Electrical Engineering Jobs

Electrical engineering combines principles of engineering with applications of electricity and electronics. It has expanded since it was recognized as a career in the late 1800s and now includes topics such as power, telecommunications, control systems and signal processing. There is a distinction between electrical and electronics engineering outside of the United States. Electrical engineering deals with motors and power transmissions, whereas electronics engineering deals with computers, integrated circuits and other small-scale electronics systems.

Electrical engineers design and test electronic devices and electrical systems. As with almost all types of engineering, electrical engineering is focused on emerging technologies. Electrical engineers have made many contributions to modern society through technologies such as global positioning systems, telecommunications systems, satellite communications, robots, cars and electric power stations. They work on smaller-scale projects as well, including lighting and wiring buildings and designing household appliances.

Electrical engineering encompasses many disciplines. These include power, control, electronics, microelectronics, signal processing, telecommunications, instrumentation and computers. Power engineering involves electrical processes, such as generation, distribution and transmission, and their role in devices such as generators, transmitters and motors. Control engineering focuses on the use of systems and controllers in order to make these systems behave in a certain manner. Electronics engineering deals with the design and testing of circuits. Microelectronics focuses on the design and fabrication of small electronic circuits. Signal processing is the manipulation of analog and digital signals. Telecommunications engineering involves information that is transmitted by cables, optical fibers or free space. Instrumentation engineering focuses on devices that measure temperature, pressure and flow. Computer engineering focuses on the design of computers, systems and hardware.

There are many trends in the electrical engineering field. Power engineering and activated carbon injection are some current innovations in electrical engineering. Lighting and air conditioning engineering have overlapped to discover trends such as system load calculations and psychometry. In the power engineering field, current trends include carbon capture technology, circulating fluidized bed, industrial process automation and asset performance management.

To work in the electrical engineering field, a bachelor's degree is required. Besides classes in physics, math and science, students will need to take a variety of classes in order to gain a broad knowledge of the field. Classes vary by degree and school, but can include computer engineering, digital design, digital logic, circuits, signal processing, instrumentation, electromagnetics, electronics, microcomputers, system analysis, linear networks, network programming, computer architecture and organization, parallel systems, systems design, engineering physiology, mechatronics and digital imaging. Because many of those in the electrical engineering field have a specialty, you may want to focus on an area within electrical engineering, such as computers, circuits, mechatronics or electronics. More and more schools are offering concentrations for those looking to specialize in a particular topic. There are literally hundreds of schools in the United States that offer electrical engineering degree programs, so be sure to research them fully and see what they offer.

Besides a solid education in the field, electrical engineering requires many personal attributes. You must be very curious about how things work. Electrical engineers come up with ideas and they test them. If their ideas do not work the first time, they keep testing them until they do. So you must enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. You must also be able to work well with others. Teamwork is crucial, as you will have to communicate with team members, managers, other engineers and clients. You must have good writing skills as well. You will be required to write reports and possibly proposals.

Although electrical engineering can be highly technical, electrical engineers may also spend time performing project management duties, such as meeting with clients, managing the work of others, developing timelines and budgets, and creating reports. In the first year or two after graduation, electrical engineers typically spend their time learning about their company's product offerings and design procedures. They may design and develop new products and research ideas. They will need to test products and solve problems. They also need to make sure the product is safe, economical and high-performing. Once the electrical engineer is experienced with the company's workings, they may choose a specialty within electrical engineering. Duties can vary by company, position or industry. As with duties, workplaces can vary too. They may work in a lab, in a consulting firm or outside.

There are nearly 150,000 electrical engineers in the United States, with most in the engineering field. More than 18,000 are in California. Electrical engineering salaries range from $54,000 to more than $128,000 annually. The highest-paying industries are the motion picture, hardware and plumbing supplies and mining industries, which all have average salaries exceeding $110,000. The top-paying states for electrical engineering are Massachusetts and Alaska, with average salaries exceeding $102,000. However, the top-paying metropolitan area is the Sherman/Denison area in Texas, with an average salary of more than $123,000. There are also non-metropolitan areas in Western Tennessee, Northern Vermont, Southwest Maine and Southwest Alaska that all average salaries above $100,000.

Despite the strong demand for electrical devices such as navigation systems, wireless phone transmitters, batteries and electric power generators, electrical engineering jobs are expected to increase by only 2 percent by 2018. However, the skills learned in an electrical engineering program can be transferred to careers in a variety of fields, such as law, medicine, business and politics. With a master's degree, you will be qualified to teach at the university level. Some electrical engineers gain experience in a variety of topics within electrical engineering and use this experience to work as consultants for their own company. The skills and knowledge you learn can also be used in computer engineering , electronics engineering, mechanical engineering or even aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering. There are many possibilities.

Electrical Engineer Salary

Electrical Engineering Schools & Degree Programs

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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