Programs that cover analog design are available from the certificate to the master's level. Students of associate's degree programs should be prepared to take part in hands-on labs. Bachelor's program enrollees have opportunities to participate in workshops, labs and work experiences. Related certificate programs may be found at various levels and could be self-paced. They might be taken online or on-campus. Those looking for a master's degree program can take an electrical engineering program. Aspiring engineering professionals at the master's level conduct extensive research. They could choose thesis or non-thesis options.
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Electronics Engineering Technology
The terms electrical and electronic are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Computer hardware engineers (analog designers) follow the electronics track. They gain an understanding of the analog design of circuit boards, computer chips, computer systems and related equipment. The engineers are responsible for most of the research in computer technology, as well. This A.A.S. degree in this field trains students to become technicians who mostly troubleshoot and repair electronic systems. Some assist engineers in designing new products, testing systems prior to manufacture or selling electronic components and systems. Analog designers usually must continue education beyond this degree level.
Two-year community college degree programs usually include general education subjects, such as English composition, American government, arts and humanities, behavioral sciences and study methods and skills. The electronics core consists of:
- Programming in C: direct current
- AC circuits: concepts, laws, behaviors
- Analog electronics theories and design
- Programming basics: methods, logic and data
- Ethics and responsible engineering
- Technical writing, pre-calculus, intro to physics
Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Engineering technology graduates, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported, are not always viewed as equal to graduates with degrees in engineering. Some employers regard technology program graduates as being more than a technician but less than an engineer. As a group, however, these graduates earn some of the highest average starting salaries. That's because graduates are equipped to apply knowledge and adapt to emerging electronics engineering technologies. They create design systems, components and processes independently and in teams (www.bls.gov).
The sequence in which courses are taken is an important part of the technological training for this profession. Lower division requirements usually include basic courses in logic design, circuit analysis, engineering mechanics, C programming and college composition. There are many upper-division courses offered in conjunction with lectures, seminars, workshops, projects, labs and work experience. School coursework covers the following topics:
- Analog and digital electronics
- Network analysis
- Electromechanical conversions
- Engineering and economics
- Computer networks and internets
- Computer hardware system design
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Students who pursue this master's degree, which may offer the opportunity to further specialize in analog and mixed signals, will gain fundamental understandings of broadband and RF circuits, amplifier design, data conversion, voltage regulators, RF integrated circuits design, signal integrity and power supplies. Students are trained to perform research and solve design problems using engineering principles. Most candidates balance a heavy academic load with work and personal lives, contributing experience and innovation to their programs.
Partnerships formed between universities and local industry help develop curricula that provide the state-of-the-art information and skills needed by employers. Evening classes accommodate schedules and part-time enrollment in the case of working professionals. A partial list of topics includes:
- Amplifiers: operational, differential and transconductive
- RF circuits: mixers, oscillators, synthesizers
- Broadband: phase locked loops and CDR circuits
- CMOS imaging technologies and analog overview
- Analog to digital converters and semiconductor devices
- Management of power, date converters and radio frequency IC
Professional certificates are available at every degree level and, in fact, some may not require a degree at all. Colleges, universities and professional societies and associations offer online and on-campus classes for working professionals. Many certificate programs are self-paced and require completion of three to eight intensive courses. Relevant certificates include:
- Analog circuit design
- Advanced project management
- Advanced computer security
- Interactive and dynamic formats
- IC design and techniques
Popular Career Options
Graduates of associate's programs who wish to enter the job market should consider Certified Software Development Associate credentials, which validate understanding and skill in fundamental software development practices. This is obtained from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society.
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs are prepared for such positions as:
- Design, product, computer, research, or electronics engineer
- Entry-level programmer
- Computer operator
- Electronics technician
Memberships in professional societies and associations provide opportunities to attend conferences, seminars and webinars, to take online courses and fast-track training classes. These groups maintain libraries for members filled with abstracts, periodicals, news articles and other cutting-edge information.
Associate's degree holders who wish to pursue careers as computer hardware engineers move on to earn 4-year degrees. Engineering faculty positions definitely require graduate training, as do some research and development program participants. However, the majority of entry-level engineering jobs do not require a graduate degree. Many experienced engineers pursue graduate degrees to learn new technology, advance into managerial and business positions and broaden or deepen their education.
Professional engineers who offer service to the public must be licensed. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires engineers to hold degrees from schools it accredits; along with an accredited degree, the group requires four years' work experience and completion of a state exam. New engineers take the first-stage exam upon graduation and, thereafter, are commonly called engineers in training (EITs). Once work experience is met, EITs sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Periodic re-licensure usually requires continuing education.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Employment of engineers is expected to grow 4%, a bit slower than the average for all occupations from 2014 through 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Employment growth for computer hardware engineers is expected to be a slower 3%, the result of foreign competition combined with an increased emphasis on software instead of hardware. The median wage for computer hardware engineers in May 2015 was reported to be $111,730, with the top 10% earning $167,100.
There are multiple undergraduate and graduate programs that cover analog design. These programs generally include electrical and electronics technology training, and they can prepare students for work in the field, professional certification or more advanced studies.