Electronics engineers create and maintain electronic equipment and systems. Degree programs in this subject are available at the associate through doctoral degree levels. Two-year associate degree programs in electronics engineering technology cover the maintenance and troubleshooting aspects electronic systems. These programs often lead to work as an electronics engineering technician. A four-year bachelor's degree in electronics engineering is the standard academic credential for a prospective electronics engineer. Both undergraduate degrees require applicants to be high school educated.
Two-year master's and six-to-seven year doctoral degree programs in electronics engineering are more focused on research, with master's students completing a thesis and doctoral students doing a dissertation. It's common for graduate students to select a specialization, such as computers, electronics or digital systems. While graduates of master's programs may find work in intermediate positions like design engineer or system engineer, graduates of doctoral programs are prepared to teach electronics engineering at the college level or work as researchers in academia or industry. To enroll, master's students need a bachelor's in a related field, while doctorate programs require a master's in a related field.
Electronics Engineering Technology Associate of Science Degree
A degree program in electronics engineering technology teaches troubleshooting and theory in electronics engineering. Important industry aspects are taught, including voltage, circuits, semiconductors, and microprocessors. Students perform experiments and work with emerging technology. Electronic laws and formulas are also discussed. Programs must have accreditation from either the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for graduates to be able to work in the field.
Practice and theory are combined with lab work and lecture in associate degree coursework. Credits can usually transfer over to a 4-year degree program. General class topics are:
- Digital electronics
- Power supplies
- Troubleshooting systems
Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering
An electronics engineering degree program qualifies students to work with electronic systems and machinery. The ins-and-outs of designing, testing and producing electrical hardware and software are taught. Students learn how to plan and modify electronics and receive instruction on programming and instrumentation. Graduates go on to work in different fields, including robotics, engineering, manufacturing, and testing.
Lab work and engineering theory are the main components of electronics engineering bachelor's programs. Math and science receive particular emphasis across many different courses. Main class topics are:
- C++ programming
- Digital and control systems
- Electrical circuits
- Safety and protection
Electronic Engineering Master of Science Degree
Students complete more research in a graduate degree program than they did at the undergraduate level. Students choose a specialty, such as digital systems or electronics, and focus their thesis and research on the area. Electronics engineering may also be found as an option under electrical engineering master's programs.
Independent studies are optional for students interested in working one-on-one with a professor and further expanding their research skills. Specialized seminars are available. Class subjects may include:
- Designing systems
- Communication systems
- Network systems
- Quality management and control
- Research methods
- Signal processing
Electronic Engineering Doctorate
This program allows students to fully immerse themselves within their specialty. The goal is to produce research engineers who develop new engineering technology. Students may choose an area of interest (i.e., energy systems, computers). Classes are taken the first part of the curriculum, while dissertation research and writing make up the last part; the heavy research component means that applicants must demonstrate the ability to perform independent research. Possible class topics are:
- Electronic analysis, theory and processes
- Control and operating systems
- Linear systems
- Software engineering
Popular Career Options
Graduates of this type of associate degree program are prepared to work in consumer electronics or telecommunications, for example. Experienced professionals supervise entry-level positions. Possible careers include:
- Electronics engineer research assistant
- Engineering assistant
- Senior technician
Master's graduates are prepared to enter intermediate level positions or doctoral programs. Employment opportunities include:
- Application engineer
- Design engineer
- Project engineer
- System engineer
- Test engineer
An electronics engineering doctorate prepares graduates for upper-level positions at research institutions and universities where they are expected to contribute to the field. Potential job titles are:
- Electronics engineering professor
- Industrial researcher
- Research engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the BLS projected job growth for these engineering technicians to remain unchanged between 2014 and 2024. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $61,130 in May 2015, according to BLS figures.
Electronics engineers can find education at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Completing these degrees open up numerous job opportunities at different positions depending on what career goals you have.