If you’re an aspiring electrical engineer, you might be curious as to what a day in the life of an electrical engineer looks like. This can help you prepare for the workforce and guide your decisions surrounding whether or not electrical engineering jobs interest you.
In this article, we go through what a typical day in the life of an electrical engineer resembles and break down the average electrical engineer salary at different levels of experience.
What Is an Electrical Engineer?
An electrical engineer is a professional that builds, installs, tests, and maintains electrical systems, equipment, machines, and control instruments such as electric motors, radar, navigation systems, smartphones, and electric power generation equipment. They work in an array of industries, including manufacturing, telecommunications, aerospace, automotive, and IT.
What Does an Electrical Engineer Do on a Daily Basis?
The job an electrical engineer does on a daily basis varies depending on the progress of their project as well as what kind of project they are working on. This can be anything from working on product design to working with other departments on a project, overseeing a project’s progress, managing finances, and reporting to a client or upper management.
- Prepares technical drawings. Before commencing any electrical project, an electrical engineer will prepare technical drawings that show the device specifications as well as topographical maps that the team will follow. This is done to ensure that the product meets the client’s requirements.
- Meets with the project team. Electrical engineers have to meet with their project team regularly. This team consists of a design team, architects, project managers, and other experts. In these meetings, they go over project goals, budget, schedule, and production processes to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Oversees project production. Projects aren’t usually meant for one electrical engineering technician to complete on their own. They need to work with experts from different fields to deliver quality products and achieve various project goals. By overseeing the project production, they ensure that everything is accurate, completed in time, and within the budget.
- Tests prototypes. The most exciting, and often stressful, part of electrical engineering jobs is product testing and quality control. This is when engineers test the product before handing it over to ensure that it works perfectly and is safe to use. They also check for errors and make corrections before delivering the product.
- Reports to clients or upper management. Electrical engineers report the progress of their work to upper management or to their clients to make sure that everyone is satisfied. They keep them updated in case there is a need for adjustments with the product or a change in delivery time.
How Can I Become an Electrical Engineer?
You can become an electrical engineer by earning a degree, taking online courses, and getting certifications. Earning a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for electrical engineering jobs. However, you can also get an associate degree and work as an electrical engineering technician.
Electrical Engineer Degrees
A Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering is the minimum requirement to begin a career as an electrical engineer. Mot universities offer electrical engineering programs. An associate degree is also an acceptable degree, but you will have to start as an electrical engineering technician. Getting a master’s or certificate can help you advance in your career and become an engineering manager.
Electrical Engineer Online Courses
Online courses are a good way to stay up to date in the field, with new advanced technologies being developed on a monthly basis. You can even take online courses to earn your degree. You can also take standalone courses at any time. Continuously keeping yourself up to date on the industry’s advancements can help you grow your career and work on even more exciting projects.
Electrical Engineer Certifications
Certifications are evidence of your skills and are only available to engineers with a certain amount of experience. They prove to potential employers that you can work efficiently. There are several electrical engineering certifications that you can take to impress recruiters. These certifications mainly differ based on skill level.
How Can I Get a Job as an Electrical Engineer?
To get a job as an electrical engineer, you will have to first earn a degree. You can earn a Bachelor’s or an Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering. After that, you’ll have to gain hands-on experience, which can be done through internships or apprenticeships. Many schools offer work-study programs to help their engineering students gain this experience while they’re still studying.
You’ll also have to take an engineering fundamentals exam, which is required to practice as an engineer and can be done right after graduation. As you do all of these previous steps, you’ll hopefully have built solid connections in the industry who can help you find work. The last step will be to apply for entry-level jobs.
Steps to Finding a Job as an Electrical Engineer
- Earn a Degree
To work as an electrical engineer, you’ll first need to earn a degree. No one will hire an engineer without an education. You can choose between a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree, although the latter may limit your potential growth.
- Gain Experience
As a newbie in the industry, work experience is not expected, however, it’s highly recommended you start acquiring some before you graduate. To get practical experience, you can apply for internships or apprenticeships at companies to help you gain hands-on experience and give you a competitive advantage in the labor market.
- Take an Engineering Exam
To practice as a professional engineer, you need to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, commonly known as FE. This exam is highly important to get started with your career and requires you to already have a degree from an accredited school. It’s recommended that you take this exam immediately after you graduate.
- Build a Network
Your network is important for your career. Building a network of professionals who can help you stay connected in the industry will help you learn about job openings in the industry faster as well as help you land those jobs. You can build a strong professional network by joining industry forums, communities, attending industry events, and taking professional workshops.
- Apply for Entry-level Jobs
As a fresh graduate, you should focus on applying for entry-level roles that are within your skill level. These jobs will help you grow your career and gain the experience needed. You can find electrical engineering jobs on job boards, company websites, social media, and industry communities.
What Is the Average Salary of an Electrical Engineer?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of an electrical engineer is $100,830. At the time of writing this article, the lowest 10 percent earns around $64,870, and the highest 10 percent earns around $159,520. These figures depend on the industry, experience, and location.
Salary for an Entry-Level Electrical Engineer
The average salary of an entry-level electrical engineer, according to ZipRecruiter, is $57,372. The top earners make about $74,000, while the majority of them make between $48,000 and $65,000. These salaries depend on the skill level, location, and industry.
Salary for a Mid-Level Electrical Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for mid-level electrical engineers is $79,250. The majority earn between $71,500 and $83,500, while top earners make around $93,500. The highest earners make about $99,500.
Salary for a Senior-Level Electrical Engineer
The average salary of a senior-level electrical engineer is $107,086, according to ZipRecruiter. Senior-level engineers typically have about 20 years of experience in the electrical engineering field. The top earners earn approximately $137,000, while most senior electrical engineers earn between $90,500 and $118,500.
Job Outlook for an Electrical Engineer
The job outlook for electrical engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is seven percent, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. The BLS projects about 22,700 yearly job openings for the next decade. These job openings will come from replacing workers who transition to another career or retire.
Should I Become an Electrical Engineer?
You should become an electrical engineer if have critical-thinking skills and have a strong background in math and physics. Electrical engineers have a high job outlook, so getting a good job should not be too difficult. They also earn impressive salaries and can work in a wide range of industries, including for the federal government.
This is an exciting field that requires a lot of determination and focus to excel. Electrical engineering degree programs require you to be able to work with complex systems and perform detailed calculations. You must also maintain a high grade point average throughout your degree. If you can achieve all of these, you should pursue a career as an electrical engineer.
A Day in the Life of an Electrical Engineer FAQs
A typical day for an electrical engineer involves building devices using design software, problem-solving, going through design plans, working with your team, meeting with clients, carrying out maintenance checks, and testing devices.
Electrical engineers work within the same working schedule as most other jobs but may be required to work extra hours when needed to meet deadlines. They don’t work during public holidays, night shifts, or weekends.
Electrical engineers work eight hours a day for an average of 40 hours per week. This can sometimes increase when they need to meet deadlines and are behind schedule. Some professionals have a flexible schedule that allows them to take certain hours off on a weekly or biweekly basis.
Electrical engineers typically work as part of a team or with a team. This means that these professionals need to have excellent communication skills in order to collaborate with their colleagues.
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