How To Become An Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer works on and improve products that generate or are powered by electricity. For the automotive enthusiast, these include the wiring and electrical systems found in cars and airplanes.

You will be performing detailed computations to come up with standards and specifications that need to be followed for manufacturing, building and installing electrical products. From production to installation of electrical equipment, you are on top of the entire process in order to make certain that specifications, standards and engineering codes are followed.

Before putting a particular product design forward into the production phase, you will first need to make prototypes to ensure that the product works as you planned it to. You are particularly careful during the product’s testing phase as this is when problems with its design are discovered. It is only when you have thoroughly tested the product and made improvements on its final design that you give the go-signal to manufacture it.

During the production phase of a project, you will work with project managers to make sure that projects proceed as scheduled and that these are finished within the set deadlines. More importantly, you will see to it that the budget is followed. It is also your task to make sure that products function as designed and that they are safe for use. When you hear complaints about the product, you immediately conduct an investigation to check the veracity of the report, determine what is wrong and find solutions to address the issue.

Some engineers may focus only on a particular type of product throughout their career. For example, they may specialize in working with computer hardware, motors or generators. But no matter what their specialization is, all electrical engineers use engineering and design software to help them do their work.

Electrical engineers and electronics engineers are often used to refer to the same profession. However, there are differences between the two careers in terms of the tasks that they do. For example, electrical engineers focus on new methods of harnessing electricity in the development of new products while electronics engineers devote their time and effort to crafting and designing electronic products, systems or software for various applications.

To succeed in this profession, electrical engineers need to be proficient in math. Designing, analyzing and fixing electrical equipment requires thorough knowledge of advanced mathematical topics so it’s essential for them to be comfortable with numbers and formulas. They also need to be able focus on a particular task for long periods of time. Electrical systems are complex contraptions which are composed of different elements and technical features. They need to monitor these complexities as they go about their work to prevent injury to themselves and to others and ensure that the job gets done. They should also be able to apply their academic knowledge in real-life work and stay updated on the technological advances in the field. Finally, electrical engineers must also possess excellent communication skills so they can talk about their designs to fellow professionals and even clients who don’t understand technical language.

Why Become An Electrical Engineer

Individuals who are really interested in the workings of electricity and its effects on electrical systems and equipment will find this to be a very fulfilling profession. Electricity and the systems and products that depend on it are considered indispensable components of our daily lives that any malfunction of these systems can literally cause panic among people and businesses. Electrical engineers do the world a great service by making sure that these systems function the way they are supposed to.

On the more practical side, the lucrative pay that electrical engineers receive is one reason to pursue this profession. Moreover, the fact that electricity and the systems that depend on it will be here to stay in the foreseeable future assure aspiring electrical engineers that there will be jobs available even when the sectors that employ them exhibit slow growth at some periods.

Electrical Engineer Work Environment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 20 percent of electrical engineers were employed by engineering services firms in 2012. The others worked in companies operating in electric power generation, transmission and distribution (9 percent); navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing (9 percent); semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing (8 percent) and machinery manufacturing (5 percent).

Electrical engineers typically observe a fulltime work schedule during regular work hours. However, they may have tp extend their work hours if they need to finish a project in order to meet deadlines. They work in offices when they are designing products or writing reports. However, they may be asked to check on equipment found in other locations when these need to be fixed.

Electrical Engineer Salary

The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of electrical engineers is $93,380. Electronics engineers were paid slightly higher at $97,870. The agency reported in 2012 that electrical and electronics engineers working in the semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing were paid the highest at $94,990. They were followed by those who were employed in navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing ($91,810); engineering services ($87,640); electric power generation, transmission and distribution ($85,350) and by those in machinery manufacturing ($79,480).

Average Electrical Engineer Annual Salary


The average annual salary for electrical engineers is $99,580 a year. Salaries start at $60,250 a year and go up to $150,340 a year.

Average Electrical Engineer Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a electrical engineer is $47.87. Hourly wages are between $28.97 and $72.28 an hour.

Stats were based out of 183,370 employed electrical engineers in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Electrical Engineers

Top Paying Cities For Electrical Engineers

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Electrical Engineer Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a slow job outlook for electrical and electronics engineers in the next few years. For the period covering 2012 to 2022, it is forecasted that the employment rate is only set to increase 4 percent. The slow growth is attributed to the decline that manufacturing sectors are experiencing. Despite this, there will still be need for them because they are adept at coming up with and using emerging technologies for various applications. It is expected that employment opportunities will be found in engineering services companies as they are bound to be the ones who will be contacted by companies who need electrical engineers but want to reduce costs. They will also be hired by companies engaged in computer systems design as portable devices become more popular.

Electrical Engineer Degree

The entry point for a career as an electrical engineer is a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or related courses from an ABET-accredited school. In this course, students are generally taught in the classroom, laboratory and on the field. There are cooperative programs offered in some colleges and universities that allow students to study while gaining practical experience at the same time. For those who are contemplating on obtaining a postgraduate electrical engineering degree, there are five-year programs offered in some schools that allow students to get both a bachelor’s and master’s degree upon graduation.

Electrical engineers who intend to work with the government or in companies that have contracts with the government are encouraged to become licensed. Before they can become Professional Engineers, they must graduate from an engineering program then pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. They must then get work experience in the industry and then take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Passing the test will give them the Professional Engineer designation.

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