Civil Engineering vs Interior Design – What’s The Difference?

We often take our living space for granted.

Most of us enjoy the safety, comfort, and design of our homes without giving a second thought to what goes into creating that cozy environment.

Building a house requires competency in several different fields and involves multiple professionals with a wide range of expertise.

Two integral pieces of this puzzle that have a lot to do with how a home will function and look are civil engineering and interior design.

Having the house of your dreams simply wouldn’t be possible without experts in these fields.

Even though they cover different stages in development, their work often overlaps and civil engineers and interior designers are often in a position to collaborate.

To get a better idea of the relationship between these two fields, I’ll compare civil engineering vs interior design to see what are their differences and what they have in common.

So, let’s dive in!

What Is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineer at work.

One of the oldest engineering disciplines, civil engineering involves applying scientific knowledge to make sure that the structure meets human needs and is safe for anyone using it.

Its focus is on the viability of the design and strength of a certain building.

To determine these, a civil engineer takes into account mathematical load calculations of structural elements such as soil or foundation and the strength and durability of materials used during construction.

However, the job of a civil engineer doesn’t end with only structural calculations.

It also involves inspecting and monitoring various stages of construction, implementing safety regulations, and managing and maintaining buildings or infrastructure.

They work closely with architects and contractors to make sure that designing and constructing the building goes without a hitch.

Besides buildings, depending on their specialization, civil engineers also work on roads, railroads, bridges, water and sewerage systems, and other infrastructure projects.

What Is Interior Design?

Interior Designer at work.

The purpose of interior design is to create a living environment that the people will enjoy and where they’ll feel safe and comfortable.

The goal is to create a home that is pleasing to the eye, but also functional and practical.

As interior designers usually work for the future occupant of the space, they must make most of the room’s potential while still adhering to the client’s preferences.

To achieve this, interior designers combine elements from different disciplines, including science, architecture, and art.

This means that they have to possess rather expansive knowledge and diverse skills.

They must have good taste and an eye for aesthetics, but also a solid command of designing software and knowledge of building codes and safety regulations.

Their job relies on creativity, but interior designers also deal with some more mundane tasks.

These include frequent site visits and dealing with contractors, furniture dealers, and craftsmen.

Civil Engineering vs Interior Design – What Are The Differences?

Civil engineering and interior design have some points of intersection but are still two fundamentally different fields.

We can say that civil engineering is more science-based, while interior design leaves more room for creativity.

The work of a civil engineer commonly takes place before an interior designer takes the stage.

They apply mathematical and scientific calculations to make sure that the building is structurally sound and safe for living, built from suitable materials, and designed in a way that it can hold its own weight.

On the other hand, the work of an interior designer starts only when the construction is finished.

They are tasked with adding style and flair to the interior of the building and making it functional, and pleasant to live in.

In a way, they build on the civil engineer’s work, defining its ambiance and perfecting the way our living environment will look and feel.

Is Civil Engineering Better Than Interior Design?

Civil engineering and interior design shouldn’t be thought of in terms of whether one is better than another.

The two professions complement each other and each plays the role in creating a perfect home.

However, some people are better suited to be civil engineers. Others have talents that are a better match for a career in interior design.

The former is better for people who have more of a technical mind and are talented in math and science.

It’s a more complex field than interior design and requires a more diverse education. It also involves more fieldwork and spending more time at a construction site.

Interior design is better for creative types and requires a good taste and following current trends in art, fashion, and design.

Can A Civil Engineer Do Interior Design?

Civil Engineers at work.

Civil engineers can hardly go straight from their profession to interior design. Nevertheless, they are certainly equipped to make that switch with some extra effort.

Even though it’s a mostly technical profession, civil engineering requires some creativity.

This is especially true when it comes to problem-solving.

Besides, they’re already very skilled when it comes to technical drawings, graphics, and understanding of space which are all necessary to become a successful interior designer.

They’re also already used to teamwork, working with clients, and being part of a bigger project.

Furthermore, their job requires great attention to detail which is always a plus when designing a home environment.

However, some extra education is definitely necessary, as well as getting familiar with current style trends.

Still, if they put in the effort, there’s no reason why civil engineers couldn’t become successful interior designers.


Both civil engineering and interior design contribute a lot to our quality of living. The civil engineer makes sure that the building is safe from a structural standpoint.

At the same time, the interior designer’s home is to make us feel safe and comfortable in it, from the more emotional aspect.

Only when both of them do their job properly, we can have a home worthy of living.

A civil engineer and an interior designer complement each other, as one establishes the framework for the work of the other.

However, the two professions do have plenty of notable distinctions and, despite some overlapping, require different skillsets.

Still, both are extremely fulfilling as long as you’re passionate about what you do.

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