Comparing Engineers to Technicians to Artisans
Engineers research, design, test and build everything from machinery to electrical devices. Technicians often help engineers with the research and testing of new products or upgrades to old systems. Artisans are craftspeople who might work with one of a variety of mediums, such as wood, metals or glass. Below is a comparison of some careers from each field.
|Job Title||Education Requirements||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Engineers: Mechanical, Electrical||Bachelor's, Bachelor's||$84,190 (mechanical engineers), $94,210 (electrical engineers)||5% (mechanical engineers), 1% (electrical engineers)|
|Technicians: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering||Associate's, Associate's||$54,480 (mechanical engineering technicians), $62,190 (electrical and electronics engineering technicians)||2% (mechanical engineering technicians), -2% (electrical and electronics engineering technicians)|
|Artisans: Woodworkers, Craft Artists||High School Diploma, Apprenticeship||$30,180 (woodworkers), $33,440 (craft artists)||-1% (woodworkers), 1% (craft artists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Responsibilities of Engineers vs Technicians vs Artisans
Engineers, technicians and artisans are all involved in the creation of new items, but they differ in the types of items they make and their intended function. Professionals in these fields are responsible for making tools, engines, gaming systems or coffee tables. Engineers may focus on the mechanics of items like medical devices or energy sources. Others may focus on power machines, electrical devices, motors, communications systems, or electrical systems. Technicians aid engineers in researching, testing, drafting and recording information, and they are not required to have a four-year degree. Artisans specialize in a craft or trade, typically creating things by hand and using certain tools to manipulate wood, glass, metal, or other materials to produce products that may be functional as well as beautiful.
Engineers come from a variety of backgrounds. Mechanical engineers are responsible for developing and building power machines, which include generators, heat sensors, turbines, combustion engines, and others. These engineers keep abreast of the latest technologies that will aid them in improving what they create as well as advancing next generation models. Electrical engineers specialize in creating electrical systems, including motors, radar and navigation systems. These engineers are highly needed for the ever-changing transportation field as functional and efficient electrical systems are necessities for cars, aircraft and ships.
Job responsibilities of an engineer include:
- Analyzing mechanical issues within a product that may need replacing or improving
- Designing new ways to streamline and improve electrical systems
- Modelling and testing new designs
- Working with project managers to stay within schedule and budget
Technicians hold the basic training skills to help engineers with research, data collection and testing of new products. They are heavily involved in the testing process. Mechanical engineering technicians may use their drafting skills to draw up rough sketches of mechanical devices or machines, or they may collect and categorize information for future reference. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians handle measurement adjustments or actual field deployment of electrical products.
Job responsibilities of a technician include:
- Preparing prototypes for deployment
- Evaluating drawings for new prototypes in order to compare the measurements and specifications to those of older models
- Identifying model problems and proposing solutions
- Preparing layouts and designs of new tools or products for discussion
Artisans are technical artists who have trained in a particular trade or field to create practical or artistic objects. Artisans usually work exclusively in certain mediums; woodworkers might build cabinets or dining room tables, metal experts might melt and shape metal to make earrings or necklaces, and glass artists blow glass to create or vases or sculptures. Woodworkers work with different types of woods (such as oak, teak, or pine), veneers and stains. Craft artists can be found creating original, unique works, such as urns, quilts, clothing, or furniture.
Job responsibilities of an artisan include:
- Interpreting blueprints, schematics and architectural drafts
- Preparing budgets for materials and labor
- Creating models, illustrations or rough ideas for final products
- Selecting and assembling the proper tools and materials for a job
If you're interested in engineering, you might be interested in a career as an engineering manager, coordinating and overseeing all the activities for a specific project. Technicians might be interested in becoming an electromechanical technician, working in automation and robotics. Multimedia art and animation might interest artisans, as they can expand on their interest in creating artwork.