, models, and plans. They learn the basics of design principles, software applications, and project coordination.
  • Assistant Architectural/Engineering Manager: In this role, individuals work closely with architectural or engineering managers, overseeing specific aspects of projects. They may supervise design teams, review project progress, and assist in decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Senior Architectural/Engineering Designer: Senior designers take on more design responsibilities. They lead design teams, develop design concepts, prepare detailed drawings and specifications, and ensure compliance with codes and regulations. They collaborate closely with clients and other stakeholders.
  • Architectural/Engineering Department Manager: As a department manager, individuals manage and lead a team of architects or engineers. They oversee the department’s operations, set strategic goals, allocate resources, mentor staff, and ensure quality control and adherence to standards.
  • Architectural/Engineering Director: In this role, individuals oversee the architectural or engineering department within a company. They set the department’s vision, strategy, and goals, manage budgets and resources, foster innovation, and ensure high-quality project delivery.
  • Vice President of Architecture/Engineering: Vice presidents hold executive positions and are responsible for the overall strategic direction and performance of the architectural or engineering division. They work closely with senior management, make key business decisions, develop client relationships, and drive growth and profitability.
  • Chief Architect/Engineer: The chief architect or engineer is the highest-ranking position in the architectural or engineering field within an organization. They provide leadership, set the technical direction, and drive innovation. They are responsible for maintaining high standards of design excellence and ensuring the organization’s architectural or engineering work aligns with its overall goals and objectives.
Architectural and Engineering Manager Career Progression

Pros:

Being an architectural and engineering manager has a plethora of benefits that are not limited to only a hefty paycheck. It is an ever-evolving profession, where every day comes with new and exciting challenges that require creative solutions. Other advantages of this career path are:

  • The satisfaction of handling a project from scratch and seeing to its success.
  • Opportunity to combine creative and analytical skills.
  • Job security and competitive salaries
  • Enjoy collaboration with diverse team professionals.
  • Creating a lasting impact on local and international communities.

Cons:

The life of an architectural engineering manager is not all sunshine, and here are a few challenges you may face:

  • Long hours working outdoors in different weather conditions.
  • Pressure to keep up with industry trends, regulations, and policies.
  • Obsessing the successful completion of projects.

Useful Skills to Have as an Architectural and Engineering Manager

  • Leadership
  • Problem-Solving
  • Design Knowledge
  • Budget and Time Management
  • Technical Expertise

Popular Architectural and Engineering Manager Specialties

While there are many types of specialties in this field, some popular options include:

How to become an Architectural and Engineering Manager

Architectural and Engineering Manager 5 Steps to Career

Becoming an architectural and engineering manager means taking on new challenges and opportunities to impact the built environment. While the path may seem formidable, there are common steps that can lead you down the right path. Let’s start by looking at the impact of education on your journey to becoming an A&E manager.

Education

Setting your sights on a career as an architectural and engineering manager will have you wondering what it takes to reach the top of the ladder, particularly if you should consider education in your steps. Here is all you should know about the role of education.

Do I need a degree to become an architectural and engineering manager?

Yes, you do. A professional or bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, or a related field can provide you with a solid knowledge and technical expertise foundation. It can also help you understand the industry standards, codes, and regulations. Additionally, a degree (or multiple degrees if you wish) will demonstrate your commitment and dedication to the field, which can appeal to employers.

The Importance of a Degree for Becoming an Architectural and Engineering Manager

A&E managers oversee the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, buildings, and other societal infrastructures. Thus, it requires a solid understanding of both engineering principles and architecture design theory– not to mention other benefits like competitive advantage, certified architectural and engineering managers’ salary range, and open doors to field opportunities. In addition, the following factors emphasize the importance of an A&E degree:

  • Knowledge and Expertise: A degree program provides a comprehensive understanding of architectural and engineering principles, project management techniques, business strategies, and industry-specific knowledge. This knowledge equips you with a solid foundation to effectively manage complex projects, understand technical requirements, and make informed decisions.
  • Industry Recognition: A degree in architectural and engineering management demonstrates to employers and clients that you have undergone formal education and training in the field. It signals your commitment, competence, and ability to handle managerial responsibilities. This can give you a competitive edge when seeking job opportunities or pursuing promotions within the industry.
  • Career Advancement: In some organizations, a degree in architectural and engineering management may be a prerequisite for advancing to managerial positions. It demonstrates your commitment to professional growth, a desire for leadership roles, and the ability to handle complex responsibilities. A degree can expand your career options and increase your chances of securing higher-level positions.

