4 answers

Is getting an Electrician’s License after earning a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) wise?

Asked Gaithersburg, Maryland

I am a College Senior majoring in Electrical Engineering. My long-term goals include: 1) using what I learned in school to create, build, and repair things; and 2) owning an Engineering firm. I, therefore, think learning a technical skill similar to my present major might be very beneficial. With an Electrician's License, I can freelance while working a job with my degree to save money for my own company. Freelancing will simultaneously build up potential clientele. Is this a smart move? Or is an Electrician’s License so different than a BSEE, that it would be a waste of time to pursue it? #engineering #electrician #electrical-engineering #electrical #electrical-engineer

4 answers

Daniel’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

To directly answer your question (not really sure what Ken's answer is getting at to be honest), probably not. I mean unless you really want to just switch focus and go be an electrician instead of an electrical engineer (which you could do).

Electrical Engineering and being an actual electrician are very different. I distinctly remember one of my lower class professors in EE telling us very sternly something along the lines of "Do not think that with a BEE degree you are an electrician, because you will kill yourself and your whole family by burning down your house".

If you want to be an electrician, there is probably some separate education needed beyond what you learn in an EE program. If your goal could be bent into owning your own electrician firm/company, that could work. But it sounds like if your primary goal is an actual engineering firm, you should focus on that. There are definitely engineering firms, it's sort of a separate gig from working as an engineer at a big company. I unfortunately don't know how to get in to that industry, sorry.

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

You have some very interesting ideas about the future! As I have been involved in Human Resources and College Recruiting for many years, I would like to give you some good ideas to follow the that will allow you to go in a direction that will be most beneficial for you to fulfill your potential. Too many times I have found college graduates entering into a job after graduating that did not match their comfort level, because they did not take enough time and make enough effort to get to know themselves and the career areas along the way. Here are some tips I have developed from personal experience and from the experience of others.

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • Talk to your academic adviser and the counseling department at your school to arrange to take interest and aptitude testing and have it interpreted by a counselor to identify the specific career path that will most effectively match your personality traits.
  • When you get the results, talk to the Director of Alumni Relations at your school to arrange to meet and talk to and visit and maybe shadow graduates who are doing what you think that you might want to do. Here are some tips on getting some good information. ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Identify professional associations to which people working in your career area of interest belong, so that you can talk with them to get some good information and develop networking contacts. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-job-search-strategy-thatll-make-you-15-times-more-likely-to-be-hired ##
  • Along the way, as you do the testing and information interviewing you will develop an idea that will match with your ability to realize you potential in the most effective way for you.
  • Remember, as you go along, it is very important to express your appreciation to those who have helped you. Here are some good tips to follow: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## Whenever possible make your appreciation know by way of a phone call or personal visit, as this allows the best personal contact and the possibility for dialogue.

Silpa’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

Hi Nadine-Marie,

If I'm not wrong, are you talking about FE/PE licenses?



If so, usually these are required if you are interested to work for Utility Companies as an Electrical Engineer. Although, it doesn't hurt to have it otherwise.

Hope this helps.

Rich’s Answer


As stated by others, Electrician Licence and BS EE are separate things and really different areas. BSEE will teach you theory (with some hands on) Electrician's license is really all hands on with little theory.  That being said - many BSEEs prepare to be a licenced Professional Engineer (PE) which requires classes and some testing than xx years of experience.  PE allows you to sign electrial drawings and will include electrical codes things too.  All this being said - if you really want to be hands on- do also work post-BS on an electricians licence.  It will allow you do things like volunteer with Habitat For Humanity as a licenced electrican and do some electrical work on the side.  I had an EE friend who did this and loved being able to help others in his field.  I wish I had gotten it.  Just realize in most cases an electrican's license won't help you in you BSEE field much.  I PE will and also advanced degrees like MSEE.