Civil Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering

Okoma V.
Okoma V.  - Study Expert
9 Min Read

While both civil and mechanical engineering involves designing and constructing, careers in these engineering branches differ in the projects they work on.

If you are interested in a mechanical or civil engineering career, it is important to understand their individual duties and requirements so you can pursue the right career for you.

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In this article, we define mechanical and civil engineering and explore their differences.

What is mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering is a profession that uses science, math, and physics to design, build and also maintain machines and equipment ranging from power tools to elevators.

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Mechanical engineering includes a variety of concepts, including:

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  • Mechanics
  • Kinematics
  • Electricity
  • Thermodynamics
  • Structural analysis

It is important for mechanical engineers to understand all of these concepts in order to design machines and equipment that benefit society. Industries that employ mechanical engineers include:

  • Transportation
  • Mechanics
  • Robotics and automation
  • Weapons

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Possible Jobs for a Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer’s job responsibilities might, howe er include:

  • Creating designs and plans
  • Analyzing designs for flaws
  • Changing designs to remove flaws
  • Finding ways that mechanical devices can solve problems
  • Developing and testing prototypes
  • Managing a device’s manufacturing process
  • Correcting equipment failures

Most mechanical engineers work in offices and visit sites that create or use their devices. They use advanced software programs to create and analyze their designs. Mechanical engineers work closely with architects and other engineers to design devices and achieve project goals.

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What is civil engineering?

Civil engineering is a profession that focuses on designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure and projects that benefit communities or the environment. This branch of engineering includes specialties such as:

  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Environment
  • Forensics
  • Water resources

Civil engineers can also work for governments, cities, companies, the public sector, or particular individuals. The projects they might work on include:

Possible Jobs for a Civil Engineer

some job responsibilities you might get into for studying civil engineering over mechanical engineering, include:

  • Roads construction
  • Bridges construction and maintenance
  • Building sites
  • Airports
  • Canals, dams, and levees
  • Utility infrastructure for water, gas, electric, and sewer needs, such as waste treatment plants
  • Hydraulic systems
  • Stormwater management
  • Environmental protection
  • Renewable energy projects, such as wind farms
  • A civil engineer’s job responsibilities might include:
  • Designing plans for projects
  • Analyzing maps, surveys, reports, and other data
  • Getting construction permits and approvals
  • Reviewing and understanding building regulations
  • Creating estimates and budgets for projects, including those that involve materials, labor, and equipment
  • Considering environmental effects
  • Ordering and analyzing soil, concrete, steel, wood, or asphalt tests
  • Using advanced software to create designs
  • Monitoring construction
  • Overseeing infrastructure maintenance and repairs
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Civil engineers also collaborate with a variety of construction and engineering professionals and meet with officials and clients to discuss project goals and statuses.

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Differences between mechanical vs. civil engineering

Here are the key differences between mechanical and civil engineering:

Educational Differences

Mechanical and civil engineering candidates follow similar paths, including earning four-year bachelor’s degrees, passing engineering exams, and becoming licensed. The subjects they study and the degrees they get, however, differ.

Most mechanical engineers follow these steps before entering their field:

Mechanical engineers might also pursue master’s or doctorate degrees if they want to specialize in a certain area or transition to teaching or research.

Most civil engineers, however, follow these steps before entering their field:

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  • Receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, civil engineering technology, or a related subject.
  • Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
  • Gain on-the-job training through internships, trainee programs, or entry-level engineering jobs.
  • Pass the Professional Engineering exam to receive a senior civil engineering license.

Civil engineers who choose to pursue a master’s degree are more likely to earn management-level jobs and advance in their careers.

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Civil Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering Salary Key Skills

Key mechanical engineering skills include:

  • Math
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning

Civil engineering skills include:

  • Math
  • Decision-making
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication

Mechanical engineers use creative skills to construct complex designs, whereas civil engineers usually follow a clear and accepted path for working on projects.

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Project types

The projects mechanical and civil engineers work on vary in size and scope. The main differences include:

  • Mechanical engineers work on cars, planes, tools, weapons, and machines, while civil engineers work on buildings and infrastructure.
  • Civil engineering projects often take much longer to complete than mechanical engineering projects.
  • Mechanical engineers focus on an object’s function, while civil engineers, however, focus on an object’s structure and appearance.
  • Mechanical engineers often invent or reinvent things, while civil engineers typically work on established structures and concepts.
  • Civil engineering projects also typically occur on a much larger scale than mechanical engineering projects.
  • Mechanical engineers test their prototypes’ and devices’ performance, while civil engineers test their materials’ durability and the foundation’s ability to support a structure.
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Work environment

While both mechanical and civil engineers work in offices and visit job sites, civil engineers might spend more time on-site supervising projects or travel between job sites. Mechanical engineers collaborate primarily with other engineers, but civil engineers collaborate with architects, government officials, construction managers, and urban planners.

Regulation

Mechanical engineers are more likely to design devices for individuals, companies, or the private sector, while civil engineers create plans that benefit large groups, communities, and the public.

Because they design buildings and infrastructure for public use, civil engineers follow state and federal regulations and seek approval for all steps of their projects. Mechanical engineers have less regulation over their designs.

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Civil Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering Salary

Mechanical engineers have a national average salary of $95,029 per year, while civil engineers have a national average salary of $87,201 per year.

Earning potential varies by geographical location, level of education, amount of experience, and specialization.

Civil Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering Salary Career path

Mechanical engineers have the ability to expand their knowledge and expertise throughout their careers. They can more easily transfer their skills into other engineering branches than civil engineers.

Civil engineers typically specialize in one area, and after working many years on job sites and in offices, they might leave the industry to teach engineering or do research.

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Conclusion

With better and broader subjects, Mechanical engineering offers better scope than civil engineering. Civil engineering primarily targets a field whereas Mechanical engineering can be further divided into a variety of fields.

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