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 have taken your breath away. Well, they are all a part of the wonders of architecture and engineering. If you’ve been interested in this, you might have wondered what you should study between the two, what’s the difference, and which is more fulfilling? Keep reading to find out.

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Choosing between the two fields of study can be a difficult and confusing process. Even though they complement each other, they are nothing alike.

What is architecture?

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

An example of an architectural masterpiece in the world is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The award-winning design captures light beautifully with the titanium coated exterior. The magnificent building attracts up to a million tourists every year.

The duties of an architect

Some of the tasks and responsibilities involved are as follows:

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

The skills required to obtain the position are as follows.


To develop aesthetically pleasing buildings and structures, one has to use one’s imagination to draw and sketch.

Legal background

When designing and constructing a structure, you must comply with the codes, regulations and policies of the state concerned.

Computer skills

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

  • Autocad
  • Revit
  • Computer Aided Design

Career prospects for students with a degree in architecture

  • Town planner
  • Designate
  • Workplace consultant
  • Project Manager
  • Interior and space designer
  • BIM manager
  • Surveyor
  • Inspector of historic buildings

Best Universities and Colleges Offering Architecture Program

  • Leeds Beckett University, 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?

Simply put, engineers use science and math to solve complex design and construction problems. Engineering is a broad subject which is divided according to the specialty. There are modern specialties in electricity, software, mechanics and civil engineering. Those responsible for the design and construction of buildings and structures are civil engineers.

While architects must develop artistic designs that result in aesthetic structures, engineers do not. They use their creativity with specialized knowledge in math and science to develop solutions to real-life challenges.

Skills of an engineer

Technical skills

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

Design and implement skills

Engineers are responsible for designing critical systems, e.g. sewers, machinery, chemical compounds, etc. They have to be good at putting different parts together to create complete working systems.

Critical mind

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

Career opportunities for students with an engineering degree

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

Best universities offering an engineering degree

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Tsinghua University
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Oxford University
  • 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, multiple options mean that it is best to choose an engineering program. Solving complex problems in society and proposing new solutions is ultimately more rewarding.

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

Still, that doesn’t mean that a career in architecture isn’t attractive. If you need more advice, consider this.

Choose an architecture program only if:

  • You don’t want to be involved in the building process.
  • You prefer to sit at the desk and come up with designs.
  • You only want to participate in the design of structures.

Choose an engineering program if:

  • You want to participate in both fieldwork and office work.
  • You appreciate the technical part of solving complex problems.
  • You want to be involved every step of the way in the construction process.

Last word

Whichever course you choose, remember that what matters is passion. Moreover, it is wise to select the right university to help you acquire the best and most appropriate skills. At the end of the day, if you love what you do, you can be successful no matter what profession.