What you need to know
Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment.
Electrical engineers work in industries including research and development, engineering services, manufacturing, telecommunications, and the federal government. Electrical engineers generally work indoors in offices. However, they may have to visit sites to observe a problem or a piece of complex equipment.
Some of the things electrical engineers might do:
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
- Concentration. Electrical engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.
- Initiative. Electrical engineers must 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 engineers must 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 engineers must use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.
- Speaking skills. Electrical 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 engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.
The average pay for electrical engineers in the United States ranges from $60,250 to $150,340.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Overall employment of electrical engineers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026.
Job growth for electrical engineers is projected to occur largely in engineering services firms, as more companies are expected to tap the expertise of engineers in this industry for projects involving electronic devices and systems.
In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, electrical engineering technology, or a related engineering field. 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.
High school students interested in studying electrical engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.
Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering.