Aspiring electronics engineering assistants and laboratory instrument technicians have the option of enrolling in either an Associate of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology program or a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology program. They can also continue their studies in a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree program, which might translate to positions as industrial or electrical engineers. Students may be required to complete engineering and thesis projects in a master's program. Professional engineers who plan to offer their services to the public must pass an examination to obtain mandatory state licensing.
To enroll in a two-year associate's or four-year bachelor's degree program, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Prerequisite coursework in precalculus, college writing, and technical writing (associate's) or mathematics, English, and physics (bachelor's), as well as a scientific calculator, are typically needed. Strong ACT or SAT scores are also beneficial. Master's degrees will require a bachelor's in engineering accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology and strong GPAs and GRE scores.
Associate of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Associate's degree programs in electronics engineering technology are primarily offered through community colleges and technical schools. The programs provide students with a basic understanding of how electronic devices operate. Students learn about circuit design, microprocessors, transistors, voltage, and more. Many associate's degrees in the field can prepare students for entry-level positions or can prepare them to transferred to a baccalaureate program in electronics engineering technology.
Most associate's degree programs in electronics engineering technology consist of four semesters divided into general education courses and technical training courses. Some specific examples of the latter type of course include:
- Technical communications
- Electronics laboratory
- Microprocessors and circuits
Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering technology prepare students for more advanced positions in the engineering, communications, and manufacturing fields. Such programs include advanced courses in electronics instrumentation, controls, robotics, motors, programming, and computer applications. Students not only learn the theories of electronic device operation in classroom lectures, but also spend hands-on time creating and repairing their own electronic engineering projects.
Almost all baccalaureate degree programs in electronics engineering technology require students to complete fieldwork experiences, industrial experiences or internships before they are eligible to graduate. Other required courses might include:
- Circuits and electronics laboratory
- Technical physics
- C++ programming
- Logic design lab
- Differential equations
- Control systems
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Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Graduate programs in electrical engineering can often allow students to further their studies in electrical components and electronics engineering. Many such programs even allow students to select a particular concentration, such as power systems, computer engineering or electronic communication systems. Students are often required to write a scholarly paper or complete a thesis project that furthers industrial research in the field of electrical engineering.
The core seminar courses found within most master's degree programs in electrical engineering build upon students' previously gained knowledge of engineering, calculus, and physics. Some examples of core courses include:
- Integrated circuit technology
- Linear systems
- Communication systems
- Power systems
- Data acquisition and analysis
- Digital signal processing
Popular Career Options
Individuals who complete an associate's degree in electronics engineering technology are prepared to gain entry-level positions in several fields, such as telecommunications, consumer electronics repair, and electronics manufacturing. Some specific titles might include:
- Electronics engineering assistant
- Laboratory instrument technician
- Robotics technician
- Electronics sales representative
A master's degree in electrical engineering can lead to several upper-level management and research positions in the fields of industry and academia. Job titles may include:
- Electrical engineer
- Electromedical engineer
- Electronic component engineer
- Industrial engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Electronics engineers are required to have a bachelor's degree in their field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional electronics engineers held 135,390 jobs and electrical engineers held 178,580 jobs in the United States in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Most electrical engineers in the field worked for engineering services, research, electrical power generation, and manufacturing companies in that year. The vast majority of electronics engineers worked in the wired telecommunications, federal executive branch, and electronic component manufacturing branches. Electronics engineers made a median annual salary of $98,270 in 2015, while electrical engineers made $93,010 during that same year.
Continuing Education Options
Many schools offer Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs in electrical engineering. They are designed for current electrical or electronics engineers who are interested in pursuing a particular academic path in the field. They are also ideal degree programs for individuals who aspire to teach electrical engineering at the collegiate level.
All engineers who offer their services to the public are required to gain state licensure and gain the designation of Professional Engineer (PE). Individuals must generally complete a 4-year degree program and pass a state examination before they gain the PE designation.
Students wishing to become electrical or electronics engineers typically need to complete an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in electronics engineering technology or electrical engineering. Students at the master's level can pursue a Ph.D., especially if they aspire to work in academia, and all working engineers who provide services to the general public must be licensed.