It is possible for an architect to also be a structural engineer. Structural engineering is the red-headed stepson of the construction process, and part of the fault lies with the industry itself for not demanding more recognition. Structural engineers are often overlooked, but they play an important role in the design and safety of buildings. Architectural engineering combines practical and theoretical knowledge for the design of building engineering and building systems.
It relates design and creative elements of architecture to the formality and structural aspects of engineering. Architectural engineers possess knowledge of mechanical, electrical, and structural systems for building design. They are responsible for planning the construction process for a project, as well as ensuring safety and structural integrity. Architects usually study for a bachelor's degree in architecture at an accredited institution, while structural engineers typically earn a bachelor's degree in an engineering field, such as civil or materials engineering. Both professionals must obtain a license from their national or local government in order to perform their respective jobs.
This usually requires several years of experience under a licensed professional, as well as passing a special exam. The need for a structural engineer arises when any non-standard design element must be verified and approved by someone with appropriate knowledge in that field. Structural engineers are the professionals whose experience ensures that an architect's design is safe and structurally sound. There is considerable overlap between the two jobs, but the most obvious difference is that structural engineers don't have much to do with the final appearance of the building. An architect and structural engineer receive training in similar building fundamentals, but the architect's education specializes in design and aesthetics, while the structural engineer specializes in testing the physics of that design. Structural engineering is specifically concerned with making calculations and models for load-bearing structures such as skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, and dams.
Architectural engineers are usually good at math and science, and can advise on aspects such as noise reduction, weather protection, and compliance with local building codes. The architect may need to change aspects of the design or materials used in different components of the building depending on the content of the structural engineer's analysis. Architectural engineers will have hourly rates comparable to those of an unlicensed engineer, so they won't cost as much as an architect or structural engineer since they are licensed professionals. For renovation and new construction projects, a structural engineer can cost up to 20% of the total project cost. If you're lucky, you may find a master's course in structural engineering that will take you with a degree and experience in architecture, or an employer who will train you on the job. In that case, it is not necessary to hire an architect because the engineer will be able to provide some of the same skills.
Structural engineers design and inspect projects like civil engineers, but they also have an understanding of structures and how the built environment is affected.