February 7, 2022

Architect vs. Civil Engineer: What They Do And Who You Need

UPDATED, January 7, 2024

If you have a construction project in the works, whether it’s a new custom home, an office building for your business, or a warehouse to hold industrial equipment, you need licensed experts. Now, you may be asking yourself a few questions: “What experts do I look for? Do I need an architect or a civil engineer? Is an engineer licensed to design buildings? Is a civil engineer qualified to design a building?” Though engineers and architects share common ground in many ways, they fulfill different roles in the construction process. Between the two professions, which is better depends on your project and what you want or need. How about a service that can play both roles? Let’s dig deeper.



Often, you may hear more about the profession of an architect behind the design aspect of a building than you do the civil engineers. This is because the role of an architect is in design—namely, the spatial functions, and aesthetics of the building. This can include the architecture design of the layout and floor plan, selecting materials, using computer-aided design (CAD) software to draft building schematics, and producing construction documents to guide the construction of the building. Architects may also be responsible for the interior design of the space—the placement of windows, doors, the materials and finishes used inside, lighting design, and the placement of power outlets.

Architects consult with clients and lead the development of the project’s design while playing the middleman between the client and a licensed engineer as the engineer plays a major role in the planning and permitting process to begin construction. Architects also often assume a managerial role in the project, including budgeting and scheduling. 

Small projects usually have a single architect who handles building and interior design, technical aspects, and project management altogether. A larger project, though, may separate these tasks between multiple architects. In either case, all architects must be licensed to work.


Civil Engineers

architectural engineering services pasquini engineering feature - Architect vs. Civil Engineer: What They Do And Who You Need - blog

Civil engineers are licensed to perform the same duties as an architect, and with the right training, are qualified to oversee the entire design and build process of public works and infrastructure, including most of the services we mentioned above. In the context of buildings, they may also be called structural engineers. The role of a civil engineer centers on the most important aspect of any structure, stability and safety. On a construction project, a civil engineer will review building designs, evaluate structural integrity, determine and test the materials needed, use computer-aided design (CAD) software to draft building schematics, and provide cost estimates. Their work takes place both in an office and on the construction site as they monitor the operation.

A civil engineer must be trained, licensed, and up-to-date on current regulations and local building codes as they need such knowledge in order to determine if a building design is sound. They are responsible for ensuring that the building complies with all these regulations. As such, civil engineers act as liaisons between the project and local, state, and federal agencies. They submit proposals and permit applications to these agencies on behalf of the client, then correspond with local professionals on a consistent basis in order to verify that the plans fulfill requirements set by building codes.

The civil engineer’s tasks put them in contact with architects, laborers, and clients as they work to ensure not only are the client’s needs met but that the project is also physically and financially feasible and safe. 


What’s The Difference Between Architects And Engineers

Architects and engineers have many similarities in their skill sets, roles, and responsibilities. An architect and an engineer are both licensed professionals skilled in math, technology, management, and risk assessment. And both roles entail working with clients to develop and design buildings, as well as working with and coordinating various other aspects. However, if a client is requesting more of a hands-on approach when it comes to making final design decisions on their behalf––like colors and finishings––then an architect assumes that task. Whereas a civil engineer will allow the client to make those choices themselves while guiding them in the direction of articulating a safe and functional design. 

So, the question of, “An architect vs civil engineer?” comes down to where the key differences lie. Broadly speaking, an architect deals with aesthetics and functionality, while a civil engineer deals with structural design stability and safety.

In all cases, you must have a civil engineer on board to make sure the building is safe, meets building regulations, and is approved by local government authorities. In that case, you can skip the middleman, go straight into working with a licensed civil engineer, and still have all your design and build needs and questions addressed.


Architectural Engineering Services at Pasquini Engineering, Inc.

california architectural engineering services pasquini engineering article - Architect vs. Civil Engineer: What They Do And Who You Need - blog

As a licensed engineering firm that offers architectural engineering services in California for over 30 years, Pasquini Engineering, Inc. will prepare, design, and engineer your building project much like an architect would––though, allowing you the client, to choose your own finishings and avoid the additional cost of hiring an architect to make those decisions for you. As a one-stop shop, we provide guidance for all of our clients that need engineering and design and other services like surveying, planning, and zoning to structural design straight through to completion.



As you can see, architects and engineers play major roles in design and construction. However, only a civil engineer is essential for all construction projects––with the skills and knowledge to bring design visions into reality. And choosing the right engineering firm with the knowledge and experience will make all the difference with your project and overall experience. 

Give us a call at 661-328-9600 or submit a form on our website so we can do what we do best, which is to get your project done quickly and efficiently!


DISCLAIMER: Pasquini Engineering, Inc. is licensed to work in the following states: California, Oregon, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. All the information on Pasquini Engineering, Inc. is published for general information purposes only, and will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website. By using our website, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms. 
Skip to content