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Difference Between Civil Engineer & Technician

Civil engineers and civil engineering technicians do many of the same tasks; however, there are some differences between their education levels and job duties. Compare these career options along with their requirements, salary, and potential growth.

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Comparing Civil Engineer to Civil Engineering Technician

Civil engineers and civil engineering technicians work together to design and build different projects, including highways, bridges, and water systems. Engineers are in charge of the overall projects, while technicians assist with different tasks. Most of what both of these professionals do is the same; however, a civil engineer is licensed and must sign off on all projects, which technicians cannot do.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016) Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Civil Engineer Bachelor's Degree $83,540 8%
Civil Engineering Technician Associate's Degree $49,980 5%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Civil Engineers vs. Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineers and civil engineering technicians both prepare plans and look over project sites. They test different materials, estimate costs, and prepare reports. Civil engineers are responsible for supervising and reviewing the work that the technician completes. They also ensure that projects are done correctly. Typically, civil engineers plan and direct the work that needs to be done, while technicians do many of the actual tasks.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are in charge of highway, bridges, and water system projects. They need good leadership skills to manage the many different individuals that are working on the project. They also must have exceptional problem-solving skills to ensure that the designs and construction is done in a safe way and help with any problems that might arise during the project. Good math skill are extremely important when designing and troubleshooting issues. Though most of the time civil engineers are indoors preparing for projects, they also must visit job sites to ensure that the project is being completed in a timely manner and no issues have come up.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Examining reports and maps
  • Using design software to plan projects
  • Explaining findings to the public about different issues
  • Oversee the maintenance and repair of infrastructure

Civil Engineering Technician

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers with the planning and building of different projects. Most of their time is spent working with civil engineers in the office with the design process; however, they also have on-site tasks. Often times, technicians visit job sites and observe how a project is going and must relay information back to the engineer. While on job sites, their schedule may change depending on the construction project. They must have good problem-solving skills to ensure a project stays on the designated time-line and figure out ways to fix issues that arise.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineering technician include:

  • Analyzing soil samples in a laboratory
  • Maintaining records of projects
  • Checking out site conditions prior to construction
  • Assisting with traffic studies by monitoring instruments

Related Careers

Those interested in civil engineering may also like working as a construction engineer, where they would be in charge of different construction projects and perform many of the same tasks that civil engineers do. Surveying is another option for those interested in civil engineering technology, since surveyors take measurements for mapping that may be needed for different projects by engineers.

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