Bachelor's programs in electrical or electronic engineering typically last four years and are most commonly found as on-campus programs. When looking for a program in this field, students may want to check for a program that is accredited by the ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Completion of an ABET-accredited program is often required to secure state licensure.
Engineering programs typically award Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. Some aviation-focused degree programs in electrical engineering technology are also available; however, these programs typically prepare students for careers as avionics technicians. Students can enroll in a bachelor's program after earning a high school diploma or as a means of continuing their training beyond an associate's degree program in avionics or electrical engineering technology.
Bachelor's Degree in Electrical or Electronic Engineering
All students pursuing a bachelor's degree in electrical or electronic engineering with an avionics concentration complete basic coursework in electronics and electronic controls, which is essential to understanding how signals are processed to control an aircraft, record flight data and give pilots information on atmospheric conditions. Other general engineering coursework covers circuits, electronic systems design, systems analysis, electromagnetics and computer science. A work co-op or capstone project may also be required. Avionics-specific courses may include:
- Avionics detail designs
- Electrical communications
- Advanced avionics design
- Radio frequency circuits
- Electronic navigation systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, electrical engineers earned a median income of $93,010 and electronics engineers earned a median of $98,270. The BLS expects employment of electrical and electronics engineers to experience no growth between 2014 and 2024.
While a professional engineering license is not required for all avionics engineering positions, it is often encouraged for those who work with government contacts and required for those who offer services to the public. Licensure requirements vary slightly by state but generally include graduating from an ABET-accredited engineering program, passing two exams and having relevant work experience. After completing these requirements, engineers may call themselves Professional Engineers (PEs).
Avionics engineers who wish to continue their education or advance into management positions could consider enrolling in a master's degree program. Similar to undergraduate options, master's degrees in this field are often found in electrical or electronics engineering with electives in avionics. These programs can be completed in as little as one year and are available with thesis and non-thesis options.
Avionics is specialized work that requires field-specific experience supported by the background knowledge of a bachelor's degree in electrical or electronic engineering.