Electrical Engineer: Job Information & Requirements

Learn about the work responsibilities of an electrical engineer. Explore academic requirements, necessary skills, employment outlook and salary in order to make the right career decision.

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Career Definition for an Electricial Engineer

Electrical engineers engineers help build devices that need electrical components to operate. In the workplace, electrical engineers find themselves frequently working in group settings; they must also have expertise in computers, which are used quite frequently. Having a master's or doctorate degree is a must for any electrical engineer who hopes for a high level career; a bachelor's degree is needed for an entry-level position.

Education Electrical engineering bachelor's degree required, master's and doctoral programs available for career advancement
Job Skills Technology background, math and science, public speaking
Median Salary (2015)* $93,010 for electrical engineers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% for electrical engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering or a Bachelor of Engineering with a concentration in Electrical Engineering is a requirement for any prospective electrical engineer. A master's in electrical engineering is a must for anyone with greater career aspirations, and a doctorate might even be recommended. Most engineering programs require students to take a separate entrance exam; classes in math, physics, science and computer science will make up most of the course load. Most undergraduate electrical engineering degrees take four to five years to complete; master's-level programs take two years or more.

Skills Required

Electrical engineers must be able to combine a technology background with a creative bent; coming up with new ways to make innovative products come alive is a major part of the job. Having a strong background in math, science and computers is a requirement for electrical engineers, who frequently work with all three disciplines. Electrical engineers also make presentations before large groups, so experience in public speaking is beneficial.

Career and Economic Outlook

In 2014, electrical engineers held over 178,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth is expected to be 1% from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, the median wage for electrical engineers was $93,010.

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Alternative Careers

Here are some other options for careers in electrics and engineering:

Electrical Engineering Technician

If working on electronics projects and assisting electrical engineers in the development of new components and devices sounds appealing, consider becoming an electrical engineering technician. Electrical technicians build circuitry and components using engineering diagrams in addition to analyzing performance issues, drafting schematics, running tests and recommending modifications after analysis. To work as an electrical engineering technician, an associate degree in electrical engineering technology is generally required by employers. Optional certification is also available for those seeking employment in the power transmission and generation industry. The BLS has predicted that this field will see a drop of 2% in employment during the 2014-2024 decade because of decreasing manufacturing activities. In 2015, the BLS reported that electrical and electronics engineering technicians received $61,130 in median earnings.


For those interested in the nature of electricity and finding ways to bring power to homes and businesses, pursuing an electrician career may be a good fit. Electricians repair electrical wiring and power boxes in addition to installing new wiring, security and communication systems, fixtures and other electrical devices in old and new buildings. Because of the dangerous nature of electricity, they need to adhere to building codes and safety standards when performing their duties. Most electricians learn their trade by working as an apprentice for a number of years, but some might take courses at a technical school as a substitute for part of the apprenticeship requirement. Licensing is also required in a large number of states, and apprentice electricians must pass an exam testing their knowledge of electric regulatory codes.

As stated by the BLS in May of 2015, electricians earn a median annual salary of $51,880. Almost 86,000 jobs are expected to open up for electricians between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS, and many of these positions will be in the alternative energy industry.

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