Unpacking the Duration Needed to Complete an Architectural and Engineering Management Degree

With architectural and engineering management degrees, the length can vary depending on various factors, including the level of the degree, the educational institution, and the study mode (full-time or part-time). Here are the typical time frames for different degree levels:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in architectural and engineering management typically takes four to five years.
  • Master’s Degree: Pursuing a master’s degree in architectural and engineering management usually takes two years for full-time students. However, some programs offer accelerated options that can be completed in one year. Part-time students may take longer to finish their master’s degree, ranging from two to three years.
  • Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.): The timeframe can be significantly longer if you pursue a doctoral degree in architectural and engineering management. Doctoral programs often require several years of research, coursework, and dissertation completion. The duration can vary widely but generally ranges from three to six years, depending on individual progress and research requirements.

Average Cost of Studying Architectural and Engineering Management at a University

Studying architectural and engineering management at a university is quite an investment. Still, the returns can be worth it in the long run. Also, the tuition and other expenses can vary depending on the university, location, and other factors. In the United States, the annual tuition fees for a public university’s bachelor’s degree program in architectural and engineering management can range from around $10,000 to $30,000 for in-state students.

Generally, the average cost of acquiring a bachelor’s degree in this field is US$27,000 to US$63,000 per annum, while a master’s degree costs an annual estimate between US$22,000 to US$53,000. More importantly,  it’s recommended to research and directly contact the universities or colleges you are interested in for accurate and detailed information about their tuition fees and any available financial aid or scholarship opportunities.

Is it Possible to Become an Architectural and Engineering Manager through Online Education?

Yes, it is possible to pursue an architectural and engineering manager career through online education. Online education has become increasingly popular and widely accepted, offering flexible learning options for individuals who may not have access to traditional on-campus programs or prefer the convenience of studying remotely.

Notwithstanding, you must ensure that your chosen program is reputable and accredited. Accreditation confirms that the program meets certain quality standards and that employers and professional organizations will recognize your degree. Thus, when considering online programs, research the universities or institutions offering them, review their accreditation status, and carefully evaluate the curriculum and course delivery methods to ensure they align with your educational and career goals.

By completing an accredited online program in architectural and engineering management, you can gain the necessary qualifications and knowledge to pursue a career as a manager in the field.

Where to Find Web Resources to Learn Architectural and Engineering Manager Skills

Architectural and engineering managers are professionals who require diverse skills to thrive in their roles. Luckily, the internet offers a wealth of resources to help aspiring managers hone their craft. Whether starting or looking to level up your skills, these web resources provide a valuable roadmap to becoming an architectural and engineering manager:

  • Professional Associations and Organizations: Many professional associations and organizations in the architecture and engineering fields offer resources and educational materials to support career development. Examples include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the Project Management Institute (PMI). These organizations often provide webinars, workshops, publications, and online resources that can enhance your management skills.
  • Blogs and Industry Websites: Explore architecture and engineering blogs, websites, and online publications that cover topics related to management, leadership, and industry trends. Some popular ones include ArchDaily, Engineering News-Record (ENR), and Architectural Record. These platforms often feature articles, interviews, and case studies that can provide valuable insights and knowledge.
  • Podcasts and Webinars: Look for podcasts and webinars focused on architecture, engineering, and project management. These platforms often invite industry professionals to share their experiences, discuss best practices, and provide insights into management strategies. Some notable podcasts include “The Architects’ Show” and “Engineering Management Institute Podcast.”

Practical Experience

Did you know that a professional internship, even after obtaining an undergraduate degree, is part of the AXP (Architecture Experience Program) prerequisites? In essence, this fact emphasizes the role practical experience plays in the career of an A&E manager. A hands-on internship allows aspiring architect and engineer managers to gain real-world experience as they are exposed to projects, clients, and other working professionals in the field.

