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What Do Electrical Engineers Do?

April 1, 2021 | Staff Writers

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In the world of technology and innovation, electricity keeps everything running, from maintaining our homes, technology, and transportation to keeping the world cities running. All these activities can be attributed to electrical engineering. Despite being a newer branch of engineering, electrical engineering has gained substantial popularity dating back to the late 19th century. The field has grown significantly, leading to several specialized electrical engineering categories, including electronic engineering. It mainly deals with the technology of electricity. 

Pursuing an electrical engineering degree is the first step to becoming an electrical engineer. Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and maintain new electrical systems and devices. An electrical engineering program incorporates several disciplines, including electromagnetism, electronics, physics, and mathematics of electricity. This branch of engineering is also related to other branches, including computer engineering. Electrical engineering professions rely on computer-aided design systems and computer simulations to create electrical devices and ensure their functionality. 

Electrical engineers work in various fields, including engineering services companies, research and development industries, manufacturing companies, among other organizations. Their occupations involve many field activities, but, in some cases, electrical engineers fill office roles. If you consider pursuing an electrical engineering degree and still lack the necessary information on the degree program and its benefits, you are in the right place. This article explores all the aspects of engineering you need to know before pursuing the degree program, including:

  1. What electrical engineering covers 
  2. Types of careers in electrical engineering 
  3. Benefits of an electrical engineering degree 
  4. Salary expectations for electrical engineers 

What Electrical Engineering Covers

Electrical engineering is one of the most exciting engineering professions in the world. It is a broad field that leads to a wide range of career paths in several industries. Why is this so? In today’s digital world, electrical engineering is embedded in almost everything we do due to technology takeover. 

What Do Electrical Engineers Do?

The primary role of electrical engineers, irrespective of their electrical engineering major, is to design, develop, test, and maintain electrical devices. The aim of creating these electrical devices is to help transmit energy and process information. Electrical engineers work with a wide range of electronic devices, including the smallest devices such as microchips and large electronic devices such as supercomputers. They work in an array of projects such as developing navigation systems, radars, and wiring and lighting of buildings. 

Electrical engineers work in varied industries depending on graduate students’ engineering majors. These professional electrical fields require various skills and knowledge, ranging from electrical circuit knowledge to the knowledge and skills needed to be project managers. Additionally, electrical engineers use different tools and equipment to perform their duties. Despite these varied differences, electrical engineers typically perform some of the following responsibilities: 

  • Evaluation of electrical systems, components, products, and applications
  • Design and conduct research programs geared towards identifying ways of developing new products and improving existing systems 
  • Confirm the capabilities of systems and components through tests
  • Develop electrical products and applications to fill market gaps 
  • Preparation of product reports
  • Performing calculations to help develop construction, manufacturing, and installation standards and specification 
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest innovative technologies and research. 

Why Does the World Need Electrical Engineering? 

Have you ever thought of the importance of electricity in our lives? Well, if you haven’t, then you need to imagine a life without electricity. If electricity were to go off now, the world would be immersed in total darkness. Technological systems will fail. The sick relying on medical equipment will die, and communication will be cut off due to failed signal processing. Transport systems will instantly come to a halt. All these, among other aspects, clearly tells you the importance of electricity. But who is behind the maintenance of electricity? 

With the present age of robots and artificial intelligence (AI), many people question the existence of electrical engineering. Yes, to some extent, these technological innovations are taking up various roles and replacing human intelligence, but the world significantly needs electrical engineering. Electrical engineers play a significant role in our daily lives. Electrical engineers are at the forefront of making technological innovations and electrical components that have helped ease our lives.

Without the field of electrical engineering, our world would have been quite different. Electrical systems are the backbones of our lives. Many sectors rely on the expertise of electrical engineers, including medicine, education, communication, defense, and space exploration. They learn the critical skills needed to design, develop, analyze, and ensure the electrical systems and electronic components efficiency. Besides, the world needs experienced electrical engineers to help solve myriads of life challenges through innovations. 

What Is the Difference Between an Electrical Engineer and A Computer Engineer? 

You need a solid background in engineering before you become an engineer. You can either pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or computer engineering. Electrical engineering and computer engineering are two electrical majors that are highly linked since the two disciplines share several core subjects at the bachelor’s degree level. Professionally, computer and electrical engineers are involved in designing, developing, programming, and maintaining electrical circuits, devices, and systems, which has made it difficult to separate the two engineering professions. Electrical engineering and computer engineering are considered to be the fastest engineering degrees.  Despite the similarities, the two disciplines have significant differences. Let’s explore some of the differences in detail. 

