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Electrical Engineering VS Electrician: The Key Differences

electrical engineering, electrician, jobs

It wouldn’t be surprising if most individuals think electrical engineering vs electrician are the same profession. However, it might interest you to know that both professions actually have a basic root involving electricity, but they differ in terms of training, education, duties, and career prospects.

Electrical engineering and the role of an electrician are two separate yet intertwined paths in the electrical field. Electrical engineers are the architects of electrical systems, designing and innovating technology to power our modern world, while electricians are the hands-on practitioners who install, maintain, and troubleshoot electrical systems in homes, buildings and industries.

This article aims to distinguish between electrical engineering and the role of an electrician and carefully explores the unique areas of each profession thereby providing clarity for any one who is considering a career in the electrical field.

The scope of electrical engineering vs electrician

If you’ve not been able to clearly differentiate between electrical engineering vs electrician, the scope of work for these professional roles highlights the significant differences based on options such as skills, training and education and their responsibilities.

Here’s a run down of the scope of work for electrical engineering vs electrician.

Electrical Engineering

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Electrical engineering is a discipline primarily involved with the study, design, development, and application of equipment, electrical systems, components and devices which use electricity or electronics.

They conceptualize and design electrical circuits, systems and equipment to meet specific technical requirements and standards.

Electrical engineers work on projects and technologically related systems, overseeing the design, development, installation, testing, monitoring and supervision of electrical work. These professionals are known to apply the principles of electrical engineering to conduct research, analyze and compute data in order to enhance the performance and safety of electrical systems.

They work across various industries with a wide range of projects, including telecommunications, power generation and distribution, automobiles, aerospace, renewable energy systems,  electronics, and control systems; all these play a role in enhancing technological innovations and advancement.


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Electricians are skilled professionals or tradespeople who deal with the installation, maintenance and repair of electrical systems.

They troubleshoot electrical problems, they can interpret blueprints and diagrams to diagnose electrical issues, and they are well versed in specifications to access the layout of electrical systems in buildings, residential apartments or industrial facilities.

Electricians execute wiring plans, outlets, switches, lighting fixtures and other electrical components and ensure compliance with safety regulations due to their expertise in various electrical system tools.

Electricians also work on airplanes, ships and other establishments, they may specialize in a particular area, like working in residential apartments, business establishments or educational institutions; they can also work independently on contract or as part of a team.

The above is the scope of electrical engineering vs electrician. Although the roles of an electrical engineer and an electrician may overlap in some settings, electrical engineers focus on the design, development, and application of electrical systems, while electricians work on the installation, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems. That said, they both require different sets of skills and training to perform their collective responsibilities effectively.

Skills, Education and Training for electrical engineering vs electrician

Electrical Engineering Skills and Education

Being an electrical engineer requires you to have certain skills in specialized areas. Here are the top soft and hard skills required in electrical engineering.

  • Problem-solving and analytical skills to design, analyze, and optimize electrical systems and components.
  • Drafting plans and schematics
  • Strong understanding of mathematics, including calculus, algebra, and differential equations.
  • Understanding principles of physics related to electricity, magnetism, and electromagnetism.
  • Familiarity with computer-aided design (CAD) software, which is used for circuit design, simulation, and modeling.
  • Knowledge of programming languages, for writing code to control and automate electrical systems.
  • Effective communication skills to be able to work on teams and pass technical information to clients or stakeholders.
  • Willingness to learn
  • Extensive e-knowledge
  • Creative thinking
  • Organizational skills

Additionally, to work as an electrical engineer, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field from an accredited university or college. Some positions may require a master’s degree or higher for advanced research or specialized roles.

Electrician Skills and Education

  1. Proficiency in reading and interpreting electrical blueprints, diagrams and technical codes.
  2. Practical knowledge of safety regulations and codes.
  3. Ability to work well with hands, power tools and electrical tools (manual and mechanical dexterity).
  4. Problem-solving skills to diagnose electrical issues, troubleshoot problems, and implement effective solutions.
  5. Attention to detail and precision
  6. Physical stamina and endurance to work in alternative environments, which may be indoor and outdoor conditions, confined spaces, heights, etc.

To be an electrician, one must complete a vocational or technical training program in electrical construction, maintenance, or installation. It is also required to do an apprenticeship after training if it wasn’t on-the-job training. This should be done under the supervision of a licensed electrician.

To get a practicing license, it may require passing a written exam or completing supervised work, though this is strictly subject to some areas.

