Construction vs. Civil Engineering: Career Paths & Salaries

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What is the difference between civil engineering and construction engineering?

The topic above has instigated a lot of debate around the world. Quite many people do not see an obvious difference between the two careers. They are so similar that even engineers find it hard to choose a path between them. 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, though not quite much of a difference.

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

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineering is 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 discipline is considered the second-oldest discipline of Engineering, Military Engineering being the first. Civil Engineering describes every other kind of Engineering that is not Military Engineering, hence the name “Civil.”

Civil engineering can occur in the public sector, from municipal public works departments 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 focused on solving society’s problems. 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

Before becoming a Civil Engineer, You must study the program for 3-5 years and graduate with a Bachelor’s 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 a difference, but it is not that much. One is just a parent, and the other is the offspring. A clear difference is that Civil Engineering is broader while Construction Engineering is specific.

successful engineer

Construction Engineering involves the planning and execution, transportation of materials, and site development based on hydraulic, environmental, structural, and geotechnical engineering. A construction engineer must work 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, constructing, and managing infrastructures, such as roads, tunnels, bridges, airports, railways, buildings, dams, utilities, and many more civil projects.

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

Differences between Civil and Construction Engineering

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

engineering word illustrated

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. These students must take various challenging engineering and design courses during their program to attain this.

On the other hand, construction engineering students focus on construction procedures, methods, costs, schedules, and personnel management. Construction Engineering students do not offer engineering science courses alone; they also take some design courses for civil engineers and project and site management aspects.

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.

Civil Engineering vs. Construction Engineering: Career

Civil engineers can work for engineering firms producing, storing, and distributing water, gas, and electricity. There are vacancies across the countries and overseas with contractors and consultancy firms. The job options for civil engineers do not end here.

They can also be exposed to opportunities to work in-house for several national and multinational organizations in the private or public sector. Most work with the public sector. For example, local authorities, government departments, and environmental organizations recruit civil engineers to set up contract specifications and draft tender documents.

On the other hand, construction engineers will work closely with civil engineers, architects, surveyors, and other professionals in planning and delivery. A construction project manager supervises and directs a range of operations on a construction site and ensures that the project is completed within the agreed timeframe.

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

Construction Engineering vs. Civil Engineering Salary

On average, the starting salary of a civil engineer ranges from $69,101 and $83,001. 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 much as $58,000 to $107,000 depending on where they work, their experience, and their expertise. The average starting salary of a construction Engineer/manager is usually about $64,132. This is for engineers with no previous experience.

Construction engineers with experience can earn an average of $74,725 per year. Senior and chartered construction managers can earn between $57,000 and $105,000.

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 to guide your decision.

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