What Is The Difference Between An Electrician And An Electrical Engineer?

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Electricity is one of the most important energy sources that we rely upon day in, day out. Within the first five minutes of the day we will have switched on a light, enjoyed a hot shower, boiled a kettle, and turned on the radio, all of which require electrical power, highlighting just how dependent we are on this energy. If electrical systems fail, it is not only inconvenient in our busy schedules, but it is also potentially life threatening. Electricity that is not correctly contained or distributed is extremely hazardous, and in the event of an electrical fault or the need for a new system installation, an electrical professional must be consulted.

Electrician vs Electrical Engineer

All personnel who handle electrical power must have gained extensive knowledge and experience in this field. To the uneducated, electrical engineers and electricians may appear to be one and the same, however this is a dangerous assumption that could lead to devastating effects. Although electrical engineers and electricians both work with electrical current, they do so in very different ways and have very different responsibilities. An electrician should not undertake jobs that are the responsibility of an electrical engineer as they are not trained to the same level and they could unknowingly cause more problems than they rectify.

What do they do?

In layman’s terms, an electrical engineer is responsible for the design of an electrical system whereas an electrician is responsible for the installation and maintenance of said system. Both are highly trained professionals, however electricians typically gain their qualifications through apprenticeships under a qualified technician and vast amounts of experience in the field. Electrical engineers will have gained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronic engineering or electrical engineering technology in addition to hands on experience.

Where do they work?

Electrical engineers are the professionals tasked with designing new and efficient ways of distributing electrical energy. They provide electrical services across all sectors, installing everything from security systems to emergency lighting in professional settings and are also be required to conduct and supervise regular rigorous testing of electrical equipment and systems. Electrical engineers are often part of the consultation team when it comes to establishing industry standards and legislation in terms of system efficiency and employee health and safety.

Electricians are the professionals tasked with the meticulous installation of electrical wiring and electrical systems that provide power to homes and businesses. A registered electrician will have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of electrical current distribution and be able to read technical diagrams drawn up by the electrical engineers to ensure that the systems are installed correctly and safely. They are usually responsible for day to day electrical maintenance in the home or workplace.

Who do I contact first?

By and large, a registered electrician will be your first port of call as they are responsible for the day to day operation and running of electrical systems, particularly in the home. Electricians will be called on to identify wiring issues, replace broken lights or install new electrical systems.

All electrical work should be carried out by a registered electrician who is aligned to a government-approved scheme, and you can find a local registered electrician on the Electrical Safety First website. If a local electrician deems your requirements to be more in depth they will then refer you to an electrical engineer. An electrical engineer may be required right from the outset if you are a business owner or manage a large establishment that has a complex electrical system.