Initial electrical product designers generally work in the scientific field, solving complicated problems with mathematics. Technicians working in electrical design focus on more routine design solutions. Electrical and electronics engineers design electrical equipment for a variety of industries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering can prepare individuals for entry-level careers in the field. However, a graduate degree can prepare graduates for more supervisory roles in electrical engineering or can even prepare them to teach the subject at some technical institutions and universities. Doctoral degree programs can prepare graduates for roles in academia and research.
Bachelor's applicants are generally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have taken precalculus. Master's applicants are generally required to have a bachelor's degree in telecommunications, computer engineering, electrical engineering or engineering technology with a minimum GPA. Doctoral admission seekers are typically required to have completed a degree in an electrical engineering-related discipline.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Electrical Engineering
These four-year programs in electrical or electronics engineering - as well as electronic engineering technology - offer training in electronic design. Students learn to design, develop, test, and manufacture electrical products by working on hands-on projects. Because physical participation is a requirement of both the major and the profession, some programs require that students purchase their own tools, like soldering irons and screwdrivers. Applicants who have a knack for science and math - but are not ready to take precalculus - are usually able to make up for academic deficiencies with additional coursework.
Students learn to apply analytical skills to engineering problems in analog and digital electronic systems as well as issues in circuit design. Material covered in these types of programs includes:
- Quality control
- Integrated circuits
Master's Degree Programs in Electronic Design
Both electrical engineering and electrical engineering technology programs can prepare students for careers as electrical engineers. Engineering students can focus on topics like design for mixed-signal circuits, solid-state electronics, electromagnetics, and communication power or control systems. Thesis and non-thesis options are available to master's students.
Students can learn about mechanics, linear control systems, and power electronics in order to apply solutions to problems in electronic automation and wireless communication networks. In preparation for managerial positions in product maintenance, system integration, and new product design, students can learn about:
- Electronics construction
- Fault analysis
- Machine intelligence
- Programmable devices
- System modeling
Doctoral Degrees Programs in Electrical Engineering
Coursework in applied physics, bioengineering, computer science, and control systems may overlap with electrical engineering at the doctoral level. Completion of these doctoral programs typically takes three to five years of work past the master's level.
Students can engineer machines to interact with humans, design infrastructure to handle increased speeds in wireless communication and use algorithms to decode and debug information. Research at this level can include training in:
- Digital signal processing
- Information theory
- Integrate circuitry
- Statistical interference
- Wireless networks
Popular Careers Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 126,950 engineering technicians were employed in the electrical and electronics industry in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The number of employed electronics engineers not working on computers was 134,110 in the same year. Bachelor's degree holders can be qualified to find positions as:
- Design technologists
- Test technologists
- Controls technologists
Doctoral program graduates typically find careers in research or academia. Industries hiring these professionals can include the medical field, optics, and remote sensing fields. Positions available to doctoral program graduates include:
- Development engineer
- Electrical engineering professor
- Optics technologist
- Process engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the 2018-2028 BLS jobs forecast, the number of electronics engineering jobs - not working on computers - was expected to decline by 1%. Non-computer electronics engineers earned a median annual salary of $102,700 according to the May 2018 BLS reports.
For those interested in careers in electronic design, a bachelor's degree prepares students for entry level work in electrical engineering. Those seeking managerial, academic and/or research positions may get the advanced training needed from a master's degree or doctoral program.