Electrical Engineer Education Requirements (Degrees, Majors, Certifications)

Considering a career in electrical engineering but unsure of the educational requirements? Understanding what it takes to become an electrical engineer can initially feel overwhelming. This blog will provide all the essential information you need to fulfill a career in electrical engineering.

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What Is Electrical Engineering?

man working on a mini project - Electrical Engineer Education Requirements

Electrical Engineering is the study of electrical systems, devices, and circuits. These could include:

  • Communication systems
  • Automobiles
  • Computers
  • Machinery controls

The amazing thing about electrical engineers is that they design and create high-tech devices that improve our daily lives. For instance, cell phones, power generators, turbines, valves, pumps, sensors, and many other gadgets we use daily are designed by electrical engineers.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), typical job responsibilities for Electrical Engineering positions include:

  • Designing new ways to use electrical power to develop or enhance products
  • Performing detailed calculations for developing manufacturing, construction, and installation standards.
  • Directing activities related to manufacturing, installing, and testing electrical equipment and solving complaints from customers or the public by evaluating and recommending solutions.
  • Electrical engineers also ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget.

In terms of growth, the BLS projects that overall employment for electrical engineer careers will increase by 9% through 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Various types of electrical engineering jobs are available throughout the country in many diverse locations. Electrical engineers are in demand across various businesses and industries, with the most common areas being engineering services, electric power, and research and development.

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Is A Degree A Requirement To Become An Electrical Engineer?

woman at her graduation - Electrical Engineer Education Requirements

The necessity of a degree for a career in electrical engineering is a topic of considerable interest for those looking to enter the field. Traditionally, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a closely related discipline has been the standard educational requirement for becoming an electrical engineer. This is largely because the profession demands a deep understanding of complex principles in mathematics, physics, and electrical systems, which formal education is designed to provide.

Beyond the Classroom

The path to becoming an electrical engineer isn’t solely confined to academia. While a degree can lay the groundwork for technical expertise and is often a prerequisite for licensure and certain positions, the field also values hands-on experience and practical skills. 

Alternative Pathways to Success

Some individuals may find their way into electrical engineering through rigorous self-study, apprenticeships, or as technicians, gradually acquiring the necessary knowledge and competencies. In today’s job market, alternative credentials like specialized certifications and diploma programs are also gaining recognition. These can complement or, in some cases, substitute for a traditional degree, especially when paired with demonstrable experience.

Nonetheless, a degree remains a significant advantage for those aspiring to roles that involve complex engineering responsibilities and is frequently considered essential by employers.

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What Sets StudyForFE Apart

Our courses feature interactive lectures, practice problems, and personalized mentorship from Wasim himself. Wasim has authored several highly acclaimed textbooks and study guides, including FE Electrical and Computer Review Manual and PE Power Reference Manual, which have become invaluable resources for exam takers. With a proven track record of success, StudyForFE has guided numerous students, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, in obtaining their engineering licenses and advancing their careers. 

Why Choose StudyForFE

Many of Wasim’s students have shared their success stories, crediting his courses and mentorship for helping them pass the exams and achieve their professional goals. If you want to land your dream electrical engineering job, contact us today to learn more about our FE electrical exam prep review course.

Educational Backgrounds Of Electrical Engineers

man making electrical plan - Electrical Engineer Education Requirements

Most electrical engineers have formal education in electrical engineering or a closely related discipline. 

  • This involves earning a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE), which provides a comprehensive understanding of core principles such as circuit theory, control systems, and signal processing. 
  • Many engineers further specialize with a Master’s degree or a Doctorate in specific areas, such as power systems, telecommunications, or embedded systems. 
  • It’s common to find professionals with degrees in physics, computer engineering, or mechatronics, highlighting the field’s interdisciplinary nature.

While a strong technical foundation remains paramount, the field of electrical engineering is witnessing a shift towards integrating soft skills and interdisciplinary knowledge. Employers increasingly value engineers who can demonstrate project management capabilities, effective communication, and an understanding of business principles. This evolution reflects the changing landscape where electrical engineers are expected to lead projects, work in cross-functional teams, and understand the economic impact of their work.

Education for Aspiring Electrical Engineers: What Matters?

For those looking to become Electrical Engineers, certain educational credentials are essential:

Strong STEM Foundation

A degree in electrical engineering or a related field is almost always necessary, providing the technical knowledge required for the role.

Practical Experience

Laboratories, internships, and co-op programs are crucial for gaining hands-on experience in real-world applications.

Specialized Knowledge

Postgraduate education or certifications in niche areas can distinguish candidates in a competitive job market.

Building a Path Forward

Aspiring Electrical Engineers should focus on a combination of education and practical experience:

Accreditation

Ensuring the chosen degree program is accredited by a recognized body, such as ABET, can be critical for career advancement.

Continuous Learning

Staying current with emerging technologies and industry standards through ongoing education and professional development.

Professional Licensure

Obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license can open up further career opportunities and is required for certain positions.

