Definition and Nature of Work
Electrical engineers specialize in power supply and generation. They design, develop, test and supervise electrical equipment manufacturing. They have also been trained to handle responsibilities like wiring and lighting installations in buildings, automobiles and aircraft.
What is great about being an electrical engineer is that the training is so extensive that graduates may land a job in many different industries such as construction, manufacturing and design.
Moreover, electrical engineers may take part in development and research as assistants to scientists and other engineers. Many kinds of electronic equipment from portable music players to GPS devices pass through an electronic engineer’s hands.
They come up with means to use electrical power to operate a certain product or improve its functions. Among the most challenging and in-demand tasks for electronic engineers today include developing construction plans for electrical lighting systems for skyscrapers, designing remote-controlled race cars and building technology for factories like robots that can perform welding.
A Day in the Life of an Electrical Engineer
Electronic engineers perform their duties in offices and laboratories but may also be sent to work sites for supervising and troubleshooting. This is especially true for those who work in companies that manufacture complex equipment. They spend about 40 hours per week at work, but they may work longer than this.
A typical day for an electrical engineer varies depending on their employer. Those who work for the federal government may handle responsibilities in areas of research, development and electronic device evaluation that may cover systems for manufacturing, transportation, aviation and communication. Electrical engineers use design software and equipment in their projects.
Becoming an Electrical Engineer
A bachelor’s degree is needed to become an electrical engineer. This is an area of specialty in the engineering field, and these degrees will prepare an individual for an entry level job. It is important to start studying for their chosen career as early as high school.
Aspiring electrical engineers have to take as much math and science coursework as possible including algebra, calculus and trigonometry. Drafting courses are also valuable. This is mainly because engineering students are usually required to do technical drawings. Bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete and include laboratory, classroom and field work.
Electrical engineers may have to obtain a master’s degree or other training certifications in order to qualify for research positions. There are five-year programs that offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees together. They should pass the Fundamentals Engineering exam to obtain a license after the bachelor’s degree and Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after an internship.
Electronic Engineer Employment and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were about 294,000 electronic engineers employed in 2010. About 14 percent worked for the federal government, 11 percent were employed with wired telecommunications carriers and electronic manufacturing firms and 8 percent held jobs in navigational, electromedical instruments manufacturing, architectural and engineering related services.
The BLS also reports that there will be slower than average growth for electrical engineers. There is only a 6 percent expected increase in the demands for these professionals from 2010 until 2020. This is mainly because of the decline in the manufacturing industry where they are mostly employed.
However, there are good projections for electrical engineers who work on an as-needed basis rather than those who are permanently employed. Similarly, there is a good future ahead for electrical engineers who specialize in research and development.
Typical Electrical Engineer Salary
In 2010, electrical engineers earned as much as $84,540 in median annual wages according to the BLS. The top 10 percent highest earners received about $128,610 while the bottom 10 percent earners took home about $54,030. Among the highest paying electrical engineer jobs in industries employing the largest number of these professionals come from semiconductor and electronic manufacturing companies.
Employees in these firms usually earn about $92,070 on average. This was followed by scientific research and development firms that paid $90,970 in median annual wages.
Electrical engineers with a master’s degree or doctoral degree typically receive higher salaries than those who only obtained a bachelor’s degree. Like any other engineering career, salary rates depend on the employer, location, years of experience and educational background.
Electrical engineers may undergo further training or education in order to qualify for a position that will enable them to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. It may also qualify them for management positions. They can either be program managers or engineering managers. Alternatively, they can become instructors at universities or colleges.
Is this career the right one for you?
Individuals who wish to become an electrical engineer should start their preparations as early as high school. They should have exceptional communication and math skills and be willing to work both indoors and outdoors.
Electrical engineers typically work together with other engineers and other professionals. With this, they should work comfortably and efficiently with a team. Experts highly recommend that graduates get into internship programs. Doing so will allow them to see the real employment world for electronic engineers.
It is important that electronic engineers enjoy what they are doing. This career field can be physically and intellectually challenging. This is why aspiring engineers should be sure about their decision.
Are there any Electrical Engineering Associations?
Institute of American Electrical and Electronics Engineer
Association of Energy Engineers