Electrical engineers deal mainly with generating, transmitting, and converting electric energy by working with electrical circuits. They design, develop, test, and manage electrical devices and systems. On the other hand, computer engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and fixing computers and their components. They also create and develop computer applications and networks. Electrical engineering students are required to compete in various courses such as electromagnetic fields and waves, semiconductor devices and circuits, power systems and energy conversion, and other courses. Computer engineers complete multiple courses such as microprocessor interfacing, digital system design, and software engineering. 

Computer engineering and electrical engineering also differ substantially in terms of skills and interests. Electrical engineers need more good communication skills since electrical engineering skills involve a lot of teamwork. Computer engineers mainly need practical analytical and problem-solving skills. Additionally, electrical engineers work in a wide range of industries compared to computer engineers. Computer engineers mostly work in companies linked to their job types, especially those manufacturing computer components.

Types of Careers in Electrical Engineering 

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, either in an online degree or an on-campus degree program will enable you to become anything from an electrical technician to a designer of various electrical systems for electronic devices, cars, spaceship, and other locomotives powered by electricity. Graduates in this fieldwork in several environments ranging from manufacturing companies to governmental organizations. Let’s explore some of the career opportunities and companies available to electrical engineers. 

Where Can You Work as an Electrical Engineering Professional? 

Electrical engineers are highly employable and can pursue careers in various fields. But first, one needs to pursue a degree in electrical engineering coupled with other associate degrees to earn positions in multiple sectors of the economy. Some of the industries that highly require the services of electrical engineers include: 

  • Engineering Services Industry: Companies under the engineering services industry mainly deals with the designing and development of machines, structures, systems, and instruments. These companies require electrical technicians’ expertise and knowledge to help design and develop these structures and systems. As an electrical engineer, you will advise the company on various electronic products, conduct feasibility tests for the new product, among other services. The industry needs electrical engineers’ expertise to help identify and incorporate various technological trends into their operations. 
  • Aerospace Manufacturing Industry: Aerospace industry is another primary sector that significantly requires the services of electrical engineers. Electrical engineers pursuing careers in this industry get involved in an array of activities such as designing and developing radar and ground systems, operating board-computers, communication systems, and networks, and designing the interface that transfers electricity to aircraft engine systems. Landing a job in this industry is quite tricky due to its sensitivity and high competition levels. 
  • Automobile Industry: In this sector, electrical engineers are responsible for creating various car components that require electric power. Besides making the car components, the technician conducts tests and regularly monitors car components to ensure efficiency. Some automotive parts and systems handled by electrical engineers include car safety systems such as anti-lock brakes and air-bags, navigation systems, safety systems, engine controllers, electric locks and windows, and a car battery. 
  • Architecture and Construction Industry: The expertise and knowledge earned by electrical engineers after pursuing an electrical engineering degree are essential in the architecture and construction industry. Electrical engineers are actively involved in designing new buildings by performing various services such as electrical distribution, lighting, HVAC systems, telecommunication systems, photovoltaic systems, and other energy-related projects. This industry provides an excellent opportunity for career growth and advancement. 

The list of places where you are likely to work with an electrical engineering degree is endless. Other common industries where you are likely to work include: 

  • Power generation industry 
  • Telecommunications industry
  • Marine material and metals industry 
  • Government electrical works organizations 

What Types of Companies Employ Electrical Engineers? 

Currently, electrical engineers are among the most sought-after professionals due to the significance of their expertise in this digital era. Almost everything in the world relies upon systems designed and developed by electrical engineers. If you are considering pursuing a degree in electrical engineering, it will be vital to get acquainted with some of the top employers for electrical engineers. Here are some of the best companies to work for as an electrical engineer: 

  • Boeing Company: The Boeing Company is a highly regarded firm that deals with designing and manufacturing commercial jetliners. The company has been in operation for several decades now and has continued to demand electrical engineers’ expertise. Working for this company is highly prestigious due to the high remuneration packages and high career growth. 
  • International Business Machines Corporation (IBM): IBM is one of the biggest computational technology companies. The firm is widely known for the development of next-generation hardware systems. Commercial, industrial and individual consumers use its products. Electrical engineers are involved in the development of applications and systems. The firm highly, hence working for this company is fulfilling and it also ensures career and skills growth. 
  • Google: Google is the most prominent firm in the information technology industry. Google Inc. frequently requires advanced systems to ensure efficiency in its operations. The company used the expertise of its electrical engineers to design and develop its unique hardware systems. 
  • General electric: The company is highly interested in the energy and aviation sectors. Working as an electrical engineer in this prestigious company gives you the chance to work with highly regarded engineers, innovators, and scientists, to develop environmentally sustainable and economically viable energy systems. 
  • BMW Group: The BMW Group is hailed for some of the high-end automobiles currently sold in the market. The company seeks electrical engineers who collaborate with innovators and designers to design automobiles for the company. The company highly pays its employees and also allows them to advance in their careers. 

