Civil Engineer Vs. Electrical Engineer

Engineers research and create design solutions to many different problems. A civil engineer focuses on physical structures while an electrical engineer focuses on power use. Read more for further comparisons.

Comparing Civil Engineer to Electrical Engineer

Civil and electrical engineers are problem-solving professionals who create designs depending on the technical specifications of a given project. Civil engineers work on bridges, roads, buildings and tunnels. Electrical engineers work on anything that generates electricity or requires an electrical power supply.

Job Title Minimum Education Required Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Civil Engineer Bachelor's degree $83,540 11%
Electrical Engineer Bachelor's degree $94,210 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of a Civil Engineer vs. an Electrical Engineer

Engineers design ways to fix problems. In their designs they must consider factors such as cost, efficiency, safety and other parameters defined by project specifications. Civil engineers work on projects that involve infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and water supply and sewage treatment. Electrical engineers work on projects that involve electrical components, such as wireless communication devices and navigation systems. Regardless of the type of project or type of engineer, strong math and analytical skills are required to be successful.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers plan and design projects that physically support human activities, from housing and transportation to renewable energy. Therefore, civil engineers often develop reports for public approval and may work for a city or governmental agency. They are responsible for determining the appropriate strength of materials necessary to withstand local conditions. They ensure human safety while also evaluating the environmental impact of the project. Civil engineers analyze maps, blueprints, and geological data to develop the best location, configuration and stability parameters for a project. For example, the foundation for a new apartment building must be designed to fit the slope of the terrain and also withstand predictable fluctuations in water level and seismic activity. The civil engineer designing the foundation would need to understand the characteristics of different types of bedrock to choose the appropriate building materials and anchoring technique.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Compiling economic feasibility estimates for funding authority approval
  • Submitting permits to verify that construction meets all standards and regulations
  • Directing the surveying team to establish guide markers for construction
  • Inspecting the work of the construction crew to verify the work adheres to the building plan

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers plan and design projects that involve the flow of electricity through circuits and power supplies. Their work may involve the design of a power-generating plant, a navigation system for airplanes, or a hybrid engine for automobiles. They often use computer software to map out the electrical grid for a specific project and perform tests on the circuits during manufacturing. Electrical engineers research ways to reduce the amount of electricity required for a given task. They work with the public to address issues around the transmission and distribution of electricity in communities. For example, an electrical engineer might work with community officials to minimize the impact of power lines on conservation areas while also supplying residences in the most efficient way.

Job responsibilities of an electrical engineer include:

  • Inspecting installations to verify compliance with specifications
  • Computing requirements for processors, current and voltage
  • Drawing technical schematics for installation workers
  • Monitoring power systems to identify and correct problems

Related Careers

Other jobs that require analytical skills include regional planners and data communication analysts. A regional planner designs land use and displays skills similar to a civil engineer while a data communication analyst maps the flow of information similar to an electrical engineer.


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