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Home » Civil engineering vs industrial engineering: which is better

Civil engineering vs industrial engineering: which is better

if you are wondering about the difference between industrial and civil engineering, and want to know which is the best major. In this post, you will find the principal things you should consider before making your final decision.

which is better civil engineering vs industrial engineering

According to BLS the average salary of civil engineering is $88,000 per year compared to $95,000 for industrial engineering, meaning that industrial Engineers earn 8%  better than civil engineers which is not a considerable difference.

 but when you compare the expansions of Civil engineering and the industrial engineering market we find industrial engineering evolving way faster than civil engineering. Industrial engineering will be evolving by 14% in the next 10 years, while civil engineering is only evolving by 8% which creates a big difference between the jobs offered in civil and industrial engineering.

In industrial engineering, there are 40,000 jobs offered to everyone which is almost 2 times more than civil engineering which offers only 25,000 jobs.  so finding a job in industrial engineering is easier and less competitive than in civil engineering.

If you love to work at manufacturing companies building and improving systems and products, industrial engineering would be a good fit for you. It allows you to work in all industries that involve Production or giving service to customers.  While in civil engineering you would have to choose one specialization that you’ll be spending the whole your life, you will be choosing to pick one of these specializations:

As an industrial engineer, you can work in many fields, including aeronautics, aerospace, automotive engineering, computer engineering, and all the companies that involve production or service delivery. 

On the other hand, Civil engineering would be a good fit if you love to work outside On construction sites or do research on environmental topics related to hydrology, hydrogeology, or geology. Is it a field made for people who like big constructions like buildings or nature dealing with all-natural resources.

Which is harder civil engineering or industrial engineering

If we compare civil engineering and industrial engineering in terms of mathematics topics they are both similar, they both require completing the most difficult math courses Like calculus and linear algebra.

in the first 2 years as a Civil or industrial engineer you will be required to complete theses following math courses:

So if you are not good at math, civil or industrial engineering would not be a good place to for. If you don’t have any problems in mathematics let’s go and compare the other topics difficulty students have to take in both majors.

Civil engineering could be more difficult than industrial engineering for students who don’t like to study a lot of physics topics. Civil engineering students study some advanced courses of physics like thermodynamics and heat transfer, which industrial engineers don’t have to take.

 On the other hand, industrial engineers have some complex math courses that civil engineers don’t study deeply like probability and statistics.  industrial engineers have 3 parts of probability and statistics courses:

So for students who don’t like to go deeper in physics, civil engineering would be harder than Industrial Engineering. On the other hand, for people who don’t like to study statistics and probability, civil engineering would be easier than industrial engineering.

but it is not the end, we still have the principal Subjects we should compare That students take in the third and last year.

Industrial engineering is the major that focus on manufacturing and production so the principal subject you’ll be taking in the third and Senior year is:

In civil engineering, you would be studying a different subjects that relates organization and natural management resources like:


To summarize all that we mentioned about which is harder civil or industrial engineering we’re going to give you the bullet list requirements of each major.

 The requirements of civil engineering are:

 The requirements of industrial engineering are:

from civil engineering to industrial engineering

It is possible to switch from civil to industrial engineering,  the most famous road that you should follow is to take a  Master industrial engineering when you earn a bachelor’s in civil engineering.

 but you have to consider that doing a master’s in industrial engineering with a civil engineering background requires taking some extra undergraduate industrial courses like:

  • Programming and Database Applications
  • Stochastic Operations Research
  • Engineering Economy
  • Operations Planning and Control
  • Manufacturing Systems
  • Statistical Quality Design and Control

In addition, you could also go back and take some statistics and probability courses because civil engineers don’t focus a lot on this math subject as much as industrial Engineers do.

But you have to consider, that you will not be definitely taking all these courses. The courses that you should be taking will depend on the minor you choose in industrial engineering and the grad school you apply to.

But if you’re still in your first or second year and want to make a switch from civil to industrial engineering, the only choice you have is to drop your civil engineering major and take industrial engineering. 

But the good news is the courses taught in the first 2 years of civil engineering are similar to industrial engineering so you would not start from scratch.

For instance, if you completed the math courses in civil engineering like calculus courses or linear algebra,  physics 1, and physics 2 you would not be forced to retake them in your industrial engineering again.

You just have to be convinced that you are making the right decision not to seek industrial engineering for job opportunities without knowing if industrial engineering is for you or not.