Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer (Similarities & Differences)

Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer

Comparing “Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer” is similar to comparing a father and his son; one is the sub-discipline of the other.

A civil engineer can be a structural engineer but can’t be the other way round. This article will explain these two different types of engineers, discussing their functions, similarities, and differences. Read on.

Who is an Engineer?

An engineer is an individual whose profession involves inventing, building, designing, maintaining, and testing machines or structures. There are different types of engineers, for example;

  • Chemical engineers
  • Civil engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Agricultural engineers
  • Environmental engineers
  • Structural engineers
  • Electrical engineers and many others.

In this article, civil engineers and structural engineers will be the main center of focus.

Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer

Who is a Structural Engineer?

A structural engineer is a professional who involves with planning, designing, analyzing, maintaining, and constructing resisting or load-bearing structures.

The structures are bridges, dams, skyscrapers, and so on. They are also involved in the extensions and alteration of properties that already exist.

Structural engineering has existed and has been in use for centuries. It can be traced back to the 26th century BC because of the Pyramid of Giza established in that century.

On the other hand, a structural engineer can be a civil engineer as structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering.

Functions of a Structural Engineer

  • Inspection of a property’s foundation.
  • Assuring that bridges and buildings are stable and capable of withstanding the elements to which they will be subjected.
  • Improving the structural integrity of existing properties or structures.
  • Assisting and collaborating in the selection and design of acceptable and correct construction materials for a particular structure.
  • Supervising the building of structures.
  • Participating in the inspection and oversight of contractor work.
  • Provide technical assistance.
  • Examining and evaluating places and locations.

Requirements to become a Structural Engineer

  • The individual will need to study and obtain a degree in either structural engineering or civil engineering accredited by the Institution of Structural Engineering.
  • Incorporated engineer status or a chartered engineer status.
  • Vocational training for some time with an employer.
  • Professional review from the employer.
  • Relevant work experience.

Employment opportunities for a Structural Engineer

Structural engineers can work in the following places:

  • Government organizations
  • Engineering or construction consultancies
  • Utility companies

Read this: Easiest and Hardest Engineering Degrees to get 

Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer

Who is a Civil Engineer?

A civil engineer is a professional who deals with constructing, designing, maintaining infrastructures and public works.

These infrastructures include roads, airports, houses, railways, pipelines, sewage systems, and many others. They are mainly involved with the natural and physical environment.

John Smeaton(1724-1792) is considered the father of civil engineering. He was a mechanical engineer, civil engineer, and physicist. He was also the pioneer of the use of hydraulic lime in concrete.

Civil engineering is a vast profession. It has many sub-disciplines, one of which is structural engineering.

Functions of a Civil Engineer

  • Investigating and evaluating sites.
  • Managing the dangers of construction.
  • Developing the infrastructure’s layout.
  • Proposing the materials to be utilized in the construction.
  • Trying to figure out how much it will cost to build anything.
  • Investigating the viability of a building.

Requirements to become a Civil Engineer

  • The individual will have to study and obtain a degree in civil engineering.
  • Experience in the field.
  • The curriculum must contain the basic courses of most sub-disciplines of civil engineering.
  • The individual must specialize in one or more sub-disciplines at advanced levels.

Job opportunities for a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers can work as:

  • Construction managers
  • Surveyors
  • Building engineers
  • Urban planners
  • Geotechnical engineers
  • Environmental engineers

Read this: Top 10 Alternative Jobs for Engineers

Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer

Differences between a Structural engineer and a Civil engineer

  • A structural engineer can work on projects such as beams, support systems, rafters, and so on, while a civil engineer can work on projects such as roads, buildings, canals, etc.
  • A civil engineer is a professional who deals with constructing, designing, and maintaining infrastructures and public works. In contrast, a structural engineer is a professional who deals with and is involved with the planning, design, analysis, maintenance, and construction of resisting or load-bearing structures.
  • Civil engineers analyse sites while a structural engineer appraises sites.
  • A structural engineer evaluates construction materials while a civil engineer proposes construction materials for the building.
  • Civil engineers repair damage to buildings while structural engineers access the damage to buildings.
  • A structural engineer can manage the demolition of buildings while a civil engineer manages the construction of buildings.

Structural Engineer vs. Civil Engineer

Similarities between a Structural engineer and a Civil engineer

  • Both are two disciplines within the field of engineering.
  • Both a civil engineer and a structural engineer deal with the design, analysis, and construction of infrastructure projects.
  • A structural engineer and a civil engineer both work with other professions to construct or build infrastructure.


Different firms specialize in structural engineering or civil engineering. Before choosing to become any of these engineers, research extensively on the requirements needed.

Also, look at whether the profession is compatible with you and will be comfortable for you. In the battle of structural engineer versus civil engineer, the winner is a personal choice.

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