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Electrical Engineer


How to Become an Electrical Engineer
Electrical Engineer Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of an Electrical Engineer
Electrical Engineer Salary
Influential Professionals in this field
Leading Organizations for Electrical Engineers
Top Cities for Electrical Engineering Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Electrical Engineer

For an entry level position, an engineering undergraduate degree is usually required. Sometimes, an applicant with a natural sciences or mathematics degree may get an entry level job, but that is not nearly as common. The curriculum for engineers at colleges and universities tends to be a highly regimented one with requirements not only for what courses must be taken, but what sequence they must be taken in and in specific combinations. The curriculum emphasis is on math, the specific electrical engineering field, physics and other hard sciences. Students often take an extra year to complete their degrees due to the rigor of the programs, and like other engineering programs, there are always a few areas that pose consistent and high levels of difficulty for students.

Although a person could become a part of an electrical engineering firm or work for the government and be considered a electrical engineer in general, the formal engineering designation is Professional Engineer (PE), which means that one is licensed by a particular state to offer their services directly to the public. In other words, the role of an engineer is broad, but the title of "engineer" is specific. To become a PE, there are a number of requirements, including graduating with an undergraduate degree from a specially program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), four years of experience, and an exam. There are two stages of becoming a PE, each categorized by passing exams. Upon completion of the first exam, (Fundamentals of Engineering), the PE candidate is called an "engineer in training" or "engineer intern". The second exam (Principles and Practice of Engineering) is usually only able to be taken after some years of work experience. Site licensing varies and some states require continuing education while others do not. Independent from state and other governmental regulators, there are other professional organizations that offer certification in special areas of engineering, like electrical engineering.

What does an Electrical Engineer do?

Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different and some of them overlap quite a bit.

Electrical engineers work on the design, manufacture, improvement and maintenance of electrical equipment, including power supplies, device controls, electric motors, lighting, building wiring, electrical equipment, etc. There is a distinction made between electrical engineers and electronics engineers, who focus more on the design, improvement and manufacturing of electronic devices, including consumer products like music players, computers and the like. Electrical engineers focus more on the flow of electricity and power vs. how to make small computing devices work and work better. Some consider electronics engendering to be a sub-division of electrical engineering, as well as the categories of computer, microelectronic, signal processing, control and power engineering.

As with all engineering disciplines, electrical engineers work with computer design programs in designing systems or devices and spend a lot of time doing non-technical tasks, such as project management, people management, budgeting, writing presentations/reports. After all, engineering is all about applied science. Specifically, electrical engineering is about applying the principles of electricity and electromagnetism in various ways.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Electrical Engineer?

Engineers must, of course, be able to complete all the necessary educational and professional requirements to become engineers at all. This indicates an intelligence type that is analytical, detail oriented and inquisitive. Creativity is also a necessary trait as it feeds into creative problem solving. Interpersonal skills are also highly necessary, as electrical engineers almost always work with teams and other departments. Project managements skills are also an absolute must, as there are usually a multitude of moving parts (phases, teams, disciplines) to any one project. Language - spoken and written - are also necessary due to not only the teaming aspect of a electrical engineer's job but also because of the necessity to communicate findings, discuss issues with clients, present recommendations, etc. in written form.

How much does an Electrical Engineer make?

The wage range for electrical engineers seems to be about $10,000 more than some other engineering fields. The annual wage itself ranged from $51,000 - $120,000+. The largest employers of electrical engineers tended to be engineering firms, with electronic device manufacturers in general comprising the second largest group. Industries that deal with electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance seemed to employ the most electrical engineers.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

A good way to find out who is leading the profession of electrical engineering is to look up who comprise the board, management and advisory board to each of the below professional organizations.

In addition, here are a few key historical figures:

William Gilbert (1544-1603) - English scientist who is credited with being the first electrical engineer, wrote De Magnete ("On the Magnet"), at treatise on electrical and magnetic topics which became a landmark resource.

Alessandro Volta (1745 - 1827) -Italian scientist known to have created an electrical device that is considered a forerunner to the electrical battery. The word "volt" comes from his name.

Georg Simon Ohm (1787-1854) - German scientist known for his research into the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance. His name as well has come to mean a unit of measurement in electrical science.

Also, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has an online virtual museum that can provide much, much more information.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - leading global professional organization for the disciplines of electrical and electronics engineering

ABET - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Oversees accreditation of college and university engineering programs.

National Society of Professional Engineers - Primary national professional organization for PEs across all disciplines.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying - national organization composed of licensing boards from all US states and territories.

For a lists of state boards, visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's website.

What are the top cities for Electrical Engineering jobs?

The state of Massachusetts featured as one of the states with the greatest concentration of electrical engineers as well as one of the highest paying states on average. Of course, Massachusetts is the home of MIT and other notable universities, like Harvard. But this does not clearly explain the highest concentration of employed electrical engineers. With regard to specific metropolitan areas, the Houston area seems to have a large number of opportunities for electrical engineers, probably due to some core industries in that area, including the energy industry itself. In addition to some large engineering firms, the military also offers quite a few opportunities for electrical engineers. As a general rule, wherever there are large amounts of equipment that run on electricity, there will be a need for electrical engineers to help maintain those machines.

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