In-demand Architectural and Engineering Manager Internship Opportunities in 2023

While internships tailored to architectural and engineering management may be less common than those for individual disciplines like architecture or engineering, you can still explore several avenues. Here are some niches with potential internship opportunities:

  • Architecture and Engineering Firms
  • Construction Companies
  • Government Agencies
  • Real Estate Development Companies
  • Facilities Management

8 Essential Skills an Architectural and Engineering Manager Must Have

This career path is not for the faint of heart, as you will be responsible for overseeing massive construction projects that require the perfect blend of precision, creativity, and innovation. Here are some key skills you can expect to learn and enhance in this role:

  • Project Management: You will learn how to plan, organize, and manage projects from start to finish. This includes setting project goals, creating timelines, allocating resources, managing budgets, and coordinating team members to achieve project objectives.
  • Leadership and Team Management: As a manager, you will develop leadership skills to inspire and guide your team members. This involves providing clear direction, setting expectations, delegating tasks, motivating and supporting team members, resolving conflicts, and fostering collaboration to achieve project success.
  • Communication: Effective communication is vital in architectural and engineering management. You will learn to communicate clearly and concisely with team members, clients, stakeholders, and contractors. This includes written communication, such as reports and documentation, as well as verbal communication for presentations, meetings, and negotiations.
  • Technical Knowledge: As an architectural and engineering manager, you will gain a deep understanding of architectural and engineering principles, codes, regulations, and industry standards. This technical knowledge allows you to assess design and construction plans, evaluate project feasibility, and ensure compliance with relevant requirements.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: You will develop skills in identifying and analyzing problems, finding innovative solutions, and making informed decisions. As a manager, you will encounter various challenges during projects, and the ability to think critically and make effective decisions is crucial.
  • Financial Management: Understanding financial aspects is important for architectural and engineering managers. You will learn to manage project budgets, estimate costs, monitor expenditures, and make financially sound decisions to ensure projects remain within budget constraints.
  • Risk Management: You will develop skills in identifying and assessing risks associated with architectural and engineering projects. This includes implementing risk mitigation strategies, developing contingency plans, and ensuring project safety and compliance.
  • Time Management: Effective time management is essential for managing multiple projects and meeting deadlines. You will learn to prioritize tasks, allocate resources efficiently, and optimize project schedules to ensure timely completion.

Maintaining a Work-Life Balance as an Architectural and Engineering manager

As an architectural and engineering manager, finding the perfect work-life balance can feel like an elusive unicorn. With deadlines looming and clients demanding excellence, it’s easy to get caught up in the never-ending work grind. But fear not– balancing your career and personal life is not impossible. Here is how:

  • Workload and Project Phases: Architectural and engineering managers may experience fluctuations in workload and time commitments depending on the project phase. During the design and planning stages, the workload may be intense, requiring long hours and focused attention. Construction and implementation phases may involve site visits, coordination, and monitoring progress. However, work demands may be more manageable once projects are completed or during lulls between projects.
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: As a manager, you may have more flexibility and autonomy in managing your work schedule compared to other roles. This allows you to find a balance that suits your needs and commitments. However, there may be times when urgent issues or project deadlines require extra time and effort.
  • Time Management and Delegation: Effective time management and delegation skills are crucial for maintaining work-life balance. Prioritizing tasks, setting boundaries, and delegating responsibilities to team members can help you manage your workload and allocate time for personal activities outside of work.

What’s the Career Outlook for Architectural and Engineering Manager?

According to BLS statistics, the career outlook for this role in the USA is promising, with an expected growth rate of 2% over the next decade. Despite the relatively slow growth in employment opportunities for architectural and engineering managers, there continues to be a significant number of job openings each year. Approximately 14,000 openings for architectural and engineering managers are projected annually.

Architectural and Engineering Manager Popular Career Specialties

In-Demand Architectural and Engineering Manager Job Opportunities

As the world’s infrastructure and construction industry continues to expand, the demand for architectural and engineering managers is at an all-time high. Here is a list of job opportunities:

  • Project Manager: You can work as a project manager overseeing architectural and engineering projects from inception to completion. This role involves managing project teams, coordinating with stakeholders, ensuring adherence to timelines and budgets, and overseeing the overall project execution.
  • Construction Manager: In this role, you would be responsible for managing construction projects, collaborating with architects, engineers, and contractors, ensuring quality control, overseeing site operations, and ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations.
  • Facilities Manager: As a facilities manager, you would manage the operations and maintenance of buildings and facilities. This includes overseeing maintenance activities, managing vendor contracts, optimizing facility performance, and ensuring a safe and functional built environment.
  • Engineering Department Manager: You can lead and manage the engineering department of an organization, overseeing the work of engineers, ensuring technical excellence, coordinating with other departments, and contributing to the overall strategic direction of the organization.
  • Consulting Manager: Working in a consulting firm, you can be a consulting manager, providing expert advice and guidance to clients on architectural and engineering projects. This involves managing client relationships, overseeing project deliverables, and leading consulting teams.
  • Urban Planning Manager: In urban planning, you can work as a manager responsible for overseeing planning projects, collaborating with architects and engineers, coordinating with government agencies, and ensuring the implementation of sustainable and efficient urban development plans.
  • Design Studio Manager: If you have a passion for design, you can work as a design studio manager, leading a team of designers, overseeing design projects, managing client relationships, and ensuring the delivery of creative and innovative architectural and engineering solutions.
  • Research and Development Manager: In research-focused organizations or academia, you can work as a research and development manager, leading teams conducting architectural and engineering research, managing research projects, and contributing to advancements in the field.

