How to Become an Electrical Engineer

This article provides in-depth information into What is an Electrical Engineer? What Electrical Engineer do? Degrees for Electrical Engineer, Steps to become Electrical Engineer and much more.


What does an electrical engineer do?

An electrical engineer is a professional who works on developing electrical systems and circuits to transmit power and electricity. This profession deals with designing and developing electronic devices using the fields related to electricity, electromagnetism, electronics, and other related technologies. 

An electrical engineer also has a wide door of opportunities in other fields where they solve problems and suggest solutions in related fields.

  • They test and evaluate the electric system to study and improve the devices

  • Developing electrical components to ease customer experience based of their brief

  • Design a system for worldwide communication

  • Conduct  retest on the electrical products and systems for required modification

  • Innovating new products and maintain the standards

  • Communicate with teammates during the project development 

Electrical engineer’s salary

According to the 2020 statistics, the average salary of an electrical engineer is about $144,477 per annum and it may range from $130,465 and $155,567 depending on your education, certifications, professional experience and skills sets.

Job growth

Electrical engineers are said to be competitive and are updated with the latest technologies, where they can be hired in any field due  to this. According to the U.S. Department of Labour, there is an increase of 7 percent and 10,700 new jobs will be created by the end of 2022.

Steps to Become an Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineering is a diverse branch and there is more scope for innovation. Hence, here are some steps explained briefly for a student who wants to pursue a career as an electrical engineer,

Step 1-  Get a Bachelor's degree in Electrical engineering

Students must earn a Bachelor's Degree in electrical engineering accredited by the ABET-Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The coursework includes the general classes with the core subjects dealing with the electrical systems, circuits, energy conversion and various equations derived. They also gain practical knowledge and the labs and internship programs.

Step 2- Consider Master’s degree

Some students prefer to choose a combined Bachelor's with a Master’s degree for a five years program. This program gives a better and in-depth understanding on the electrical circuit, devices, and digital signal processing. A master's degree is beneficial for students who are career-oriented and want to explore other opportunities such as the role of an instructor at college in electrical engineering or a research and development position at an organization.

Step 3- clear the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

The Fundamental of Engineering Exam is designed to provide license for electrical engineers and the requirements to apply are that you must have graduated with the program accredited by the ABET-Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. After clearing the FE exam, candidates are called engineers-in-training or interns till they pass the Professional Engineering(PE) exam.

Step 4- Get a job and gain experience

By getting an entry-level job, the graduates get great exposure in the professional fieldwork and also gain experience by the supervision of a trained electrical engineer. The growth of an electrical engineer is broadly based on their experience and qualifications and hence sufficient practical and theoretical knowledge is required to advance in this career. Step 5- Clear the Professional Engineering(PE) exam

After gaining knowledge and experience as an EIT or an intern, you are required to have four years of experience and many states may put regulation to continue your education to maintain their license. After successfully completing the Professional Engineering exam, you become a licensed electrical engineer.

Types of degrees for an electrical engineer

An electrical engineer is required to learn not only the classroom education but also the practical knowledge of the equipment, circuits and systems. The various degree programs available for this profession are,

Associates degree in electrical engineering

 Associates degree is a two years program offered at universities and community colleges. This acts as a stepping stone for the bachelor's degree and accelerates the four year program. This also offers the same job opportunity with higher earning potentials but students can be sure if they want to continue as an electrical engineer further.

Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering

The Bachelor’s degree is a four years program that gives both practical and theoretical knowledge which is useful in the long run. This is the minimum required degree asked for the license exam. The credits from the associate's degree can be exchanged and hence this degree can be completed sooner. 

Master’s degree in electrical engineering

After graduating with a bachelor's degree, students opt for the master's degree which is a two years program. Students choose similar topics of their interest and carry an in-depth study on subjects such as power systems, control systems, telecommunication and others. Such graduate students can move to the high-end career which involves the management skills in a project related to electronics.

Doctoral degree in electrical engineering

Students who want to and on the top-level jobs such as a researcher, developer, or instructor in fields related to electrical engineering can choose this doctoral degree. A Ph.D. student utilizes the period of the degree program in research and may also engage in teaching courses to the undergrad students.

A doctoral degree may be more complex than the other degree branches as this branch covers diverse concepts such as electronics, mathematics, software, technology, theoretical electricity, and other core knowledge.

Online course in electrical engineering

Online degree in electrical engineering gives a wide range of topics that you can specialize in and flexible study hours. This is opted by students who do not prefer attending classes at the university. This gives options to the candidate to choose accredited courses with accelerated learning. It also gives learning support according to your learning pace with the assistance of online libraries and resources.

Concentrations to be considered by an electrical engineer

Academic concentrations: Electrical engineers are highly qualified individuals who possess in-depth knowledge on various subjects with good understanding. Now you know how they earned that knowledge, it is the coursework, here are some courses to guide you,

Associates degree in electrical engineering

This degree acts as a foundation to the other degree programs by providing the basic skills required to  start off the career, this is due to the course work that helps at the entry-level, they are - 

College mathematics

This course covers the basic concepts of mathematics such as algebra, arithmetic with quadratic, polynomial, linear and radical equations that can be used to derive the complex differential equations at the professional level.

Skills acquired:

  • Use of mathematical tools to derive equations

  • Use of technical skills to solve problems 

Computer structure and logic

This course provides an understanding on the use of computers in electronics, its operation, working and the functions that can be performed using a computer.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand computer use in electrical systems

  • Analyse the internal structure of  the computer

  • Basic assembly of the computer

AC-DC Electronics

This course gives an understanding between the AC and DC, it's conversion and how the electrical systems work. Students also learn the basic concepts of electronics such as the electromagnetism, frequency, voltage.

