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Become A Principal Electrical Engineer

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Working As A Principal Electrical Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $117,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal 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.

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:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Perform detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure that they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance

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.

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How To Become A Principal 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 Length of Employment
Principal Engineer 4.9 years
Staff Engineer 4.2 years
Top Careers Before Principal Electrical Engineer
Engineer 2.9%
Consultant 2.2%
Top Careers After Principal Electrical Engineer
Consultant 3.6%

Do you work as a Principal Electrical Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$117,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$88,000
Min 10%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Median 50%
$154,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
5.4 years
How much does a Principal Electrical Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Principal Electrical Engineer in the United States is $117,451 per year or $56 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $88,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $155,000.

Real Principal Electrical Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Electrical Engineer-Devices Group or Other Microsoft Corporation Mountain View, CA Nov 03, 2016 $191,000 -
$211,000
Principal Electrical Engineer Technip USA, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 12, 2015 $160,000
SR. Principal Electrical Engineer Wave Semiconductor Campbell, CA Apr 25, 2016 $154,000
Electrical Engineer (SR. Principal Engineer/Manage Wave Semiconductor, Inc. Campbell, CA Sep 08, 2014 $154,000
Principal Electrical Engineer--Safety Systems HIMA Americas, Inc. Houston, TX Nov 17, 2009 $150,000
Principal Electrical Engineer-Safety Systems HIMA Americas, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2011 $150,000
Electrical Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Woburn, MA Sep 08, 2016 $149,650
Electrical Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Parksdale, CA Aug 16, 2014 $149,500
Electrical Principal Engineer Dell Products L.P. Santa Clara, CA Aug 12, 2014 $145,000
Principal Electrical Engineer Milara Inc. Milford, MA Nov 19, 2015 $145,000
Electrical Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Irvine, CA Dec 10, 2015 $140,000
Principal Electrical Engineer, Hardware Omnicell, Inc. Mountain View, CA Jan 05, 2015 $132,000
Principal Electrical Engineer Andrew LLC Warren, NJ May 28, 2010 $129,199
Principal Electrical Engineer Milara Inc. Milford, MA Oct 01, 2015 $126,800 -
$145,000
Principal Electrical Engineer I CB&I Inc. Houston, TX Dec 14, 2015 $125,154 -
$180,168
Principal Engineer-Electrical Design & Product TE SPX Transformer Solutions, Inc. Waukesha, WI Sep 18, 2013 $121,514
Principal Electrical Engineer Medtronic, Inc. Cleveland, OH Oct 19, 2015 $121,000
Principal Electrical Engineer I CB&I Inc. Houston, TX Sep 08, 2014 $116,459 -
$174,076
Principal Electrical Engineer Astec America, LLC Eden Prairie, MN Aug 28, 2015 $114,585
Senior/Principal Electrical Engineer Bayer Business & Technology Services, LLC Baytown, TX Jan 09, 2012 $114,500
Principal Electrical Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Woburn, MA Sep 17, 2011 $113,300
Principal Electrical Engineer URS Corporation Buffalo, NY Sep 14, 2013 $112,406
Principal Electrical Engineer Performance Motion Devices, Inc. Lincoln, MA Nov 30, 2009 $110,000
Principal Electrical Engineer Performance Motion Devices, Inc. Lincoln, MA Feb 09, 2011 $110,000
Electrical Principal Engineer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Cedar Rapids, IA Sep 21, 2013 $109,603
Principal Electrical Engineer Stanley Consultants, Inc. Centennial, CO Aug 31, 2011 $108,000

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Top Skills for A Principal Electrical Engineer

  1. Hardware Design
  2. Electrical Engineering
  3. PCB
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised hardware design verifications of nine medical products, including implantable and external devices, all of which went to market.
  • Performed as a subject matter expert in electrical engineering field, signal and power integrity.
  • Performed analog and digital circuit design, circuit analysis, PCB design and product testing activities.
  • Designed temperature, pressure & flow control systems for specialized laboratory manufacturing processes.
  • Implemented, tested and debugged an FPGA which processes and formats video and manages system functions including BIT and AMLCD configuration.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Principal Electrical Engineers

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Washington
  4. New Mexico
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Alaska
  7. Rhode Island
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Arizona
  10. Virginia
  • (6,545 jobs)
  • (1,268 jobs)
  • (1,051 jobs)
  • (182 jobs)
  • (347 jobs)
  • (46 jobs)
  • (89 jobs)
  • (304 jobs)
  • (623 jobs)
  • (1,711 jobs)

Principal Electrical Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.2%

Unknown

8.0%

Female

6.8%
Ethnicity

White

54.7%

Asian

16.2%

Hispanic or Latino

14.4%

Black or African American

9.0%

Unknown

5.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

22.2%

Russian

22.2%

Bulgarian

11.1%

German

11.1%

Carrier

11.1%

Arabic

11.1%

Shan

11.1%
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Principal Electrical Engineer Education

Schools

Northeastern University

12.4%

Arizona State University

6.7%

Pennsylvania State University

6.7%

Texas A&M University

6.7%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

5.7%

Johns Hopkins University

5.7%

University of Houston

5.7%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

5.7%

University of Phoenix

4.8%

Purdue University

4.8%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.8%

Tufts University

4.8%

University of Florida

3.8%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

3.8%

California State University - Los Angeles

3.8%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

2.9%

University of Texas at Arlington

2.9%

Stanford University

2.9%

University of Washington

2.9%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

2.9%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

67.9%

Business

5.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.4%

Management

2.7%

Computer Engineering

2.7%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.4%

Computer Science

2.2%

Physics

1.7%

Project Management

1.5%

Engineering

1.5%

Finance

1.0%

Digital Media

1.0%

Computer Networking

1.0%

Biomedical Engineering

1.0%

Systems Engineering

0.7%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.7%

Industrial Technology

0.7%

Mechanical Engineering

0.7%

Engineering Science

0.5%

Operations Management

0.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.7%

Masters

37.1%

Other

6.6%

Doctorate

6.6%

Certificate

2.7%

Associate

0.7%

Diploma

0.7%
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Top Principal Electrical Engineer Employers

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Principal Electrical Engineer Videos

Introduction to Electrical Engineering - (Hindi / Urdu)

Lecture for GATE in Electrical Engineering-Principal of single Phase Induction Motor

Electric Circuits - Electrical Engineering Fundamentals - Lecture 1

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