Top Companies Hiring Architectural and Engineering Managers

  • Architectural Firms: Architectural firms specialize in designing and planning the construction of buildings, structures, and spaces. They often hire architectural managers to oversee design teams, coordinate projects, and ensure the successful execution of architectural plans.
  • Engineering Firms: Engineering firms provide engineering services in various disciplines, such as civil, mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering. These firms hire engineering managers to lead teams, manage projects, and ensure engineering standards and specifications are met.
  • Construction Companies: Construction companies are responsible for executing the physical construction of projects based on architectural and engineering plans. They hire architectural and engineering managers to oversee the construction process, coordinate with design teams, and manage construction projects efficiently.
  • Infrastructure Development Companies: Infrastructure development companies specialize in the planning, design, and construction of large-scale infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, airports, and utilities. They often hire architectural and engineering managers to lead teams and ensure successful delivery.
  • Real Estate Development Companies: Real estate development companies focus on acquiring and developing properties for residential, commercial, or mixed-use purposes. These companies hire architectural and engineering managers to oversee the design and construction of real estate projects, ensuring adherence to quality standards and timelines.
  • Government Agencies: Government agencies at various levels, such as local, state, and federal, often have departments dedicated to infrastructure development, urban planning, and public works. These agencies hire architectural and engineering managers to manage public projects, review plans, and ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
  • Consulting Firms: Consulting firms provide specialized expertise and advice to clients in engineering, architecture, and project management. They hire architectural and engineering managers to lead teams, provide technical guidance, and deliver consulting services to clients.
  • Design-Build Firms: Design-build firms offer integrated design and construction services, combining architectural and engineering expertise with construction capabilities. They hire architectural and engineering managers to oversee the design and construction process, ensuring seamless integration and project success.
  • Manufacturing Companies: Manufacturing companies that produce complex products such as machinery, equipment, or industrial facilities often employ architectural and engineering managers to oversee the design and development of manufacturing processes, facilities, and equipment.
  • Research and Development Organizations: Research and development organizations in the architectural and engineering fields hire managers to lead teams involved in innovative research, technology development, and design advancements.

Should I become an Architectural and Engineering Manager?

You should consider every angle before deciding to be an architectural and engineering manager. Consider the key points discussed in this article, including the experience and education required, the typical work tasks, and the job outlook.

However, you must also factor in your personal interests and skills. Are you passionate about design and innovation? Do you enjoy leading and collaborating with others? Are you comfortable working with budgets, schedules, and contracts?

As with any career choice, aligning your long-term goals and aspirations with what the role has to offer is essential. So, before making any significant decisions, take some time to weigh all the options and ensure this path is right for you. Once you’re confident being an architectural and engineering manager is what you want, apply for roles that suit your experience, prepare for common interview questions, and ace them– good luck!

Careers Related to Architectural and Engineering Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need to be an Architectural and Engineering Manager?

To become an architectural and engineering manager, you must have a degree in architecture or engineering (or a related field) and several years of experience working in that profession. You should also possess excellent leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, design knowledge, technical expertise, budget management capabilities, and time management skills.


What do Architectural and Engineering Managers do?

Architectural and engineering managers are responsible for overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings and other structures. They coordinate the activities of engineers, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, urban planners, surveyors, cartographers, geologists, environmental scientists, and other professionals. They also develop client relationships and make key business decisions.


Is the Engineering Manager and Architect the same?

No, engineering managers and architects are two different professions. Engineering managers oversee the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings and other structures while architects focus on creating aesthetically pleasing designs that are also functional. Architects must have an understanding of building codes, design principles, structure stability, and materials used in construction.


Ajoke Aminu

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