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Difference Between Electrician & Electrical Technician

Although electricians and electrical technicians both deal with wires and electrical systems, they work in different environments. This article explores some of the similarities and differences in these careers.

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Comparing Electrician to Electrical Technician

Electricians are responsible for electrical systems in structures such as office buildings or residences. Electrical technicians, also known as electrical engineering technicians, work with electrical systems in equipment that's usually more portable, such as GPS devices.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Electrician High School Diploma, Apprenticeship and License $52,720 14%
Electrical Technician Associate's Degree $62,190 (Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians) -2% (Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Electrician vs Electrical Technician

Electricians and electrical technicians deal with electrical systems, but the types of systems and nature of their work vary widely. Electricians may go to a construction site and install wiring and electrical systems in a new structure, or they go to an existing building and update the electrical systems and perform repairs to existing systems. They make sure that when electrical items are plugged in that the appropriate amount of power is safely transferred through the outlet. Electrical technicians ensure that the electrical items people purchase are assembled properly and will work as expected. They may put together the electrical components of items such as computers or appliances. While electricians may travel from worksite to worksite, electrical technicians typically work in offices or factories where they perform their duties.

Electrician

Electricians primarily learn through hands-on work while completing an apprenticeship or a program at a technical school. Their work can be physically challenging, since they may be required to crawl under buildings or function in tight spaces for prolonged periods of time, and physical labor is a key component of their job. Electricians may be responsible for installing wiring systems into new buildings, or they may have to inspect the electrical systems in a building to identify the source of a problem and then repair the system. This is a career field that carries a higher risk of work-related injury than most other professions. In addition to regular daytime hours, electricians may also work evenings and weekends. Due to weather or deadlines they may also need to be prepared to work overtime.

Job responsibilities of an electrician include:

  • Meet clients to discuss their needs
  • Check building plans to determine where electrical systems should be installed
  • Make sure that building regulations are followed when installing or repairing electrical systems
  • Direct and train other workers

Electrical Technician

Electrical technicians often work in offices or factories. They focus on repairing or constructing electrical systems. They follow the device's design plan and construct the device's electrical systems, or they may repair an existing device. It's common for electrical technicians to work under the supervision of an electrical engineer or as part of a production team. Although they don't design electrical systems themselves, they do need to be able to identify potential problems with a design. They also inspect products to determine they've been constructed properly and function as intended.

Job responsibilities of an electrical technician include:

  • Read product design plans
  • Write specifications and draw diagrams
  • Recommend improvements to design plans
  • Calibrate instruments and testing equipment

Related Careers

Electrical repair and maintenance workers can be involved with the installation and repair of electrical systems in things like cars, and those interested in a career as an electrician may want to consider this type of work to avoid so much job-related travel. Those considering a career as an electrical technician may also want to consider electrical engineering, because electrical engineers design the systems that electrical technicians construct and repair.

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