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What is the Difference Between an Engineering Technician and an Engineer?


If you find yourself mixing up the term ‘engineer’ with ‘engineering technician’, you would be forgiven. Although they are similar, they have exceedingly different roles within the industry. Depending on your strengths and personality, you are likely going to enjoy one more than the other.

Here are the main differences between the two:

  1. Theory vs Practice

Engineers are involved in the creative part of engineering. When you need a new bridge built, a new solution for water or a way to build a dam without affecting the surrounding environment, you call an engineer. They are educated in the theory and science of engineering, and with that knowledge they create solutions. Engineering technicians come in after the project has been completed.

The structures that engineers have built need to function properly throughout their lifetime. Engineering technicians are the professionals that come in after the build to keep it working the engineer made it to work. Both jobs are equally important, but very different, and you might find yourself enjoying one or the other.

If you like the theory of problem solving, thinking in abstract terms and finding creative solutions to problems, being an engineer might be the job for you. If you like to get into the details, get your hands dirty with the process and find functional solutions for real-world problems, you’ll enjoy being an engineering technician.

  1. Education

Education is a major difference between an engineer and engineering technician. Engineering technicians can complete their education with a diploma in their desired field. For example, the Civil Infrastructure Design Technology Diploma is a 35-week program that gives you a diploma at the end. These programs give you the practical knowledge you need to solve the problems as an engineering technician. An engineer needs more education.

Becoming an engineer is a three-year bachelor’s degree to get the required education. Engineering degrees focus more on courses that give you the theory and science behind the engineering. If you want the fastest path to the engineering career, the 35-week program is for you.

  1. Pay Scale

Depending on which path you take, you’ll earn differently. Because they require more education, civil engineers typically cap out at around $134, 354. Civil engineering technicians earn between $41,712 to $81,338. If you want to learn more about what the various types of engineers earn, check out our post on The Top 10 Highest Paying Civil Engineering Careers.

The important thing is to determine the type of person you are, and which path will make you happiest. Earning a civil engineering technician diploma can be a satisfying career that earns you a high income if you work hard and find success. Now that you know the difference between an engineer and engineering technician, you’ll never confuse the two!

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