Construction Management vs. Civil Engineering 

Construction Management vs. Civil Engineering

Construction management and civil engineering are two closely related fields that overlap often and in many different ways. Successful completion of a construction project is heavily reliant on the expertise and collaboration of both civil engineers and construction managers.   

While civil engineering deals with the design and planning of various infrastructure projects, construction management focuses on the implementation of these projects. In other words, civil engineers are concerned with the theoretical and technical aspects that come along with designing and building structures, while construction managers are concerned with the practical and coordination aspects of the process.   

One of the most significant overlaps between construction management and civil engineering is project management. Both fields require careful planning, organization, and execution of construction projects.  

Civil engineers create designs and specifications for the entirety of infrastructure projects, while construction managers manage just the construction process from start to finish. Both professionals work on a deadline, within a budget, and play a huge role in ensuring the quality and safety of a construction project.   

Construction management and civil engineering are both involved in the management of resources. Civil engineers ensure that materials and resources are used efficiently and effectively during the construction process. This includes making sure that labor, equipment, and materials are used in the most sustainable and cost-effective ways possible.   

Construction managers guarantee that resources are available when needed and that they follow project specifications. Managing resources effectively helps ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.  

construction management safety
via Unsplash  

Safety is perhaps the most important area in which construction management and civil engineering overlap. Both professions are responsible for safety on the construction site throughout the construction of a structure.  

Civil engineers are also tasked with designing safe and durable structures, while construction managers ensure that safety protocols are in place and followed during construction.   

Lastly, sustainability is vital in both construction management and civil engineering. Both professions are increasingly focused on sustainable construction practices that minimize the impact of construction on the environment.   

Civil engineers incorporate sustainable design principles into their projects, while construction managers ensure that sustainable materials and practices are used during construction.   

Learn more about the industries of civil engineering and construction management as well as surveying, mapping, construction engineering, and many other topics by reading our blog. 

What is Construction Management? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction management is the planning, coordinating, budgeting, and supervising of construction projects from start to finish. Construction management plays a vital role in ensuring that a construction project is completed on time, is executed within budget, and adheres to the required quality standards. 

Construction management involves a wide range of activities, including project planning, budgeting, scheduling, and resource management. The construction manager is responsible for overseeing the design, procurement, and construction process to ensure that the project is delivered in accordance with the client’s requirements.   

Construction management is essential for large-scale construction projects, where complex coordination is required between the various parties involved, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and suppliers.  

In these cases, the construction manager may also act as a mediator between these parties, ensuring that everyone is working toward the same goal and that the project is progressing as planned.   

One of a construction manager’s key responsibilities is risk management. Construction managers identify potential risks associated with the project and take steps to mitigate them. This involves closely monitoring the construction process to ensure that any issues are identified and addressed as quickly as possible.   

In addition to overseeing and coordinating the construction process itself, the construction manager is also responsible for managing the project budget. This involves estimating costs, developing a budget, and monitoring expenses throughout the project.   

The construction manager must also ensure that the project is completed on time, as delays can be costly and disrupt the entire project schedule.   

Overall, construction management is a critical component of the construction industry, which is hugely valuable in the civil engineering field. Construction managers make sure that projects are delivered on time, within budget, and in a way that meets the required quality standards. Without construction managers, the organizational aspect of construction would certainly suffer.  

What is Civil Engineering? 

Civil engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction, supervision, and maintenance of infrastructure. Civil engineers are responsible for creating and maintaining the infrastructure that makes modern society possible, including roads, bridges, buildings, airports, and water supply systems.  

Civil engineering is a broad field that covers a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering. Many civil engineers specialize in one of these subfields in order to hone their skills in a specific part of the industry.   

Civil engineers employ interdisciplinary skills and experiences and work closely with members of other professions, such as architects and urban planners, to ensure that projects are designed in a way that meets the needs of the local community. For that reason, communication skills are crucial in the world of civil engineering.    

