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Electrical Engineer

What does an Electrical Engineer do?

The Electrical Engineer is a person who will research, create, test, manage, supervise, and control the manufacturing of devices that are electricity dependent. They also control the installation of such equipment to ensure it works properly. Sometimes the electrical engineer will also create new innovations to improve upon existing devices. The devices the electrical engineer creates might be used for commercial purposes or even in military, scientific, and industrial pursuits.

The electrical engineer will work with software applications that help in easing the tasks the engineer must perform. The engineer might have to draw up plans and blue prints or create special, technical drawings in order to determine exact specifications of a system in question. The electrical engineer is also someone who might create topographical maps so that the installation of devices conforms to necessary standards and pre-established codes.

Who is an Electrical Engineer?

Some of the job titles associated with an electrical engineer include Test Engineer, Project Engineer, Power Systems Engineer, Instrumentation and Electrical Reliability Engineer, Electrical Project Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Electrical Designer Engineer, Electrical Controls Engineer, Design Engineer, and Circuits Engineer, to name a few. Electrical engineers are individuals who determine both the costs and requirements of specific electrical systems. The electrical engineer is a person who might find themselves in the position of engineering or design a special system based on the use of manufactured electrical equipment. For instance, the electrical engineer might work with power generation equipment, communication systems, navigation and radar systems, and electric motors. The person in the role of electrical engineer is one who helps in designing special devices and components that are electricity dependent.

Electrical Engineer Job Description

Engineers focus on the creation of power for a product or device and the scope of such objects is anything that might depend on electricity to operate. These same individuals may have to research and create things that will improve devices and products already in existence. The electrical engineer’s occupation is one in which you will find several engineers working together in unison, as part of a team, to develop solutions for complex or difficult situations. The teams will usually have engineers having different specialties and skills so the input of the team members is diverse. It is through the diversity of such skills that the electrical engineers come up with easier solutions as each expert puts a different lens to the problem at hand and thereby allows for the ease of solution development.

If you want to been an electrical engineer you should like working with people and, even better, you need to like working in group settings. This also means the engineer must be able, not only to willingly communicate, but to communicate with others with ease. Taking instruction, following directions, and a willingness to allow someone else to lead sometimes – this too is important if you want to be successful as an electrical engineer.

Electrical engineers must be good in science and math as well, and concrete thinking skills will help when it comes time to solve a problem that arises when working on a project of any kind. At the same time, the electrical engineer must be one who enjoys creative thinking, working with computers, and working with a setting where there are a lot of people.

There is a clear educational path the individual completes on the journey to becoming a successful electrical engineer, which needs, at least a bachelor’s degrees from an accredit college or university. Many firms who hire the on electrical engineers demand a master’s degree or a doctoral degree with a major of electrical engineering. There are also companies that demand the engineer have a few years of work experience before they hire the individual for an electrical engineer position. The Electrical Engineer job description is further expanded based upon the specialization of the engineer in question.

  Electrical Engineer Duties and Tasks

  • Improve existing designs and products
  • Design innovative methods for using electrical power
  • Calculating manufacturing development, the act of construction, the installation of standards and specifics and to ensure the entire operation runs smoothly.
  • Ensuring products meet up with specification and other codes
  • directing the creation, testing, and installation of electricity-dependent equipment
  • Investigate problems with equipment, identify problems, and implement solutions, remedies, or repairs
  • Work with teammates
  • Cooperate with project management to complete assigned projected by specified deadlines
  • Use engineering software and industry related equipment

  Skills Required

  • Examine projects once completed to ensure codes and standards are met.
  • Work engineering projects while successfully applying electrical theory.
  • Create, maintain, and ensure the implementation of electrical instruments, and make necessary improvements to enhance existing equipment and electricity dependent instruments.
  • Monitor and educate staff working on a project whenever such skills are necessary.
  • Project Management
  • Engineering Design
  • Programmable Logic Controllers /Automation
  • Labview
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Matlab
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Window Operating System General Use
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Word
  • C++ Programmable Language
  • Autodesk Autocad
  • Autodesk Revit MEP


