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Difference Between Technician and Technologist

technician-pdTechnician vs Technologist

Technician and technologist are two different terms. However, these two terms are interrelated. Most people think that these terms mean the same. but, when one looks a bit closer, one will find that they are different in many aspects. A technician and a technologist differ in their educational levels and responsibilities.

A technologist has a greater role than a technician. A technician is just a person with a practical understanding of technology. A technician has a good knowledge of the general principles of the field he is in, whereas, a technologist is a person who is completely aware of various technologies. A technician works under a technologist. A technologist’s position is above that of the technician.

First of all, when comparing their education, a technologist will have an engineering degree, whereas, a technician will have a lower degree, or some kind of diploma certificate. Generally, a technician course will last for one to two years, whereas a technologist will have to undergo a course that lasts for four to five years.

When talking about the duties of a technologist, he has a wider range of duties when compared to a technician. The technologist is the team leader, and his duties include research, analysing, designing, conducting studies, resolving problems, interpreting situations, evaluating situations, developing prototypes and guiding the technicians. On the other hand, a technician is the person who is involved with duties like maintenance, repairs and troubleshooting.

Another difference that can be seen, is that a technologist is solely responsible for innovative ideas, and the technician is responsible for the application of those ideas. Unlike technicians, technologists handle most of the more complex work.


1. A technician and a technologist differ in their educational levels and responsibilities.

2. A technician is just a person with a practical understanding of technology. On the other hand, a technologist is a person who is completely aware of various technologies.

3. A technlogist has a greater role than a technician; a technician works under a technologist.

4. A technologist will have an engineering degree, whereas, a technician will have a lower degree, or some kind of diploma certificate.

5. A technologist has a wider range of duties when compared to a technician; his position is above the technician’s position in technological matters.

6. A technologist is solely responsible for innovative ideas, and the technician is responsible for the application of those ideas.

7. Unlike technicians, technologists handle most of the more complex work.

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  1. Correction to your article:

    A technologist goes to school for 2.5 or 3 years of education and receives a diploma in engineering technology. A technician goes to school for less and receives a technician diploma.

    • I disagree with the other Jon. A technologist is someone with a FOUR year degree from an ABET accredited university in an engineering technology field. The engineering technology degree allows graduates to either work in industry as a technologist or continue their studies and become an engineer. I should also stress that technologists have MUCH more practical knowledge than an engineering student, and in many cases, an experienced engineer.

      Calling a technologist a ‘technician’ is an insult. Usually only know-it-all engineers make this mistake. Technologists, in many states, can also earn a PE license after an extended wait time.

      • I am a Radiologic Technologist. In the united states medical imagin technologists are not required to have a four year degree, however that is about how long it takes to get through an accredited program. We are by no means engineers. However what differentiates us from a technician is our broader range of the study of imaging sciences beyond their application in the clinical field. Certainly’ it is the knowledge and understanding in addition to our credentials that qualifies us as technologists. This understanding of imaging physics, anatomy and physiology and pathology all play a part stin the decision making process on a day to day basis. Perhaps your definition pertains to the engineering world but for the medical imaging technologist, it is slightly different.

        • @Joseph G. Apparently nothing in your exalted “technologist” training prepared you for properly using punctuation, grammar, and case structure when typing. You, sir, are the typical overeducated blowhard that is at the root of the “crushing student debt problem” in this country.

      • Great job Jon correcting the other Jon. I hold a Masters in the two of the Engineering Technology fields. Now there are a few colleges out there that offers BS in Engineering Technology within 3 years but its mostly its a 4 to 5 year degree program. You can also pursue a Masters in either Engineering or Engineering Technology. Technologist you can call us that but we are Engineering Technologists and we can hold Technologists, Technicians and Engineering jobs. I would not worry all about labels just learn your trade and improve your technical and engineering skills. You will hear traditional Engineers down grade a Engineering Technologist, but they are aware they cannot do it without us.

      • You are not correct on terminology. 90 percent of the candidates with the piece of paper and a big bill from their degree can’t even begin to understand the field work and it always works in an office. I only finished High school but I will bet the graduates you put next to me will look silly. Don’t get me wrong school is good but don’t ever put someone out with a diploma of life I know the struggles and the fight. My eyes I would let people know schooling can help a lot if you haven’t pushed the limits on learning in the field. The last guy who I was training put me down about how he was better than me because of his degree and I was relentless on making him look so bad he left the six figure job. I will help anyone learn but don’t be the one that puts someone down because of a degree.

    • Katerina: thank you. I was going to express the same opinion and then I saw your post. The very word ‘just’ is very demeaning. It minimizes whomever you think of as ‘just’ (“they were just kids”). Meaning? Loosely translated, “We don’t have to be concerned with them…we can ignore, demean, or even punish them because they were ‘just’ kids…”

      And shame on you Jon#2! “Calling a technologist a ‘technician’ is an insult”…

      Please! Do not ever insult by comparison! It is so unfair, and again, demeaning. Maybe the male ego is a bit inflated here?

