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Electrical Engineer Vs. Computer Engineer

This article compares the aspects of these professions that are similar, while distinguishing between the focus of their work. Read on to learn more about what electrical and computer engineers do and earn.

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Comparing Electrical Engineers to Computer Engineers

Electrical engineers are involved with all stages of the production of electrical equipment such as generators or electric motors. Computer engineers may be involved with constructing the components of computers, creating applications or computer programs or designing computer networks.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electrical Engineers Bachelor's degree $94,210 9%
Computer Engineers Bachelor's degree $115,080 for computer hardware engineers
$102,280 for software developers
$86,510 for computer occupations, all other
5% for computer hardware engineers
24% for software developers
9% for computer occupations, all other

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Electrical Engineers vs. Computer Engineers

Electrical engineers are professionals who design electrical equipment. They use computer design software to produce technical documents and assess the performance of their products before the product moves to the manufacturing phase. The work that some computer engineers do is similar because all computer engineers develop a design as part of their work. Those who work with hardware and software construct prototypes that they test. Those who create networks oversee the equipment installation and they evaluate the system to make sure that it works properly. Electrical and computer engineers produce a creative vision for the products they're working on, apply their technical knowledge and develop a strategy to achieve their goals.

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers use their technological and creative skills to develop new electrical products or to improve the design and function of existing types of electrical equipment. It's common for electrical engineers to work in research, manufacturing or power production. Most of the work they do is performed in an office, although they may need to travel to worksites on occasion. With experience electrical engineers can pursue roles in management. A Professional Engineer (PE) license may be necessary for advancement to a supervisory role.

Job responsibilities of an electrical engineer include:

  • Producing design plans
  • Evaluating the performance of existing products
  • Developing strategies to improve product performance
  • Performing tests on equipment
  • Monitoring equipment production

Computer Engineers

Computer engineers may produce computer equipment, components, applications, software or networks. Whether they're working on hardware or software or networking systems, their objective is to enable the computers to function effectively. With extensive experience in their field they can consider pursuing advancement to a role as a computer and information systems manager, but a master's degree in business administration or a similar discipline may also be required. They may work in fields as varied as manufacturing, finance and research, depending on their area of specialization, and typically spend most of their time working in an office.

Job responsibilities of a computer engineer include:

  • Clarifying the needs of their client or employer
  • Developing design plans for hardware, software or networks
  • Producing prototypes of hardware or software
  • Performing tests on their products
  • Installing new equipment
  • Producing project budgets

Related Careers

The links provided here connect to information about other careers that share some common duties with electrical engineers or computer engineers.

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