Difference between Architectural Engineering vs Civil Engineering

4 mins

These are only a handful of the many technical and architectural wonders in our globe, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Panama Canal, the Burj al Arab, and the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Which degree should you pursue if you're attracted by these kinds of structures, buildings, and the intricate planning that goes into them: one in civil engineering or one in architecture? What distinguishes them, and which one should you pick for a prosperous career in the construction sector?

Let's explore!

Differences Between Civil Engineering and Architecture engineering

How does Architecture engineering work

Architecture studies the planning and design of structures, including homes, industries, museums, sports stadiums, office buildings, skyscrapers, etc.

Typically, architects are only involved in the pre-construction stages of a project (designing and planning), not the actual building itself. Most of your time as an architect will be spent in an office.

How does civil engineering work?

Buildings, roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, and other infrastructure projects are part of the considerably more extensive field of civil engineering than architecture. All building phases involve civil engineers (designing, planning, and overseeing the construction process).

As a civil engineer, you'll split your time equally between the office and building sites, overseeing the work of other specialists, including mechanical engineers and construction managers.

Specialisations in civil engineering versus architecture

There are several subdisciplines accessible regardless of the specialisation you pick. To get you going, here are just a handful of them:

Specialisations in Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering specialisations:

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Structural Engineering
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Water Resources Engineering

Specialisations in Civil Engineering

  • Interior Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Planning/Design
  • Sustainable Architecture
  • Industrial Architecture

Architecture vs civil engineering classes

Before enrolling in any academic program, you should always pick the curriculum. It's a quick and straightforward method to:

  • Be sure the courses you'll take live up to your expectations.
  • Check whether you are satisfied with the balance of academic and practical classes.
  • Civil engineering or architecture programs differ according to location (country, university), academic level (bachelor's, master's), program length, and other factors.

Here are some examples of standard classes that may be on your future schedule to give you a rough idea:

Courses in civil engineering

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Infrastructure Condition Evaluation
  • Geotechnical Analysis
  • Bridge Engineering
  • Heat and Mass Transfer in Buildings
  • Advanced Concrete Structures
  • Soil Structure
  • Air Quality Modelling
  • Risk Assessment

Courses in Architecture engineering

  • Foundations of Architecture
  • Architectural Representation and Modelling
  • Design Research
  • History of Art and Architecture
  • Foundations of Drawing
  • Building Information Modelling
  • Construction Technology
  • Timber Structures
  • Architectural Graphics
  • Architecture Studio Project

The best institutions for studying architecture or civil engineering

The following are the top colleges where you may study civil engineering or architecture, according to the most recent rankings in higher education:

Best colleges for civil engineering

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US
  • The Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • University of Cambridge, the UK
  • The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Imperial College London, the UK
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • EPFL, Switzerland
  • National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore
  • Tsinghua University, China

Best colleges for architecture engineering

  • MIT, the US
  • The Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • University College London (UCL), the UK
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Harvard University, the US
  • UCB, the US
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Manchester School of Architecture, the UK
  • University of Cambridge, the UK
  • EPFL, Switzerland

Architecture vs civil engineering talents

The essential abilities you must master and keep advancing to succeed as a civil engineer or architect are:


  • Design abilities are crucial for the planning stage of projects since you'll need them to produce beautiful and practical infrastructure or structures using both your handwriting and computer skills.
  • Advanced mathematics is a prerequisite for becoming a civil engineer or architect since it allows you to determine the project's size, materials, risk factors, stress levels, and other essential details.
  • Both civil engineers and architects regularly utilise CAD and BIM software, demonstrating their proficiency with computers.
  • When dealing with clients, supervising construction workers, making plans with suppliers, and other situations, oral and written communication will be crucial.
  • You will encounter obstacles to creativity in the shape of the surrounding environment, governmental rules, the materials at hand, etc. Your ability to be creative will enable you to solve problems creatively in this situation.
  • Technical/engineering expertise is most relevant to civil engineers who are also involved in the building process and are required to oversee and manage the project from start to finish.

Jobs and pay in civil engineering vs architecture

Both civil engineering and architecture provide access to high-paying and in-demand careers in the building sector. A bachelor's degree will get you started in most roles, but you will need a Master's degree to apply for more senior employees.

Here are some of the most sought-after positions in civil engineering and architecture. In addition, we've included the following US yearly incomes based on verified PayScale data:

Salary and benefits for Civil Engineers

  • Structural Engineer – 69,620 USD/year
  • Geotechnical Engineer – 66,630 USD/year
  • Environmental Engineer – 66,060 USD/year
  • Marine Engineer – 79,160 USD/year
  • Civil Engineer – 67,140 USD/year

Salary and benefits for architects

  • Landscape Architect – 59,750 USD/year
  • Urban Planner – 57,930 USD/year
  • Interior Designer – 50,115 USD/year
  • Design Architect – 61,840 USD/year
  • Architect – 66,850 USD/year

Architecture or civil engineering—which is better?

We cannot discuss 'better,' but we can discuss scope and desire.

If you want to study architecture, you should:

  • You merely want to design and plan standard structures (houses, hospitals, factories, office buildings, etc.)
  • You don't want to be engaged in the fundamental building process; instead, you'd work in an office without going out into the field.

If you are interested in Civil Engineering, you should:

  • You want to be involved in all phases of the construction process, including design, planning, construction supervision, risk assessment, etc.
  • You wish to split your time between the office and the construction locations.
  • You are more technically inclined and love working on and solving engineering problems.

Not sure where to begin? Check out the following universities:

We recommend the following universities for Architecture study.

  • Leeds Beckett University, the UK
  • Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands
  • Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Hasselt University, Belgium
  • Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

We recommend the following universities for Civil Engineering study.

  • The University of Portsmouth, the UK
  • University of Twente (UT), the Netherlands
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium
  • Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
  • Hokkaido University, Japan

Check out our resources to learn more about engineering and architecture! Every day, new information is uploaded, and you may discover whatever you're looking for.

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