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The biggest difference between electricians and electrical engineers is that one is responsible for building electrical systems while the other is responsible for repairing, maintaining and installing them. Electrical engineers are responsible for building products with electrical systems, while electricians are responsible for the implementation of electrical systems in buildings and other environments. Let’s look at some of the other differences between these two professions.


The Differences Between Electricians and Electrical Engineers


The Places They Work

Electrical engineers work in office buildings, labs and other professional settings. They work with blueprints, models, graphic representations and other information to develop products that adhere to the manufacturing guidelines they are subject to follow. On the other hand, electricians may be found in a large range of locations.


Some electricians work exclusively in residential, commercial or industrial settings. This will see them travelling between private residences, commercial buildings or even outdoor or remote locations. Electricians have to go wherever there is electricity, so they may also be found working at heights, in confined spaces or other locations that give them access to electrical systems.

The Training They Receive

The training that electricians and electrical engineers receive often differs dramatically from one profession to the other. Electricians are often considered tradespeople, meaning they will first work for an apprenticeship, then journeyman certification and eventually a master designation. The process they follow will differ depending on their jurisdiction and the requirements of their governing body but usually involves a mix of practical training, in-class learning and work experience.


By contrast, electrical engineers will study at a post-secondary institution primarily. There, they will learn about designing electrical systems that comply with best practices, as well as developing their critical thinking skills. Some electrical engineers will go on to more comprehensive or general education, seeking a full engineering degree or choosing to specialize in a particular area of electrical engineering.


The Work They Do

The work that electricians typically do involves repairing, installing and replacing electrical equipment. It can range from getting permits for additions to existing structures to rewiring old buildings, adding extra outlets to a garage or basement, or any number of other activities that involve electrical systems. In some cases, they may only be required to supervise or provide advice for a project, ensuring that their expertise informs decisions at the site.


By contrast, electrical engineers may be responsible for a number of administrative tasks, like evaluating existing products or overseeing a manufacturing facility. They may also be involved with the design and construction of compliant electrical products or ensuring the operation of a product is smooth and without further issue.


The Pay They Receive

Of course, in any discussion regarding monetary compensation, it is important to note that individual circumstances can differ enormously. With that being said, it is typical of these two professions to see electrical engineers be paid more when just starting their careers and as established professionals. Although that doesn’t mean that electricians can’t make more than some electrical engineers. In fact, master electricians are often compensated handsomely for their depth of knowledge, experience and expertise.