Engineering is a broad field that deals with designing, developing, and maintaining tech equipment and structures. One of the most significant branches of engineering is electrical engineering, which focuses on designing, developing, and supervising electrical equipment.
It’s a popular field to get into, promising high salaries and a varied workday. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to become an electrical engineer. In this guide we’ll look at what an electrical engineer does, their median wage and job outlook, and the skill necessary to succeed in the field.
What Is an Electrical Engineer?
An electrical engineer creates electrical systems for things like machinery, buildings, and transportation. They are responsible for designing and developing the manufacturer of electrical equipment. These engineers are also in charge of installing and maintaining these electrical systems.
Electrical Engineer Job Description
An electrical engineer is responsible for performing a wide range of duties, such as installing, designing, and maintaining electrical equipment. These engineers ensure the equipment meets customer standards and complies with their specifications. They will also write reports, train team members, and estimate budgets for potential projects.
Generally, employers prefer engineers with an electrical engineering degree and relevant practical experience. You’ll also need a professional engineer license. You must also be familiar with engineering software and hardware, as well as programming languages related to electrical engineering.
Electrical Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
The field has steady job opportunities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical engineers are expected to see job growth of 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is fairly standard. BLS projects many of these openings to be due to people exiting the field, either to pursue other careers or to retire.
An electrical or electronics engineer earns a median wage of $103,390, according to BLS. Professionals in the field can earn over $100,000 with additional training and work experience.
Top Reasons to Become an Electrical Engineer
Working as an electrical engineer can be a fulfilling and exciting career full of job opportunities. Here are the top four reasons to become an electrical engineer.
- Job opportunities. Electrical engineering graduates have a high chance of securing entry-level positions upon graduation.
- Freedom to work in any industry. The electrical engineering field gives professionals the freedom to work in a wide range of industries such as retail, construction, and transportation.
- You’ll develop DIY skills. Electrical engineering requires skills that allow you to explore your creativity through DIY. For example, once you learn how different systems transmit energy, you’ll be able to fix your own electronic devices.
- It’s an exciting career. As an electrical engineer, you will get to try new electrical devices as soon as they are released. You may also get to take part in their development and creation.
Electrical Engineer Job Requirements
There are a few requirements you must reach before you are ready for an entry-level job as an electrical engineer. Your daily duties will depend on your specific field and employer’s needs, but here are a few common job requirements.
- Bachelor’s degree. Electrical engineers typically earn an electrical engineering degree or degree in a related field. However, you can pursue entry-level positions with an associate degree. You can also learn relevant skills through bootcamps.
- Knowledge of electronic hardware and software. You’ll need to have a good understanding of both software and hardware, to plan and design, create and maintain electrical systems and equipment.
- Engineering license. You’ll need an engineering license. This license solidifies your credibility and makes you eligible for employment.
- Knowledge of engineering codes. Codes are a set of rules that guide engineering processes. You must understand these codes to know the correct materials for building electronic structures and their usage methods.
Types of Electrical Engineer Careers
The best part of studying electrical engineering is the versatility it offers to pursue different career paths, because the core skills are so transferable. There are a wide variety of career opportunities available in this profession.
Computer engineers use their skills to design and manufacture hardware and software for computer devices. They build everyday items such as computers, cameras, speedometers, and medical equipment.
Computer Hardware Designer
Professionals in this specialty work specifically on computer hardware components such as processors and circuit boards. You’ll also work with hardware engineers to test products and oversee the manufacture of hardware.
Electronics and Communications Engineer
These experts are responsible for all broadcast systems. Electronics communications engineers research, design, and develop electronic equipment that facilitates communication, and oversee and maintain these systems.
Electrical Engineer Meaning: What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?
Electrical engineers perform many engineering tasks, including designing, manufacturing, and maintaining equipment. You will play an integral part in ensuring electronic technology is efficient and functioning properly. Below is an overview of some of the roles and job duties of an electrical engineer.
Engineers are integral in the technological innovation of electrical systems. Depending on your role, you might design and develop hardware to improve electronic equipment and products. In-depth knowledge of the relevant computer software will help you in your design work.
Installation and maintenance
Part of your day will include testing and overseeing the performance of various products, control systems, and power generation systems. All equipment must conform to the national safety standards and installation standards.
Budgeting and reports
You’ll work with other technicians to monitor and manage the budget, and write project reports. Project management is a large part of the role. In more senior positions, electrical engineers double up as project managers and you’ll be responsible for creating budgets and overseeing the distribution of funds across the board.
Essential Electrical Engineer Skills
Electrical engineering is a demanding field that requires focus and commitment. For this reason, employers are keen to employ well-rounded individuals who excel in the following soft skills.
You must be a good communicator to manage the daily interactions and customer requirements that come with the role. You will frequently collaborate with other technicians on projects while writing reports, testing products, and delivering presentations. Therefore, you should develop your communication skills to be able to communicate confidently and clearly.
Critical Thinking Skills
Engineering is a fast-paced role. When problems emerge, they require fast solutions, leaving you with the responsibility of putting out fires every day. Therefore, you must possess the critical thinking skills to make decisions and solve problems under pressure.
Whether you’re dealing with complaints from customers or other complex issues, your critical thinking skills will help diffuse any situation.
