Are you interested in pursuing a career as an electrical engineer? Have you narrowed down your choices of engineering careers and you keep coming back to this one? As an electrical engineer you will spend the majority of your work day designing, testing, installing, and maintaining machinery or large scale electronic equipment. The equipment you work on is likely to be found in the manufacturing industry, in the power generation, or in a transmission. Depending upon your specific employment, you may be required to use computer software to perform engineering tasks, you may use a variety of design software, and you will have to be familiar and comfortable with many different types of equipment that will help you accomplish assignments. Electrical engineers help to design and create electrical products of all shapes and types; this will allow this career path to be a fast-paced industry that will face continuous change. Keep in mind, in this profession a large majority of your work will stem from the supply and demand for electrical power. Find top electrical engineering programs to get started on your career educational training. While a engineering degree program will make it possible for you to enter this industry, a master’s or doctorate level degree may be necessary for you to be qualified to explore the full possibilities in this career path. It is important to understand that this career path is quite competitive; therefore, you will want to be sure that you have the best possible grades in each of your classes (especially mathematics, science, statistics, and computer science). In addition to being an exceptional problem solver, you must also have strong skills in science and math. Your potential employers will likely be impressed if you have an extensive knowledge of computers and computer software, good public speaking skills, and the ability to write professionally.
Keep in mind, individuals in this industry are always in search of new and innovative means of delivering electrical power; therefore, having a creative side in addition to your technical skills will make you a great candidate as an electrical engineer. As previously mentioned, a degree will allow you to enter this job market; however, since the expected job growth for this occupation is well below average, a higher educational degree is sure to serve you well in your job search. Take a few minutes and check out any of the schools on the site that appeal to you. Any of them will be glad to send you a free information packet detailing what they have to offer you in your educational pursuits. With a degree in electrical engineering you will also be qualified to work in other areas of engineering. For instance, you could work in engineering technology or as a mechanical engineer.
An electrical engineer involves commitment and training along with the nature of being curious about how different machines function. For example, a person thinking of picking electrical engineering as a career must be willing to question everything like how a flat screen TV is energy efficient or how various equipment use high amounts of electricity without having a fuse blown. In a sense, it’s all about wondering or being curious about how devices around you work. You need an interest in the field for you to be academically as well as professionally successful as an electrical engineer. Electrical engineers have to answer electrical questions and will be responsible for working on various gadgets ranging from handheld consoles to the electrical grids. To become electrical engineers, individuals have various queries such as needing to know about the most suitable degree level to get the maximum income and how to make a successful career if they happen to choose such a field. The following is a comprehensive guide which serves as a resource for those who want to pursue electrical engineering as a career. Here you can find the steps needed to be the best electrical engineer, the degree paths that you should pick as well as the projected growth in electrical engineering, and the potential of salaries.
What Do Elecrical Engineers Do?
By making use of electromagnetism, electronics, and physics, electrical engineers design such devices that use electricity to function. Similarly, they also design devices that produce electricity. Such engineers work on various things like small, portable devices and large electrical systems fit in an aircraft. Apart from testing prototypes, electrical engineers evaluate, as well as improve systems. Almost all of the industries today require an electrical engineering. Such industries include ones that focus on technology, transportation, government, utilities, and communications. A majority of electrical engineers only work in a lab setting or office; however, short-term assignments and on-site projects are quite common.
An in-depth look at electrical engineering
Being an electrical engineer involves more than developing and designing systems. They are also fully involved in projects which mean they work on the conceptualization of a project to its maintenance. Engineers conduct costs analysis and feasibility studies to handle all the practicalities. Since electrical engineering assigns individuals with multifaceted duties, the individuals have the opportunity of specializing in research, consultancy, development, and project management. Since there is a wide range of industries that use electrical engineers, the majority of engineers opt for specializing in an electrical engineering’s sub-discipline.
Some common sub-disciplines are the following:
• Signal processing
Depending on the expertise and the background of an individual, some engineering projects might also assign the engineer to various projects like wiring up buildings, development of telecommunication systems, and designing household appliances. If an engineer wants to keep on progressing in the constantly changing field, he or she must be on top of the current trends. Electrical engineers need to have a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from an accredited university. Some firms even look for engineers with a master’s degree. Further specialization and certification can assist an electrical engineer experiencing progress in their careers.
What is the Average Salary of an Electrical Engineer?
Electrical engineers get a handsome amount of money for all their hard work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average salary of electrical engineers in the year 2014 was almost $91,000. Particularly, those engineers working in the gas and oil extraction and those working in the wireless communication sector earn high salaries. In fact, the top 10% of electrical engineers earn up to $143,000 in one year while those in the bottom 10% earn almost $60,000 each year on average.
What are the job prospects? The jobs for electrical engineers are expected to progress at a rate that is slower than average till 2022. Therefore, choosing the right degree in electrical engineering is vital. Those engineers that keep themselves updated with the latest trends in the industry will have sufficient advantage over others. Electrical engineering is moving away from all traditional manufacturing and is going towards designing computer systems. Current electrical engineers are assigned to build such powerful electronics that use GPS, cellular, and computer technologies.
