Civil Engineer vs Architect: Salary, Job Outlook, Requirements, Certificates

Just like Civil Engineers, Architects are also involved in the conceptualization, design, and construction of buildings. However, their job descriptions and responsibilities differ from the point of convergence. Therefore, to find out more about the two top professions carefully read through. It’s a session! Civil Engineer Vs Architect.

With an 8% job growth rate, the median annual wage for architects was $79,380 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $138,120.

Civil Engineering with an 11% job growth rate takes home a median annual salary of $86,640.

In this article, we’ll talk about Civil Engineering and Architecture while stating the cogent differences and similarities that exist between them.

Who is A Civil Engineer?

A Civil Engineer is one who plans and constructs public works, such as dams, bridges, and other big infrastructure projects. It is one of the treasured branches of engineering, dating back to when people first started living in permanent settlements and began shaping their environments to suit their needs. 

In this, all phases of building and organizing a structure fall under the remit of a civil engineer. This can include planning, design, budgeting, surveying, construction management, and analysis.

The Civil Engineer will be accountable for finding suitable materials, suggesting modifications and alterations, and evaluating the structural integrity to transform the architect’s vision into realization.

In recent years, civil engineering has adapted to consider many present environmental concerns, helping to address issues of pollution and scarce water supplies, while exploring the potential of sustainable energy within the industry.

Read: Top 12 PhD Scholarships for Civil Engineering Students

How To Become A Civil Engineer

Civil engineering is an astonishing career on each step of the professional ladder. Whether holding a bachelor’s degree and starting out with entry-level positions or moving into teaching like a seasoned professional, there are many pathways that you can take.

Carefully read through to see the steps needed to begin a career in Civil Engineering.


Bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering serve as the basic level of education. Under such programs, students take several courses in mathematics, engineering, statistics, fluid dynamics, and architectural design.

They learn through a variation of mediums, including class lectures, internships or co-ops, and on-site fieldwork.

In a bachelor’s degree, students concentrate their knowledge in a particular area through specialized coursework and research project.


Almost all programs demand at least one semester or summer-long internship to fulfill degree requirements. Students use these experiences to apply theories they learn in the classroom, and gain acumen in a particular area that piques their interest.

These opportunities also serve students well for future employment, allowing them to network with other professionals, receive mentorship from a top Civil Engineer, and possibly input their expertise into a job after graduation. Most internships cease in the junior or senior year of study.


Because the field is vast, most students elect to specialize in a particular area. Some of the common concentrations include construction engineering, structural engineering, land development, and use, transportation engineering, or geotechnical engineering, and a lot more.

Undergraduates typically spend 12 to 18 credit hours satisfying special topics in these areas, and may even complete an internship centered on their chosen specialization.


Civic Engineers who wish to offer their services publicly must go through the following steps to get their licenses. While individual states govern specific rules, some of the most common requirements include:

  • Attend an ABET-accredited institution.
  • Undertake the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination directly after completing a baccalaureate degree.
  • Become a Civic Engineering (CE) intern, also known as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT).
  • Complete a minimum number of professional hours, meet benchmarks along the way and complete the Principles and Practices of Engineering (PE) examination to become a CE Professional.

The American Society of Civil Engineers offers aid to civil engineers in training with a variety of test preparation aid and information about testing centers. Therefore, you have to devote the proper amount of time to studying and preparing for these examinations.


After taking on several internships programs during college and completing the Engineer-in-Training phase, it’s possible that individuals will gain a good number of contacts within the field through their networking efforts.

All students and interns should make sure they are doing their best work, asking questions, learning practical skills, and meeting as many professionals as possible. You can scout for jobs via ASCE and Engineering Jobs.

Related Article: Best Civil Engineering Schools in the UK

What Does A Civil Engineer Do?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil engineers “design, construct, supervise, operate and maintain large construction projects and systems, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment,”. 

Furthermore, Civil Engineers may also handle site preparation activities, such as excavation, earthmoving, and grading for large construction projects. In addition, civil engineers may handle or write the specifications for harmful or nondestructive testing of the performance, reliability, and long-term durability of materials and structures. 

