Electrical Engineer Vs. Network Engineer

Although electrical and network engineers may both do design work and evaluate how their products perform, they deal with very different types of equipment and have dissimilar objectives. Read on to compare these careers in more detail.

Comparing Electrical Engineers to Network Engineers

Electrical engineers work with electrical equipment, while network engineers configure systems that allow computers to interact, access data and perform other tasks. Network engineers, also known as computer network architects, earn a higher salary, although the job growth rate is currently higher for electrical engineers.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electrical Engineers Bachelor's degree $94,210 9%
Network Engineers Bachelor's degree $101,210 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Electrical Engineers vs. Network Engineers

Electrical engineers construct equipment that requires electricity to operate or that produces electricity. They develop design plans and then evaluate the products and make improvements. Network engineers design computer network systems. They determine how to connect all of the computers and technological equipment in an office or company so that the staff can access data or perform specific tasks. They may also be involved in configuring equipment so that it can access external storage, such as data that's kept in a cloud. Electrical engineers focus on creating equipment, while network engineers focus on connecting specific types of equipment so that they can communicate, exchange data and perform other tasks, such as printing materials.

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers concentrate on the creation and production of electrical devices. They typically study electrical engineering and, although they aren't required to have a Professional Engineer (PE) license to enter this career field, they may need to be licensed if they are interested in pursuing opportunities in management. Strong mathematical skills are crucial. Electrical engineers primarily work in offices and can be employed in a number of career fields, including power production, manufacturing and research.

Job responsibilities of an electrical engineer include:

  • Communicating with project managers
  • Overseeing the production of electrical equipment
  • Evaluating the performance of equipment
  • Determining the reason for malfunctions or performance issues

Network Engineers

Network engineers are usually expected to have at least five years of prior work experience in a related career field before being considered for network engineering careers. The minimum education requirement is a bachelor's degree in computer science or a comparable discipline, but some employers prefer applicants who have completed a master's degree in business administration. Those who are interested in further advancement can consider becoming a computer and information systems manager. Network engineers are employed in a range of industries, including telecommunications, insurance and education. These professionals work mainly in offices or server rooms where they ensure that their company's computer network is working correctly, and some overtime may be required.

Job responsibilities of a network engineer include:

  • Identifying the company's computer network needs
  • Determining what computer hardware and software should be used
  • Maintaining the system and upgrading to new technology
  • Evaluating system performance

Related Careers

Aerospace engineers share some common duties and training requirements with electrical engineers, and those interested in electrical engineering may also wish to explore that profession via the link listed below. People considering a career as a network engineer may also be interested in working as an information security specialist and could use the other link to learn about that profession.

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