Civil Vs. Environmental Engineering

Oct 20, 2021

Comparing Civil Engineering to Environmental Engineering

While both civil and environmental engineers design plans, what they are designing varies greatly. Civil engineers focus on the development of various structures, including roads, buildings, and airports, while environmental engineers create different projects that can solve environmental issues. Below you can learn more about these engineering career options.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Civil Engineer Bachelor's Degree $87,060 6%
Environmental Engineer Bachelor's Degree $88,860 5%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Civil Engineers vs Environmental Engineers

Both civil and environmental engineers develop and design projects that can help the world we live in. Some of the projects may overlap; for example, when developing a water supply system, civil engineers focus on the design and building, while environmental engineers develop the system for cleaning the water and reducing waste. At other times, these engineers will work on very different projects. Civil engineers create highways, tunnels, and bridges. Environmental engineers use research and engineering practices to develop ways to protect the environment.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers develop project ideas, carry out the designs, and supervise all aspects of the project. They are responsible for ensuring the project costs stay within budget and follow government regulations. Though much of their time is spent in an office, they are also found out on the jobsite ensuring the project is being completed properly. Some civil engineers are always on the jobsite to supervise the entire construction process. Civil engineers must have exceptional problem solving skills, since their job requires high level planning and designing, which may include solving any issues that arise.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Testing materials used in building
  • Presenting findings to the community
  • Supervising repairs and maintenance
  • Submitting permits

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers find solutions to various environmental issues, as well as finding new ways to recycle, control water and air pollution, and produce safe drinking water. These engineers work with a variety of people to complete their work, including lawyers, businesspeople, scientists, and other engineers. They need excellent problem solving skills in order to produce a plan that can help the environment based on problems they see occurring. Much of their work is done in an office, though they do have some outdoor and on-site tasks as well.

Job responsibilities of an environmental engineer include:

  • Taking care of permits needed for projects
  • Complying with operating procedures
  • Completing quality-control checks
  • Supervising projects and programs
  • Inspecting facilities to ensure they are meeting standards

Related Careers

Those looking into a career in civil engineering may also want to look into construction management, which focuses more on the construction aspect of a project rather than the design. A hydrologist is an alternative career option for those interested in environmental engineering, since these professionals also have an environmental focus, though they work specifically with water.

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