Finding the right job could be quite hard after achieving your degree. Hopefully, with the above list of top employers, you likely narrow down on your search. 

What Are the Most In-Demand Electrical Engineering Jobs? 

There are several electrical engineering jobs that you can pursue after completing your engineering education. Here is a career outlook of the electrical engineering field, including the most in-demand jobs that will lead to a wide range of opportunities for growth and lucrative remuneration packages: 

  • Aerospace electrical engineer: Aerospace electrical engineers are in high demand and the most paying electrical engineering profession. They design, develop, test, and manage aircraft, weapon systems, satellites, and spaceships. They use the skills and knowledge learned in electrical engineering to develop these machinery support systems and electrical components. They earn an average of $78,231 annually. 
  • Electrical project engineer: They are responsible for developing and executing electrical distribution and transmission projects. They set project objectives, design project elements, and assign personnel needed to timely complete the projects. They earn an average salary of $77,700 per year. 
  • Electrical distribution designer: They are tasked with preparing electrical distribution systems of buildings and other facilities. Electrical distribution designers do power calculations when designing an electrical distribution system. They mostly work in the construction industry. These types of electrical engineers earn an average of $90,200 per year. 
  • Electronic Engineer: They design, create, and maintain everyday devices such as portable music devices, mobile phones, and computers. This field gives you a chance to showcase your innovation skills. They are hailed for the various innovations, including robotics, telecommunications advancements, and many more. This career is high paying and also gives to the opportunity to grow your career. 

Benefits of an Electrical Engineering Degree 

Electrical engineering degrees are among the top degree programs offered in the university today. Earning your degree from an accredited engineering institution will most likely land you in a career field of many opportunities, including high salaries, education reimbursement, vacation pay, insurance, and retirement benefits. The skills and knowledge gained from an electrical engineering degree program can also be used to solve real-world problems through technological innovations. 

How Can Earning a Degree in Electrical Engineering Improve Your Career Outlook? 

Electrical engineers work in a variety of industries, including governmental organizations, manufacturing, and the construction industry. Earning your bachelor’s degree is always the stepping stone to becoming an electronic engineer. Fresh electrical engineering graduates are likely to earn an average salary of $98,530 per year. Additionally, their careers are the potential to grow by 3% annually. However, earning a degree coupled with other associate programs is likely to improve your career outlook. For instance, you are likely to land jobs in competitive industries with high salaries and other remuneration packages. Here are some of the ways an electrical engineering degree is expected to improve your outlook: 

  • Advanced skills and knowledge: Electrical engineering degree programs help equip students with various technical and personal skills needed to become electrical engineers. These earned skills will land you high-paying jobs in top-notch companies compared to engineers with only associate degrees. 
  • Career advancement: Completing your engineering degree places you in a prime position to advance your education to higher levels, including pursuing a Master’s degree program. Advanced education will likely lead to high career growth, including earning top positions within your occupation. 
  • Variety of Career Opportunities: Compared to other engineering branches, such as computer engineering, an electrical engineering degree exposes graduates to several career options in a wide range of industries, increasing one’s career flexibility as you might pursue different professional fields such as electronic engineering and other electrical engineering majors. 

What Will You Learn in an Electrical Engineering Degree Program? 

Electrical engineering degree programs provide electrical engineering students with the solid foundation they need to take up various electrical engineering jobs in the economy. Electrical engineering coursework comprises several standard courses taken by engineering students before deciding to specialize in specific electrical engineering majors. If you consider pursuing this degree program, you must be ready to take lots of math and science courses. Having a strong interest in the two subjects will indeed work out for you. 

At the bachelor’s level, the program’s main aim will be to give students a foundation on electrical engineering’s underlying principles. Students are always required to pass all the courses and complete every credit hour before earning their electrical engineering degree. Some of the standard courses offered at the bachelor’s level include: 

  • Probability: The probability course introduces engineering students to calculate the possible effects of engineering decisions. Topics under this course include conditional probability, variables, weak and strong laws of large numbers, and distribution and density functions. 
  • Physics: You will unlikely earn your electrical degree before completing a physics class. The course introduces students to the transfer of matter and energy, including magnetism, electricity, light, and heat. 
  • Microprocessor Systems: In this course, students are introduced to the structure, functionality, and uses of microprocessors. They are also introduced to the ways of programming microprocessor systems. 
  • Electromagnetic Field: Students learn about waves, forces, and fields and how electromagnetic devices function. 

