Difference between Construction Engineering and Structural Engineering

Home » Knowledge » Difference between Construction Engineering and Structural Engineering

Structural engineering and construction engineering are both quite different from one another, although they may appear to be similar. Construction engineers have years of on-the-job experience, but they typically do not have the same kind of education that structural engineers do. Here’s what you need to know about these two fields to help you decide which career path is right for you, whether you are in high school or already pursuing your degree at an accredited university or college.

The Differences in Core Responsibilities:

To start, structural engineers are responsible for designing structural elements like walls, bridges, and buildings. They work with a structural engineer, or structural designer to design these structures. While some structures need only basic engineering designs, other structures will require extensively detailed designs to ensure safety.

A skilled construction engineer will oversee the implementation of these designs during actual construction. This often means working in close coordination with contractors who are overseeing all aspects of physical labor related to building, including framing, shoring up foundations, excavation, concreting, installing supports, and wiring.

The skillset required by construction engineers is more likely related to engineering drafting, drawing out final plans from structural designs produced by structural engineers. Skillsets can vary widely depending on project types. Some may deal more with budgeting while others will focus more on safety concerns that could arise while in progress or even once completed.

The Differences in Education:

Both construction engineering and structural engineering degree programs require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Once you’ve completed your undergraduate work, you’ll need to move on to an engineering program that focuses on either construction or structural design.

Entry into these programs is often based on competition or qualification examinations. While both types of engineers perform similar duties, they do possess some differences in practice. Structural engineers are typically involved with designing buildings while construction engineers focus more on aspects related to building products such as design and material coordination.

It can be confusing because most structural engineers will have to deal with matters related to construction at some point in their careers—but structural engineering is primarily focused on structural design, while construction deals more directly with site management.

The Differences in Licensing Requirements:

You’ve likely heard people use terms like structural engineering or construction engineering. These two types of engineering are similar in some ways, but there are differences between them, as well.

For example, he has more training in structural design than a construction engineer, who usually focuses on building construction rather than structures themselves. Additionally, structural engineers must be licensed to work with federal agencies.

Some state governments also require licensing for structural engineers to practice within their borders. Construction engineers typically don’t need any government-issued licenses to perform their jobs—though many employers prefer certification as an indication of competency.

However, it may be difficult to get certified if you aren’t already employed by a company that requires it. The IESO website contains links to other certification organizations; all require testing and continuing education programs in order to maintain your license or certification.

The Differences in Salary:

Structural engineers tend to make slightly more than construction engineers. The BLS reports that in 2016, structural engineers made a median annual salary of $83,160 compared to construction engineers, who earned $80,850 annually on average.

However, it’s also worth mentioning that experience can help boost an engineer’s salary. For example, structural engineers with 10 years or more of experience earned roughly $94,630 per year as of 2016—just over $15,000 more than their less experienced counterparts.

In other words: If you decide to choose structural engineering as your career path and commit to putting in your time and effort, there are likely opportunities for significant growth within your industry. In order to become a structural engineer, students need to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Students will study statics (the science of how solid objects respond when acted upon by force), mechanics (the science of motion), computer-assisted design, and finite element analysis (structural analysis).

Graduates must also complete at least four years of work experience before they can become licensed engineers. This is comparable to requirements for civil engineers but unlike many other types of construction-related fields.

The Comparison Chart:

Structural engineering deals with structural design. He will focus on load-bearing structures such as buildings, bridges, dams, and towers—the kinds of structures that are intended to carry a lot of weight.

The word structural is probably used to describe something pretty obvious; for example, you wouldn’t have to be an engineer to figure out that a bridge is not going anywhere even if you blast through it with explosives. This may seem like an odd way to get into detail about what makes a structure stay up (or fall down), but making sure that whatever you make stays up requires some pretty serious calculations by people who know their stuff. These folks are your structural engineers.

Most construction work involves building new things or repairing existing ones in order to use them in their intended ways: houses, hospitals, skyscrapers, highways and railroad tracks all fall under construction work because they were created by people other than nature.