4-year programs conferring a Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Computer Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering all cover the basic electronics theory necessary to work with communications systems. These programs combine classroom and hands-on lab experiences to teach students theory and practical knowledge, including topics such as digital electronics, technical communication, electronic circuit design, signals processing, and networking technologies. Experiential lab practice and a graduation project are generally required. After graduating, students are prepared for careers as electronics manufacturing quality control supervisors, process engineers, computer hardware manufacturing, network managers, data communications professionals, or telecommunications engineers. Some online programs are available in telecommunications engineering.
Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Computer Engineering
Students in electronics and computer engineering programs learn the electronics theory behind microprocessing and computer hardware, including the fundamentals of how to design analog and digital circuits and common practices in electronics manufacturing. Coursework explores digital electronics, circuits and technical communication. Lab work gives students the opportunity to test and build their own electronic circuits. Computer courses teach students about programming, using software to solve engineering problems in the field, network maintenance, and installation. Students can expect to complete courses in these subjects:
- Integrated circuits
- Digital controls
- Electronics testing
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Computer engineering students learn how to design, configure and test computer hardware as well as how computer hardware is manufactured. The curriculum also covers embedded hardware and network systems, programming, operating systems, and data processing. Introductory coursework in computer engineering includes electronics subjects, such as those in electronic circuit design, fabrication and troubleshooting, while upper-level classes teach students about digital computing, signals processing applications, and data structures. Coursework is usually applied in a senior project where students demonstrate their knowledge. Other coursework includes:
- Math for engineers
- System architecture
- Software engineering
- Operating systems
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Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering
Telecommunications engineering programs teach students to design communications networks and telecommunications infrastructure. Students have opportunities to work with telecommunications test equipment and software in lab experiences in addition to communications transmission labs where they learn about different types of signals as well as the means of transmitting them. Coursework will usually include classes on:
- Data transmission
- Networking technologies
- Signals processing
- Differential equations
- Network management
- Telecommunications network planning
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that the median annual salary for electronics engineers was $98,270 as of May 2015. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for all electrical and electronics engineers is projected to show little to no change. Employers usually require that electronics engineers hold a bachelor's degree. Employment prospects may be limited as many manufacturing industries are expected to see decline in the coming decade. Some growth is still expected due to the ability of electrical and electronics engineers to adapt to new technologies and assist in their development.
According to the BLS, computer hardware engineers earned a median annual salary of $111,730 as of May 2015; the bottom-paid ten percent of these engineers earned less than $66,000 while the top-paid ten percent earned in excess of $167,000. BLS research also indicates that employment for computer hardware engineers is expected to increase by three percent between 2014 and 2024; this will be influenced by the increasing number of hardware manufacturers looking for contract engineers instead of employees. The minimum qualification for this field is a 4-year degree.
The BLS also reports that the wireless telecommunications industry should see some of the greatest growth among electrical and electronics engineers during the 2014-2024 decade. As of May 2015, electronics engineers working for wireless telecommunications carriers earned a mean annual wage of $98,630, while those working for wired telecommunications carriers earned a mean salary of $91,160 per year. Employers usually hire engineers with at least a 4-year degree, and they also look for expertise in fiber optic transmission, computer programming and telephony. Additionally, computer systems software developers working for wireless carriers made a mean wage of $101,570 annually as of 2015.
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in electronic or computer communications will provide students with a solid groundwork with regard to how communications technologies work and how signals are transmitted. They will then be equipped to seek out one of a number of job possibilities in the telecommunications industry.