What Is The Difference Between An Electrical Engineer And An Electrician?

Electrical engineers and electricians work with electrical current but they approach it from different ways. In its most basic terms, the difference between the two is that one takes care of the design aspect while the other is responsible for executing the design. Thus, they also differ in terms of the training they receive and the education and training they need to enter the profession.

Let’s start with electrical engineers. They are professionals whose main task is to come up with and design different ways by which electrical power can be used for various products or develop new ones. They also play a very important role in establishing industry standards and specifications for the manufacture and installation of different types of electrical equipment. They also conduct tests to ensure that specifications are followed and quality standards are met. When part of a large construction development, they work together with project managers and other members of the team to make sure that the project is finished at the expected time and the budget is followed.

Meanwhile, electricians are the ones who are responsible for installing the wiring and other systems to provide electrical power to homes, buildings and other establishments. They must read the technical diagrams prepared by electrical engineers and follow this to the letter. By doing so, they ensure that the occupants of the edifice can use electrical power to light up the home or building and make their appliances and gadgets work. In doing their duties, they follow the provisions of the National Electric Code. Maintaining electrical systems is also part of the work of electricians. They identify problems with the wiring and fix or replace broken lights, parts and other electrical systems.

As far as education and training are concerned, both professions also differ. Electrical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronic engineering or electrical engineering technology. Some opt to enroll in five-year degree programs that award both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree upon completion. Since practical work experience is necessary in the field, students can enroll in cooperative programs that don’t only teach students in the classroom but provide them with the opportunity to gain work experience while still studying. If they want to increase their chances of getting hired, they must get licensed as Professional Engineers. This entails passing two exams and fulfilling other requirements.

Electricians, on the other hand, enter the trade by entering an apprenticeship program right after getting their high school diploma. Apprenticeships generally last for four to five years. In apprenticeship programs, students are taught in the classroom and are able to gain practical experience through paid on-the-job training. They must finish 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training for every year that they are in an internship program. Most states also require electricians to be licensed but unlike electrical engineers who need to take two tests to become full-fledged Professional Engineers, electricians only need to take and pass one exam, among other requirements.

Both professions also differ in terms of the pay they receive. Electrical engineers receive much higher pay than electricians. In terms of job outlook, however, government projections have revealed a much higher employment growth rate for electricians than electrical engineers in the next few years.

Career Spotlight: Electrician



Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical power, lighting and control systems in residential and commercial buildings. The world depends on electricians to provide electricity to our homes [...]

More Careers To Explore

Leave A Comment