  2. I am a Radiologic Technologist. I went to a 2 year (continuous) accredited school with 21 pre-requisite credits (do the math for the education time) prior to acceptance into the program. The degree is an Associates in Science but just shy of a Bachelors credit-wise. In the imaging profession a technologist has more education, license requirements, qualification to administer radiation, and responsibility.

    A technician must practice under a technologist’s or physician’s license and direction and has a very limited scope of practice i.e. chest, hand and feet x-ray acquisition.

  3. I am concerned about word choice in this article. Although I hold B.S., M.S. and Ph.D., I take offense to the phrase “a technician is JUST a person who…” while “a technologist is a person who…” In other words, demeaning the human being who holds a technician position. Such subtle words are picked up and can certainly affect the worker. I understand the author (who may be biased) is attempting to show the difference between -nician and -ologist, but please, keep it to the education requirements and job duties; do not demean the individual. Thank you.

  4. Whomever chose to compose the article “Technician vs Technologist” appears to be displaying some underlying bias, which undermines the integrity of the article. It would be prudent of the site to provide a solely academic definition in place of this flawed opinion piece. Additionally, a broader perspective, removing the focus from any individual field, would lend credibility to any and all article submissions.

  5. This was one of the best answers I have received to a question I have asked in “Search”. Thank you.

  6. Of all the online dictionaries I’ve read the two are synonymous. However, I do understand that in certain fields the terms are used to set up a hierarchy so that unassociated upper management have an easy means of placing blame…..err responsibility when errors occur. It seems to me there’s a lot of sausage competition in the engineering world, maybe that’s a good reason why there’s so much animosity towards engineers, more concerned about title pride than doing the job.

  7. Very nice and clear topic.
    Thank you.

  8. The title “technologist” is more clearly defined in some countries than others. For example, in Canada, one can complete a 3 year course of study in an accredited course, and graduate with a “diploma of technology.” Then, upon practicing for a few years in a relevant industry, they can apply to the provincial association for a title of “Professional Technologist” “Certified Technologist” or “Applied Science Technologist” as per the province of residence.

    I believe that United States has no such structured set of requirements. Various US colleges may offer diplomas from 2 to 4 years in duration, without any possibility of official recognition or standards of practice. I think this is detrimental to the recognition of intermediate level of professional responsibility that technologists can carry, between that of a technician and an engineer.

    I find that in American corporations, usually they do not employ technologists, they do not know who they are, and they call them technicians when they hire them. It’s frustrating, because some workers with the same title are on a significant lower level of professional knowledge than others, yet they hold the same set of responsibilities, which means technologists are under-utilized.

  9. Dont use the word ” just” please, it is a downgradable words, we need teammwork here! Not everybody is a boss….

  10. Different roles require different training. Why should a doctor think a nurse is inferior? Their duties are different and the hospital needs both of them. Same way industry needs technicians, technologists, and engineers. The two brothers who invented the first aeroplane did not have a university certificate. We should not look down on any skill level, we are all important and needed to contribute our part.

  11. The reverse is the case in Nigeria Instiutions for example. A technologist in Nigeria who studied in a polytechnic institution ends up with an HND certificate and can not do straight MSc in a University but can work in any institution Laboratories. But a First degree B.Sc employed as a higher technical officer ( technician) has both first degree, and MSC. So I think that the issue of qualification depends on how countries grade theirs. Meanwhile for the professional Engineers, with B.Eng most of them if not lecturers are employed as technologists or engineers in the Universities. There is a big controversy for others graduates from Agric, biological sciences,physical sciences etc.the word technician and technologist depends on the contest its used.

  12. We had problem with jobs getting

  13. The most important thing is to do your work properly, it’s not the tittle that does the work but the ability you have to do the job, using demeaning terms is wrong and does not create team work, without team work results can’t be gotten, nobody is an island of knowledge, remember that people like Albert Einstein didn’t go to university but their contributions in Science have lasted ages, more over the first degree holders in the world were not taught by degree holders.

  14. I have a question please.
    Can a medical lab technician update his/her career to a technologist with a less education, course or exam?
    Thank you

  15. Hello

    I was reading the article, and I am wondering what is my Title. I have an ΑAS with title Electronics/ Computers Controls technician. For the 2 years degree the requirements were the following: electricity,electronics,computers A+,networksN+,mechanical power, hydraulic power, plc, industrial controls, math. All the classes were 2 parts; beginner and advanced. So, technicians are also called the guys who hooked up the cable from the electric pole to my router. We are the same or its an another trick to pay us lower than we deserve. Please let me know your thoughts.

    Thank you in advance

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