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Difference Between Architect & Civil Engineer

Architects and civil engineers do work on projects together; however the tasks they each carry out are quite different. Here you can compare these two career options and learn more about how they differ.

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Comparing Architects to Civil Engineers

Architects and civil engineers complete some of the same tasks such as planning and designing structures, though many of their responsibilities differ. Civil engineers focus on how things will be built and the structure of a building, while architects ensure the design is aesthetically appealing. Take a look at how these two design professionals compare.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Architect (Except landscape and naval) Bachelor's Degree $76,930 7%
Civil Engineer Bachelor's Degree $83,540 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Civil Engineering Technology
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Responsibilities of Architects vs Civil Engineers

Civil engineers work on a variety of different projects that include planning, building, and maintaining roads, buildings, bridges, and water systems, while architects work primarily with houses, factories, and similar structures. Civil engineers and architects do, however, work together on some projects. They both visit construction sites to ensure work is being completed correctly and in the given time frame. Civil engineers and architects both estimate costs and create plans based on the projected budget. While civil engineers decide on the materials used to ensure a safe structure, architects highlight the design aspect of the project.

Architect

Architects design various buildings and structures that include office buildings and houses. They can work on projects as small as rooms in a building to designing the entire building. They must have experience with computer software such as CADD to create scaled drawings to provide plans to workers. Architects must have great creativity and vision to ensure the project looks attractive to clients. They are also responsible for taking care of many parts of the project, so they must be very organized to keep track of all aspects of the architectural development. Architects with extensive experience can advance into higher-level supervisory roles as architectural managers

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Organizing structure specifications
  • Estimating budget and time
  • Creating drawings and plans
  • Presenting plans to clients
  • Developing contracts

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for overseeing and designing roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, and dams, among other structures. Civil engineers spend the majority of their time in an office designing and planning projects, though they do visit construction sites to oversee the work being completed. Civil engineers work with complicated designs where a background in math, as well as skills in problem-solving, can aid in finding solutions to issues that may arise with the development of projects.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Testing building materials
  • Following regulations and considering possible project hazards
  • Performing surveying operations
  • Supervising maintenance of infrastructures
  • Using design programs for projects

Related Careers

Individuals interested in becoming an architect may also find a career as a graphic designer interesting. As a graphic designer, they design for promotional purposes on paper or websites rather than designing whole buildings. A career as a construction operator may be another option for those interested in civil engineering. A construction operator works with the machinery used on construction projects that civil engineers design.

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