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Civil Designer vs. Civil Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in civil engineering or civil design can be both rewarding and challenging. If you’re interested in working in this field, you may be wondering what the difference is between a civil designer and civil engineer. In this article, we explain the duties of each profession, discuss the similarities and differences between them and provide helpful tips for choosing a career path.

What is a Civil Designer?

Civil Designers are responsible for the planning and design of civil engineering projects such as highways, bridges, transit systems, water and sewer systems, and land development projects. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop plans and maps. Civil Designers also conduct field surveys to collect data about the project site. They analyze this data to determine the best way to complete the project while considering factors such as environmental impact, cost, and construction schedule. Civil Designers prepare reports and presentations to communicate their findings and recommendations to clients, engineers, and other stakeholders.

What is a Civil Engineer?

Civil Engineers are responsible for designing, building, supervising, operating, and maintaining large construction projects and systems, including roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and water and sewage systems. They typically work in offices, but they may also visit construction sites to check on progress or resolve problems. Civil Engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field. They must also be licensed by the state in which they practice.

Civil Designer vs. Civil Engineer

Here are the main differences between a civil designer and a civil engineer.

Job Duties

Civil engineers and civil designers share some of their job duties, such as creating plans for new construction projects. They may also perform similar tasks, such as researching existing structures to determine how they can improve them or design new buildings that meet the needs of local communities.

Civil engineers and civil designers also have responsibilities that are unique to their profession. Civil engineers focus primarily on the technical aspects of project planning and implementation. They often use their expertise in mathematics and engineering to solve logistical issues and create solutions that civil designers can then implement with aesthetic considerations in mind.

In contrast, civil designers consider the aesthetics of a project as well as its functionality. They may conduct research about local cultures and historical contexts to inform their designs and make sure that their work meets community standards.

Job Requirements

Civil designers typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, although some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Additionally, many civil designers pursue certifications through professional organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). These certifications can demonstrate a designer’s expertise in specific areas of civil engineering and help them stand out to potential employers.

Civil engineers also usually need to have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, although some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. In addition to their educational requirements, civil engineers must also be licensed in the state where they plan to practice. To become licensed, civil engineers must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Work Environment

Civil engineers and civil designers work in different environments. Civil engineers typically work for engineering firms or government agencies, where they may travel to construction sites to oversee projects. They also spend time in offices, working on blueprints and other design documents.

Civil designers usually work for private companies that specialize in landscape architecture, urban planning or environmental design. These professionals often work in an office environment, but they may also visit construction sites to monitor the progress of their designs.


Both civil designers and civil engineers use technical skills to perform their jobs. This includes understanding advanced mathematics, being able to read blueprints and having knowledge of physics concepts. They also both need to be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models or drawings of their designs.

However, their differing responsibilities result in the requirement for different skills. For example, civil designers benefit from having artistic skills when creating drawings or visual representations of their designs. They also need to have strong attention to detail to ensure accuracy in their work.

Civil engineers need to have strong project management skills as they are often responsible for overseeing the construction of projects. This includes coordinating with other engineers and contractors, developing budgets and schedules and ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget. They also need to have strong problem-solving skills to identify and address issues that may arise during construction.


Civil designers can earn an average salary of $74,644 per year, while civil engineers can earn an average salary of $92,614 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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