The Differences Between Structural and Civil Engineers

February 5, 2021 12:15 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Civil and structural engineers are very similar, yet fulfill somewhat different roles. Property owners from Indiana often make the mistake of hiring the wrong type of engineer because they haven’t taken the time to learn about the subcategories of engineering. Below are the main differences between civil engineers and structural engineers so you can better understand who to hire for your project.


Civil engineering is the broad category that houses different specialties, which includes structural engineering. Students often receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, then pursue a specific area of focus in graduate school. Civil engineers are needed for every type of infrastructure project and lay the groundwork for additional studies. While many people explore subspecialties like transportation, geotechnics, wastewater and traffic, they all started off with civil engineering as their baseline.

As mentioned earlier, structural engineering is a subcategory that falls underneath the all-encompassing umbrella of civil engineering. This area of expertise has become more prominent over the years because design and construction materials have evolved far beyond what they used to be. Due to such technological developments, structural engineering is often considered a separate entity. Engineering students from Indiana often pursue a master’s degree in structural engineering.


The key difference between civil engineers and structural engineers lies in their responsibilities on a construction site. Civil engineering focuses on the design of commercial, residential and public infrastructure. These engineers supervise the construction process to make sure the project goes according to plan. In other words, civil engineers decide how the building will look.

A structural engineer can execute the role of a civil engineer plus some additional certifications. These engineers are more concerned with building materials and their load bearing capabilities. Structural engineers inspect new and existing infrastructure to make sure it’s safe for people to use. They’re called onto construction sites to check the contractors’ handiwork for signs of faulty craftsmanship or weak parts of the building.


The infrastructure they design is another difference between civil engineers and structural engineers. Civil engineers are vital for every type of project. They design roads, bridges, homes, office spaces, retail stores, government buildings and the list goes on. All structures are derived from blueprints, which means they all need an engineer along the way. Everything you see in Indiana was built with help from a civil engineer.

On the other hand, not all construction projects require a structural engineer. They’re hired for projects where structural integrity is of the utmost importance. Because of this, structural engineers most frequently design parking garages, bridges and retention walls. They also restore older infrastructure and figure out what caused a building or bridge to collapse. Many civil engineers gain a structural background so they can work on a broader range of projects.

Whether you’re a homeowner or run a business, everyone who undergoes a construction project needs civil and structural engineers by their side throughout the entire process. The engineers at Benchmark Fabricated Steel not only design infrastructure but see it through to completion. No matter the project, our team of civil and structural engineers are the right fit for the job. Reach out to learn more about what we can do for you.

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