To many people, the terms electrical engineer and electrician seem the same, but there are some key differences between the two. These differences are also more than superficial; they affect the educational background required, the scope of the day-to-day work, and salary expectations. Whether it's watching TV, surfing the Internet on a computer, using a sandwich maker or playing music, all of these are made possible because of electricity. The field is very diverse and presents many opportunities and solutions.
Because both careers require years of training to qualify, before choosing between the two, find out what skills they require and the type of work you will be doing.
Although both electrical engineers and electricians work in electricity, their job roles are very different. Electricians are responsible for wiring installations and connections, as well as specific repairs. On the other hand, electrical engineers deal with all the equipment, systems and units that transmit, store and distribute actual electricity. In contrast, an electrical engineer's job duties are much broader.
An electrician only needs to earn a high school diploma or degree. While higher education can be very helpful in the long run, it is not mandatory. Self-education and skill development is achieved through apprenticeships. Such an apprenticeship takes about four years. Students can also be paid for their work. However, just because they have undergone an apprenticeship, electricians do not start working immediately. Instead, they also need a license.
Electrical engineers need to earn a bachelor's degree. The program also lasts for several years, educating students in math, engineering, circuits and digital systems. The worst part is that experience is hard to come by, so most students are advised to take an internship as well. Unless they work for another company, electrical engineers will need to obtain a public service license.
Electrical engineers have high academic qualifications and need to take several steps to be fully qualified.
1) Earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Electrical engineering courses include mathematics, engineering, digital systems, and electronic circuits. They are primarily classroom-based, but many degree programs include laboratory work and field trips. There are internship opportunities to complete training in a work environment.
2) To work in the utility field after earning a bachelor's degree, electrical engineers need to first pass their engineering fundamentals exam. If they receive a passing score, they will become an engineer-in-training.
3) After four years of relevant work experience, trainee engineers can take the professional engineer exam. They will then become fully qualified electrical engineers.
4) A master's degree is not required to work as an electrical engineer, but many do earn a master's degree. In fact, there are a variety of electrical engineering programs that bundle bachelor's and master's levels into one 5-year program.
Having a master's degree in electrical engineering is an advantage in terms of career advancement, and it can also provide the opportunity to enter university teaching or work in research and development.
Electricians are skilled tradespeople and require extensive classroom and on-the-job training to be fully qualified.
1) A high school diploma or equivalent is required to begin electrician training.
2) Attending trade school is not essential, but it can help provide a basic understanding of electronics as well as make it easier to find an apprenticeship. In some cases, the time spent in the classroom can replace some of the work hours needed to become a skilled electrician.
3) Becoming an electrician requires an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a combination of classroom work, laboratory work and on-the-job training. It usually lasts 4-5 years and can include about 1,000 hours of classroom work and about 9,000 hours of on-the-job work.
4) At the end of the apprenticeship, a license or certificate is required in some states to become a licensed electrician. This may include an electrical inspection.
5) An electrician who completes an apprenticeship and becomes licensed is now a Journeyman Electrician. This is the entry-level electrician role. Journeymen electricians can work, but their role is limited in some ways. For example, they cannot take on their own apprentices, they cannot lead a team of electricians on a job site, and they cannot apply for a license.
(6) After gaining two years of experience, skilled workers can apply to become master electricians. In most states, they are required to take an exam. Once they pass, they will now be able to take on all roles in electrical, including training apprentices, leading teams and applying for licenses.
Electrical engineers earn about $93,000 per year. Electricians, on the other hand, earn about $53,000. Obviously, their specialties and job opportunities can increase or decrease their income. For example, a project electrical engineer can earn upwards of $100,000, while an electrical and electronic engineer earns about $75,000.
Although electrical engineers earn a higher annual salary than electricians, the market demand for electricians is much higher than for electrical engineers. Demand for electrical engineers is expected to grow 6 to 8 percent by 2028, well below the economic average of 14 percent. At the same time, electricians are said to be experiencing many new opportunities - up to 23 percent. That's because more and more people are expected to need electricity in the future, so it's clear they'll need wiring solutions and repairs.
Once an electrical engineer has developed a project, the electrician can implement and install it accordingly. A project needs to be developed once, but implemented hundreds or even thousands of times, so the demands on electricians are even higher.
How an electrician becomes an electrical engineer
An electrician can become an electrical engineer through education, study and earning a bachelor's degree or something similar. You can become an electrical engineer from an electrician and it will be easier for you. You can find more information about this conversion from "Can Electrician Become Electrical Engineer?Four Criteria for Becoming an Electrical Engineer".
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