If designing and building large structures is in your future, then you might be wondering what classes to take in high school for architectural engineering. While following the general graduation requirements and minimum college entrance requirements will give you a solid foundation, filling your schedule with high school courses for architecture will expose you to the nuts and bolts of working in this field.

What Is an Architectural Engineer?

When you look at a building and wonder who’s in charge of the structure, stability and systems of the building, there’s a good chance an architectural engineer is at the top of the list. That’s because architectural engineers are the engineers that specialize in making buildings.

They design the mechanical and structural systems and manage the electrical and lighting systems. While not the same thing as an architect, they do work side-by-side with them, but their focus is strictly on a building’s engineering aspects, which is why they have “engineer” as part of their title.

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To become an architectural engineer, you will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited university in Architectural Engineering. You can also work toward a Master of Science in Architectural Engineering if you plan on doing more research, teaching or furthering your career.

High School Courses for Architecture

Knowing the right classes to take in high school for architectural engineering not only helps you prepare for this demanding field, but it also allows you to try out, on a much smaller scale, some of the classes you may be required to take in college.

In addition to your high school requirements for English and social studies, some of the more common high school classes for architecture include courses in mathematics, science, manufacturing, welding, art, design and computer-aided-drafting (CAD).

Your first order of business is to make sure your four-year high school plan meets the minimum entrance requirements for college. Each university sets its own criteria, but your high school guidance counselor will be able to compare your high school plan to the minimum entrance requirements of the colleges you plan on applying to.

Math and Science Courses

If you’re college-bound, you will likely take more than the required number of classes needed for graduation. With that in mind, when it comes to mathematics, the high school courses for architecture tend to aim at the higher levels of math. So if your math level is high enough, you will want to take and pass trigonometry and calculus. But if you’re not at that level, at a minimum, you will need to take and pass Algebra 2.

When it comes to science, a solid foundation in biology, chemistry and physics will serve you well when considering architectural engineering high school requirements. If your school offers an applied physics class, try to get a spot. These classes are structured around a vocational model, and give students the chance to use a more hands-on approach to learning about physics.

Elective Courses for Architectural Engineering

The high school courses for architecture and architectural engineering aren’t limited to math and science. You should also spend time in elective classes. To get a better idea of the courses required in an architectural engineering degree, visit a few college websites and look at the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in architectural design. Then, compare those classes to what your high school offers. While the classes may not be exactly the same, you can use this activity as a starting place to choose high school electives such as:

  • Computer-aided design and drafting (CAD)
  • Graphic design
  • Drawing
  • Manufacturing and wood shop
  • Metal fabrication
  • Welding
  • Construction management 

If your schedule is tight. and you can’t take all of these classes, prioritize the list with computer-aided drafting at the top, followed by manufacturing and wood shop, graphic design, constriction management and welding.

About the Author

Sara Lindberg, B.S., M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on adolescent and teenage development, secondary education, and higher education. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in exercise science and a Master's of Education degree in counseling.