So you want to be an Electrical Engineering Technician?
What's the difference between an Electrician and an Electrical Engineering Technician? RecOnsider's Alistair Blair explains in this guest post.
Some - perhaps many - people are not sure what the difference is between Electricians and Electrical Engineering Technicians. There is obviously a considerable crossover between the two, but I’d say that the latter install, maintain and repair electrical equipment and controls, often working on motors, panels, generators and transformers, whereas Electricians are more commonly associated with fitting and repairing electrical circuits and wiring in domestic premises and businesses. Some of the training is the same for both jobs, but both Electricians and Electrical Technicians could struggle a bit if they had to switch jobs for a day. Neither are Electrical Engineering Technicians the same as Electrical Engineering Engineers. Technicians are usually supervised by an Electrical Engineer or team of Engineers.
The job could take you into lots of different workplaces. For example, you might be working with power generation and transmission, perhaps installing turbines, switchgear, power lines and lighting networks, or you could be in an industrial plant, working on drives, motors and programmable logic control (PLC) panels.
Or you might work in building services infrastructure, with air conditioning, lifts, escalators, lighting and heating, or in transport on signaling and electrification systems. In all these work environments, you’ll probably be part of a team, using a range of tools and test equipment, calibrating and testing machinery to ensure it works efficiently and safely.
One important prerequisite is that you’ll need colour-normal vision. A driving licence is also useful. Given these, you can start via an electrical engineering apprenticeship, which usually requires four or five GCSEs (A-C) including mathematics, English, science and design and technology, or equivalent experience in engineering or related work.
There are also college courses available, including:
- Level 1 Certificate In Introduction to Electrical Installation Skills;
- Level 2 Certificate In Electrical Installation Studies;
- Level 2 First Diploma in Engineering Technology; and
- Level 2 Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology.
Once you are employed, there are various Level 3 Diplomas you can study for and you may also take an award in inspection and testing of electrical equipment/installations, and the 17th Edition IET Wiring Regulations. In addition to formal qualifications, you should, as with most similar technical jobs, be good at problem solving and have a keen interest in how things work.
Starting salaries for qualified technicians are approximately £18,000 and £24,000 per year, while more experienced technicians can earn £25,000 to £35,000 per year (these figures are a guideline only).
A 40-hour week is not uncommon, frequently including shiftwork and overtime plus an on-call requirement.
One thing is certain though: due to our continuing reliance on electronic devices and equipment, qualified and highly competent Electrical Engineering Technicians will continue to be highly sought, so it’s a great career choice with good prospects. There are lots of jobs in this field on Fish4jobs as well, so make sure to check them out!