Career Definition for an Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineers are responsible for implementing electrical components into any number of devices that use electricity. They help to design and manufacture electrical products of all shapes and sizes, making it a career constantly on the cutting edge. Due to the job's complexities, electrical engineers frequently work with computers; many of these professionals also work in team settings. While there is overlap with electronics areas, electrical engineers generally focus on supply and generation of power.
|Education||Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering|
|Job Skills||Proficiency in math and science, problem solving, technical skill, written and verbal communication|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$95,060 (all electrical engineers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||9% (all electrical engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Having at least one degree in electrical engineering is an absolute necessity for advancement in the field; many firms require electrical engineers to have a master's or doctoral degree for career advancement. Degrees offered in the field include Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Engineering with a concentration in electrical engineering, Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Master of Engineering with a concentration in electrical engineering and Doctorate of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering. Gaining entrance into most engineering schools is quite difficult; applicants need top grades in classes such as computer science, physics, chemistry, mathematics and statistics.
Having an exceptional understanding of science and math is a major requirement for a career in electrical engineering; in addition, knowing computers inside and out is a plus. Electrical engineers must be good problem-solvers and have a creative bent, since finding new ways to provide power to products in the development phase is often the main task. Public speaking and writing are also good skills to have; electrical engineers frequently write technical reports and present material before large groups.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 188,300 electrical engineering jobs existed in 2016. The BLS also states that job growth is expected to be nine percent for the 2016-2026 decade. As of May 2017, the median annual wage for electrical engineers was $95,060.
Those pursuing careers as electrical engineers may be interested in related jobs, including electrical engineering technicians or electricians.
Electrical Engineering Technician
For those who have an interest in the engineering field but may not be ready to pursue a bachelor's degree, a career as an electrical engineering technician is a possibility. These technicians build electrical systems and devices, repair equipment, create diagrams and reports, set up tests and analyze results. An associate degree in a related electrical or electronics field is generally required in order to gain employment, and coursework in mathematics and science is essential.
The BLS expects a 2% increase in the number of jobs for electrical and electronics engineering technicians from 2016 to 2026, due to a decrease in traditional manufacturing. However, jobs will become more available in the computer and mobile technology industry. In May of 2017, the BLS estimated that electrical engineering technicians received a median salary of $63,660.
If working with power and electrical equipment is desired, becoming an electrician could be the right choice. Electricians read and interpret blueprints, install wiring and electrical fixtures, troubleshoot problems and make necessary repairs, oversee electrical technicians and make sure all regulations and codes are adhered to. Training at a technical school or in a 4-year apprenticeship is how most enter this field, and licensing is required in most states. Average employment growth for this occupation of 9% is expected by the BLS between 2016 and 2026. It also reported that the median salary of electricians in 2017 was $54,110.