Construction Management vs. Civil Engineering – What Are The Differences?
Construction management and civil engineering sound interchangeable. However, the jobs are very different. While a construction site might see both a construction engineer and a civil engineer they’re going to be separate people. They require different levels of education, the jobs require different areas of expertise, and the career paths are different. With reported job growth of 11%, construction engineering is a rapidly increasing field and bound to have opportunities for those interested. Which is why it’s important to know the differences between construction management and civil engineering.
General Job Descriptions
Construction managers, also known as site engineers or construction engineers, have hands-on experience with a jobsite. This makes them more knowledgeable in building materials. Since construction engineers are expected to check building materials to ensure the project can last for years, this is a mandatory skill. They’re also expected to know design fundamentals, construction project management, and construction planning.
Civil engineers have a different general job description. They are expected to have studied and to know all local, state, and federal building codes. They must have in-depth knowledge in the fundamentals of load-bearing structures, statistical analysis, and construction techniques. These are just a few of job differences.
The academic backgrounds differ between construction management vs. civil engineering. Construction managers increasingly have a bachelor’s degree commonly in construction science, construction management, architecture, or civil engineering. Some companies will substitute construction experience for a degree. However, all potential construction managers usually take courses in project control and management, construction methods and materials, cost estimation and other additional courses important to construction management. This way they have an understanding of the site plans that the civil engineer or architect sends over along with the necessary project management knowledge to act as site engineers.
Civil engineers have bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, with focuses on math, statistics, engineering systems and mechanics, and other depending on the specialty. Students with fieldwork or hands-on experience have a better chance of employment. In the end, civil engineers need to also have a professional engineer license to be able to work.
The career paths of construction management vs. civil engineering are also different. The work and academic experience of construction engineers lead them into construction jobs. A construction engineer can work as a construction project manager, a construction manager, or a construction engineer manager.
The work and academic experience of civil engineers give the engineers more room in their job fields. They often work as environmental engineers, structural engineers, city managers, city planners, or construction planners. They have a variety of fields they can apply their training and skills. This does set them apart from construction managers.
Civil engineers and construction managers are paid fairly similar. And because of the low unemployment and increase in demand, civil engineers and construction managers can argue for more as they look for work. Experienced civil engineers can make around $133,000 a year while experienced construction managers can make around $186,000 a year. However, this is usually dependent upon experience and area.
As site engineers and construction engineers move further into construction management positions, their pay does increase. So while the jobs are different, the pay between civil engineers and construction management are fairly similar.
Construction Management vs. Civil Engineering Surprising Similarities
Many construction managers will share academic backgrounds with civil engineers. And some universities are considering construction engineering as a subset of civil engineering. The construction industry might benefit from construction engineers who have the practical knowledge of procedures, methods, and personnel management as well as the analytical thinking model of civil engineers. With the increase of technology on construction sites, construction management and construction engineers will see a change in duties and necessary skills.
Regardless, construction management will continue to be a separate field from civil engineering. And while people might have similar academic backgrounds before entering into one of these fields, their roles from planning to execution are very different. With the increase in positions available, there will be opportunities for those interested in either field. It’s highly important to know the requirements in construction management vs. civil engineering before choosing a path.