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What is Electrical Engineering?
A degree in electrical engineering prepares students with skills and knowledge necessary to be able to develop, test, repair, and design electrical systems ranging from houses and automobiles, to specialized machinery and generators. Electrical engineers must have a strong background in science as well be able to read and design blueprints and schematics in order to implement electrical systems in structures and machines. Individuals in the field are required to obtain licensure and certification in order to demonstrate competency and ability. Electrical engineers may choose to focus on more complex systems, such as computers, and in turn requiring experience and study pertaining to that specialization.
Electrical engineering students need to have a strong understanding of mathematics and the sciences, particularly physics. Students must also learn to be able to draft designs, as most electrical engineers will be required to submit such blueprints during the course of their work. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is necessary for work as an electrical engineer, with a program typically taking four years to complete. Some schools may offer five year programs that will provide both a bachelor's and master's degree. Higher levels of education allow for specialization, focusing on specific systems and how to approach them.
A curriculum in electrical engineering may include:
- General Chemistry
- Principles of Electronics
- Fundamentals of Circuits
Employment and Licensure
Individuals seeking a career in electrical engineering will find that a program that offers practical experience, such as an internship, alongside the classroom education will prove more beneficial when seeking employment. Though a license is not strictly required by states unless working with the government at the local, state or federal level, individuals who pursue licensure or certification will find their job prospects increased. Licensure in electrical engineering has multiple levels, and requires students to be a graduate of an Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology accredited program. Graduates of such a program may immediately take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, the passing of which gives the engineer the designation EIT (Engineer in Training). Once a sufficient amount of experience is accrued, an engineer will be eligible to take the Professional Engineering Exam, the passing of which will confer the title of PE (Professional Engineer).
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth for electrical engineers is expected to be slow over the next decade due to a reduction in manufacturing in the United States as a whole. Some job growth is expected through innovation and contracting in burgeoning fields. Positions through the government are expected to remain steady due to opening from retirement and newly implemented projects. Electrical engineers may find work with the government, private firms, manufacturing companies, and contract labor. Some individuals may choose to start their own consulting businesses. Individuals with a master's degree will also be eligible for research and teaching positions. Long term experience and success may qualify individuals for managerial positions.
The average salary for an electrical engineer is approximately $84,000 per year, with increases in pay coming from job experience and promotion.