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Construction Engineering vs Civil Engineering (Salary & Differences)

What is the difference between construction engineering and civil engineering?

The topic above has instigated a lot of debate around the world. Quite a number of people do not see an obvious difference between the two careers.

They are very similar to the extent that even engineers find it hard to choose a path between both. Yes, that’s how hard it can be.

You might have read somewhere else that Construction Engineering and Civil Engineering are the same when there is no traceable distinction to oppose them.

To an extent, I can also argue that they are both the same discipline, but judging from facts, they are not. They are different from each other, though not quite much of a difference.

Civil Engineering is one of the oldest disciplines in Engineering having quite a number of sub-disciplines. It is a very broad field of Engineering and Construction Engineering falls under its branches.

There is a lot you should know about these disciplines and I will be revealing them in the subsequent subtopics.

What is Civil Engineering?

Wikipedia defines Civil Engineering as a professional engineering discipline dealing with the design, building, construction, management, and maintenance of the physical and natural environment. This might include public works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, railways, sewage systems, pipelines, Structural components of buildings, etc.

This particular discipline is seen as the second-oldest discipline of Engineering, Military Engineering being the first. Civil Engineering is used to describe every other kind of Engineering that is not Military Engineering, hence the name “Civil”.

Civil engineering can take place in the public sector from municipal public works departments through to federal government agencies, and in the private sector from locally based firms to global Fortune 500 companies.

You can view this discipline of Engineering as one that is focused on solving the problems of society. This branch of Engineering has a lot of sub-disciplines including;

  • Coastal Engineering
  • Earthquake Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Material Science and Engineering
  • Site Development and Planning
  • Structural Engineering
  • Surveying
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Municipal or Urban Engineering
  • Water Resources Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
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Before you can become a Civil Engineer, You must study the program for 3-5 years and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. You can then pursue advanced degrees in Engineering including a master’s.

What is Construction Engineering?

Construction Engineering is only a sub-discipline of Civil Engineering. So, you can see there is really a difference but it is not that much. One is just a parent, and the other the offspring. A clear difference between the two is that Civil Engineering is broader while Construction Engineering is specific.

So what does Construction Engineering entail? According to Wikipedia, Construction Engineering involves the planning and execution, transportation of materials, site development based on hydraulic, environmental, structural, and geotechnical engineering.

This means that a construction engineer will have to work hand-in-hand with others in these fields to achieve results.

You can also see this discipline of Engineering as a profession that deals with the designing, planning, construction, and management of infrastructures, such as roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, railways, buildings, dams, utilities, and many more civil projects.

Among every other civil engineering firm, Construction Engineering tends to be prone to higher business risk because the engineers involved are usually into more business-related transactions including drafting and reviewing contracts, evaluating logistic operations, and monitoring prices of supplies.

Differences between Civil and Construction Engineering

Now, you will know what the difference between Civil and Construction Engineering is. The difference between them is clear and you will be surprised when you get to know it because you could have overlooked it before.

Let’s take a look at the educational level first. Civil Engineering students focus on the design part of Engineering which is more analytical. This grooms them towards a career as a design professional.

To attain this, these students are required to take a variety of challenging engineering and design courses during the duration of their program.

Construction Engineering students, on the other hand, are focused on construction procedures, methods, costs, schedule, and personnel management. Construction Engineering students do not offer engineering science courses alone, but also take some of the design courses of the civil engineers as well as project and site management aspects.

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I believe you see the difference. Civil Engineering is engineering that deals basically with the practical aspects of projects. Construction Engineers are responsible for hiring Civil engineers to work on-site. A construction Engineer will manage the project while a Civil Engineer will supervise the project on-site.

Career opportunities for civil engineers

Civil Engineers get to work in a wide variety of sectors, particularly in the construction industry. This means that the majority of Civil engineering graduates are recruited into the construction industry. They work on buildings and large structures of all kinds, transportation, and communication infrastructure.

Also, civil engineers can work for engineering firms involved in the production, storage, and distribution of water, gas, and electricity. There are vacancies across the countries and also overseas with contractors and consultancy firms. The job options for civil engineers do not end here.

As a civil engineer, you can also be exposed to opportunities to work in-house for several national and multinational organizations, be it the private or public sector. Most work with the public sector.

Local authorities, government departments, and environmental organizations, for example, recruit civil engineers to set up project specifications for contracts and draft tender documents.

Skills for your CV

As a graduate of civil engineering, you should possess a range of technical skills which employers will look out for before recruiting you to work for them. It could be employers in Engineering, construction, or property. As long as you have these skills and include them in your CV, you are good to go.

During the program, you will be exposed to subjects like science, mathematics, technology, they will help teach you to design, create and build structures efficiently and effortlessly, utilizing the available resources, techniques, and manpower.

Also, you will be faced with realistic construction-based group projects, this will help you get familiar with the practical aspect of the profession, hence you will not look like a newbie. Your experience will also improve your ability to work as a team.

Transferable skills gained on a  civil engineering program include:

  • creative approach to problem-solving
  • critical thinking skills
  • ability to interpret data
  • numeracy, IT, and communication skills
  • analytical and decision-making abilities
  • an awareness of ethical issues.

Career opportunities for construction engineers

Sometimes, a construction engineer can be referred to as a Construction Manager. This is simply because the nature of the two jobs is very alike. A construction engineer is responsible for managing the practical side of every stage of the build and so is a construction manager.

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You will work closely with civil engineers, architects, surveyors, and other professionals in planning and delivery. The work of a construction Engineer/Manager is to supervise and direct a range of operations on a construction site and ensure that the project is completed within the agreed timeframe.

As a Construction Engineer, there are also a variety of opportunities, but majorly in the private sector. Typical employers are construction companies, contractors, specialist subcontractors, house building companies, and property development companies.

However, construction engineers can also work for consultancies and they are sometimes brought to the site to oversee how work is going.

Being a construction engineer is more dynamic because you can also work within the public sector as a civil engineer. You can work with infrastructure companies like water, electricity, gas, and transport providers.

Construction engineering vs Civil engineering salary

On average, the starting salary of a civil engineer ranges from $24,000 to $27,000. Before an employee can have a salary increase, he must have had at least two years of experience in the field.

Civil Engineers can earn as high as $50,000 to $81,000 depending on where they work, experience, and expertise.

The average starting salary of a construction Engineer/manager is usually between $27,000 to $33,000. This is for engineers with no previous experience.

Construction engineers with experience can earn between $34,000 and $55,000. Senior and chartered construction managers can earn in the range of $50,000 to $85,000.

I believe that the difference between a Construction Engineer and a Civil Engineer is now evident. If you decide to go into any of the disciplines as a career, you should read this article well to guide you in your decision.

About Samson Adebayo

I am just that guy who tries to share his knowledge with other students via Academicful. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!

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