Civil Engineering vs. Construction Management

Hi, I am considering switching my major from civil engineering to construction management. It is not that I don’t like civil engineering or that I can’t handle the coursework because, I do and I can. However, I am currently working at a construction management company and I am very interested in this specific line of work. I was wondering if anyone who has made the switch from civil engineer major to construction management major and if I could get some feedback on it?
My point in switching is that I don’t see the point in staying in the vigorous courses of civil engr if I just plan on doing constr. managment.

My daughter just graduated as a civil engr. and her boyfriend gradudated in construction management two years ago and just finished his MBA in May. The both got jobs in a city, and while he makes a little more than her, he has 2+ years of experience and a masters. I think in years to come she’ll make more and have more opportunities as a professional engineer.

They both like their choices.

I will note that many of my friends with civil degrees ended up doing construction management for their careers. So the civil degree is a bit more flexible.

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I would stay with Civil Engineering because of the flexibility as nordicdad noted. You never know what will happen between now and graduation. Many of the things you would learn in a construction management curriculum can be picked up on the job. You’ll find that many professionals actually do not have degrees in construction management. The civil engineering concepts you learn will not go to waste. While you won’t be sizing steel beams, the background information you have will help you understand the engineers you work with better, and thus become a better construction manager.

Now, if you were struggling with the material, then I’d suggest otherwise, but since you’re not, a little bit of hard work won’t hurt.

I think Civil Engineer is a better choice. It is more flexible, and your perspective might change after you’ve learnt another field.

Your school may also offer a certificate or minor in Construction Management. If not, you can still use your CE electives to take a few Construction Management courses.

@ctoonb OP did learn another field via work and his perspective did change. Thats why he was considering switching out of civil engineering.

Most of us are engineers, and hence have a bias…so let me give a contrary opinion.

Your school may have an excellent College of Construction Management, if so, look into the average starting salary and employment rates for graduates. For example, at UF, graduates from the School of Construction Management average starting salaries are about $5K+ more a year than CE graduates, and they have 90%+ employment rates (graduates with job offers BEFORE graduation).

If your schools Construction management program is “lacking”, then Civil Engineering is an easy choice. However, if it has a strong program, and it’s a field you’re much more interested in than Civil, then switch. But first make sure you understand what’s involved in a career in Civil engineering, versus Construction Management.

Good Luck!!

@Gator88NE , I’m not sure that $5k per year is a fair comparison. Construction management majors tend to make more money in general. The statistic isn’t comparing construction management majors vs civil engineering majors who go into construction management. It includes structural, transportation, geotech, etc.

Thread hijack as my son is interested in both these fields, as well as mech e. He’s a junior so has some time to figure things out. But what’s the best way to get a really good idea about what each profession does on a day to day basis? Are there books that help with this? Speaking to people in different fields? Shadowing? We’ve tried contacting some people but so far have been unable to find any shadowing opps.

@taverngirl Take a look at the ACE Mentorship Program for interest in learning about the construction industry. When he’s in college, he should go for a summer internship.

Thanks @ken285. He actually starts ACE next week – glad to hear that will help.

@taverngirl… My son did Ace and had no interest in construction but loved the overall program to learn more about engineering and how different disciplines work together. In Chicago they worked with world-class companies and the “mentors” were from all the major brand universities plus a few in Europe and some I never heard of. This opened our eyes that the school was not as important as the product it delivers…

The engineers were more then giving /helpful helping kids understand what engineers do. Plus some have connections to colleges etc. It’s also a lot of fun.

@ken285 @knowsstuff son had his first ACE meeting yesterday and loved it! Their project for the year is to build a community center, and he is so excited. I forget who on CC recommended it, but a big thank you to them. I think it’s going to be a great motivator for him to keep his grades up; I also think it may help direct him towards a major.

@taverngirl glad to hear your son had a good experience. This was the same for my son. He came home always in a good mood and willing to tell us stuff about the program. They built a shopping center and got to go on-site at some point to see the actual building process. I have mentioned this program several times because of the experience you gain. Plus I know some locals give like a $500 scholarship for college at some point. Also there are summer internships and in Chicago they start the pay at like $15.00/hour. The one thing my son really got out of it was how engineers think and how they work together. If one teams measurements were off… Well… It affected all the other groups and they had to start over. etc. Plus the actual mentors all handed out their cards and said anything you need please call including college advise etc.

My company participates in the ACE program. That’s really how I learned about it… wish I had the opportunity when I was in school!

Thanks for recommending the ACE program I look that the ACE Mentorship website. It looks like it is for undergraduate students. It might not be for someone with experience like me. I am part of ASCE though. But I will be a student once I attend graduate school next year.

Most definitely for sure construction managers make more money than engineers. I know two construction managers and they are making over the six figure mark but they have like 15 years of experience.

That’s true

You learn calculus in college but you never use on the job.

Yep, one construction manager I work with both of his degree was in Business and one had just an associates degree from trade school.

“Most definitely for sure construction managers make more money than engineers.”

Plenty of engineers make over 6 figures, especially with 15 years experience.

Yes, but it will be like civil engineers make around $133,000 vs construction manager that makes $189,000. Both over six figures but construction managers make more while both are experienced.

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