Asides the regular office work, Civil Engineers also go to project sites to supervise construction.

Civil Engineers speak about projects to governing boards and the public. They also write documents about the project like responses to requests for proposals, status updates, and technical reports.

Besides a college degree, they must license Civil Engineers who sign off on project plans or supervise other civil engineers according to rules stipulated by state governments.

Licensing processes include several exams and require years of work experience. In the end, licensed civil engineers earn the appellation of a professional engineer (or PE).

How Much Does A Civil Engineer Earn? | Salary, Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most states have enforced mandatory continuing education requirements to maintain a license. Credit may be given for attending seminars, taking part in workshops, and completing online classes.

According to the BLS, civil engineers can expect an 11% rise in jobs between 2016 and 2026. Furthermore, the median annual salary for civil engineers was $86,640 in May 2018.

What Is Architecture?

According to Wikipedia, Architecture is the process and the product of planning, designing, as well as constructing buildings or any other structures. So, architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art.

In other words, Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and other physical structures.

A specialist who has received certified professional training to carry out these tasks listed above is called an Architect.

Architecture is one of the oldest professions before Civil Engineering. Even historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

One amazing thing about this profession is that there are simply not enough architects to go round. So you can become an architect and carve your own niche in this very vast industry.

Hence, architecture provides a sense of place and support for all types of human activity, while creating a legacy that reflects and symbolizes culture and traditions.

Architecture, beneath all its limitations of engineering, safety, function, climate, and economy, arouse us with designs in space and light achieved in the abstract.

See Also: How can I become a Civil Engineer in 2023?

What are the requirements to be an Architect?

There are definitely requirements you must meet if you must become an Architect. Some of these requirements are basic personal skills that you must gain while some others may include compulsory educational and professional requirements that you must meet.

Let us examine some of the personal skills that you must possess.

Personal Skills Required

Below are some of the personal skills that guarantee success in your career pursuit of how to become an architectural designer.

  • Math skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Creativity
  • Organizational skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Technical skills

Educational Skills Required

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

State architecture boards determine the requirements for becoming an architect; however, most boards require completion of a five-year Bachelor of Architecture program approved by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

In August 2015, the NAAB reported there were 58 such programs in the United States. Courses might include building systems and technology, project management, structural elements, and environmental planning.

Complete an Internship

All states require that architects complete training or internship programs prior to obtaining licensure. Internships typically last three years and enable potential architects to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of licensed architects.

Most states employ the Intern Development Program (IDP) administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architects. Completion of the IDP entails 5,600 hours of state- and NCARB-approved work experience.

This experience is divided into elective and core hours. The four main experience areas covered in the IDP are pre-design, design, project management, and practice management. Interns learn about a variety of topics, including schematic design, site and building analysis, zoning regulations, and contract negotiation.

Earn Licensure & Certification

Architects must hold licensure from the states in which they practice. While conditions for obtaining licensure vary, most states require completion of an approved bachelor’s degree program and an internship.

Qualified applicants can sit for the NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination (ARE), which is a seven-part pass-or-fail test covering topics in site planning, building systems, and construction documents.

Many architects opt to earn voluntary NCARB certification, which shows professional aptitude and might make it easier to obtain reciprocal licensure from another state.

This certification is available to licensed architects who submit transcripts, documentation of ARE passage, and proof of acceptable experience. Candidates might be asked to sit for an interview or additional testing before being approved for NCARB certification.

Maintain Certification

Architects might have to refresh licensure regularly by earning continuing education credits. Almost every state requires completion of a designated number of continuing education hours on an annual or biannual basis.

Furthermore, continuing education can help an architect stay current in industry trends and technological innovations related to the field. The NCARB offers licensed architects a number of continuing education options covering advanced topics such as architectural acoustics, energy-conscious architecture, and fire safety.

Consider a Graduate Degree & Specialize

Many architects undergo advanced education in master’s degree programs, which may last 1-5 years depending on the students’ previous architectural education. The NAAB had accredited 95 Master of Architecture programs as of August 2015.

Such degree programs might be a viable option for students who are interested in a career in architecture and hold bachelor’s degrees in an unrelated field.

