Civil Engineer vs Structural Engineer, What’s the Difference?

Civil Engineers and Structural Engineers are two professions that are often confused for each other. Both professions require a civil engineering degree, but they have distinct roles and responsibilities.

So how do you know which to pick and which will suit you better?


  • Civil engineering degree: Both professions require a civil engineering degree as the foundation of their knowledge.
  • Built environment: Both civil and structural engineers work on projects that shape the built environment, including houses, roads, and infrastructure.
  • Problem-solving: Both require strong problem-solving skills to design and build safe and functional structures.
  • Mathematics and physics: Both professions rely heavily on mathematics and physics to understand how structures work and withstand various loads.


  • Focus: Civil engineers focus on the planning and design of infrastructure systems, such as drainage, transportation networks, and large-scale projects. Structural engineers focus on the design and analysis of individual structures, ensuring they can safely support the loads they are subjected to.
  • Materials: Structural engineers work with a wider variety of materials, including wood, steel, concrete, and composite materials, to design and build structures. Civil engineers primarily work with soil and other materials to shape the environment and infrastructure.
  • Specialization: Structural engineering is a more specialized field within civil engineering. While civil engineers have a broader range of responsibilities, structural engineers have a deeper understanding of structural analysis and design.

What Does A Structural Engineer Do?

A structural engineer is a professional who specializes in analyzing, designing, and ensuring the integrity and safety of structures, such as buildings, bridges, dams, towers, and other infrastructure. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that structures can withstand various loads, forces, and environmental conditions while meeting safety standards and regulatory requirements.

What Does A Civil Engineer Do?

Civil engineers are professionals who are involved in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects and systems that contribute to the well-being of society. Their work spans a wide range of projects, and they play a vital role in shaping the built environment.

Which Career Is Right For You?

The best career path for you depends on your interests and skills. If you enjoy working on large-scale projects and shaping the built environment, civil engineering might be a good fit. If you are fascinated by the intricacies of structures and enjoy complex problem-solving, structural engineering could be the right choice.

Additional tips:

  • Network with professionals: Talk to civil and structural engineers to learn more about their daily work and gain insights into the field.
  • Research different specializations: Both civil and structural engineering offer various specializations, such as geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, earthquake engineering etc. Explore different areas to find one that aligns with your interests.
  • Consider your career goals: Think about your long-term career aspirations and choose the path that best aligns with them.

By understanding the differences and similarities between civil and structural engineering, you can make an informed decision about which career path is right for you.

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