Engineers spend a lot of time on the computer designing, researching, and preparing reports. Therefore, most employers prioritize candidates with advanced computer skills. Being comfortable with more than one programming language is an added advantage.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrical Engineer?
It can take five or six years to become an electrical engineer. You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree as the minimum level of education, which takes four years to complete. After graduation, you’ll usually need to pursue additional training to acquire your engineering license.
However, some prospective electronics engineers choose to pursue shorter learning paths, such as coding bootcamps, trade schools, or community colleges. These alternative forms of education are shorter but only make you eligible for an entry-level electrical engineer position. It may be more difficult to climb the ladder later on.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become an Electrical Engineer?
Yes, coding bootcamps can help you launch your electrical engineering career. They provide classes in computer science fundamentals, machine learning, software engineering, and multiple programming languages. Although electrical engineering programs are not widespread, you can still acquire practical skills and contribute to your relevant experience.
Can I Become an Electrical Engineer from Home?
Yes. Technological advancements make it easier for electrical engineering students to pursue their education remotely. There are plenty of online engineering programs and degrees available. Furthermore, the widespread COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for many educational institutions to introduce online programs that weren’t offering this before.
How to Become an Electrical Engineer: A Step-by-Step Guide
The steps on how to become an electrical engineer are the same across the board, no matter what educational path you choose. Whether you attend a coding bootcamp or university, you must follow the steps below to help you launch your career.
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Get an Education
The first step is to gain a solid foundation of knowledge in electrical engineering. Select an ABET-accredited engineering program at a university or community college, or choose to attend a relevant bootcamp. Remember that a bachelor’s degree is essential for most high-level jobs.
During your educational journey, you will learn about all aspects of electrical engineering including electronic systems, electric power generation, power grids, and communications systems.
Take a Licensure Exam
All professional engineers must acquire a license to land electrical engineering jobs. To earn your license you’ll need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. In some states, this is only open to graduates from an ABET-Accredited program. However, this differs from state to state.
You must pass this test to receive your license. Later on, you can also take the professional engineer exam, which is open to professionals with four years of experience in the job market.
Find an Entry-Level Position
Before you can advance further in the field, you will need to land an entry-level job to gain hands-on experience and learn from industry experts. Once you have heightened your level of expertise, you will be able to earn a higher annual wage and find more career opportunities.
Best Schools and Education for an Electrical Engineer Career
There are many different paths you can take to learn electrical engineering and gain the strong background knowledge you need to launch a successful career. Read on for a more detailed overview of a few of these learning paths.
Electrical Engineer Bootcamp
Most bootcamps don’t focus on electrical engineering specifically, however, you can learn various vital skills that will enhance your career such as coding, software development, and machine learning. These skills can help you become an exceptional engineer.
The vocational school focuses on practical experience and licensing. You can attend a vocational school to gain hands-on experience and learn everything you need to acquire a license after graduation.
Community colleges only take two years to complete. With an Associate Degree in Engineering or a related field, you can easily work as an entry-level engineer and get started gaining hands-on experience to further progress in your career.
Electrical Engineer Degrees
Electrical engineers often pursue a bachelor’s degree, master’s, and even doctorate degrees. Typically, the higher your level of education is, the higher your chances are of securing a high-ranking position.
You can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Technology or Electrical Engineering to begin your career, then move on to a master’s and doctorate degree later as you focus on professional development.
The Most Important Electrical Engineer Certifications
Certifications enhance your career opportunities as they validate your skills in certain areas. We’ve listed two of the most popular and well-respected certifications below.
Certified Reliability Engineer
The American Society for Quality offers this Certified Reliability Engineer certification to professionals who understand safety standards, reliability, maintenance, and product or systems improvements. You must have two years of work experience and education, pass an oral and written test, and it must be renewed after three years.
Project Management Professional
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a great way to back up your project management and leadership skills to potential employers. You must have two years of education and work experience, pass an exam, and renew your certificate every three years.
How to Prepare for Your Electrical Engineer Job Interview
Employers ask a lot of technical questions in engineering interviews. You must be prepared to answer their technical interview questions confidently and accurately. They’ll also want to find out about your motivations and soft skills. This is your best opportunity to showcase your unique skills and stand out from the crowd.
Electrical Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions
- Why do you want to pursue an electrical engineering career?
- Describe the steps of electricity production?
- Which programming languages do you know?
- What are your long-term career goals?
Should I Become an Electrical Engineer in 2021?
Yes. Electrical engineering is a fun and innovative career path. You might get to design and build different electronic gadgets, ensure homes have electricity, and will earn a healthy annual wage doing what you love. The job is predicted to have a secure and steady future, making it an ideal time to pursue a career in this field.
Electrical Engineer FAQ
Yes, it’s difficult but possible. Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree as a minimum educational requirement, however you may find some that value experience over education. You’ll usually need a bachelor’s degree for more senior roles.
No, becoming an electrical engineer is easily achievable if you commit to it as a career path. However, it is a demanding field that requires commitment and passion because of the wide range of technical and soft skills required.
Creativity, analytical thinking, communication skills, leadership, technology innovation, and up-to-date technical knowledge are all important qualities in an electrical engineer.
Yes, you need a license to work in engineering.
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