Lighting Engineer: Job Outlook & Career Info

Apr 07, 2019

Lighting engineers use the principles of electrical engineering to design, develop, test and supervise the manufacture of lighting equipment for consumer, business and industry uses. Learn more about the training, salary and employment outlook to determine whether this occupation is the right one for you.

Career Definition for a Lighting Engineer

Lighting engineers and the companies that employ them are focused on the development of energy-efficient lighting. Artificial lighting in homes and offices accounts for nearly 50% of the total energy consumed. For some buildings, more than 90% of lighting energy consumed can be an unnecessary expense, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. These days, lighting engineers are particularly focused on LED (light emitting diode) applications, which use far less energy than traditional technologies. LED lighting is now used in traffic lights and billboards. Some lighting engineers work on new design and manufacturing techniques that lower these costs, while others develop entirely new applications, such as the recently introduced LED Christmas lights.

Education Bachelor's degree in engineering required
Job Skills Strong math and physics skills, team and independent work, curious mind
Median Salary (2018)* $96,640 for electrical engineers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 9% for electrical engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A lighting engineer must have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, a rigorous program that can take up to five years to complete. Coursework includes calculus, physics and optics, along with courses focusing on solid state technologies and environmentally friendly designs.

Required Skills

Someone wishing to enter this field must have a strong aptitude for math and physics. Additionally, the push for green innovation necessitates a highly curious, tenacious mindset that can apply fundamentals of electrical engineering in novel ways to develop the next generation of clean, efficient lighting. As part of that process, lighting engineers should be able to work both collaboratively and independently to achieve breakthroughs. Additionally, LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is highly encouraged. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, it signifies knowledge of green building design, construction and operations.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that demand for all electrical engineers should increase at an average rate of 9%, from 2016-2026. Those with green technology skills, like the LEED certification, will be highly sought after as companies compete to transform their traditional technology to energy-efficient products. Median 2018 earnings for all electrical engineers were $96,640.

Alternate Career Options

Look into these other career options in engineering as well:

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician

For those wishing to work on electrical and electronic equipment and devices, but wanting to enter a career by completing just an associate's degree, this might be an appealing option. The BLS predicts an increase of 2% in job openings for these technicians from 2016-2026, but techs working in the integration of computers and electronics systems should be in high demand. In 2018, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $64,330 for these technicians.

Computer Hardware Engineers

By earning a bachelor's degree in computer or electrical engineering, these engineers then work at researching, designing and testing computer equipment. As fast as the average employment growth of 5% was projected by the BLS from 2016-2026 for these engineers, due in part to foreign competition. Those with computer engineering degrees who look for work in computer consulting firms should have the best job prospects, the BLS suggests. The BLS also revealed an annual median wage of $114,600 in 2018 for these engineers.

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