Electrical engineers are the driving force behind many vital sectors like information, energy and power. To break into this career, you will need to have a strong foundation in sciences and math before you move on to expand your technical knowledge.
Topics of study in electrical engineering include electromagnetism, circuits, algorithms, and instrumentation. To become an electrical engineer, you will have to undergo training, including internships at companies that will offer you one-on-one mentorship and professional development opportunities.
But until you reach that level, online courses can help you decide which branch of engineering you’d like to go into, and which collegiate-level program is right for you.
What Is Electrical Engineering?
Electrical engineering is a diverse field of study that is appealing for a couple reasons. Electrical engineers are in high demand, which means finding a job after you finish your education should be fairly easy. The field is also attractive because of the diverse range of jobs you can enter if you have an electrical engineering background.
Electrical engineers are responsible for designing all types of electrical devices and systems, ranging from simple handheld electronics to complex communication systems, microelectronics, power plants, and electrical grids.
Many electrical engineers work in the rapidly developing fields of electrophysics, data science, AI, machine learning, robotics, and blockchain.
Fields That Use Electrical Engineering
Below is a sample of some of the fields in which professional electrical engineers may find work.
- Software/hardware engineering. This job involves coding and building computers.
- Communications. When it comes to communication, an electrical engineer’s tasks will include designing transmission infrastructure for information networks and even satellites.
- Power engineering. Power engineering involves designing high voltage infrastructure, usually for utilities and other power generation facilities, including renewable energy.
- Electronics engineering. This subset of electrical engineering entails creating circuitry for electronic digital devices.
- Big data analytics. In this field, an electrical engineer will apply their knowledge to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Robotics engineering. An electrical engineer can use their skills to develop hardware and software for use in virtual and physical bots.
Learning Electrical Engineering
You don’t have to go to an elite engineering school to land a great job in engineering. However, you might want to choose to attend a program in a city with a growing tech sector to ensure you will have opportunities to apply your skills once you graduate. These schools will often have connections to set up internships at local companies.
However, you also may want to supplement your formal education path with online training, or simply do away with traditional in-class learning altogether. If you’re highly motivated, it’s possible to get a good idea of the basics of electrical engineering by attending courses online.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Electrical Engineering?
It can take several years to learn electrical engineering. After you obtain a high school diploma, you should complete an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from an accredited university. After graduating, you can apply to work for a two-year position as an electrical engineer-in-training at an engineering company.
Once you have met all of these prerequisites, you can get an official designation as a Professional Engineer.
How to Learn Electrical Engineering: Step-by-Step
- Math and science basics. Training for a role in electrical engineering begins with studying mathematics and science in high school. Algebra and geometry will prepare you to understand calculus, which is essential to engineering. You should also study chemistry and physics, as all forms of engineering involve applied physics. Once you have obtained your high school diploma, you can apply to university.
- Choose a college program. Once you have been accepted into an electrical engineering program, you can explore your specific areas of interest within the degree. Then, you can apply for summer internship opportunities that you think might fit into your future career.
- Get work experience. During your final year of study, you should be looking into securing an Engineer in Training role so that you can immediately start gaining work experience upon graduation.
- Gain certification. Once you have finished your training period, you can study for the Professional Practice Examination (PPE), which will test your knowledge of engineering practices and standards. It covers topics such as ethical standards, patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The requirements for this accreditation varies by state.
The Best Electrical Engineering Courses and Training
When choosing a higher education institute or training course for electrical engineering, make sure it is in line with your personal aspirations. Location, class structure, and affordability will also be key determining factors.
In-Person Electrical Engineering Classes
In-person electrical engineering classes are a great option because they give you access to state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, and specialized research facilities. They also allow you to directly connect with your educators and peers. Below, we have listed the top electrical engineering program in the US, although you can explore others online to choose one that fits your interests.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Course: Course 6-1: Electrical Science and Engineering
- Length: November 2, 2020 (5 weeks)
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: N/A
This series of electrical engineering classes is offered by MIT, which has been ranked the top electrical engineering program in the country. In this program for electrical science and engineering majors, students will learn about circuits and devices, nanotechnology, communications, and applied physics. This course is just the first
Online Electrical Engineering Courses
Many accredited schools offer online electrical engineering courses. Some can be applied as part of a broader degree program, and others are available to beginners who are interested in getting to know more about electrical engineering. Below are some of the best online course offerings.
