Indian Engineering Services versus Indian Civil Services | UPSC IES vs. IAS

Many IAS candidates, especially engineering graduates wonder if they should try their hand at both the civil services and the engineering services exams. Both exams are conducted by the UPSC every year. As you are probably aware, the UPSC civil services exam (CSE) recruits candidates into the civil services as IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS and other services to cater to the administrative needs of the country in various capacities and departments.

The UPSC engineering services exam (ESE) also known as UPSC IES (Indian Engineering Services) recruits officers to cater to the technical and engineering needs of the country. Read on to know more about the CSE and the ESE.

What is UPSC Engineering Services?

It is a three-stage examination conducted by the UPSC. Like IAS Exam which recruits candidates for the administrative services of the Indian government, UPSC Engineering Services recruits candidates for the technical wing of the government administration. The candidates sitting for UPSC IES can find themselves posted in different departments/services:

  • Central Public Works Department
  • Survey of India
  • Indian Skill Development Service
  • Indian Defence Service of Engineers
  • Indian Railways Service of Electrical Engineers, etc.

Difference between UPSC IES & IAS

Though both are group ‘A’ gazetted officer jobs, the profiles of the IAS (or IPS/IFS, etc.) and the IES (Indian Engineering Service) officers are quite different. The IES is a very specialised and technical service. The IAS is more of a generalist. An IES officer functions in technical areas like roads, railways, manufacturing, defence, construction, public works, telecommunications, power, etc. An IAS officer is expected to hold diverse portfolios in his/her career. An IPS officer works in the police department whereas an IFS officer works in the foreign service. Only engineering graduates from recognised universities are eligible to take the ESE. In certain posts, even postgraduates with certain specialisations (wireless communications, radio engineering, electronics or radio physics) are eligible.

To know what are the other posts in the Civil Services, click on the linked article

IES and IAS Comparison

Exam UPSC Civil Services (CSE) UPSC Engineering Services (ESE | IES)
Eligibility Nationality: Indian citizen Nationality: Indian citizen
Education: Any Graduate Education: Engineering Graduate
Age limit: 21-32 with relaxations for reserved communities Age limit: 21-30 with relaxations for reserved communities
Conducted by UPSC UPSC
Application Online through UPSC’s official website Online through UPSC’s official website
Application Fees Rs. 100/- (Fee exempt for female and reserved candidates) Rs. 200/- (Fee exempt for female and reserved candidates)
Exam Scheme Three stages: Prelims, Mains & Personality Test Three stages: Prelims, Mains & Personality Test
Syllabus Vast and diverse Limited. Confined to engineering disciplines
Prelims Stage Two papers: GS Paper I and CSAT Two papers: General Studies and Engineering Aptitude Paper (common) + Engineering Discipline (Specific discipline)
Mains Stage Nine papers Two papers
Job nature Deals more with public. Diverse and general. Deals less with public. Technical and specific.
Preparation Time (on an average) 10-12 months 7-8 months
Average number of Vacancies 1000 500

If you are an engineer, should you try for both the exams?

The answer depends upon you and what sort of a career you wish to have. If you are interested in engineering and the like, you should attempt the UPSC IES/ ESE. If you are interested in both services and have opted for an engineering subject as your CSE optional subject, you can also attempt the ESE. But remember that in the civil services you only have electrical, mechanical and civil engineering subjects. Electronics & Telecommunications is not offered here.

If you do not like your engineering graduation subject, it is better to forget about the ESE and focus on the civil services with social science subject as your optional.

UPSC IES vs IAS power

An IAS officer commands more respect in society and is more ‘famous’. Even though the pay scales are more or less the same, an IAS officer’s domain and authority cover more diverse areas. If you become a diplomat (IFS), you can even go on to become Ambassadors. And the highest position an IAS officer can aspire to is the Cabinet Secretary. The ESE is relatively low profile. If you like to work with less political interference and maintain a low-key, the IES is a good option for you. Of course, there are many notable IES officers who have been awarded high civilian awards by the government for their yeoman service to the nation. Names like Narinder Singh Kapany, E. Sreedharan and K. C. Banerjee need no introduction.

If you opt for the IES, you can work in both civil and defence arenas especially in the Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Military Engineer Services, Indian Naval Armament Service, Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Indian Army and the Indian Naval Stores Service.

Choose wisely. This is a decision you must ponder over well. Know about the job nature and think about what kind of a career you desire. Ideally, the preparation must be simultaneous only if you have engineering as one of your options in the civil services exam. Otherwise, your efforts might not bear a fruit because of a lack of direction.

Become familiar with the general pattern of the IAS Exam by visiting the IAS Syllabus page. For more exam-related preparation materials, refer to the links given in the table below:

Related Links

NCERT Books Free Download  UPSC Exam Pattern NCERT Notes for UPSC 
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