Electrical Engineer Vs. Master Electrician

Nov 21, 2017

Electrical engineers and master electricians both work with electrical systems but in different manners. Read about the similarities and differences in duties, salaries, education requirements, and career outlooks.

View Popular Schools

Comparing Electrical Engineers to Master Electricians

Electrical engineers and master electricians both work with electrical equipment and energy. The former, however, designs electrical equipment and systems, while the latter installs and repairs those systems. Find out more about these careers below.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Electrical Engineers Bachelor's Degree $94,210 (2016)* 9%
Master Electricians High school diploma and on-the-job training $65,122 (2017)** 9% (all electricians)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

Responsibilities of Electrical Engineers vs. Master Electricians

Electrical engineers typically work for an engineering firm or other company, while master electricians often work for local governments or own their own company. Both may spend hours or even days and weeks on a single project. It should also be noted that both must have a basic understanding of electrical currents, but electrical engineers do more work on actually manipulating and creating electrical systems while master electricians focus more on fixing or maintaining these systems.

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers often work on teams, even supervising and reviewing the work of team members. They meet with clients to determine what kind of electrical equipment they require before attempting to design or redesign anything. Using design software, they then create circuit board layouts for equipment like electric motors and cellular phones. For existing equipment, they may even develop hardware updates to keep the machine running efficiently. These engineers are also responsible for using their knowledge of electrical systems to write technical reports, setting the standard for manufacturing specifications and safety.

Job responsibilities of an electrical engineer include:

  • Developing technical drawings of complex electrical systems
  • Working with project managers to ensure production is occurring according to the agreed-upon deadline
  • Considering the labor and materials necessary to determine a budget for the project
  • Building prototypes to test

Master Electricians

Master electricians are required to obtain a master electrician license; requirements vary by state but generally require passing an exam, holding a journeyman electrician license for a certain number of years, and a specific amount of supervised on-the-job training. Those who work as contractors may work with architects to install electrical systems in new buildings. The ability to read blueprints is necessary, as this helps these professionals trace electrical wires that may be hidden in the walls during projects such as replacing fixtures and plugs in older buildings. Additionally, knowing how to effectively use wire strippers and caps is important. As they work, they do their best to avoid electrical shocks and falls from powerline polls.

Job responsibilities of a master electrician include:

  • Examining and repairing main transformers and circuit breakers in homes and businesses
  • Using voltmeters to test outlets and wires and pinpoint issues in the electrical system
  • Supervising and teaching journeyman or apprentice electricians
  • Understanding state building regulations for electrical systems

Related Careers

Those interested in a career as an electrical engineer could also look into a career as a computer hardware engineer, because both design complex machines. Additionally, for those curious about a position as a master electrician, a job as a power plant operator may be appealing, as both work to provide power to individuals.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?