An electrical engineer plays a crucial role in almost every engineering field, especially in the energy sector, from predicting power demands to identifying potential hazards.
The electrical engineering industry focuses on researching, designing, and manufacturing equipment that uses electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. But are electrical engineers in demand?
Well, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, starting from 2021 – 2031, the job market for electrical engineers is expected to grow at 3%, which is slower than the other professions.
This article explores the roles of electrical engineers, their career outlooks, how demanding they are across different fields, and other valuable information about the field.
Read on to learn more.
Who is an electrical engineer?
An electrical engineer uses the physics and math of electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics to design and develop new electrical equipment and systems, solve problems, and test equipment.
Generally, electrical engineers work on a wide range of projects, from designing household appliances to designing large-scale electrical communication systems, power plants, satellite communication systems, etc.
Are electrical engineers in demand?
The demand for electrical engineers is universal, and this presents electrical engineers with incredible opportunities and versatility, which makes the job a bit flexible.
However, from 2021 to 2031, the employment of electrical engineers is expected to grow by 3%, a tiny percentage, which is largely attributed to the sluggish growth rate in most manufacturing industries.
Nevertheless, the demand for electrical engineers may increase, if the United States mandate that all rockets used to launch astronauts, satellites, weather, and GPS systems are locally produced.
What are the qualities of a good Electrical engineer?
- Concentration: Electrical and electronics engineers create and construct intricate electrical systems and materials. Hence, they must keep track of multiple design components and technical parameters.
- Initiative: Every project requires electrical engineers to apply their knowledge to new challenges. As a result, they must continuously educate themselves to keep up with changes in technological advancements.
- Interpersonal skills: During the manufacturing process, electrical engineers must properly communicate with others to prove the accuracy of their work.
- Mathematics skills: Electrical engineers must use the principles of calculus and other advanced math to evaluate, design, and troubleshoot equipment.
- Writing skills: Electrical engineers create maintenance manuals, operating manuals, component lists, product proposals, and design methodologies documentation about the equipment they manufacture.
How much do electrical engineers earn?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for electrical engineers is $101,780 per year/ $48.93 per hour.
What do electrical engineers do?
Generally, electrical engineers work on different projects, such as computers, robotics, cell phones, cards, radars, navigation systems, wiring and lighting in buildings, and other electrical systems.
Also, electrical engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) tools to make schematics and lay out circuits. They also use computers to simulate how electrical devices and systems work.
These engineers work in many different fields today, each needing different skills. These skills can be anything from basic circuit theory to those required to run an entire electrical project.
The following are some of the core duties of electrical engineers:
- Evaluating electrical systems, products, parts, and applications
- Designing and conducting programs for research
- Verifying the functionality of systems and components by coming up with testing methods and properties
- Designing and changing equipment to make new manufacturing processes
- Developing electrical testing methods to ensure the quality of a product
- Putting together product reports by collecting information and trends for analysis
- Providing information about engineering by responding to questions and requests
- Respecting federal and state regulations to maintain product and company reputation
- Writing computer applications and entering data to maintain the product database, etc
Career paths for electrical engineers
Electrical engineering is a broad field that includes several specializations. And while some electrical engineers focus solely on one area of expertise, some combine multiple fields.
The following are some of the career paths/fields for electrical engineers:
1. Electronic Engineer
Electronic engineers research, design, manufacture, and test electronic systems and components for telecommunications, acoustics, aerospace guidance and propulsion control, and instrumentation and controls.
This career is quite similar to that of an electrical engineer – both terms are used interchangeably in the United States. However, the primary difference between them is their core area of specialization.
While electrical engineers take care of the whole electrical system, electronic engineers, on the other hand, focus on smaller components, such as personal computers, electronic circuits, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, etc.
2. Microelectronics Engineer
Microelectronics is a subfield of electronic engineering that focuses on studying and microfabricating extremely small electronic designs and circuit components primarily fabricated from semiconductor materials.
The impact of circuit features such as interconnections may become of increasing interest when the size of microelectronic components continues to shrink due to technological advancements.
However, microelectronics engineers work to reduce these parasitic effects so that devices can be made more efficiently, with fewer parts, and at a lower cost.
3. Signal Processing Engineer
A signal processing engineer examines and modifies digital signals to make them more accurate and reliable.
Their roles include designing, monitoring, and upgrading digital signals and creating more efficient algorithms for their processing.
Finally, a signal processing engineer can work in fields such as image processing, audio processing, pattern recognition, radio frequency design, space and military applications, such as satellite and mobile communications, etc.
4. Power Engineer
A power engineer, also called a power systems engineer, works in electrical engineering. It deals with the generation, transmission, distribution, and use of electric power, such as transformers, generators, motors, and power electronics.
Power engineers spend most time troubleshooting problems with three-phase AC power. However, they also work on converting AC and DC power and evolving specific power systems, like those used in airplanes or electric rail networks.
5. Control Engineer
Control engineering also called control systems engineering, is usually taught alongside electrical engineering in most colleges. It focuses on the mathematical modeling and implementation of control systems for different systems.
Generally, engineers use control theory to design controllers that cause systems to behave in a certain way, using microcontrollers, digital signal processors, electrical circuits, etc.
6. Telecommunications Engineer
Telecommunications engineering is a discipline centered on electrical and computer engineering that attempts to improve telecommunication systems.
The roles of a telecommunications engineer include basic circuit design, provision of high-speed data transmission services, and supervision of the installation of telecommunications equipment such as optical fiber cabling, IP networks, optical fiber cabling, etc.
They also use various equipment and transport media to design the network infrastructure, such as twisted pairs, coaxial cables, and optical fibers, provide solutions for wireless communication and data transfer modes, and so on.
7. Instrumentation Engineer
Instrumentation engineering has its roots in both electrical and electronics engineering and is concerned with the design of measuring devices for pressure, flow, and temperature.
Generally, instrumentation engineers create intelligent sensors, smart transducers, MEMS technology, and Bluetooth technology.
In a nutshell, this field deals with measurement, automation, and control procedures that require a thorough understanding of physics.
They can work in any process or manufacturing industry, such as steel, oil, petrochemical, electricity, and defense production.
8. Computer Engineer
Computer engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, computer circuit boards, memory devices, networks and routers, microchips, and other electrical components.
They focus on digital systems, operating systems, and computer networks and seek to connect digital devices with software to suit the business and industry’s scientific, technological, and administrative requirements.
Do you need a license to work as an electrical engineer?
Yes. All electrical engineers who work in the utility field must have the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam license.
What code do electrical engineers use?
Electrical Engineers use programming languages such as Assembly Language, VHDL, C, C++, and MATLAB.
Do electrical engineers use Python?
Yes, it is often used for signal processing, image processing, control system engineering, data visualization, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), power electronics, etc.
Every day, new electrical devices (both industrial and consumer-based) are produced and developed, which makes companies look out for electrical engineers.
However, despite the sluggish employment growth, there are about an average of 20,100 electrical engineering roles yearly, primarily due to job switches or retirement.
Electrical engineers in the electrical industry may take on various tasks such as creating, managing, and overseeing various projects, which require diverse technical and non-technical skills.
I hope you found this article helpful. You can also read the differences and similarities between industrial and mechanical engineering.
Thanks for reading.