Step 1 – Get a degree; bachelor’s or higher
Most employers require entry-level engineers to have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from an accredited institution. The coursework for the bachelor’s degree mainly involves electrical circuit theory, differential equation, and digital systems design. Apart from the classroom work, those enrolled in a major in electrical engineering can take part in field studies and lab work. Those engineering degree programs that have a cooperative nature provide the students with the opportunity of integrating the skills learned in the classroom in the real-world environment via internships. Students studying electrical engineering can also combine the bachelor’s and master’s degree in a study program which lasts for five years. Electrical engineers with a master’s degree can apply for jobs as instructors at universities and colleges. Or, they can apply for a development and research position at private firms.
Step 2 – Sit for the FE exam
All those electrical engineers that work in the utility field need to be licensed via the FE – Fundamentals of Engineering exam. To qualify for a license, the applicant should have a complete degree from an accredited engineering program. The individual also needs to pass the FE exam. Students have the chance of taking the FE exam once they graduate either with a degree in electrical engineering or a related one. Individuals that pass the FE exam are then called EIs – engineer interns or EITs – engineer in training until they sit for the PE – professional engineer exam.
Step 3 – Get experience with an entry-level job
Making progress in electrical engineering is usually based on accomplishments, as well as experience. A graduate degree is not really required; however, the employers do want their engineers to be updated with all the emerging technology. It is important to know that a graduate degree in the field is advantageous and leads to a quicker career development.
Step 4 – Sit for a PE exam
To be able to sit for the PE – professional engineer exam, the engineering intern should have at four years’ worth of work experience at least. Several countries require engineers to continue their education if they want to keep their license. This means that engineers should be aware of all the changes made in the field after getting the PE license as well.
What academic path should you choose?
The majority of careers for electrical engineers require a bachelor’s degree at least. However, associate degrees in electrical engineering are also available. Engineering degrees, whether they are associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees, focus primarily on science and math. As students start to progress through the degree, the classes start to get more advanced. Students have a choice from currently available multiple specializations in the electrical engineering degree like large-scale electrical grids or small-small electronics. There are numerous colleges that have online degrees in electrical engineering from the associate level to the graduate level.
There are pre-engineering programs that the students can go for at the associate level; however, those who want to become an electrical engineering, getting a bachelor’s degree is necessary. In a bachelor’s degree, the student learns electrical theory along with the practical way of using engineering equipment. They also analyze all those electrical schematics that they will come across throughout their career. Moreover, electrical engineers will learn the various applications for their degrees like the method of storing energy, how to make the computers run, and how to establish, as well as maintain communication networks. Some engineers opt for a master’s degree, or even a doctorate particularly if they want to teach courses at a university or supervise projects. A graduate degree is also for those students aiming to polish their credits in a specialization.
Associate Electronic Engineering Degrees
A majority of employers employ only those electrical engineers that have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. However, a few institutions still provide associate degrees in electrical engineering that are a stepping-stone to the traditional four-year degree. Those students that have a keen interest in electrical engineering can enroll for a degree related to electrical engineering at the associate level via a pre-engineering or engineering technology course. Of course, the associate degree will not create the job opportunities that a bachelor’s degree can; however, it does help the students figure out if they want to pursue a career in electrical engineering. This is a general education course, and it covers various algebraic concepts like linear equations, polynomial, radical, and quadratic equations.
• The student will be capable of solving various problems using math concepts
• The students will be able to use different technological tools for math
Computer logic and structure: The course goes over the inner functions of the computer and the way operating systems are generally organized.
• The student will understand all the internal parts of the computer
• The student will be able to assemble the basic parts of the computer
AC and DC electronics: In this course, the students learn how circuits and electronic systems work. The students also learn the different types of circuit, voltage, electromagnetism, and frequency.
• The student will know how to apply the principles of electronics to solve circuit problems
• The student will know how to create those basic circuits that are used commonly in various electronic devices
Introduction to networking: In this course, the students learn about the data communication between hardware devices, installed software, and computers. The course content also includes decoding and coding, packing switching, and circuit switching. Furthermore, students are also familiarized with device functions and network protocols.
• The students learn the method of setting up hardware devices like scanners and printers so that they can communicate with computers in a network.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Electronic Engineering
In a four-year bachelor’s degree, the student learns how to analyze and design electrical systems. In this degree, the students learn about electrical theory extensively. Moreover, they also get practical experience with computer programming, circuitry, thermodynamics, and mechanics. Students can also specialize in a field related to electrical engineering such as telecommunications engineering and biomedical engineering. Entry-level physics and math courses are prerequisites for taking a specific engineering. In some of the upper-level courses in engineering, the program requires the student to pick a specialization. As the student progresses, the courses in the bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering keep on increasing in difficulty. If the bachelor’s degree is done from an accredited school, then the student is qualified enough to the practice of engineering exam as well as the fundamental of engineering exam. To become licensed engineers, the students need to clear both the exams. Some of the common courses that are part of the bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering include
Probability Theory: The course teaches students how to calculate the possible aftermath of different engineering decisions like maximizing the sound data in a minimal bandwidth. The coursework includes topics like distribution, variables, conditional probability, density functions, and laws of large numbers.
