Electrical engineers and electricians work in the field of electricity management. These professionals may be responsible for installing hardware that manages electricity and maintaining that equipment. One of the key objectives of electricity management professionals is reducing the use of fossil fuels.
For the most part, electricity management careers require some amount of training in electrical engineering. Many of these career options involve an understanding of renewable energy sources as well as the existing sources of electricity. In another capacity, some electricity management positions involve the maintenance and installation of electricity management hardware. Continue reading for overviews of both of these career paths in electricity management.
|Career Titles||Electrical Engineer||Electrician|
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree||Apprenticeship|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||1%||14%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$93,010||$51,880|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Renewable Energy Engineers (Electrical Engineers)
Electricity management usually refers to using less electricity, but can also include minimizing the use of fossil fuels in electricity production. One career field that focuses on the goals of electricity management is renewable energy engineering. Current forms of renewable energy used to generate electricity within the U.S. include solar panels, windmills and geothermal devices.
Renewable energy engineers who focus on electricity management determine ways to improve or increase the amount of energy production by means of renewable energy technologies. Some engineers may work on more efficient containment and electricity dispersal strategies. Renewable energy engineers often conduct research, write reports and present findings to various committees, including politicians, fellow researchers and other utilities investors.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the majority of engineer positions require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field (www.bls.gov). Individuals can find bachelor's degree programs in renewable energy engineering or energy engineering. Topics covered in these degree programs may include mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as training with renewable energy technologies.
Every state has licensing requirements for engineers who provide services to members of the public. Recent graduates of an engineering program will usually start off by working under licensed engineers because unlicensed engineers are only permitted to do certain tasks. After several years, individuals can take state-mandated licensing examinations.
In some states, engineers are required to complete continued education coursework as part of the license renewal process. Earning engineering certification may not be required by all employers, but may provide professionals with more employment opportunities.
Salary and Job Outlook
Although many types of engineers work in the field of renewable energy, electrical engineers specialize in developing the power generation equipment and electricity transmission systems for all types of energy sources. The BLS projected that job openings for these engineers would grow by 1% from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary for electrical engineers in May 2015 was $93,010.
In general, electricians repair and update electricity producing equipment, but some electricians choose career paths that focus on the goals of electricity management. Those workers possess the training and knowledge to install energy-saving devices, such as light fixtures that use LED or fluorescent light bulbs. Some electricians also maintain larger renewable energy devices, which could include job duties like attaching solar panels to roofs or making repairs on windmill turbines.
Most electricians gain their knowledge through completing an apprenticeship program. These programs usually take four years to complete and include a mixture of hands-on learning and classroom lectures. Electrician trade organizations often host apprenticeship programs, and some of these organizations work in tandem with local colleges or vocational institutes. Coursework in these programs may cover topics such as construction safety, blueprint reading, electrical motors, industrial electronics, building codes and mathematics used in the field.
Electricians generally need to be licensed, but each state has different licensing requirements based on the type of services electricians offer. The BLS shows that the majority of licensing exams cover questions about the electrician's trade, legal concerns and construction codes at both the state and federal levels. Additional licenses or certifications may be required for working with energy-saving technologies.
Salary and Job Outlook
There were about 592,230 electricians employed in the United States in May 2015, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for these electricians was $51,880. The BLS predicts that employment for electricians will grow by 14% over the 2014-2024 decade. This faster-than-average growth prediction is partly due to the increased need for electricians to install alternative power generation equipment and wire it to power grids.
A career in electricity management can involve working as an electrician or electrical engineer. Electrical engineers are required to have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a state license. Electricians can usually enter the field through an apprenticeship program.