Jobs and responsibilities of electrical engineering vs electrician

Jobs and Responsibilities Electrical Engineering:

  • Design Engineer:

Design engineers are responsible for designing electrical systems and components, evaluating design materials and components for efficiency, developing technical specifications, using computer-aided design (CAD) software to create schematics, layouts, and simulations, and working with multidisciplinary teams, to ensure that designs meet the required standards.

  • Power Systems Engineer:

A power systems engineer is charged with planning, designing, and optimizing electrical power generation, transmission and distribution networks and they develop different strategies to aid energy management and to support sustainable power systems.

  • Control Systems Engineer:

They are in charge of designing, modeling, and implementing; commissioning and testing control systems, developing algorithms, software, and hardware and providing technical support to ensure proper operation and performance. They also work on projects related to automation, robotics, process control, and mechatronics.

  • Telecommunications Engineer:

Telecommunications engineers specialize in designing, implementing, and maintaining communication systems and networks. They work on projects involving wireless communication, fiber optics, satellite systems, and Internet protocols.

Jobs, Responsibilities, and Duties of Electrician

  • Industrial Electrician:

Industrial electricians usually install, maintain, and repair electrical systems and equipment in industrial facilities. They also troubleshoot electrical malfunctions and  conduct tests, which lead to repairing or replacing systems with defects.

They ensure preventive maintenance, such as lubricating, cleaning and inspecting equipment, to prevent sudden failure.

  • Residential Electrician:

A residential electrician usually installs, repairs, and maintains electrical wiring, fixtures, and appliances in residential buildings. It involves wiring new homes or remodeling projects, like installing outlets, switches, lighting fixtures, and circuit breakers.

They also perform routine maintenance, inspections, and upgrades to ensure electrical systems are safe and functional.

  • Commercial Electrician:

They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and servicing electrical systems in commercial buildings, offices, and retail spaces. They work with contractors, architects and project managers to plan and execute electrical installations and upgrades. They also perform preventive maintenance and ensure safety.

Factors to consider when choosing a career between electrical engineering vs electrician

If you hope to venture into a career in the electrical field and you’re still at a crossroads to choose between electrical engineering vs electrician, these factors should be considered to help you make an informed decision:

  • Education and Training:

A career in electrical engineering requires a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field, these can take up to four years to complete. You may also require advanced degrees to be considered for specialized roles.

To be an electrician, you require vocational training, an apprenticeship, or technical education in electrical construction. This can take up to two to four years, after which you will be given a license and certificate, depending on your area.

  • Career Advancement:

The electrical engineering field offers various opportunities for one to advance in career; this can be through specialized courses, advanced degrees, and professional certifications. This is relevant for engineers seeking leadership, management, or research roles.

As an electrician, there are also opportunities for career advancement. One can apply for specialized roles such as manager, master electrician or electrical contractor based on experience.

  • Job Responsibilities and Duties:

A career in electrical engineering primarily involves designing, developing, testing and supervising electrical systems, components, and devices.

An electrician’s responsibility involves installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical wiring and equipment in residential, commercial, and industrial settings.

  • Working Conditions:

Electrical engineering professionals usually work in office settings, construction sites, manufacturing facilities, research facilities, laboratories or engineering firms.

Electricians can work in a more diverse environment; it can be anywhere, including airplanes, ships, construction sites, homes, business centers, educational institutions and industrial facilities.

  •  Earning Potential:

Professionals in electrical engineering are offered higher salaries compared to electricians. Moreso, experienced engineers with advanced degrees and specialized skills earn way more than an average electrical engineer.

Electricians are offered salaries within their range of expertise; that is, their earning potential increases with experience, specialization, and certification.

  • Personal Interests:

Individual interests and goals  are paramount when choosing between electrical engineering vs electrician roles. Your choice should be based on your preferences. For instance, if you enjoy problem-solving and technical challenges, check out electrical engineering but if you prefer working with hands and tools or  solving problems practically, then an electrician may be a good fit.

It is also important to seek help from career or guidance counselors or from mentors and professionals in the field, because they can greatly influence your decision-making process due to their expertise and experience.


In conclusion, electrical engineering vs electrician is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to work in the electrical field.

Inasmuch as both professions offer a promising career and opportunities for growth and personal and professional development, the decision should be based on individual preferences, strengths, career goals and other factors such as education, job responsibilities. Rest assured that a career in electrical engineering or becoming an electrician can help you find fulfillment and success because these professions are well-sought after jobs with adequate resources to help you live conveniently.


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