Electrical engineers are involved with designing, developing, testing and supervising the manufacturing of electrical equipment for industrial, commercial scientific and military use. Electrical engineers primarily focus on generation and supply of power.
They're involved with equipment such as machinery controls, electric motors, radar and navigation systems; power generation, control and transmission devices used by electrical utilities; communications systems, and lighting and wiring in buildings. Some electrical engineers design electrical systems for automobiles and aircraft. They typically have a specialty such as power systems engineering.
Some sample job titles are electrical design engineer, electrical controls engineer, project engineer, test engineer, circuits engineer and electrical project engineer.
- Oversee and coordinate manufacturing, installation, maintenance and testing procedures to make sure they comply with codes, specifications and customer requirements
- Prepare technical drawings and specifications of electrical systems
- Develop specifications for buying equipment and materials
- Establish manufacturing and installation standards and specifications
- Recommend actions to resolve customer or public complaints
- Make sure projects are completed within budget and on time
- Plan and implement research procedures and methodologies to apply principles of electrical theory to engineering projects
Most engineers work in offices, industrial plants or laboratories. Many engineers work 40 hours a week, however overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines. In addition, engineers often work in groups.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a two percent employment growth for electrical engineers from 2008 to 2018. Employment growth may be limited due to international competition and companies using engineering services from foreign countries. Electrical engineers employed by companies offering engineering and design services may have better job prospects. In addition, the median annual earnings in 2008 for electrical engineers was $82,160.
Engineers can advance in their careers by becoming technical specialists or a supervisor of a team of engineers and technicians. Some experienced engineers move up to an engineer manager position.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most individuals seeking a career as an electrical engineer earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Most entry-level engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Students may select an area of concentration such as microwave engineering or power systems. Some education programs provide job placement programs which allow students to work in the field as early as their junior year. Hands-on training can be very beneficial.
Many electrical engineering educational programs include courses in integrated circuits and solid state devices, communications systems, robotics, computers and power systems.
Some individuals obtain a master's degree in electrical engineering. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology provides accreditation for college and university engineering programs. In addition, professional certification can be beneficial for finding a job and advancing into senior technical and managerial positions.
Every state requires licensure for engineers that offer their services directly to the public. Licensure typically requires a degree from an ABET accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience and passing a state examination.
The top employers are electrical component manufacturing firms, scientific research and development firms, navigation controls manufacturers, engineering services, measurement devices manufacturers, architectural firms, medical equipment manufacturers and communications equipment manufacturers.
Schools for Electrical Engineers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.