An electrical engineer is a professional who designs and develops new electrical systems, solves engineering issues and tests electronic and mechanical equipment. An electrical engineer is usually focused upon electrical systems in a large scale, such as power transmission and motor control, as well as the use of electricity to move energy.
The need for electrical engineers in general is on the rise, and you can launch an exciting engineering career with ample compensation by earning an electrical engineering degree.
What Is an Electrical Engineer?
An electrical engineer develops, tests, designs and supervises the manufacture of various types of electrical equipment, including electric motors, radar, navigation systems, power generation equipment and communications systems. Electrical engineers come up with new ways to use electrical power to improve or develop products, and also do detailed calculations to develop construction, manufacturing and installation specifications and standards.
The general engineering field in the United States is experiencing steady expansion, with 7% job growth anticipated from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as average. Approximately 194,300 new jobs are expected to be added in the engineering field during this period of time. Strong growth is expected in many engineering occupations as more businesses are growing and expanding, and require the services of engineers to build and design new products and structures.
With an electrical engineering degree, the most likely occupation will be that of an electrical engineer. With a bachelor’s degree, it is likely you will have a junior or mid level role, while with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, you can eventually move into project management and a supervisory position of an engineering team.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports there are 188,300 electrical engineers working in the United States today in the following fields:
- Engineering services: 19%
- Electrical power generation: 10%
- Research and development in the life, physical and engineering sciences: 8%
- Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing: 6%
- Navigational and measuring equipment: 6%
It is anticipated that employment for electrical and electronics engineers will grow by 7% through 2026, which is about as fast as average when compared to other occupations. Job growth in the field is largely expected to happen in engineering services firms as more organizations are expected to use the expertise of engineers for projects in electronic devices and systems.
The increased growth of technological innovation will probably drive demand for electrical and electronics engineers in R&D, which is where more engineering expertise is needed to design new distribution systems that are related to new technologies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median salary for electrical engineers in 2017 was $95,000, with the top 10% earning more than $150,000 per year. Also, the median wage for electronics engineers was $102,100, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000 per year.
Salaries in the various industries for electrical engineers was:
- Research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences: $110,000
- Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing: $99,100
- Navigational, measuring and control instruments manufacturing: $96,900
- Electric power generation: $94,600
- Engineering services: $92,300
Online Degree Programs
Students and professionals who want to accelerate their careers in the electrical engineering field have many options to earn their electrical engineering degree. Today it is possible to earn your engineering degree online and rarely if ever visit a college campus.
A good choice for your online degree is the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. From nanoscale electric devices to the electric power grid in the US, this online degree program will prepare you for a variety of exciting careers, including energy distribution and production, information processing and management, and healthcare technology.
This four year, online degree program in electrical engineering will teach you both fundamental engineering courses as well as courses in analog and digital circuits, electromagnetic fields, microprocessors, communications networks, solid state electronics and electric power. The labs in the program will incorporate many practical hardware tools as well as industry standard design and simulation tools to give you the necessary skills to thrive in a modern engineering environment.
Students who want to get their foot in the door in electrical engineering usually will need to earn their bachelor’s degree in the specialty. Whether you want to earn your degree online or on a traditional campus, you will have plenty of options to consider.
An on campus option to consider is the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas-Austin. Students in this program can study either electrical or computer engineering. Both programs cover the basics and advanced topics in electrical and computer engineering. Both programs are based upon the essentials of mathematics, science, communication and the liberal arts. Some of the student outcomes in this bachelor’s program include:
- Ability to apply basic and advanced knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering
- Ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as interpret and analyze data
- Ability to design systems, components and processes to meet desired engineering goals
- Develop the broad education needed to grasp the impact that engineering solutions have in a variety of economic and societal contexts
Some of the required courses in this bachelor’s program are:
- Circuit Theory
- Linear Systems and Signals
- Embedded Systems
- Probability and Random Processes
- Engineering Design
- Software Design and Implementation
- Matrices and Matrix Calculations
To advance in the electrical engineering field, it is often required to earn a master’s degree in engineering. One of the programs you may consider is the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University. This two year, online program will give you excellent foundations in theory and will equip you as well with the practical skills that you need to develop and grasp new technology in electrical engineering.
All of the courses in this online program are taught by professors with extensive real world experience in electrical engineering. Almost ⅓ of the faculty are respected IEEE fellows and are known around the world for their scholarly work and professional achievements.
All universities at the bachelor’s and master’s level in electrical engineering have their own requirements for admission. At the master’s level, you might expect these types of requirements:
- Undergraduate degree in science or math-related field
- College transcripts
- GRE scores may be required
- 0 GPA or possibly higher
- Updated resume
- Three professional and/or academic references
- Writing samples
Below are typical course requirements for a master’s in electrical engineering program:
- Power Electronics
- Solid State Devices
- Random Signals and Systems
- Modern Communication Circuits
- Telecommunication Networks
- Engineering Applications
- Topics Electrical Engineering
- Power Systems Engineering
- Pulsed Power
- Antennas and Radiating Systems
Earning your electrical engineering degree is a significant commitment. Here are some good scholarships and grants that can help you to pay for your education:
- HENAAC Scholars Program: $10,000
- GeneTex for Education: $2000
- ExxonMobil/LNESC: $20,000
- Edison Scholars Program: $40,000
- DEED Educational Scholarships: $2000
- MIT THINK Scholars Program: $500
- National GEM Consortium Fellows: $16,000
- Wanda J. Schafer Graduate Scholarship: $2500
If you desire a higher salary in electrical engineering, you may consider earning these engineering manager professional certifications:
- Associate Engineering Manager (AEM)
- Professional Engineering Manager (PEM)
These associations can be useful for expanding your networking and educational opportunities in electrical engineering:
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
- American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES)
The electrical engineering field is seeing solid growth, and with the expanding US economy, having a bachelor’s or master’s degree in electrical engineering should be the ticket to a successful career.
- Electrical Engineer. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm
- What Electrical Engineers Do. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.engineering.unsw.edu.au/electrical-engineering/what-we-do/what-do-electrical-engineers-do
- Engineering Manager Professional Certification. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sme.org/engineering-manager-professional-certification.aspx