Architecture vs Civil Engineering – A better choice

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: April 24, 2022 | ⏳Time to read:8 min

As civil engineers and architects, we all strive to make a positive impact on the world around us. Whether that’s designing buildings that are beautiful, sustainable and comfortable or creating cities that are safe, fun and easy to navigate. But what’s the better choice – architecture vs civil engineering?

However, it’s pretty easy to mix up the terms architect and civil engineer when you’re in school or looking for work, but there are some key differences between the two professions that may help you decide which route you want to go down.

So, let’s delve-in:

Civil Engineering vs Architecture

In our today’s read, we’re going to explore how’s it like being a civil engineer versus being an architect. It’s a career guide. So, I’ll try to highlight the reasons why and when young people should pursue civil engineering or architecture, as a major.

So, if you’re looking to be one – how’d you choose? I will also try to give you some hidden reasons no one tells you how’s it feel being a civil engineer or an architect.

So what’s the difference between being an architect and a civil engineer? These two majors or specialized fields have similar requirements in terms of education and training. But the responsibilities involved can be very different depending on which you choose to pursue as your career path.

Let’s explore what it means to be an architect vs being a civil engineer.


The similarities

Despite, difference both civil engineer and architect major require similar set of abilities or skills. Both civil engineers and architects have to acquire strong mathematical and analytical skills. They both play with dimensions and conversions.

An architect is responsible for working on multiple tasks simultaneously which requires multitasking abilities.

As both work in a team; they should be able to delegate tasks and work in close collaboration to avoid unnecessary surprises. Both must have strong communication and interpersonal skills to convey message clearly.

Both are somehow involved in making drawings to they must have strong visual capabilities to foresee how things will look before even construction gets kicked off.

Also Read: Jobs in Top Civil Engineering Companies 

What do civil engineers do?

Civil engineers are responsible for designing, building, constructing, maintaining and renovating structures such as roads, bridges, dams, power plants and factories. They design streets that allow people to move safely from place to place.

Civil Engineers construct buildings where we work and live. Constructors build transit systems so we can travel efficiently from place to place. If you’re interested in creating spaces for humans to interact with their environments or want to maintain human-made spaces that support our day-to-day activities, you might consider a career as a civil engineer.


Skill and education requirements

  • Structural or civil engineers design buildings, bridges, and other structures. They use their education to solve complex problems in order to create functional works of art. Much like architects, civil engineers must have advanced mathematics skills as well as creativity, problem-solving abilities, attention to detail, and technical expertise in order to do their job successfully.
  • Civil engineers also need communication skills since they work with construction teams throughout all phases of project development.
  • Furthermore, both fields involve working on projects that will be seen by many people or hold up over time. Due to these factors, civil engineers need strong critical thinking skills since they are often required to tackle complex issues while dealing with several variables at once. They also need patience and perseverance because some projects take years before they are completed.

Also Read: Benefits of CAD software for civil engineers

What do architects do?

Architects are more involved or responsible for aesthetics or material decisions while designing homes, buildings, cities, and anything else that humans occupy or utilize. If you dream of being on HGTV one day, then becoming an architect is probably your best bet.

But, unlike civil engineers who only do engineering work, architects have to be able to take their plans all the way from conception to completion; that includes securing funding for projects as well as overseeing construction. It’s also worth noting that architects typically need a license in order to practice in most states, which can take quite some time to obtain.


Explore architecture

Architects are concerned with aesthetics, with how to construct buildings that provide a visual delight. Architects decide the finishing details and aesthetics for both structural elements, such as load-bearing walls and ceilings, as well as non-structural ones. Their work is frequently limited to aesthetics rather than structural designing because civil engineers are responsible for ensuring that all aspects of their designs (structural, environmental) meet code requirements.

Also read: Is Civil Engineering Hard? (Answer by a civil engineer)

Skills and education requirements

  • Architects possess numerous skills including proficiency in computer applications, ability to manage their time and organization skills. They should also have good people management skills, leadership capabilities, excellent communication skills (written as well as oral) amongst other qualities.
  • An architect is responsible for working on multiple tasks simultaneously which requires multitasking abilities. Moreover, they should be able to work under pressure and deadlines without any supervision.
  • In addition to these soft skills, architects need various hard skills like expertise in CAD software (both 2D & 3D), good knowledge of construction materials etc. Some of these software include: AutoCAD, SolidWorks or Revit). They also need expert knowledge in computer aided drafting (CAD) which allows them to design complex structures using sophisticated tools including computer-assisted drawing systems.

Also Read: Top 8+ skills every Civil Engineer must have– ($$Bonus$$ Tips)

The differences

A great deal of overlap exists between these roles, but there are important distinctions that you should know about. Most contractors hire both professions in projects that can vary in scope and size. Architects are licensed through state boards, while civil engineers complete licensure exams at either their state’s Board of Professional Engineers or Land Surveyors’ Board.

Different role

As a general rule, architects focus on aesthetic design elements, such as placement of walls, windows and columns. They do not work with structural designs; that’s what civil engineers are for.

Selecting Materials

Civil engineers specialize in determining building materials based on load requirements or construction costs; they create blueprints for builders to follow when erecting structures such as skyscrapers or bridges.

Involvement timeline in projects

Civil engineers work through the entire phases of project from inception to completion. Whereas, architects are more involved in the pre-construction phase.

Also Read: Civil Engineering site basic knowledge you must have

Types of projects

Civil engineers work in broader range of projects like transportation, infrastructure, and water systems. Whereas architects are more focused on buildings – like commercial, residential, and industrial. They design hospitals, schools, public auditoriums, shopping centers, etc.,

Working hours – environment

Architects are more of the times found in offices while civil engineers divide their time between desk work and direct site supervision. That’s the reason why a lot of females prefer to be an architect rather than civil engineers. But those day’s are no more as we’re seeing a lot of female civil engineers around these days.

Also read: Is Civil Engineering Suitable for girls?

Salary and Perks

For the salary and perks points of view, both architects and civil engineers enjoy good benefits than many other technical fields. However, civil engineers do have an upper hand as they can outgrow and acquire senior positions. Moreover, the job growth for civil engineers is also more when compared with architects.

Education and skill requirements

Both Civil engineers and architects need to have a Bachelor’s degree. However, a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) typically takes five years to complete. Some architects also opt to earn a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.), which can take five additional years to finish. Civil or construction engineers have to earn a college degree accredited by Engineering board and is typically of 4 years program. Some professionals also opt to learn a master’s degree to pursue high-level positions.

IT Skills

Civil Engineers need to learn software relevant to design or building codes like SAP, ETABs, StaadPro. On the other hand, architects need to learn design and rendering based software like Chief Architect, Lumion, Sketchup, Maya, and Revit Architect.

Summing it up

Enjoy this amazing video I have just made summing all of the above content:

Saad Iqbal is a professional civil engineering and freelance write. He's passionate about structures, construction management, and home improvement topics. He's been working as a Senior Engineer in a consultant firm for over 8 years. Besides he loves writing informative and in-depth content focused on construction and home-related topics. You can catch him at his linkedin page or reach out via our contact us page.

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