What is an Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineering is not about to go out of fashion any time soon. Electrical engineers create electrical devices to satisfy our ever-growing needs to stay comfortable and live effortlessly. They design, develop, test, and produce anything from IT to telecommunication devices, generators, engines, vehicles, and navigation systems so we can keep our universe under our control.

Electrical engineering is not something you can just dip your feet in and see how it goes. It is either all in or all out. If you opt for all in, you will spend years learning your craft and end up being an inventor of devices that might potentially make our world a better place.

Electrical engineering is becoming more and more intertwined with computer engineering as IT technologies develop and find their way into controlling mechanical engineering products. The more comprehensive the field becomes, though, the more power and resources go to the ones mastering it. That is why entry-level salaries of electrical engineers average around US$109,000 a year.

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do

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.

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How To Become an Electrical Engineer

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

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

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.

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Average Salary
$74,760
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
2%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
66,672
Job Openings
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Average Salary for an Electrical Engineer

Electrical Engineers in America make an average salary of $74,760 per year or $36 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $96,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $57,000 per year.
Average Salary
$74,760
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Electrical Engineer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an Electrical Engineer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

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At Zippia, we went through countless Electrical Engineer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Electrical Engineer Demographics

Electrical Engineer Gender Statistics

male

79.2 %

female

11.1 %

unknown

9.7 %

Electrical Engineer Ethnicity Statistics

White

67.3 %

Asian

15.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.4 %

Electrical Engineer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

31.5 %

Arabic

9.9 %

French

9.7 %
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Electrical Engineer Education

Electrical Engineer Majors

Electrical Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

75.9 %

Masters

11.7 %

Associate

8.4 %

Top Colleges for Electrical Engineers

1. Michigan Technological University

Houghton, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,646
Enrollment
5,736

2. Wentworth Institute of Technology

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$33,950
Enrollment
4,254

3. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

4. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

6. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

7. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

8. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

9. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

10. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,353
Enrollment
24,841
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Top Skills For an Electrical Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.2% of electrical engineers listed electrical systems on their resume, but soft skills such as concentration and initiative are important as well.

12 Electrical Engineer RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For an Electrical Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an electrical engineer. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Alaska. Electrical engineers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $96,650. Whereas in Massachusetts and Vermont, they would average $94,046 and $90,340, respectively. While electrical engineers would only make an average of $90,134 in Alaska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Electrical Engineer Jobs:
1,070
Highest 10% Earn:
$131,000
Location Quotient:
1.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Massachusetts

Total Electrical Engineer Jobs:
1,336
Highest 10% Earn:
$129,000
Location Quotient:
1.31
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Wyoming

Total Electrical Engineer Jobs:
66
Highest 10% Earn:
$116,000
Location Quotient:
0.99
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Electrical Engineers

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Top Electrical Engineer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ electrical engineers and discovered their number of electrical engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Black & Veatch was the best, especially with an average salary of $72,683. Motorola Solutions follows up with an average salary of $76,325, and then comes Microsoft with an average of $119,271. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as an electrical engineer. The employers include Science Applications International .., Jacobs Engineering Group, and Leidos

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Electrical Engineer FAQs

Do electrical engineers get paid well?

Yes, electrical engineers get paid well. The US average annual salary for electrical engineers is $92,000. Starting salary can be between $60,000-$85,000. California, Texas, and New York employ the most electrical engineers, and median salaries are closer to $110,000.

Senior positions typically pay between $114,000 and $128,000. The highest-paid electrical engineers get paid upwards of $155,000. The US has been hiring more electrical engineers from overseas because the salary demands are typically lower.

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How long does it take to become an electrical engineer?

It takes at least four years to become an electrical engineer. This title typically requires a bachelor's degree from a college or university that is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). You can study electrical engineering, electronics, or a related field.

Work entails a strong grasp of math, physics, computer design, and engineering software. A Professional Engineer License (PE) is another recommended qualification. Employers seek out candidates with a degree and practical experience.

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Is electrical engineer a good career?

Yes, electrical engineer is a good career, but the overall job growth is slower in the US than in other fields due to a decrease in domestic manufacturing. Electrical engineers work in several industries. The most active sectors are government, telecommunications, and semiconductor manufacturing.

There is currently a shortage of electrical engineers who can design electrical systems for buildings and large complexes.

Electrical engineers are skilled professionals who work in fields related to electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics.

Robotics, cell phones, radars, and solar panels all function through electronic designs from electrical engineers. It's a practical and satisfying skill to have and allows you to understand how technology in everyday life works.

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Is electrical engineer hard?

Yes, electrical engineering is hard because of the combination of math, physics, and abstract thinking involved. To acquire a job, you should have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. You will need to pass a series of exams to achieve the level of a professional electrical engineer.

As an electrical engineer, you will perform a variety of duties, including:

  • Designing products

  • Estimating costs and timelines for delivery

  • Collaborating with teams

  • Communicating with customers

  • Performing tests

  • Interpreting technical drawings and writing reports

Teams rely on your work as you design and test electronic equipment. Work may be in a lab or office setting, and you may have to visit facilities where products are installed or manufactured.

Electrical engineers have responsibilities and deadlines to meet and are expected to be problem solvers. You may be working in dangerous environments around live electrical equipment.

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Is it hard to become an electrical engineer?

Yes, it is hard to become an electrical engineer because it's a competitive and demanding field. In high school, you must show an aptitude in math and physics. Bachelor programs at the top schools are very competitive, and the coursework for an engineering degree is challenging.

Homework assignments prepare you for the various problem-solving, testing, and design work you will do in your career. For four years, you will work hard towards certification as an electrical engineer.

If you enjoy the challenge and have made your way through to become a professional electrical engineer, the work itself can be satisfying and pay well.

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What exactly does an electrical engineer do?

What electrical engineers do varies greatly. Some electrical engineers may choose to work in aerospace or electric cars, while others may be more interested in renewable power or wireless communication systems.

Electrical engineers are skilled professionals who work in fields related to electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics. Electrical engineers have a familiarity with circuit boards, processor chips, wireless frequencies, batteries, and other electronic equipment. This work can take place in offices, laboratories, mines, power plants, or factories. Electrical engineers may design, install and test avionics systems or work to improve autonomous cars.

The workday may include meetings with collaborators or customers, designing, installing, testing, or troubleshooting electrical systems. The workday may also involve spending time in front of the computer, or it may include fieldwork. Electrical engineers can also work in dangerous conditions with live electricity.

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Updated August 18, 2021