What is the difference between an electrician and an electrical engineer?

Thank you for your ATA. Many of the answers are quite good. Although they may cross paths, EEs and electricians have different areas. It’s not as easy as “Engineer designs the job, Electrician does the work”. This is true as an Engineer may design a job and then an electrician executes it. This is often used for large buildings, aircraft, ships, or specialized vehicles. An electrician would not install a wiring harness to a Toyota or GM production line.

EEs are typically trained in multiple areas of electrical theory, from the atomic to the national grid transmission systems. An EE could design a computer or network switch, a camera PPB, a transformer, an electrical system for a high-rise building, or a transmission link from Tulsa, Texas, to Dallas. Only three of these projects would see an actual electrician.

Real electricians can design systems. They also have training in electrical theory. However, they are not as well-trained as engineers. These systems can be used for residential, light commercial, or smaller watercraft. The rule in the area where I worked was that systems less than 800 Amps were acceptable without the need for an engineer. Most electricians are skilled in troubleshooting and implementing systems.

Let me clarify: I am referring to the U.S. terms Electrician or Electrical Engineer. Some countries refer to electricians as “engineers” regardless of their formal training.


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