Electrical engineers work in different fields like electronics, electrical equipment, electromagnetism, etc. They create technology that millions of people are dependent on for their daily activities.
Electrical engineers are involved in the manufacturing of microprocessors that are installed in computers being used every day. Their expertise are needed to design satellites without which long-distance communication would be impossible. Moreover, they design effective flight control systems for aircraft pilots.
There are so many other areas where the specialized skillset of an electrical engineer is needed. Working in electrical engineering can be a challenging, exciting and financially rewarding experience. If you want to join this field, this guide has all the information for you.
Roles and Responsibilities of an Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineers work in different fields including electronics, physics, electromagnetism, etc. Following are some of their major responsibilities.
- Evaluating electrical systems for efficiency and effectiveness
- Testing product prototypes
- Carrying out a project’s cost analysis and feasibility research
- Developing internal and external organizational communication tools
- Maintaining and updating all system software of a company
Requirements to Become an Electrical Engineer
To become an electrical engineer, you will need to get a 4-year bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Once you complete your degree, you will be able to join the workforce at an entry-level position. Eventually, you will be able to take on roles with greater responsibility by learning new skills and gaining experience.
Steps to Become an Electrical Engineer
- Get an undergraduate degree or higher
This is the minimum level of education you will need to enter the field. The degree program that you undertake must be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). These programs typically provide courses in electrical circuit theory, electronic systems, digital systems design and differential equations etc.
- Sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
All electrical engineers with an undergraduate degree will have to obtain their Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) license by passing the exam. Also known as the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) exam, this is the first of two professional assessments that you will need to pass in order to work as a certified Professional Engineer (PE) in the USA. Once you pass the FE, you will be known as an EI (engineer intern) or an EIT (engineer-in-training) until you pass the PE exam.
- Gain work experience
After passing the FE, you can start working at an entry-level electrical engineer position. Once you obtain the minimum amount of work experience (4 years) needed for the PE exam, you can sit for your second professional assessment.
- Professional Engineer (PE) exam
You can now take your PE exam and clear it to receive your license as a certified Professional Engineer in the USA.
You will need 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. After that, you need to qualify the FE exam, gain some work experience and qualify the PE exam. The process from enrolling into an undergrad electrical engineering degree program to obtaining your PE license will take around 8 years.
Electrical Engineer Salary
As of May, 2018, electrical and electronics engineers had an annual median wage of $99,070. The corresponding hourly salary comes to $47.63. This is according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Career Outlook and Job Growth for Electrical Engineers
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% increase in jobs for electrical and electronics engineers between 2016 and 2026. Similar employment growth rates are expected in other occupations.