Working Conditions

The electrical engineer will often work for a service firm or a company that conducts research and development related to electricity dependent equipment or devices. The industries employing the electrical engineer include those with a focus on engineering services and companies that specialize in the transmission, distribution, and generation of electric power. Electric Engineers might also work for companies manufacturing electronic components and semiconductor equipment. Other engineers will find employment with companies manufacturing control instruments, electromedical equipment and measuring or navigational equipment as well. The main industries an electrical engineer is likely to work with includes telecommunications, the government, engineering services, and other previously mentioned industries. Many of the electrical engineers will work inside in an office environment but it may be necessary to make on site visits to examine a problem in person so the situation can be assessed properly. The electrical engineer can expect to work full time.

Electrical Engineer Salary

Electrical Engineer salary varies depending on a variety of factors. First, one’s location may influence how much one makes in terms of an annual salary. Some cities pay a decent sum of money over the national average, while others pay below it. Along with geographical considerations, a person’s experience may increase one’s income a bit when working in this field, and the more education and training one has the better. Of course, fair pay for women and glass ceiling issues arise so men are likely to make more money yearly than the few women working in the industry.

How Much Do Electrical Engineers Make?

The national average salary for an Electrical Engineer position is about $73,000 a year. At an entry level the electrical engineer is likely to make quite a bit less than the national average with a starting pay of about $67,000. After being in the industry for five years however, the engineer ends up making more than the national average with a mid-career annual salary of about $82,000.00. If in the industry for between ten and 20 years, the average annual salary is about $95,000.00 per year. Those who remain in the industry over 20 years can make up to $104,000 a year.




To answer how much do Electrical Engineers make a bit more clearly, it is a good idea to look at some of the top paying cities. For instance, for those electrical engineers working in San Jose, the engineer makes nearly $24,600 more than the national average. More specifically, the engineer gets a median pay of $97,484.00 in San Jose. In San Diego, an electrical engineer can make around $82,808.00 a year. If you are an electrical engineer and you are working in Washington, your median pay is about $82,930.00. Finally, if you are working in Houston, Texas as an Electrical Engineer, you are making about $80,656 a year.

Electrical Engineer Employment




A look at the number of filled job positions from 2010 to 2014 shows a gradual and steady increase in electrical engineer jobs. From 2010 to 2010, there was a jump from 148,770 to 154,240 thereby demonstrating an increase in jobs filled equalling 6,450 positions. From 2011 to 2012 there was another increase in jobs from 154,240 to 160,560 equalling 6,320 jobs. From 2012 to 2013, there was another increase in jobs from 160,560 in 2012, to 168,100 jobs in 2013, equalling an increase of 7,450 positions. From 2013 to 2014, an increase from 168,100 jobs to 174,550 jobs a year later equals an increase of 6.450 jobs. The steady increase of available jobs makes the positon of electrical engineer look promising, but it will remain a competitive industry, particularly because of the high paying salaries associated with the line of work.

Among those that currently work in the industry as an electrical engineer, about 14% are less than one year into the job. Those who have one to four years of industry experience are about 42% of all of those currently employed. About 21% of all those currently working as electrical engineers have five to nine years of industry experience. Of those who have ten to 19 years experience: About 14% of workers fit under this grouping. Finally, those with 20 years or more experience in this industry equal about 10% of all those employed.

Of those who work as electrical engineers, about 91% of workers have medical insurance. Of these same workers about 78% have dental insurance. Vision insurance is something that about 66% of employees have in terms of insurance coverage. In all, about 8% of electrical engineers have no coverage whatsoever.

Gender Distribution

Presently, the gender gap between men and women who fill the position electrical engineers is strikingly signficant with less than ten percent of women. The reasons for this gap remain unclear, but it is worthy of note that some women are starting to pay more attention to this field. Some schools and universities are even creating support groups for female students interested pursuing a degree in the field of electrical engineering in order to encourage more enrollment while simultaneously ensuring the retainment of those women who are already enrolled in such programs.