Skills acquired:

  • Apply the concepts of electrical systems to solve problems

  • Develop basic circuitaries

Introduction to networking

This provides students' understanding of the data communication between the computers, softwares, hardware and resources. It is also educated on the coding and decoding, electric switches and network protocols with its functions.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand and Design network protocols

  • Understand the hardware and software components of the computer

  • The network communication technologies

Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering

The courses offered in this degree are essential for understanding the theory behind the electrical systems and relate them towards building the circuits. Some accredited coursework is explained below.

Probability theory

This course is used to educate the students about the possible calculations of data and bandwidth, managing the network traffics. This course also includes the variables, distribution and density functions and laws of data.

Skills acquired:

  • Introduction to probabilities in economic theory.

  • Learn the algorithmic design

  • Calculation of probabilities to make engineering decision

Electromagnetic fields

Students learn about the electromagnetic fields, the combination of the magnetic fields and electric forces. It covers the waves, how the electromagnetic devices work and quantum electrodynamics.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand how the magnetic field lines affect the flow of current, magnetic material, dielectrics.

  • Analyse how the transmission field lines carry the alternate current

Microprocessor systems

This course provides knowledge on the structure of the microprocessor, their working, structure, application and how they are programmed.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the microprocessor families

  • Control structure and building of the microprocessor systems

  • Microprocessor interaction with the external devices 

  • Uses as a time or a controller to the  analog interfaces

Master’s degree in electrical engineering

The graduates lean the subjects of their choice in depth and they write a thesis to become a major in that subject, some courses offered in this program are,

Power systems

This course details the energy conversions from electrical to mechanical energies, how the electrical energy is used in transmission of power for the industries and transportation through the power cables and transformers. Students can also learn the conversion from other sources of energy such as the wind, solar and hydroelectricity

Skills acquired:

  • Installation and maintenance of  the power systems in industries

  • Power systems in power plants

  • Calculate the power flow through the electrical systems.

Semiconductors

This class teaches the use of semiconductors and how it works in an electric circuit with its electrical properties.

Skills acquired:

  • The movement of electrons and holes in the semiconductor when the electricity is passed.

  • Applications of the semiconductors in controlled electric flow

  • Learn concepts of photo detectors,laser and quantum dot operators

Electro-Optics

This is a core subject to understand the use of light-emitting devices where the electrical energy is converted to emit light and such devices are LEDs, Lasers. This course deals with the working of those devices.

Skills acquired:

  • Develop electro-optic circuits

  • Design the optical amplifier, oscillator, detector and control circuits

Linear Control Systems

This course provides knowledge on the principles of system modeling, control the analysis of systems with feedback review. Useful to design the system with the desired performance with a stable frequency of electrical transfer.

Skills acquired:

  • Assess the stability of electric transfer and performance of the linear systems

  • Design logically controlling systems using proper techniques.

Job concentrations

The degree in electrical engineering gives you opportunities to choose jobs within the field of  your interest, here are some career concentrations you can choose,

Radio Frequency engineer

The radiofrequency engineer works on designing the wireless networks and electronic devices that communicate through the radio waves. This involves the application of transmission lines, waveguides, antenna and principles of the electromagnetic field. He mainly works on communication through electronic devices and technologies and the average salary earned by the radio frequency engineer is $82,435 per year. 

Electronic communication engineer:

The electronic communication engineer utilizes the principle of both science and math to solve the practical problems in the communication field. They are engaged in designing, researching, developing, retesting the devices to include modification in the communication system. The products created by them can be used for mass communication and the average earnings of the electronic communication engineer nearly ranges between $48,000 to $86,000 per annum.

Transmission line engineer:

The transmission line engineers analyze the electrical systems and the transmission lines such as cables used for distributing power and telecommunication. They detect the problems in the transmission medium and review the potential modifications. You are required to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering to land on this job. The median salary offered to this role is about $71,000 per year.

Control engineer

A control engineer controls the regulation of the electrical systems with the use of suitable circuits, microcontrollers, a digital signal processor. This allows the machine to work in safety conditions in a desired behavior. The discipline of control is combined with electrical engineering and taught in many institutions. The salary of a control engineer ranges from $58,000 to $100,000 annually.

Computer Network Architect:

A Computer Network Architect is a person who designs and builds the data communication networks to send and receive data through the Local area network, wide area networks, and intranet. The role also includes building network security, network hardware ad support. The average salary offered for this job is about $137,000 per year.

Stand out skills required for an Electrical Engineer

To excel as an electrical engineer, you must possess a set of hard and soft skills, here are some important skills listed for you,

Problem-solving skills: Electrical engineers must have the good technical knowledge to analyze the problem and find an effective solution to improvise the design or product. By applying the basics of coursework, they solve the problems.

Creativity: Electrical engineers have the ability to innovate new ideas with their technical knowledge and creative skills. They analyze the problems in various methods and find a unique solution.

Leadership skills: Leadership skills are important personal skills that grow with time and experience. You must be willing to take responsibility and initiate situations where you can take charge of the programs and guide the teammates to complete the work on time.

Organized: Being organized as an electrical engineer is beneficial as they can organize and plan on the tasks to be completed, estimate the budget, allocate resources to the project and also tasks to be completed by the teammates. Managing the project at regular intervals with inspecting the progress helps become successful soon.

Communication skills: electrical engineers must communicate well to convey their ideas to their teammates and be good at documenting and reporting regularly to present information as a record. 

Electrical Engineer Salaries

Electrical Engineer