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The Difference Between Civil Engineering & Construction Engineering

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Civil engineering and construction engineering are similar to the degree that both deal with the construction industry. Civil engineering deals more with the design, planning and analysis of a construction project, while construction engineering is primarily on-site management of actual construction. The two different engineering degrees also qualify a person for different positions or engineering careers.


Civil engineering studies load-bearing structures, construction building codes, the techniques used during construction and other statistical analysis. Construction engineering is more hands-on. Construction engineering studies will teach the student about design fundamentals, different construction materials, construction planning and construction project management.


Civil engineers design the construction of buildings, roads and bridges, and they plan water supply channels and sewage line systems. Construction engineers work on site ensuring those plans are being followed by the many different contractors employed to complete the project. A civil engineer ensures that the designs meet federal, state and local building codes, while construction engineers inspect each part of the construction to verify those codes are being implemented by the workers.


A degree in civil engineering qualifies a person to work as a structural engineer or environmental engineer as well as a city manager or planner. A degree in construction engineering allows an individual to work as a civil engineer in the construction industry or as a construction manager, construction project manager or manager of a group of engineers who work on construction projects. A civil engineer has a wider range of career possibilities, while the construction engineer is primarily employed in the construction industry.


The average pay for each type of engineer varies depending on the field in which the engineer works. For example, a civil engineer working as an environmental engineer makes an average annual income of $74,020 and a construction engineer working as a construction manager will make an average annual income of $79,860 as of May 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Income increases dramatically when a construction engineer moves into a management position and is overseeing other engineers. Construction engineers will make more than $120,000 annually, as of May 2008.

2016 Salary Information for Civil Engineers

Civil engineers earned a median annual salary of $83,540 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, civil engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $65,330, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $107,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 303,500 people were employed in the U.S. as civil engineers.