How to Become an Electrical Engineer?

The answer to the question of how to become an electrical engineer is complex and one best answered by viewing the educational requirements one must meet to enter into an entry level position in the industry. An examination of accredited Electrical Engineer colleges and the precise Electrical Engineer education requirements one must meet will help you decide if this is a career you would really like to pursue, all while giving you a realistic look of what lies ahead.

Electrical Engineer Education Requirements

Electrical engineers need to attend college to pursue their career path and a minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Along with the degree the student will need to obtain practical experience along the way, whether through on the job experience, internships, or through special programs for those interested in engineering where students can learn and earn simultaneously. The electrical engineer will also need a Professional Engineer License if looking for the best edge when it comes time to enter the workforce in search for employment.

When in High School, a student who wants to become an electrical engineer should undertake studies in mathematics and physics. Additional coursework appropriate for this career path includes calculus, trigonometry, algebra, and drafting. When attending college, the student then pursues a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, electrical engineering technology or electronics engineering. Field studies, labs, and coursework are included in the program and courses include things like electrical circuit technology, differential design, and digital systems design. The courses or programs need to be ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.) accredited.

There are universities and colleges that host cooperative programs so that the individual studying electrical engineering can gain some of the practical experience they will need to support their learning. Likewise, there are schools hosting five year long programs so the student can gain a master’s degree. By earning a master’s degree, it will allow the student to work in the capacity of instructor at some schools or the student can take up a career in development and research.

If seeking an entry level job in this field, then the student does not need a license. However, a PE or Professional Engineering License does give the student an edge over other candidates and it allows the individual to apply and qualify for the higher levels of independence or leadership within the position. With a professional license a candidate is eligible for overseeing others who are working in the same field, provision of services, signing off on various projects, and the individual can interact and work with the general public as well. To gain licensure in one’s state the individual must:

  • Complete an electrical engineer program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
  • Complete and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination
  • Gain the relevant experience necessary through college supported programs and internships
  • Complete and pass the Professional Engineering Examination
  • Following graduation from an accredited college program, the student can immediately take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. Work experience is required and then the candidate can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Examination. Some states demand that the electrical engineer continue education throughout the course of their career to maintain their license.

Electrical Engineer Colleges

There are many fine accredit colleges across the United States available to students looking to become electrical engineers. Per the US and World News Report, the leading Electrical Engineer colleges to attend to become an electrical engineer include the following destinations:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA
  2. Stanford University in Stanford, CA
  3. University of California—Berkeley in Berkeley, CA
  4. California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA
  5. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign om Urbana, IL
  6. Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA
  7. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, MI
  8. Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA
  9. Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
  10. Purdue University—West Lafayette in West Lafayette, IN

Major Subjects

As you undertake your studies for a bachelor degree, you are likely to focus a on a major like technology, engineering, or you might get a bachelor or applied science or simply a bachelor of science. You will be required to study computers, project management, mathematics, and physics. You can sometimes take advantage of some online study solutions too if you need more flexible timing for pursuing a degree. Sometimes lab work will be involved along with coursework. Some of the things you will study include robotics, computer hardware, artificial intelligence, radio, TV, transmissions via laser or wireless applications, communication systems and telecommunications. Solid state devices, integrated circuits, appliances, navigation systems, electronic games, and more.

Electrical Engineer Specializations

The types of specializations open to the electrical engineer are myriad. Students might study to specialize in Computational Science and Engineering Options, Signal Processing, Power and Energy Systems, Microelectronics, Quantum Electronics, Remote Sensing and Electromagnetics, Control, Computer Engineering, Communications, Telecommunications, Electronics, Integrated Circuits, Acoustics, Bioengineering, and Biomedical Imaging. The Electrical Engineer may specialize in the design of components used for creating or completing circuits and the same engineer may design testing equipment to ensure the parts are in working order. Some components the individual might design transistors, diodes, inductors, capacitors, and resistors. Electronic Engineering also covers the components, parts, devices, and creation of necessary equipment for using in radio, televisions, communications, computers, audio systems, and microprocessors. The specialization of microprocessing involves the microfabrication and design of tiny circuits for use in small electricity dependent devices. This includes the creation of semiconductor transistors, capacitors, resistors, and nanoelectronics, all on a microscopic level. Additional microelectronic components are made by using semiconductor wafers that are fabricated through a chemical process like silicon, or indium phosphide and gallium arsenide for those conductors used for higher frequencies.

