Key Differences Between Civil and Construction Engineering

A civil engineer designs, maintains, plans, constructs, and operates infrastructures while taking care of environmental and public health, as well as refining existing buildings that have been neglected. Construction engineer on the other hand deals with the on-site management of infrastructures like airports, buildings, highways, railroads, bridges, utilities, and dams. Such engineers are a unique blend of civil engineers and construction managers.

They both require different set of degrees for different job profiles and engineering careers. In a nutshell we can say that all construction engineers (site engineers) are civil engineers but not all civil engineers are site engineers. Here is a snapshot of some of the key differences between the two lines of work:

Key Differences Between Civil and Construction Engineering

Academic Dissimilarity

  • A civil engineer has the gigantic task of studying construction building codes, load-bearing structures, statistical analysis, and the different techniques used during the construction process.
  • Site engineering on the other hand is more hands-on. Students involved in this field are well-versed with different construction materials, design fundamentals, construction project management, and construction planning.

What the Degrees Have to Say

  • Civil engineering is a 4 year bachelor’s degree course that is offered in colleges and universities.
  • Site engineering is an advanced specialization course that is undertaken after the completion of a graduate degree in civil engineering.

Basically, you graduate in civil engineering and have a master’s degree in site engineering.

The Job Profile

  • Civil engineers are designers in their own right. Be it roads, buildings, bridges, or dams, they oversee and plan the construction of each, while ensuring that the designs meet the state, federal, and local building codes.
  • On-site construction engineers ensure that civil engineers plans are being followed to the ‘T’ by the contractors employed to complete the project. They also inspect each part of the construction site to verify that the building codes are being implemented by the workers. Scrutinizing the building materials used is a necessary mandate. They need to check whether the steel, cement, and lumber used for the project can sustain the building for years to come.

Both of them need to see to it that the infrastructure projects are stable, safe, and cost-effective.

Career Prospects

  • A civil engineering degree equips an individual to work as an environmental engineer, structural engineer, city manager, or a city planner. He can even get into academics and teach as a professor in universities.
  • A site engineering degree can make you a construction project manager, construction manager, or a manager of a group of engineers employed to work on construction projects.

Civil engineering jobs are created by the plenty, while jobs in site engineering are mostly limited to the construction industry.

Pay Package

  • The salary of a civil engineer depends on his designation. However, on an average they can make upto $79, 000 per annum. A project engineer can make as high as $133, 000 per annum. The complete list of pay packages can be obtained online.
  • Salaries of site engineers, too, vary according to their post and designation. On an average, they can make about $84, 000 per annum, and as high as $186, 000/annum when working as a project engineer midstream. Login to the World Wide Web for more details.

Income of a site engineer increases dramatically when he moves into a management position and is responsible for overseeing other engineers.


Despite all the aforementioned differences, both civil and site engineers should know their place and abide by the code of conduct in the place where they work. They mustbe well-versed with the changes in environmental conditions and how that can affect their construction projects. Furthermore, a penchant for devising safe demolition techniques for existing buildings so as to pave the way for new structures must be inculcated in both types of engineers. Their job is not easy to acquire, and definitely not easy to manage. Jobs as site engineers or civil engineers can really test your mettle and are not devised for the faint-heated.

Author Bio: Author is a professional content writer who works on a variety of topics like employment, real estate, and education. A career advisor for, she has been involved with renowned publications as well.