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Electrical Designer vs. Electrical Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in the electrical field, you may be wondering whether you should become an electrical designer or an electrical engineer. Both of these positions require a high level of education and skills in the electrical field. However, there are some key differences between the two positions. In this article, we discuss the differences between electrical designers and electrical engineers, and we provide additional information on each profession.

What is an Electrical Designer?

Electrical Designers develop electrical systems for buildings, vehicles and machinery. They work with Electrical Engineers to create plans and drawings for electrical circuits, components and equipment. Electrical Designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and layouts of electrical systems. They also estimate the cost of materials and labor for projects. Electrical Designers often specialize in a particular area, such as lighting or power distribution.

What is an Electrical Engineer?

Electrical Engineers design, develop, test and oversee the manufacture of electrical equipment, systems and components. They work in a variety of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, telecommunications and computer industries. Electrical Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. They use their knowledge of physics, math and computer science to design and oversee the production of electrical equipment. Electrical Engineers typically work in offices, but they may also travel to manufacturing plants or construction sites to oversee the installation of their equipment.

Electrical Designer vs. Electrical Engineer

Here are the main differences between an electrical designer and an electrical engineer.

Job Duties

Electrical engineers use computer-aided design software to create electrical systems. They test the systems they design and revise them based on the results of these tests. They also supervise the installation and maintenance of the systems they create. Electrical engineers typically work in offices but may need to visit construction sites to monitor projects.

Electrical designers use CAD software, too, but their job is to create drawings that meet the needs of a particular project. They may collaborate with other design professionals to achieve this goal. Electrical designers often work in studios or other creative spaces and may travel to meet with clients.

Job Requirements

An electrical designer typically needs at least an associate degree in engineering technology or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, but it is not always required. Additionally, many electrical designers pursue certification through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). This organization offers training programs that teach professionals how to use various engineering software and tools they might need on the job.

To become an electrical engineer, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from an accredited program. Once you have earned your degree, you must participate in a professional engineering internship before you can be licensed. After you have completed your internship, you must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Work Environment

Electrical designers and electrical engineers both work in a variety of environments. Electrical engineers may spend more time working in an office, but they also travel to construction sites or other locations where they can test their designs. They may also work with clients who visit their offices for meetings.

Electrical designers typically work in an office environment, but they may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They may also need to be available by phone or email to communicate with clients.


Both electrical designers and electrical engineers use technical skills to perform their job, including circuit design, advanced mathematics, linear systems and analysis and electrical schematics. An electrical designer may also use CAD software to create designs for electrical systems, while an electrical engineer may use this software to test the feasibility of their designs.

An electrical engineer needs strategic and decision-making skills to develop plans for new products or improvements to existing products. They also need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly to other engineers and colleagues. An electrical designer may also need to be able to communicate their designs clearly to engineers and colleagues, but they typically do not need to be as strategic in their thinking.

Organization can also be crucial to an electrical engineer, as they can oversee multiple departments or initiatives in a company at one time and need to ensure they devote adequate time and effort to each task. An electrical designer may also need to be organized in their work, but they typically do not have the same level of responsibility when it comes to overseeing multiple projects.


Electrical designers earn an average salary of $75,240 per year, while electrical engineers earn an average salary of $94,718 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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