Professional Associations of Electrical Engineers

One of the professional Associations of Electrical Engineers is the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The NSPE has a history of more than 80 years in existence and is a group committed to the safety, welfare, and health of the public and in promoting excellence in the field of Electrical Engineering, with one of the main principles of the group asserting that licensure is more than merely having a certificate asserting one’s technical skills. The organization was established in the year 2934 to create a nontechnical, inclusive group committed professional engineers and their interests, no matter what their speciality. The goal of the NPSE is to protect the public and engineers from the practices of unqualified or poorly trained practitioners in the field, to establish recognition for the entire electrical engineer profession and to defend people against inadequate compensation as well as unethical practices. Membership benefits include access to fifteen free courses and online seminars one can view from the office or home. Members get access to information on continued education and can become part of a supportive community, and the organization makes for excellent networking opportunities.

Famous Electrical Engineers

Among the famous electrical engineers one will certainly find Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) who is well known as the inventor of the first telephone, and he accomplished amazing things during his 75 years of life. A native of Edinburgh, and the son of Alexander Melville Bell and Eliza Grace, Alexander grew up having to learn how to overcome dyslexia. He gained his education at the University of Edinburgh and later the University of College London. He later co-founded the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. He was awarded a US patent in the late 1870s, and won the Elliot Cresson Medal and Albert Medal for his work in the early 1900s. Bell is easily thought of as one of the leading inventors of his time and of the entire 19th century.

Nikola Tesla (1865 – 1943) is another individual who dealt with Dyslexia during his lifetime. He is known as the father of radio, and he received his education at the Graz University of Technology. Tesla is an inventor.  He is an Serbian-American who is well known for his work in creating alternating current systems. He is a major contributor to the fields of wireless radio and electromagnetism as will. Telsa was not your average electrical engineer – he had an eidetic memory, a brilliant mind which he demonstrated early on as a childhood prodigy, and his imagination was limitless, leading him to fantastic visions of the future. Telsa was a mechanical and electrical engineer and the creator of the Tesla coil, fluorescent illumination, the first neon lighting, radio technology, basic laser technology, wireless transmission of energy, and the modern electric motor. Lack of business savvy left him not earning at all what he deserved, nor did he ever have a serious relationship of any kind so he was alone as well. He limited himself socially and he died without accolades or wealth.

Electrical Engineers FAQ

What are the advantages of working as an electrical engineer?

An electrical engineer can make an exceptional entry salary and this is not common in all occupations. This is an advantage but can also prove a disadvantage too because the higher salary makes the job more desirable and therefore there is more competition for available positions in the workforce. In addition to the higher annual salaries, there are many opportunities within this line of work where the worker can specialize in manufacturing, aerospace, computers, telecommunications and more. What’s more, the candidate has great flexibility in the career as changing from one position to another in the field is relatively easy.

Engineers can continue their education and easily enter other fields like business, teaching, writing, law, or medicine. The person who becomes an electrical engineer can often climb the corporate ladder with considerable ease and work management positions if desired.

What are the disadvantages associated with the occupation of the electrical engineer?

As mentioned above, the competition in this industry is spectacular. You will also be required to continue with your education throughout your career as you adapt to the latest innovations and technologies used to complete tasks in your field. You may also be required to meet special licensing demands as set forth by your employer and the state where you work and reside. Being an electrical engineer has its dangers: Primarily the danger of shock or other on the job injury as well. If the work site has an impact on one’s safety this can increase one’s stress level while performing the job at hand.

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