Whether it’s fine-tuning global positioning satellites or designing solar power plants, achievements of electrical engineers have a huge impact on the way we live. Their job involves designing, implementing and maintaining a whole host of electrical equipment. Ever wondered how much an electrical engineer makes? Or how to become one? This article will answer those questions and more; discussing the salary of electrical engineers, key responsibilities, career path and work environments.
Electrical Engineer Salary
What is the salary of an electrical engineer? In the United States, the average salary is around $89,000 per annum, or $43 per hour. Wages depend on multiple factors such as location, specialisation and job experience. Entry-level positions typically have a starting salary of$55,000. Income steadily rises as experience increases, and those in the profession for 20 years boast salaries 45% higher than that of the average electrical engineer. The top 10% of earners make around $139,400 annually, whereas the lowest 10% earned around $57,000 per annum. The top 5 paying industries are Research and Development, Software publishers, Oil & Gas Extraction, Computer Design and Semiconductors, and the top 5 paying states are California, District of Columbia, Alaska, Massachusetts and Louisiana.
Not only do electrical engineers enjoy an exciting career and a competitive salary, but other financial perks as well. In general, engineers receive excellent benefit packages consisting of health insurance, dental care and pension plans.
Electrical engineers apply electronic theory principles to engineering projects for a wide variety of industrial, commercial, military and medical applications. They design and develop both software and hardware to meet client specifications. Electronic engineering is a sub division of electrical engineering, which involves working with electronic components to build circuits. While electronic engineers are focused on how intricate circuits process signals and obey instructions, electrical engineers are primarily concerned with electricity flow. They typically work on larger projects, such as power plants or power networks.
Although key responsibilities will differ with specialization, different disciplines share common tasks. These include carrying out complex calculations to predict performance of systems, inspecting completed projects to test conformance to regulations, as well as studying technical manuals. Engineers must also co-ordinate with colleagues and project managers, ensuring projects are finished on time.
Electrical engineers work primarily in research or development industries, generally spending most of their time in a comfortable office setting. Occasionally they may travel to other locations, attending seminars or meeting with clients. Although many engineers have individual projects, discussing and sharing ideas with colleagues is common. In fact, in a recent survey, 85% of electrical engineers said that interaction with peers was the most positive aspect of the job (Princeton Review). The profession also rated 5/5 for job satisfaction from a survey of 3090 votes (PayScale). This is attributed to the creative element of troubleshooting circuits, office atmosphere and project’s positive impact on society.
Work can be frustrating at times, as budget cuts and indecisive clients can stall progress. Meeting deadlines puts time pressure on engineers, so working longer than a forty hour work week is common if multiple projects are in the pipeline.
How to become an Electrical Engineer
Attaining a Bachelor’s degree from an ABET accredited institution is considered the norm by employers looking to fill entry-level positions. Employers highly value practical experience, so apply for colleges or universities offering co-operative engineering programs. These combine classroom study with practical work, allowing students to earn academic credits for relevant work experience. For upper level positions, employment firms expect a few years of work in the field and/or further education, such as Master’s degrees.
Licensure is not as common as in other engineering disciplines, though it’s encouraged for electrical engineers working with federal, state or local government. Gaining a license is a multi-step process. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from an ABET accredited program, one must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, earning the title of Engineer in Training (EIT). To gain a license, one must complete relevant work experience then pass the Professional Engineering exam.
Successful engineers have a number of different qualities. Working in collaboration with other professionals demands strong interpersonal skills. Also, communication skills are a necessity when explaining complex ideas to clients with no technical expertise, or when relaying instructions to manufacturers. An ability to see the bigger picture while focusing in on small details of projects is another invaluable skill.
Employment opportunities for electrical engineers are predicted to grow 4% from 2012 to 2022 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite being slower than other careers, the rapid pace of technological innovation continues to drive demand for those in the profession.
Transitioning from an oil-reliant economy to one based on renewable energy sources will involve the work of thousands of electrical engineers. New jobs will be created for installing solar panels, designing wind turbines and implementing hydro-electric systems.
Electricians are tradespeople who specialise in the electrical wiring of buildings, equipment or machinery. They also install electrical components such as lighting, as well as making repairs to electrical infrastructure. Becoming an electrician involves first learning the ropes as an apprentice for 3-5 years. During this time, you learn electrical theory while gaining practical experience under the tutorage of a Master Electrician. After obtaining a relevant two year degree, meeting the requisite number of practical hours and passing a licensing exam, you become a “Journeyman” and are able to work unsupervised for a Master electrician. The average annual salary of an electrician in 2012 was $53,560 (BLS).
An electronic engineer designs and tests circuits built from electrical components such as resistors, diodes and capacitors. Circuits are built to perform specific functions, so the profession requires strong analytical and problem solving skills. After initial concept development, circuits are tested, manufactured and possibly sold to consumers. Electronic engineers often evaluate other system’s performance, and recommend design modifications. The average salary of an electronic engineer is $71,195 per annum.