Electrical Engineers picture    Electrical Engineers image

Electrical Engineers

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

Job Characteristics

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.

Employment Outlook

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.


Major Employers

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.

Electrical Engineers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be electrical engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening3.884
Complex Problem Solving3.883.75
Critical Thinking3.884
Reading Comprehension3.884.25

Electrical Engineers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be electrical engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Engineering and Technology4.645.9
Computers and Electronics4.295.32
English Language3.663.96

Electrical Engineers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being electrical engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.564.31
Getting Information4.434.78
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.385.23
Analyzing Data or Information4.155.02
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.14.78

Electrical Engineers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being electrical engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.45
Analytical Thinking4.43

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Electrical Engineers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Electrical Engineers jobs , as of 2018

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim8,310 $112,630
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn5,640 $94,730
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara5,350 $132,750
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington4,830 $104,800
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward4,170 $114,700
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue4,060 $117,580
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land4,030 $108,400
San Diego-Carlsbad3,790 $102,490
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale3,150 $103,430
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell3,040 $88,820

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to electrical engineers

Source : 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Electrical Engineers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.