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How to Tell the Difference Between an Electrical Engineering Technician, an Electrician, and an Electrical Engineer

Some people might think Jell-O, jelly and a Jell-O shot are the same just because of the similarities in their names.

There can be similar confusion with jobs or career paths that are closely related or sound alike. Professionals in the field of electrical engineering technology (EET) sometimes come across people who aren't really sure how EET is different from what engineers do. Or what an electrician does.

In order to clear up any misunderstandings or confusion it's important for them - or anyone interested in pursuing a career in this field - to understand how they differ.

ELECTRIC ENGINEERING TECHNICIAN

WHAT THEY DO

EETs work with all types of power systems and equipment that distribute energy. They work closely with electrical engineers, serving as their right-hand man (or woman) during the design and development of electrical and electronic equipment.

They typically also perform tests, maintenance and repairs on equipment and can work across a number of industries. One way to think about the role of an EET is to think about the coaching staff of a football team.

If an electrical engineer is the head coach, an EET is the team's assistant—helping the coach come up with plays, supervise the team and make sure everything is running smoothly.

WHERE THEY WORK

Electrical engineering technicians can work in a variety of settings including manufacturing facilities, research and development laboratories or outdoors working on equipment like wind turbines or solar panels.

QUALIFICATIONS

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians typically need an associate's degree.

ELECTRICIAN

WHAT THEY DO

Electricians install and maintain electrical power, lighting and control systems in homes, businesses and industrial facilities.

Part of their work can include reading blueprints and specifications, inspecting existing installations, advising customers on the costs and times of repairs and fixing problems using hand and power tools. Using another football analogy, an electrician is like a physical trainer, working with players on the team to help keep them in top condition.

WHERE THEY WORK

Electricians are always on the go. They typically travel to customer sites and might work indoors in homes and businesses, or outdoors at construction sites.

QUALIFICATIONS

The majority of electricians get started in the field through an apprenticeship, where they learn the trade from a more experienced electrician. Some also attend a technical school and usually most electricians hold a high school degree or equivalent. Most states require electricians to be licensed.

ELECTRICAL ENGINEER

WHAT THEY DO

Electrical engineers design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems and power generation equipment.

WHERE THEY WORK

For the most part, electrical engineers work primarily indoors in offices but might sometimes visit sites to observe a problem or a piece of complex equipment. They work primarily in research and development industries, engineering services firms, manufacturing and the federal government.

QUALIFICATIONS

Electrical engineers must have at least a bachelor's degree.