Additionally, some schools offer post-professional degree programs, which are not accredited by the NAAB but might be required for specialty, research, or teaching positions. Post-professional programs often result in specialized masters or doctoral degrees.

Furthermore, the emergence of green technology has created a demand for architects specializing in sustainable design. Those who specialize in green design will have a career advantage. A more traditional route for career advancement is to gain enough experience within an architectural firm.

What does an Architect do?

There are various duties that architects engage in. Part of what they do is to plan, design, supervise, develop and maintain public and private infrastructure projects and systems which may include roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, water supply, as well as wastewater treatment systems and so many others.

Some architectural designers may be involved in all phases of a construction project, from the initial discussion with the client through the final delivery of the completed structure.

So, their duties require specific skills—designing, engineering, managing, supervising, and communicating with clients and builders.

Here are some specialized duties you may be involved in as an architect:

  • Assist clients in obtaining construction bids, selecting contractors, and negotiating construction contracts.
  • Advice on energy efficiency measures, also, evaluate how well the building design adapts to the needs of occupants, and make necessary improvements.
  • Design complexes such as urban centers, college campuses, industrial parks.
  • Give preliminary estimates on cost and construction time.
  • Prepare structure specifications.
  • Direct workers who prepare drawings and documents.
  • Prepare scaled drawings, either using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) or by hand. However, hand-drawing skills are very much required, especially during the conceptual stages of a project and when an architect is at a construction site.
  • Prepare contract documents for building contractors.
  • Manage construction contracts.
  • Visit worksites to ensure that construction adheres to architectural plans.
  • Seek new work by marketing and giving presentations

How Much Does an Architect make? | Salary, Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects was $79,380 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $138,120.

Furthermore, the employment of architects is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

So, the employment of architects is strongly tied to the activity of the construction industry. Therefore, these workers may experience times of unemployment when there is a slowdown in requests for new projects or when the overall level of construction falls.

What Are The Differences Between Civil Engineering and Architecture?

Civil Engineers and Architects complete some of the same tasks such as planning and designing structures, though many of their responsibilities differ. However, these professionals focus on how things will be built and the structure of a building, while Architects ensure the design is aesthetically appealing.

Therefore, the differences between these two engineering programs will be ascertained by comparing, responsibilities, job outlook, and income level.

Civil Engineering Vs Architecture: Difference in Responsibilities

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 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.


Architects design various buildings and structures that include office buildings, houses, roads, railway, parks, etc. To qualify as a modern Architect, you must have experience with computer software such as CAD to create scaled drawings to provide plans to workers.

Architects must have great creativity and vision to assure 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 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 oversee 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 complex 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

Civil Engineering Vs Architecture Job Outlook

Employment of Civil Engineers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next eight years, as fast as the average for all occupations.

Civil engineers can work in many industries and on many types of projects where they design, construct, and oversee projects involving buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures.

On the other hand, the job outlook for Architects is 8 percent growth over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Architects are presumed to be demanded to make plans and designs for the construction and renovation of homes, offices, retail stores, and other structures.

Furthermore, demand for architects with a knowledge of “green design,” also called sustainable design, is expected to bolster.

Civil Engineering Vs Architecture: Income Level

The average wage for a Mechanical Engineer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is  $87,800.

While Architects according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earn $80,750.

Similarities Between Civil Engineering and Architecture

Though there are existing differences between the two professions, there are still points where they meet. For instance, both professions require a Bachelor’s degree to practice.

Even though Civil Engineers are involved in the design process, Architects take the lead role in terms of the design of the structure. The Architect will start and create the design, including the shape, color, and spaces of the development work then Civil Engineering professionals will analyze it to make the construction design possible.

Furthermore, after the design and creation of the working framework, they both supervise the construction project to see if it is going as planned.


While both Civil Engineering and Architecture are very valuable professional academic programs, each of them has its own benefits. Architecture deals with the design and aesthetic components, while Civil Engineers deal with structural planning and execution of the creativity and design of the architect.

Also, in terms of salary and social reputation both program commands similar remuneration and respect. Therefore, the choice of choosing a profession is solely dependent on personal preferences.


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