Civil Engineer Vs. Architect

Jul 10, 2018

Civil engineering and architecture are both careers that involve building. Civil engineers focus on public infrastructure, and architects focus on both public and private buildings. Both careers are high-paying and require a bachelor's degree.

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Comparing Civil Engineers to Architects

Civil engineers and architects often work together on construction projects. While architects focus on the aesthetics and utility of a project, civil engineers concentrate on the safety and integration into the surrounding area.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Civil Engineers Bachelor's degree $84,770 11%
Architects Bachelor's degree $78,470 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Civil Engineers vs. Architects

The responsibilities of civil engineers and architects differ in responsibilities and perspectives. The type of structures that many civil engineers focus on are roads, railroads, airports, bridges, dams, and pipeline systems. Architects primarily specialize in the design of residences, offices, entertainment facilities, and factories. Both professions often work on the same projects as they work to satisfy the clients' needs.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers often focus on construction, geotechnology, structures, or transportation. Most civil engineers work in offices, but some may participate in surveying the field. While in the office, they examine reports to determine the feasibility and practicality of infrastructure projects. They also bear in mind the cost of a project while keeping safety and durability in mind, and write proposals to make government officials or clients aware of what the project will entail in terms of cost, time, and utility. A bachelor's degree is required to become a civil engineer.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Evaluating soil composition for placing foundations
  • Estimating project construction costs
  • Analyzing data from reports for planning and designing
  • Using computer design software
  • Completing applications for projects to government agencies


Although architects spend some time on construction sites, most of their time is spent in offices meeting with clients, creating designs, and managing staff. Architecture projects can range in size and scope. A job can be as simple as an addition to a house or as complex as a skyscraper. Projects can also involve multiple buildings. Architects must consider everything that will be in the building. Directions must be created for construction staff to follow including electricians, HVAC specialists, communication system installers, and plumbers. Architects must possess a bachelor's degree and pass the Architect Registration Examination.

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Preparing cost and time estimates
  • Managing staff that prepare documents to build the structure
  • Visiting construction sites to verify adherence to the plans
  • Pitch designs and projects to prospective clients

Related Careers

If you're interested in the job of a civil engineer, becoming a civil engineering technician may be an option since both careers deal with the design of different structures. Those interested in becoming an architect may be interested in becoming a drafter, as both careers involve building construction.

Become a Civil Engineering Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

CAD Drafter: Job Description, Salary, Duties and Requirements

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