- Courses: Fire Training, Electrical Equipment, Electrical Power
- Length: 2 to 35 hours
- Prerequisites: Varies
- Price: Varies
Epic offers dozens of courses on electrical engineering on a wide variety of topics. The technical training courses cover system design and maintenance, power generation and distribution, alternative energy, and more. The courses cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the length of the course.
- Course: Crash Course Electronics and PCB Design
- Length: 103 hours
- Prerequisites: High school mathematics
- Price: $15.99
This course is intended for electrical engineering students who want to get familiar with the subject before heading off to university. It contains more than 100 hours of video lectures on how to create printed circuit boards, including analyzing circuits, AC and DC currents, and RC and RL circuits. You should have a solid base of knowledge in electrical engineering upon completing the course.
- Course: Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Length: 1 to 4 years
- Prerequisites: Undergraduate degree in electrical engineering
- Price: $22,500
This EdX course offered in partnership with Purdue University covers electrical and computer engineering in depth. In the fully-online program, you can choose between seven courses, including microelectronics and nanotechnology, power and energy systems, and computer engineering.
Free Electrical Engineering Courses
There are also some online learning options you might want to check out if you’re not sure that you’re ready to pay for those listed above.
- Course: Circuits and Electronics 1: Basic Circuit Analysis
- Length: 5 weeks
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
In this introductory level course taught by EdX CEO and MIT Professor Anant Agarwal, among others, you’ll learn different methods used to design and analyze circuits. It’s a self-paced course that requires you to dedicate five to seven hours per week. A certificate is available on completion for $169.
- Course: Introduction to Haptics
- Length: 5 weeks
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
In this course offered via EdX, you will learn how to build, program, and control haptic devices, which allow a user to feel they are in a virtual environment. The course will use a combination of robotics engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and bioengineering skills. It requires 1 to 10 hours of study per week, and comes with the option of a certificate for $129.
Electrical Engineering Books
There are a lot of Electrical engineering books available for sale but the following books provide a deeper dive into the subject matter and will take you beyond a basic “Electrical Engineering 101 for Non-Engineers”.
Practical Electronics for Inventors, Fourth Edition, Paul Scherz and Simon Monk
Written by a pair of experienced engineers and dedicated hobbyists, Practical Electronics for Inventors lays out the essentials of electrical engineering through step-by-step instructions, schematics, and illustrations. In this book, you will discover how to design and build circuits, use microcontrollers and get up to date on the latest software tools.
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering I, Don Johnson
This technical textbook details the creation, manipulation, transmission, and reception of information by electronic means. Chapters cover signals and systems, signal processing, frequency domain, and information communication.
Electrical Engineering: Principles and Applications, Allan Hambley
This top-recommended electrical engineering book helps students learn the fundamentals of electrical engineering using thorough explanations. The goal is to present basic concepts in a generalized way to show students how the principles of electrical engineering can apply to their field of study.
Electrical Engineering Certifications
Once you have earned a degree in electrical engineering, you can get certified by your state’s licensing board by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. There are several test levels offered by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
They include Engineering Intern, Engineer-In-Training, and Professional Engineer exams. After you have completed these exams, you can apply for an engineering license in your state.
Online Electrical Engineering Resources
Engineering societies and professional regulatory bodies are great sources of information. Below are a few electrical engineering resources that you might want to review while in college, or when you’re studying for one of the certifications listed above.
This website offers training and development opportunities for all kinds of engineers. You can gain accreditations from the society, or become a member to gain notoriety and network with other members worldwide.
This website focuses on engineering ethics and best practices. It’s a good resource if you want to keep up to date on new and standards in the industry.
Should You Study Electrical Engineering?
If you enjoy a combination of math and science, you should consider a career in electrical engineering. Decide whether you want to attend a university program, or just get more familiar with the topic by taking some online courses or reading books.
If you find that electrical engineering is your passion, stick with it and obtain all the necessary certifications so that you can secure work experience and get started on a successful career.
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