Electrical Engineer: Job Description, Duties, Salary, and Other Requirements

FT Contributor  | 

Electrical engineers are responsible for developing and designing electrical equipment. In some roles, these engineers may also be tasked with supervising the manufacturing of parts and components and performing tests to ensure electrical equipment is operating properly.

An electrical engineer uses the principles and practices of engineering and must have a firm grasp on how electrical components fit together to complete certain functions. This guide covers everything you need to know about electrical engineering and what the job entails.

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?

Depending on where an electrical engineer works, there may be various duties they’re responsible for completing. Duties may change on a daily basis, depending on the projects an electrical engineer is assigned to complete. In most cases, electrical engineers are tasked with:

  • Developing electrical equipment for specific functions and uses.
  • Improving installed electrical equipment so it’s more efficient and advanced.
  • Helping to develop manufacturing standards for electrical components.
  • Conducting performance and reliability testing on electrical products.
  • Assisting with troubleshooting when electrical equipment isn’t functioning properly.

To perform their jobs efficiently, electrical engineers generally need to use design software and other engineering applications. They may be assigned to work on teams with other engineers and employees from other departments to oversee the manufacturing and functionality of electrical equipment, so teamwork skills are key. You can use the Myers Briggs Personality Type indicator if you’re not sure you have the personality type to work on a team as an electrical engineer.

Work Schedule

Electrical engineering is a full-time job. Most electrical engineers work regular business hours, but some may be required to work after hours to fix electrical equipment in emergency situations.

Average Electrical Engineer Salary

An electrical engineer’s salary can vary depending on many factors, including their level of education, location, and specific job title. While petroleum engineer is the highest- paying engineering job, electrical engineers are also usually well compensated.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for an electrical engineer in the U.S. is $99,070 per year. This yearly salary is different than the hourly pay, which is an average of $47.63.

Electrical Engineering Education, Licenses, Certifications, and Training

To become an electrical engineer, you must have experience with electrical components and systems. Additionally, you may be required to use software and specialized computer programs when designing, manufacturing, or fixing electrical equipment. Therefore, extensive education, licenses, and certification may be required, depending on the industry you plan to enter and the role you take on.

Education Requirements

Electrical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electrical engineering technology, electronics engineering, or another engineering field to obtain entry-level positions. Some students complete both a bachelor’s and master’s degree program that takes about five years of schooling to ensure they have the education needed for an advanced role in the industry.

Licenses/Certifications

Entry-level electrical engineers aren’t required to obtain licensure. However, to move up into a supervisory role, an electrical engineer must earn a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which requires them to pass two exams and work for at least four years under a PE.

Each state issues its own licenses, so electrical engineers must follow the specific requirements for the state they plan to work in. To keep the PE license valid, the license holder must meet continuing education requirements, which can also vary by state.

Training

After obtaining their bachelor’s degree, most electrical engineers begin working in entry-level roles to gain on-the-job training and experience. They may also work in these roles while obtaining licensure. With experience, electrical engineers can begin to move up to supervisory or managerial roles.

Electrical Engineer Job Outlook

The electrical engineering field is growing at a rate of 2%, which is slower than average when compared to all other occupations. This slow growth can be attributed to the declining telecommunications and manufacturing industries.

However, electrical engineering industries that may see growth in the coming years include technical services, professional, and scientific firms that develop and improve consumer electronics. The industry may also see growth in the research and development fields that assist in automating consumer services and improving solar panels and the electrical grid.

In 2018, there were 191,900 workers employed as electrical engineers. The number of employed electrical engineers is expected to grow to 201,100 by 2028. This shows a slight increase in the number of people entering the field.

Should I Become an Electrical Engineer?

A job as an electrical engineer is a good career fit for you if you enjoy working with computer design programs and electrical components. Most electrical engineers have a passion for figuring out how electrical devices work and how their functions can be improved.

To be successful in the position, you must have advanced skills and a general interest in:

  • Problem-solving.
  • Math.
  • Writing.
  • Designing.
  • Communication.
  • Active learning.
  • Analysis.

You may work on a team or in a managerial role, so it’s also important that you have personal skills and enjoy working with people. You should be able to take initiative on projects and think outside the box to create electrical solutions and fix problems.

A job as an electrical engineer may not be for everyone. If you’re not sure that becoming an electrical engineer is the right career choice for you, try taking a career test to help you find a better match.


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This post was updated December 23, 2019. It was originally published December 23, 2019.