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Architecture vs. Civil Engineering: Key Differences, Scope, Placements and Earnings

Jun 27, 2016 18:08 IST
    Architecture vs Civil Engineering
    Architecture vs Civil Engineering

    Are confused choosing between Architecture and Civil Engineering disciplines? Then it’s time, we clarified key distinctions between these two academic programmes and laid out key differences in terms of the definition of subject, scope of the field, the field of operation, earnings, top colleges and others.

    The real estate sector, especially the construction industry is heavily dependent upon two professions i.e., Architects and Civil Engineers. As far as industry is concerned, both Architects and civil engineers are an indispensable part of the construction sector and are vital to the creation of beautiful yet practical, graceful yet super strong structures that stand the test of time. Being quite similar in nature, these two disciplines offer job opportunities in the same industry, and, therefore aspirants often get confused when it comes to choosing the right discipline between Architecture and Civil Engineering. While these two professional disciplines have many similarities, there are many subtle and key differences that set these two disciplines apart. Finding out these differences holds the key to deciding which among architecture and civil engineering you should pick for your higher studies.

    To help aspirants make an informed choice, we have discussed these two disciplines with respect to the definition of subject, scope of field, the field of operation, prospective earnings, top colleges and such other factors.

    Subject Definition

    While both civil engineering and architecture disciplines look very similar in terms of syllabus and subject matter, when it comes to definition, there are several key differences between the two.

    • Architecture: The word architect is derived from “arkhitekton” which translates to ‘chief-builder’. While the word origin might indicate that architects are builders, but when it comes to real world definition, the subject to architecture is more to with putting art into buildings. It is a creative field that deals with the art and science of designing and constructing buildings and other structure for human use and shelter.
    • Civil Engineering: Civil Engineering is a very broad term and involves design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. In other words, civil engineers deal with the different structural elements of buildings in terms of practicality, deciding the materials to be used, load withstanding capacity of the structure and long time maintenance.

    In very simple words, architects design the building using their creative imagination and calculative prowess to put the available space to best possible use for end users. On the other hand, civil engineers actually assess the design given by architects and determine if the same is viable in terms of construction and standing the test of time in normal as well as high load conditions.

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    Scope of Subject

    The scope of the subject is probably the biggest and most important difference that lies between the fields of architecture and civil engineering.

    • Architecture deals with the design of building or structures with prime focus upon the functionality and aesthetics. Architects deal with the look, feel and functionality of designs, while keeping in mind the basic structural elements of the building in mind.
    • On the other hand, Civil Engineers inspects, plans and executes the architectural designs for a building or structure. Civil Engineering concentrates on the structural elements of the design, making certain that the structure can endure normal and extreme conditions.

    Field of Operation

    Architects and civil engineers work in tandem, and, therefore, some of their work overlaps to an extent. However, when it comes to the field of operations, civil engineers have a wide range of options compared to architects. Generally speaking, architects are involved in the development of construction projects which require creative presentation, for instance, Residences, Commercial complex, Public Buildings etc. On the other hand, any kind of construction work or structural engineering work is undertaken by civil engineers. Therefore, the scope of civil engineering can also involve public projects such as Bridges, Railway track and Harbors. Generally, such projects do not require any aesthetic considerations and are purely designed from practicality perspective keeping structural integrity as its prime focus.

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    Now that we are clear about the subjective differences among the two fields, lets us look at these two disciplines from an academic perspective as well.

    Academically, Architecture and Civil Engineering programmes are very closely related and have syllabus that looks quite identical to each other. However, as discussed earlier, despite all the similarities, the focus on different concepts in each of the academic programmes would be vastly different. While architecture would devote more of its academic time upon the aesthetics, civil engineering courses tend to be more focused on technical aspects of construction.

    Courses and Eligibility

    Generally, Bachelor in Architecture (B. Arch) course is a five-year undergraduate academic programme offered at different architecture schools across the country. Admission is generally done through a common entrance exam, which is conducted in accordance with the Council of Architecture. As far as compulsory subjects are concerned, just like engineering, B.Arch aspirants would need to clear class 12 Board exam with Physics, Chemistry and Maths as main subjects.

    After completing the undergraduate course, B.Arch students can take up two-year post graduation programme in architecture as well.

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    For Civil Engineering, there are generally two routes which are available for aspirants; first one being degree course and second one is a short term diploma course. The popular choice among civil engineering aspirants is the B.Tech in Civil engineering programme offered at different engineering colleges across the country. Admission is granted on the basis of candidates’ performance in the entrance examination like JEE Main 2016 for NITs, IIITs and GFTIs or JEE Advanced 2016 in case of premier engineering institutes like IITs and ISM-Dhanbad. Aspirants seeking to join civil engineering will need to have PCM as their main subjects during the class 12 board examination. In addition to this, there is also a minimum marks criteria which is modified by entrance exam conducting authority from to time.

    Top Colleges / Institutes

    Below, we have listed top colleges for both Architecture and Civil Engineering academic programmes in India.

    Employment Prospects and Salary

    One of the key reasons behind choosing professional academic disciplines like civil engineering or architecture is to reap the benefits of excellent employment prospects and salary. Therefore, this is the point which becomes a bone of contention for all aspirants, who are confused while choosing between these two disciplines.

    Architecture: Architects work with different construction companies as a designer. The primary responsibility of an architect is to understand the requirements of the client and translate that into a practical, functional and aesthetically pleasing design. Along with private builders handling real estate sector, architects are also hired by governmental agencies like Public Works Departments, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd, Archaeological Department, Ministry of Defense, National Building Organization, Town and Country Planning Organization, National Institute of Urban Affairs and others.

    In terms of remuneration, Architects can expect a starting salary of around Rs. 25,000 to 30,000 per month. However, with the expansion of skill-sets and experience, architects can earn up to Rs 1 Lakh per month.

    Civil Engineering: As discussed above, civil engineers have a wider scope of work and a broader field of operations compared to architects. There are several apt examples of excellent civil engineering works across the country in both governmental as well as private organizations. In terms of employment opportunities, both private and government bodies are hiring fresh civil engineers for different roles. Apart from the governmental organization mentioned above, civil engineers are also eligible for jobs with the Indian army. In addition to working with private or government bodies, civil engineers can also setup their own engineering consultancy firm. There is also great demand for civil engineers in teaching profession as well with leading academic institutes looking for professors in this discipline. Students, who have flair for writing, can also take up technical writing in the same field as well.

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    Considering the dynamic job profile, a civil engineer should expect basic starting remuneration of Rs 4-8 lakh/annum. Just like in the case of architects, civil engineers would also see appreciation in their salary with experience and expansion of skill set.

    Conclusion

    While both civil engineering and architecture are very valuable professional academic programmes, each of them have their own benefits. While architecture deals with design and aesthetic components, civil engineers deal with structural planning and execution of the creativity and design of the architect. While colleges offering B.Arch programmes are rare to find, civil engineering is a very common programme offered by all major engineering colleges. Also, in terms of salary and social reputation both the programme commands similar remuneration and respect.

    So, when it comes to choosing civil engineering or architecture, it all boils down to your personal interest in the subject at hand. In case you are still confused about making a decision, you can always take help of professional counsellors in this regard.

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