• The students will know how to calculate probabilities before making an engineering decision
• The students can analyze the variables that can possibly affect the outcome of the system
Physics: The course teaches students about matter and the transfer of energy. Common topics include magnetism, electricity, heat, and light.
• The students get familiar with the universal laws of physics
• The students can apply computational and mathematical techniques to various problems
Electromagnetic Fields: In the course, the students learn about fields, waves, forces, and the way electromagnetic devices work. The course also covers magnetic poles, field mapping, and electric charges.
• Students understand the way in which alternate current is carried in the transmission lines
• The students are able to describe the electromagnetic current using calculus
• The students understand the effect magnetic, and dielectric material has on the electromagnetic field
Microprocessor Systems: In this course, the students learn about the structure of microprocessors, the way they work, the way they are utilized, and the way they are programmed.
• The students are able to configure various components of the microprocessor such as controllers, analog interfaces, and timers
• The students are able to set up the microprocessors so that they can interact with the external devices
Master’s Degree in Electronic Engineering
The topics in the coursework of master’s degree are similar to the courses in the bachelor’s program like telecommunication systems, control systems, and power systems. However, the graduate courses go beyond the material taught at the undergraduate level and are more challenging as well. Moreover, students enrolled in a master’s program focus primarily on only one aspect of electrical engineering. The students need to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained on a topic either by writing a thesis or doing a project. The graduate students can apply for higher-level jobs that involve the management of engineering teams or projects.
Power Systems: The course teaches students the way in which electrical energy is changed into mechanical energy. It also underlines the importance of electricity and electric power to give out energy so that it can be used for transportation and in industries. Students are introduced to the alternative energy systems like how hydroelectric, solar, and wind power and how they’re generated.
• Students learn how to calculate the flow of power through an electrical system
• The students learn how to install, as well as maintain various electrical devices such as motors and equipment for power control.
Semiconductors: By using the concepts of chemistry and physics, this course teaches the students how different semiconducting materials affect electrical circuits and electrical properties.
• The students learn about the way in which electrons are transported
• Students learn how the movement of electrons affects the functionality of semiconductors
• Students learn the way in which lasers, quantum dots, and photo detectors work
Electro-optics: In this course, students are introduced to LEDs, lasers, and other similar devices that utilize light for interacting with various materials. The course also gives the enrolled students details about how such devices work.
• Students learn how to solve problems involving optical circuits
• Students learn how to design oscillators, control circuits, optical amplifiers, and detectors
Electrical Engineering Doctoral Degrees
Students that have a master’s degree either in electrical engineering or a field related to it can go for a doctorate degree in electrical engineering. This opens up numerous opportunities, that too at the top most positions in the industry. The doctorate degree also opens up many opportunities for employment in teaching and research. Students enrolled in a doctorate degree spend a majority of their time in finishing a research dissertation; however, they also need to finish up coursework in a particular specialization. While earning their doctorate degree, a majority of the Ph.D. students decide to teach undergraduate students. The courses included in the doctoral degree in electrical engineering are quite complex, and they are much difficult than the courses students have to take at a bachelor’s or master’s level. A doctorate degree provides mastery in technology, electronics, electrical software, theoretical electricity, and mathematics. After the completion of the doctoral degree, students will be experts in applying the skills listed below.
Application of mathematical knowledge: By the time students receive their doctorate degree in electrical engineering, they will have taken enough mathematical courses to understand the concepts easily. At a doctorate level, the students are expected to apply all the mathematical knowledge they have gained to processes and model systems. Students doing their Ph.D. should have a clear understanding of the way electrical devices function. They should also know how to make improvements and be up to par with what the end users require. For effective results, the students need to understand how hardware and software work and they should also appreciate the way in which both the components interact.
Conduct experiments: To figure out what works and what does not, the doctoral students should research electronics and processes. So, the students are expected to conduct various experiments on theoretical designs for the latest electronic systems.
Communication: Since the field of engineering is quite a complicated one, people have a hard time in understanding electrical systems. However, since the electrical systems keep on growing and expanding, engineers must have the ability to effectively communicate with business professionals and industries so that they can work together towards improving such systems.
How to get a degree in electrical engineering online?
For those who are unable to attend a traditional university, online degrees offer great flexibility. However, note that not all the online degrees have the same accreditation and program benefits. This ensures that the school, as well as the program, meets the academic standards. Accreditation also allows the school to provide federal financial aid to prospective students. Moreover, graduating from an accredited school is a prerequisite if you want to apply for an engineering license. Electrical engineers need to be familiar with all of the latest technology. So, it is crucial that online programs for electrical engineering provide technology support including video streaming and online applications. Since electrical engineering extensively involves science and math, students often feel the need of group studies, as well as good tutors. The program you choose should not only have the option of live video tutoring, but they should also provide students access to writing and math centers. Here’s to hoping that this detailed post about picking electrical engineering as a career proves to be helpful for those interested in entering such a field.