Some other courses undertaken in an electrical engineering program include: 

  • Digital systems 
  • Circuit analysis and design 
  • Statistics 
  • Calculus 
  • Electrodynamics 
  • Semiconductor technology 
  • Electric components 
  • Telecommunication 
  • Electronics and communications 
  • Laser optics 

What Type of Accreditation Should an Electrical Engineering Program Have? 

The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits electrical engineering programs in top schools. The ABET accreditation gives students, parents, and employers the confidence that the electrical engineering degree program has met the quality standards, indicating that the graduate students are highly prepared to make entry into the global workforce. ABET is a non-profit organization that accredits university and college programs in engineering, computing, applied and 

natural science, and engineering technology. 

Today, the 1SO 9001 certified organization has accredited 4307 programs globally, with 846 institutions receiving the accreditation. The accreditation process is initiated by colleges and universities seeking to offer various engineering programs. The institution submits a Request for Accreditation to ABET. ABET assesses whether the program has met the different criteria by setting its program design, curriculum design, training duration, facilities, and infrastructure, among other aspects. Once the program meets the standards of ABET, it receives accreditation, allowing graduates to enter the global workforce with ease. 

Salary Expectations for Electrical Engineers

 As earlier mentioned, electrical engineers are among the most paid professionals globally. Therefore, if you are a high school graduate seeking a degree program that would land you a high-paying job, look no further than an electrical engineering degree. Let’s explore the salary expectation for electrical engineers and compare with other careers. 

What Is the Average Starting Salary for an Electrical Engineer? 

Fresh electrical engineering graduates are likely to earn an average of $68 288 as their starting salaries. However, the starting salaries differ considerably depending on the industry an electrical engineer is working in. For instance, the aerospace industry is likely to pay its electrical engineers much higher than those employed in construction. Besides, the starting salary also highly depends on the state an electrical engineer is working in. 

According to Forbes, electrical engineers working in Alaska earn an average of $119 130 due to the high demand for electrical engineers. The potential for career growth for electrical engineers is currently high. Therefore, within a few years of service as an entry-level professional, one is likely to rise in the career ranks, earning an average of $99 039 per year. 

How Do Electrical Engineer Salaries Compare to Similar Careers? 

In the United States, electrical engineers earn almost the same salaries with similar careers. Electrical engineers make significantly lower than chemical engineers, nuclear engineers, and robotics engineers. On the other hand, they earn slightly below photonics engineer, Nanosystems engineer, and other careers. Here is an outlook of how electrical engineers’ salaries compare to similar jobs. 

  • Chemical Engineer- $106,000
  • Nuclear Engineer- $106,000
  • Mechatronics Engineer- $99,000
  • Electrical Engineer – $97,000
  • Nanosystems engineer- $99,000
  • Photonics engineer- $99,000

How Do Education Levels Affect Salaries in The Electrical Engineering Field? 

The kind of salary electrical engineers earn depends on various factors, including the type of career choice, years of experience, geographic location, and immensely on your degree program level. According to labor statistics, a master’s degree is likely to earn you $12,000 more in a year when compared to other lower education levels because master’s degrees place you in solid positions to take up leadership roles. Some viable careers you might pursue with a master’s degree include senior electrical engineer, senior systems engineer, and senior software engineer. 

The salary estimate for electrical engineers with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering ranges from $60,000 to slightly below $100,000 in a year. For instance, an electrical engineer with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $97,000 per year, while a controls engineer earns an average of $80,000 per year. From these statistics, it is evident that education level plays a vital role in electrical engineers’ salaries. 

In Summary 

Electrical engineers play a critical role in this digital era. They design, develop, test, and maintain electrical devices and systems used in everyday life. One of the significant achievements of electrical engineers is electricity innovation, which is considered the most vital blessing that electrical engineering has given to humans. Electricity and its devices have become part of our contemporary lives, as it is useful in our homes, workplaces, hospitals, and other significant amenities. 

Electrical engineers are among the most coveted professionals in the world. The professional field requires you to first obtain an electrical engineering degree from an accredited institution before starting your career. One of the benefits of an electrical engineering degree is that it exposes graduates to a wide range of career opportunities. Besides, with a degree in electrical engineering, you are likely to land jobs in one of the high-paying industries such as the aerospace and information technology industry. 

The average annual salary for electrical engineers currently stands at $97,000, with a 3% potential for growth. This salary is similar to those of other related careers, such as chemical and nuclear engineering. It is important to note that wages squarely depend on various factors, including education, geographic location, and career type. If you still doubted the importance of an electrical engineering degree, we hope this article informed you of the degree program’s prospects.

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