Electrical Technician vs. Electrician: Definitions and Comparisons
Updated June 24, 2022
Electrical technicians and electricians may seem to be very similar roles, however there are many differences between the two types of electrical professionals. Electrical technicians may work more with engineering systems or maintaining existing systems, while electricians may be more involved in installing electrical systems. If you are considering which career to pursue, understanding the differences between the two can be very helpful. In this article, we explain what an electrical technician is, what an electrician is and what the differences between the two are, including in responsibilities and salary.
What is an electrical technician?
An electrical technician is a trade professional who works with electrical systems, sometimes within an office and sometimes int he field. Electrical technicians often work in support of electrical engineers, helping them create their engineering plans, but they may also maintain electrical equipment and systems as a field technician. The responsibilities of an electrical technician may vary depending on what part of the industry they work in, as well as their interests and experience.
Related: Careers in Electricity
What is an electrician?
An electrician is a trade professional who works with electrical systems almost exclusively in the field, by installing, maintaining and repairing those systems and equipment. Electricians may work to execute the plans of an electrical engineer, they may work as part of a construction team or they may work to provide maintenance and repairs as needed without much oversight. Electricians have varying levels of experience and licensing, ranging from apprentice to master electrician, which can be different depending on where they live.
Related: How To Become an Electrician
Differences between electrical technicians and electricians
Electrical technicians and electricians have some overlap in their responsibilities and other similarities, but here's how the two roles compare:
Electrical technicians usually need a certificate or an associate degree to do their job. Associate degrees that apply to working as an electrical technician can include electrical technology or electrical engineering technology, although the major they choose may vary depending on their school, location and interests. Beyond this education, electrical technicians may learn many of their skills at work.
Electricians often have a high school diploma and do an apprenticeship or attend trade school to become a licensed electrician. The education of an electrician is much more hands on than an electrical technician and for that reason, many electricians choose to pursue an apprenticeship rather than attend school before learning on the job.
Related: The Top Technician Jobs
Electrical technicians do not have any licensing requirements to perform their job and work as an electrical technician. The education they need is generally enough to qualify them to perform their work. Electricians, however, often have licensing requirements, which can vary depending on the location. Additionally, since there are multiple types of electricians such as apprentices, journeymen and master electricians, in some states they need to obtain a license at each level.
Related: Types of Electricians
Electrical Technicians learn many of their skills at school as well as through training at work. There isn't a formal apprenticeship for electrical technicians, so many of these on-the-job skills are taught informally and are targeted at learning the skills that apply to that workplace. For instance, an electrical technician who works in a manufacturing facility may learn how to repair and maintain the systems and machinery there, which may or may not apply to future work.
Electricians often have a formal apprenticeship or as part of their education and licensing requirements work under the supervision of a master electrician to learn the skills they need. Since electricians may or may not have a formal education, their training is particularly important. In many states, the work hours required to become licensed beyond an apprentice electrician serve as a training period, so that they can learn all the necessary skills. Since electricians often work in a variety of contexts, the skills they learn in training can apply to many workplaces.
An electrical technician can work in a variety of contexts ranging from within an office in support of electrical engineers to working in an environment with many electrical systems that need to be maintained. Electrical technicians who work in an office may be designing electrical systems under the supervision of an engineer and assisting the engineer with tasks. Electrical technicians working in the field may do routine maintenance of the systems and equipment in their facility, repair problems with the systems and equipment and communicate with team members about the status of the systems and equipment.
Electricians often work in construction sites to install electrical systems and equipment. They may be hired by residential homeowners, business owners or landlords to install or repair electrical systems and equipment within existing buildings, as well. Electricians may need to provide quotes to clients and communicate the status of the project to those involved. Electricians may work independently as a business owner or within an organization as an employee.
Salary and job growth
According to Indeed Salaries, the national average salary for an electrical technician is $51,720 per year. Electricians, according to Indeed Salaries, have a national average salary of $51,439 per year. Both roles may see their salaries vary depending on the type of work they're doing, their location and their experience level. Both types of professionals may earn other benefits as part of their compensation package. These benefits might include paid time off, health insurance, retirement plan, life insurance and more.
While these two roles earn very similar wages, the educational and training requirement differences as well as the differences in responsibilities may make one more appealing than the other, depending on your priorities.
Another factor that may be relevant to those considering entering the electrical field is the projected job growth for each role. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the predicted growth for electrical technicians from 2019 to 2029 is 2%, while in that same time electrician roles are predicted to grow 8%. The average rate of job growth across all positions is 4%, so electrical technicians are a little lower and electricians are a little higher than average.
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