The Differences Between Electrical & Electronic Engineering


Some people use the terms "electrical engineering" and "electronics engineering" interchangeably, even in the engineering industry. There are some similarities between the electronics and electrical engineering fields. For instance, they both require a person to apply science and math principles. However, there are huge differences between electrical engineering and electronics engineering.

Electrical Engineers

  • Electrical engineers are concerned with developing, creating and testing electrical equipment. The engineers also are responsible for supervising the manufacture of electrical equipment. These engineers focus on solving problems that concern electricity. In other words, they are concerned with supplying and transmitting electrical power to equipment that powers homes, cars and airplanes.

Electronics Engineers

  • Unlike electrical engineers, electronics engineers aren't concerned with electrical equipment such as electric motors in cars. Instead, they focus on designing, developing, testing and manufacturing actual electronics equipment such as portable music players. Electronics engineers can specialize in different areas such as communications or control systems. For example, electronics engineers can focus on solving technological problems such as figuring out how people can talk on their cellular phones while using other features, such as the Internet or contact lists, at the same time.

Key Difference Between Electrical and Electronics Engineers

  • The key difference between electronics engineers and electrical engineers is the amount of electrical current each works with. Electrical engineers use a larger amount of current to power structures and equipment, according to Degree Directory. For example, electrical engineers focus on electric utilities and wiring in buildings. Other types of power structures and equipment these engineers work on include controls that operate machinery, wind turbines, solar energy systems and electric motors. Electronics engineers use a smaller amount of current. This means that electronics engineers concentrate on manufacturing smaller equipment that people use every day, while electrical engineers power large structures. Electronics engineers focus on electronics items such as global positioning systems (GPS), cellular phones, MP3 players and DVD televisions. Engineers who focus on such items computer chips, routers and printers, however, are more properly called computer hardware engineers.

Pay Difference

  • Although salaries for engineers typically vary according to the employer, the engineers' years of experience and their location, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a difference in the median salaries between electronics and electrical engineers. Electronics engineers' median salary as of May 2009 was $91,540 a year according to BLS. The median salary for electrical engineers as of May 2009 was $86,250 a year according to the BLS.

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