Electrical Engineer Vs. Electronics Engineer

The work that electrical and electronics engineers do is so similar that what may influence a person's choice between these careers lies with the type of equipment they work on in the course of their duties. Keep reading to learn more about how these careers compare.

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Comparing Electrical Engineers to Electronics Engineers

Electrical and electronics engineers have many comparable general duties, educational requirements and income levels. The primary difference between these professionals is that they work with different types of equipment.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electrical Engineers Bachelor's degree $94,210 9%
Electronics Engineers Bachelor's degree $99,210 (electronics engineers, except computer) 4% (electronics engineers, except computer)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Electrical Engineers vs. Electronics Engineers

The core responsibilities of electrical and electronics engineers are very similar. They assess existing products and determine how to improve the design or develop plans for new products. As part of their work they must determine how the products will be produced and prepare a budget for the work. They are involved with the production of the systems and equipment they design. They also test their products, determine the operating standards that should be met and make modifications or repairs. Both electrical and electronics engineers use computers regularly in their work and need to be capable of performing mathematical calculations and thorough assessments of product designs and product performance.

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers are expected to have a bachelor's degree to qualify for entry-level positions. It's common for them to study electrical engineering, and although they may not be required to have a license to enter this field, a Professional Engineer (PE) license may be necessary for advancement. They typically work in offices and focus their work on energy production or manufacturing; others may be involved in research. They work with all types of electrical equipment, such as motors and generators, and are involved with electrical products at all stages from inception to completion.

Job responsibilities of an electrical engineer include:

  • Using computer design software to produce design plans
  • Establishing production standards
  • Overseeing the manufacturing process
  • Maintaining project costs and schedules

Electronics Engineers

Electronics engineers primarily work in offices and tend to be employed in fields such as telecommunications and manufacturing. They must study electronics engineering or a similar subject area and earn a bachelor's degree to be qualified for entry-level work in their field. Their focus is on working with electronics equipment as varied as satellites and MP3 players. They use their skills to develop new electronics products or to improve those already in existence. Although they do not need a license to enter this career field, in order to seek promotion to a supervisory role they may need to have a Professional Engineer (PE) license.

Job responsibilities of an electronics engineer include:

  • Developing testing procedures
  • Analyzing customer needs
  • Establishing maintenance guidelines
  • Overseeing the work of technicians

Related Careers

Since the work that electrical and electronics engineers do is similar, individuals who are considering either profession may also be interested in some comparable career options. Follow the links here to learn more about the work of electromechanical engineers and electricians.

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