Can Electricians Become Electrical Engineers? (Insider Knowledge)

Are you interested in knowing, can electricians become electrical engineers? Or, perhaps you are curious about the training process and required education for electrical engineers. If so, you’ve landed in the right place. As an electrician, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about career progression opportunities and this post is my investigation into whether or not I can make the jump upwards to an electrical engineer.

This article will discuss the primary roles of the electrician and electrical engineer and how to become trained in electrical engineering. This is my brief look at how I can transition from an electrician to an electrical engineer. enjoy! 

Electrical engineering drawings
Electrical engineering drawings

The path to becoming an electrical engineer is easy if you have the ambition to pursue a career in electrical work. Electricians make great electrical engineers because they already have a great foundation of electrical experience. Experience in the field often helps electrical engineers work in the field because they have background knowledge and a clear understanding of practical electrical functionality.

Can Electricians Become Electrical Engineers?

Electricians can become electrical engineers by pursuing further education at an accredited engineering college. Becoming an electrical engineer requires a bachelor’s-level engineering degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). It typically takes four years to receive your electrical engineering degree, but it can take longer for some people if you decide to pursue a master’s degree.

Many people obtain a master’s degree before working as an electrical engineer. However, a master’s degree is not required to pursue this career. Most electrical engineering courses condense information into a single course of four to six years. Therefore, master’s degrees become career-advancing tools.

In addition to attending an accredited school to obtain your degree, you must pass a Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which allows you to become an engineer-in-training. People commonly refer to this point of your career as your apprenticeship period. An apprenticeship is something you may immediately start from high school graduation (or equivalent) if you choose to pursue the electrician path.

The engineer will train or complete their apprenticeship concurrently while receiving their bachelor-level degree. After receiving their bachelor’s degree and passing any potential license examinations, they will be an approved electrical engineer. An electrical engineer can continue their education for one to two years and receive a master’s degree in engineering.

What is the Difference Between an Electrical Engineer and an Electrician?

The main difference between an electrical engineer and an electrician is their level of education and responsibilities. Engineers are responsible for the design of the installation whereas electricians are predominantly responsible for manually making the design a reality.

Attending school to become an electrical engineer takes longer than becoming an electrician. It can also be more costly, although it will yield higher benefits in the long run. Engineers tend to earn more money as the level of responsibility and mental aptitude needed means good engineers are often in high demand.


An electrical engineer must hold a degree from an accredited university. In contrast, electricians may go to a trade school immediately following high school or later on in life. Attending university can be more expensive than a trade school. However, both are long-term investments that will yield a benefit. 


The roles and responsibilities of electricians and electrical engineers differ significantly, their responsibilities are one of the largest differences between the two careers. An electrician installs, maintains, and repairs electrical wiring. Whereas the electrical engineer is in charge of designing, studying, and manufacturing electrical components. Electrical engineers can work in several locations, including office settings, and may not come to the job site unless it is necessary.


Electrical engineers make higher pay than electricians by a significant portion. Typically, an electrical engineer will make nearly double an electrician’s yearly salary, depending on where people live. It’s worth mentioning though at this point that the gap is closing as the skill-shortage of electricians is pushing the wages ever higher.

Do Electrical Engineers and Electricians Work Together?

Electrical engineers typically require at least one electrician to carry out their design plans at each job site. However, the electrical engineer is not usually the overseer of the job. Although electrical engineers can perform all tasks that an electrician can do, they mainly plan and delegate.

At the same time, electricians and engineers do not always work together. Electricians and electrical engineers can work independently to perform tasks on the job site, depending on their day’s work. In many cases, electricians require electrical engineers to perform their daily tasks. However, they can complete their tasks without an electrical engineer present.

Similarly, electrical engineers do not need an electrician present to complete their work. The electrical engineer can oversee their job site without an electrician. Some work independently, forming their own companies. Although it is rare to see an engineer on the tools as well as they usually have their hands full with office duties.

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Is an Electrical Engineer Better than an Electrician?

Both electrical engineers and electricians are equally important on and off the job site. Before entering the electrical field, you should decide what aspects of the career are the most important to you. Depending on your occupational priorities, you can decide which career path is better for you.

Consider your pay, the type of work, and career requirements when choosing which electrical-based career path is better for you. If the monetary gain from your job is the most important factor, becoming an electrical engineer is likely a better career path. However, if you are more interested in joining the hands-on workforce immediately, becoming an electrician is a better choice.

Are Electricians Classed as Engineers?

Electricians are not classified as engineers unless they hold an engineering degree. In addition to their level of education, there are differences between these two career paths. Engineers design installations whereas electricians have more laborious work.

Many people consider electricians and electrical engineers the same thing since they work in the same industry and have similar certifications. However, they have distinguishably different roles on the job site. It’s worth noting though that sometimes electricians can be referred to as engineers even if it is not technically accurate.

An electrical maintenance engineer is an example of a role that requires an electrician with experience but as the role is still ‘hands on’ they usually do not require a degree. Once a degree has been obtained the engineer usually stays away from the ‘hand on’ fixing an installation work as they are too busy with the design and calculation side of things.

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Final Thoughts 

So, can an electrician become an engineer? It appears from the research that the answer is a resounding yes! To become an electrical engineer, you must attend an accredited college and obtain a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The bachelor’s degree will allow you to learn the necessary mathematics, science, and intricate details of electrical work to progress your career forward.

Depending on your career goals, becoming an electrical engineer might not be necessary. Electricians generally make less money than electrical engineers. However, they can join the workforce immediately from high school and have no student debt to speak of.

I think for me and my career the idea of stepping up to be an engineer is not one I am going to take. I enjoy the hands-on aspect of the job too much, I wouldn’t enjoy spending all my time in the office and I definitely don’t enjoy wearing smart clothes to work!

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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