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Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.
Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.Duties
Electrical engineers typically do the following:
Electronics engineers typically do the following:
Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.
The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.
Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.
Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience. Having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment.Education
High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.
In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical and electronics engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.
Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experience and are growing in number.
At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.Important Qualities
Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.
Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.
Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.
Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.
Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and to relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.
Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as electrical and electronics engineers. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires
The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After getting work experience, EITs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.Advancement
Electrical and electronic engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.
For sales work, an engineering background enables engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Associate Electrical Engineer
Top Careers After Associate Electrical Engineer
Hispanic or Latino11.9%
Black or African American0.6%
Associate Electrical Engineer
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University of Phoenix10.9%
Michigan Technological University6.3%
Pennsylvania State University6.3%
University of North Carolina at Charlotte6.3%
San Jose State University6.3%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale4.7%
Ohio State University4.7%
University of California - San Diego4.7%
Central Michigan University4.7%
Iowa State University4.7%
University of Southern California4.7%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro4.7%
San Diego State University4.7%
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville4.7%
University of Southern Maine3.1%
Pima Community College3.1%
University of California - Berkeley3.1%
Ohio University -3.1%
Associate Electrical Engineer
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Associate Research Prof./Electrical Engineering||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||Piscataway, NJ||Mar 01, 2015||$130,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc.||Kansas City, MO||Nov 08, 2016||$109,223|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc.||Kansas City, MO||Sep 01, 2015||$105,811|
|Associate Engineer-Electrical Group||California Water Service Company||San Jose, CA||Oct 01, 2009||$88,004|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Environmental Systems Design, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Oct 08, 2014||$85,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Dec 18, 2015||$85,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Silicon Engines Ltd.||Arlington Heights, IL||Aug 25, 2016||$82,763 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Nayak Corporation||Princeton, NJ||Jul 10, 2015||$79,932|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Silicon Engines Ltd.||Arlington Heights, IL||Sep 05, 2015||$76,606 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer II||Nexteer Automotive||Saginaw, MI||Aug 05, 2015||$75,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Citgo Petroleum Corporation||Westlake, LA||Aug 17, 2014||$75,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Nexteer Automotive||Saginaw, MI||Oct 01, 2011||$74,400|
|Associate Electrical Engineer II||Nexteer Automotive||Saginaw, MI||Sep 25, 2012||$74,400|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Norgren Kloehn Inc.||Las Vegas, NV||Oct 09, 2016||$73,320|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Nayak Corporation, Inc.||Princeton, NJ||Sep 01, 2013||$71,094|
|Associate Engineer, Electrical||Rockwell Automation, Inc.||Mequon, WI||Jan 09, 2016||$71,050|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Aug 26, 2016||$70,658|
|Research Associate/Electrical & Computer Engineering||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||Piscataway, NJ||Mar 01, 2015||$70,250|
|Associate Engineer-Electrical||Arcelormittal USA LLC||East Chicago, IN||Sep 01, 2012||$70,200|
|Associate Engineer-Electrical||Cg Power Solutions USA, Inc.||RI||Sep 16, 2011||$70,012|
|Associate Engineer-Electrical||Cg Power Solutions USA, Inc.||Germantown, MD||Oct 01, 2011||$70,012|
|Associate Engineer-Electrical||Arcelormittal USA LLC||East Chicago, IN||Sep 01, 2012||$69,900|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Morrow Engineering, Inc.||Wichita, KS||Oct 01, 2015||$64,000|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Environmental Systems Design, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 18, 2015||$63,710 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Aug 12, 2014||$62,878|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Marquardt Switches, Inc.||Rochester Hills, MI||Sep 15, 2011||$62,816|
|Associate Electrical Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 29, 2011||$62,733 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Continental Automotive Systems, Inc.||Auburn Hills, MI||Sep 01, 2012||$62,670 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Continental Automotive Systems Holding Us, Inc.||Auburn Hills, MI||Jan 01, 2012||$62,670 -
|Associate Electrical Engineer||Continental Automotive Systems Us, Inc.||Auburn Hills, MI||Jan 01, 2012||$62,670 -
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