Civil engineers also work alongside construction managers to manage the construction process. This involves working with contractors, construction workers, and other professionals to ensure that infrastructure projects are completed on time and within budget.   

Civil engineers must also ensure that construction projects are carried out safely and in compliance with local building codes and regulations. 

construction management work site

Construction Management vs. Civil Engineering 

While construction management and civil engineering are extremely interconnected, they are also distinct fields. Civil engineering focuses on the design and construction of infrastructure and the built environment, while construction management is concerned with the planning, coordination, and supervision of construction projects. Both are crucial for successful construction projects. 


The salary differences between construction management and civil engineering vary depending on factors such as experience, location of the position, and industry. While both professions offer lucrative salaries, construction managers tend to earn a higher salary.   

The median annual salary for a construction manager is $98,890, and the median salary for a civil engineer is $88,050. Construction management is also growing at a faster-than-average rate of 8%, versus civil engineering which is growing at an average rate of 7%. For all jobs across the nation, the average growth rate is between 4% and 5%.    


Both professions require a bachelor’s degree. Construction managers typically need a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management or a related field, while civil engineers typically need a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering.   

Many professionals in both fields go on to get master’s degrees. Having an advanced degree allows for higher pay, generally speaking, and may open up more job opportunities, including leadership roles.  

Requirements and Certificates 

While the educational background and requirements of the two professions are somewhat similar, the requirements and certifications for construction management and civil engineering differ significantly. It’s important to make sure you’re pursuing the proper certification for your job title.   

Construction managers may need certifications, like the Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) or Associate Constructor (AC) certifications. Civil engineers, on the other hand, may need to be licensed by their state or province.   

Both professions require ongoing professional development to stay current with industry developments, especially as technology improves and becomes more prominent in the engineering field.   

In order to keep up licensure, most civil engineers and construction managers will be implored to participate in ongoing learning courses or sessions. That’s because there’s constant technological innovation in these two fields, and it’s important to ensure you’re up to date on the new ideas and discoveries in the industry.  

Job Responsibilities 

A civil engineer is responsible for designing, planning, and supervising infrastructure projects, including buildings, roads, bridges, airports, and water supply systems. They prepare cost estimates, project schedules, and technical reports and use various tools and techniques to analyze data, evaluate site conditions, and assess the environmental impact of the project.   

A construction manager is responsible for overseeing and managing all aspects of a construction project, from planning and design to completion. They manage project budgets, prepare project schedules, and make sure that materials and resources are available when needed.  

They also oversee the hiring and management of construction workers and ensure that they are trained and equipped to perform their duties. 

Additionally, both civil engineers and construction managers work together to oversee the construction process and ensure that it adheres to the project plans and specifications, troubleshooting any issues that may arise during the construction process, such as delays, safety concerns, or conflicts with stakeholders.  

While there are differences in the distinct responsibilities of each profession, there are also overlaps between civil engineers and construction managers.  

Which Is Better: Construction Management or Civil Engineering? 

Those who are interested in the design and construction of infrastructure may prefer civil engineering, while those who are more interested in project management and the coordination of construction projects may prefer construction management.  

Construction management and civil engineering both offer rewarding careers with different job responsibilities, education requirements, salary levels, and certification requirements, so it’s not a matter of which is better, but rather which field better suits an individual’s interests and career goals.   

Ultimately, both fields play vital roles in the construction industry and offer exciting career opportunities for those who are passionate about building and maintaining the built environment.  

construction management roadwork

Final Thoughts 

While construction management and civil engineering are distinct fields, they are closely connected and often work together in the construction industry. Civil engineering focuses on the design and planning of infrastructure projects, while construction management oversees the actual construction process.  

Both roles are critical to the success of any construction project and require a high level of expertise and collaboration. Civil engineers and construction managers must work together to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required specifications.  

Ultimately, the synergy between these two fields is essential to building and maintaining the infrastructure that supports our communities and economy. Head over to our service page to delve deeper into the practical applications of civil engineering and construction management. 

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