Electrical engineer and electrician collaborating on circuit board.

Can Electrical Engineers Work as Electricians: A Go-to Guide

Navigating the world of electrical work can feel like trying to understand how electricians and electrical engineers differ in their job roles.

We are often queried with the question, ‘Can Electrical Engineers work as Electricians, and likewise, can an electrician become an electrical engineer?’. It seems like a straightforward question, but as an electrical engineer takes on the subject, it’s not as simple as it appears.

The roles of electricians and electrical engineers, while seemingly similar, each carry their unique responsibilities, skillsets, and qualifications. Although electrical engineers usually design systems, their work experience can equip them to transition into electrician roles.

We’re here to untangle the wires of this query, but be prepared; you’ll find some surprising insights along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Electrical engineers focus on design and development, while electricians focus on installation and maintenance.
  • Becoming an electrical engineer requires an electrical engineering degree, accredited by the board for engineering and technology, whereas electricians primarily need hands-on skills which can be acquired through a trade school.
  • Electrical engineers can work as electricians in certain scenarios that require advanced problem-solving skills or a deeper understanding of system design.
  • To become an electrician, electrical engineers need to acquire hands-on skills, obtain a license, and understand the career paths and growth prospects in the field.

Understanding the Work of Electrical Engineers and Electricians

Electrical engineer, electrician, tools, blueprints, circuit board.

Electrical engineers are typically degree holders who are able to work on the design and development of electrical systems. They innovate and refine systems that power our homes, offices, factories, and cities as electricians can specialize in different fields. Electricians, on the other hand, are practitioners who bring these designs to life, much different from the lab work electrical engineers are used to. They install, maintain, and repair electrical systems.

In certain scenarios, electrical engineers can work as electricians when advanced problem-solving skills or a deeper understanding of system design is required. However, this crossover is not typical and usually requires additional training and licensure.

Can an Electrical Engineer Work as an Electrician?

Can Electrical Engineers Work as Electricians featuring an Electrical engineer, electrician, workshop, tools, equipment

The answer is yes, but the transition isn’t straightforward. Electrical engineers design and develop electrical systems, while electricians install and maintain them. Thus, while an electrical engineer may have the theoretical knowledge, they might lack the hands-on experience that electricians possess.

Here’s a comparison table to help visualize the differences and potential transition:

AspectElectrical EngineerTransition to Electrician
EducationDegree in electrical engineeringAdditional vocational training
SkillsDesign & developmentInstallation & maintenance
FocusTheoretical knowledgePractical application
ChallengesLack of practical skillsAcquiring hands-on experience
OpportunitiesBroader skillset, versatilityNew job avenues

Considerations for Electrical Engineers Becoming Electricians

Electrical engineer, blueprints, electrician thought bubble, tools

Before an electrical engineer decides to transition into the electrician profession, they’ll need to think about several key factors, including salary differences, the type of work, and the fundamentals of electrical engineering courses. These include acquiring necessary skills, getting proper certification and licensing, and understanding career growth prospects.

Electricians need a different skill set, such as hands-on techniques and troubleshooting abilities. They’ll need to pass an exam on the National Electrical Code and local codes to become licensed electricians. To become fully qualified, understanding the career paths, salary potential, and growth prospects as an electrician is crucially important.

Electrical Engineers Turned Electricians: Sparking a Revolution

Engineer to electrician transition, safety gear, blueprints, tools

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of electrical engineers shifting their careers to become electricians. This shift is not only sparking a revolution in the electrical industry but also highlighting the versatility and expertise of these professionals.

By transitioning from designing electrical systems to actually installing and maintaining them, these engineers bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to the field. Their ability to understand complex electrical systems and troubleshoot problems sets them apart in the world of electricians. This trend is reshaping the industry and paving the way for more innovative and efficient electrical solutions. 

Preparing for Electrician Work as an Electrical Engineer

Engineer with hard hat, blueprints, transitioning to hands-on work

As electrical engineers, we already have a robust base of knowledge about electrical systems. However, transitioning to hands-on electrician work often requires additional training and a more detailed understanding of practical applications.

One of the most significant steps in preparing for electrician work is mastering electrical wiring and its various applications.

A practical way to gain experience in electrical theory is through an apprenticeship. This hands-on training provides the chance to learn from experienced electricians directly, assisting one to understand the work environment and physical aspects of electrical work, should an electrician may decide to become an electrical engineer. It also allows us to understand the nuances of electrical wiring in real-world settings, a crucial component of any electrician’s work.

We’ve consolidated a few key areas that can help electrical engineers prepare for a shift into electrician work:

  • Building Upon An Electrical Engineer’s Existing Knowledge: Use your understanding of electrical systems as a foundation and build upon it with practical, hands-on experience.
  • Essential Training and Courses: Seek additional training and courses designed for electricians, as well as brush up on the fundamentals of engineering. These can provide specific knowledge on areas such as electrical wiring, safety regulations, and installation procedures.
  • Transition Tips and Advice: Connect with electrical engineers who’ve successfully transitioned to electrician work. Their insights can provide valuable guidance on navigating the shift.


So, can electrical engineers work as electricians? Absolutely, they can! However, things like licensing, practical experience, and trade school credibility are essential considerations before an electrician becomes an electrical engineer.

Though it’s not a typical path, we’ve seen real-life examples proving it’s possible. If you’re an electrical engineer considering this route, remember to prepare properly for the hands-on nature of the work.

At the end of the day, it’s all about leveraging your skills effectively in a new role.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an electrical engineer work as an electrician?

Yes, with additional training and licensing, an electrical engineer can work as an electrician.

What is the difference between an electrician and an electrical engineer?

While electricians typically handle wiring and electrical systems in buildings, electrical engineers focus on designing and developing these systems and equipment, highlighting differences in their work environment.

Can an electrical engineer work as an electrician without obtaining a license?

In most cases, working as an electrician requires obtaining a license from the appropriate governing body, regardless of an individual’s professional engineering qualifications or if they’ve passed the professional engineer exam.

What kind of work do electrical engineers typically perform?

Electrical engineers play a significant role in designing, developing, and testing electrical equipment, system, and components at the job site – this is a part of their pathway to becoming a fully qualified master electrician. They may also be engaged in research, analysis, and project management related to electrical engineering.

What qualifications are necessary to become a licensed electrician?

A: Requirements for becoming a licensed electrician vary by location, but typically include completing a formal apprenticeship, obtaining relevant education or training, and passing a licensing exam.

Lucy Dearing
Lucy Dearing

Greetings! I'm Lucy Dearing, passionately immersed in the world of home improvement. Together with my husband, Danny, we strive to create spaces that are both delightful and practical. We believe in offering accurate and transparent advice, engaging with our readers on a journey to bring their dream homes to life. Trust us to guide you every step of the way.

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