Become an Electronic Engineer
Electronic engineers focus on the manufacturing of various types of electronic equipment, including communications and navigation systems, motors, and power generation equipment. To manufacture these pieces of equipment and devices, electronic engineers create designs and build prototypes. Most work is accomplished in offices, although site visits are sometimes required.
Prospective electronic engineers must earn at least a bachelor's degree in electronic engineering. While not required, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams to obtain licensing may be preferred by employers.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Name||Electronic engineering|
|Licensure||Obtaining licensure in the field may be preferred|
|Key Skills||Strong communication skills; attention to detail; the ability to work as part of a team; knowledge of how to design electronic components, converters, and circuitry; computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) skills|
|Salary||$72,937 (Median salary as of January 2016 for electronic engineers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Payscale.com; Monster.com job postings (December 2012)
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Let's look at the steps necessary to become an electronic engineer.
Most job openings for electronic engineers require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from a program accredited by ABET. These 4-year engineering programs are often housed in computer or electrical engineering departments. They have significant mathematical requirements that can include a sequence in calculus plus a differential equations course. Students may also be required to complete a physics sequence.
Electronic engineering curricula for undergraduates often include coursework in circuitry, communications systems, and computer programming. Some courses include technical labs in addition to lectures. The capstone of many electronic engineering programs is the senior design project, in which students research and design an original concept. Many students also choose to pursue cooperative internships in the summer to gain practical work experience.
Potential electronic engineers may also want to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The first section of the FE covers math, science, and basic engineering topics, including materials and mechanics. The second section tests individuals on their specific discipline. Engineers who pass the exam earn the Engineer in Training or Engineer Intern designation.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2014, the industries that employed the most electronic engineers were the telecommunications sector and the federal government. Additional industries that offered high levels of employment included engineering services companies, semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing, and navigational manufacturing. While the BLS reports that job growth was estimated to show little growth from 2014-2024, the highest area of employment for many electronic engineers was projected to be within engineering services firms.
Step 3: Pass the PE Exam
After four years of work experience, electronic engineers can sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Electronic engineers can select the electrical and electronics version of the PE, which covers topics that include electronics, digital systems, and communications. Passing the PE is typically the last step that individuals must take to become licensed engineers. Passing this exam can create better career opportunities and advancement for engineers.
Electronic engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in the field. Taking and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams can help open better career opportunities.