Best Degrees For Electrical Engineers

woman in her small office - Electrical Engineer Education Requirements

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)

The cornerstone of an electrical engineer’s education is typically a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. This degree provides a comprehensive foundation in the principles of:

  • Electricity
  • Electronics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Application in designing and analyzing electrical systems

Graduates with a BSEE are well-equipped to tackle:

  • Circuit design
  • Control systems
  • Signal processing
  • Telecommunications challenges

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Many electrical engineers choose to further their education with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. This advanced degree allows for specialization in:

  • Power systems
  • Digital systems design
  • Microelectronics
  • Wireless communications

An MSEE degree often includes opportunities for:

  • Research and in-depth study
  • Preparing graduates for leadership roles
  • Innovative problem-solving
  • Developing cutting-edge technologies

Computer Engineering

Given the interdisciplinary nature of modern electrical engineering, degrees in Computer Engineering are also prevalent among professionals in the field. This degree focuses on both electrical engineering and computer science, providing a strong background in:

  • Hardware-software integration
  • Computer architecture
  • Embedded systems

Electrical engineers with this background are adept at projects involving complex computing systems and smart devices.

Physics or Applied Physics

A degree in Physics or Applied Physics is another common path for electrical engineers, especially those involved in research and development. This background emphasizes a strong understanding of the fundamental physical laws that govern electrical phenomena, which is crucial for innovation in areas such as:

  • Semiconductor technology
  • Photonics
  • Nanotechnology

Systems Engineering

Electrical engineers with a degree in Systems Engineering have a holistic understanding of complex systems integration and are skilled in ensuring that electrical systems function effectively within larger technological frameworks. This degree emphasizes the design and management of large-scale engineering projects, making it valuable for electrical engineers in:

  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Energy industries

By exploring these common educational paths, job seekers can gain a clearer picture of the knowledge and expertise that can propel a successful career in electrical engineering. Whether through a foundational bachelor’s degree or advanced studies, these degrees reflect the diverse and dynamic nature of the field.

What Do Electrical Engineers Mostly Major In?

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Electrical engineering is a multifaceted field encompassing various technological and innovation aspects. The following academic majors are particularly aligned with an electrical engineer’s career path, each contributing to the diverse skill set required in this dynamic profession.

Electrical Engineering 

The most direct and common major for aspiring electrical engineers is electrical engineering itself. This major provides a comprehensive understanding of:

  • Electrical theory
  • Circuit design
  • Control systems
  • Signal processing

Graduates are well-equipped to tackle challenges in power generation, electronics, telecommunications, and many other areas central to an electrical engineer’s role.

Electronics Engineering 

Closely related to electrical engineering, a major in electronics engineering focuses on the design and development of electronic devices and systems. This includes semiconductors, embedded systems, and digital electronics. This specialization is crucial for electrical engineers who aim to innovate in:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Medical devices
  • Automotive electronics

Computer Engineering 

A major in Computer Engineering bridges the gap between electrical engineering and computer science. It covers hardware-software integration, microprocessors, and computer architecture. This knowledge is essential for electrical engineers working in:

  • Computer systems design
  • Robotics
  • Smart technology development

Mechatronics 

Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science principles to create automated systems and intelligent machines. This interdisciplinary major is valuable for electrical engineers designing and managing complex systems like:

  • Industrial automation
  • Control systems
  • Intelligent sensors

Physics 

A major in physics is beneficial for electrical engineers who are interested in the fundamental scientific principles underlying their field. It provides a deep understanding of electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and materials science, and it is pivotal in research and development roles within the electrical engineering industry.

Systems Engineering 

Systems engineering is a broad field that emphasizes the design and management of complex engineering projects. A major in this area equips electrical engineers with the skills to oversee large-scale electrical systems and infrastructure projects, ensuring they meet technical requirements and are delivered on time and within budget. 

Master the FE and PE Exams with StudyForFE

StudyForFE is an online exam preparation platform founded by Wasim Asghar, a licensed Professional Engineer with over 15 years of industry experience. We offer comprehensive review courses like the FE electrical exam prep review course and PE power exam preparation course to help students pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams. 

Interactive Learning, Practice, and Personalized Support

Our courses feature interactive lectures, practice problems, and personalized mentorship from Wasim himself. Wasim has authored several highly acclaimed textbooks and study guides, including FE Electrical and Computer Review Manual and PE Power Reference Manual, which have become invaluable resources for exam takers. With a proven track record of success, StudyForFE has guided numerous students, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, in obtaining their engineering licenses and advancing their careers. 

Pass Your Exams, Advance Your Career

Many of Wasim’s students have shared their success stories, crediting his courses and mentorship for helping them pass the exams and achieve their professional goals. If you want to land your dream electrical engineering job, contact us today to learn more about our FE electrical exam prep review course.

Popular Minors For Electrical Engineers

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Physics

Physics is a natural complement to electrical engineering, deepening the understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin electrical and electronic systems. A minor in Physics can enhance an engineer’s ability to innovate and solve complex problems in areas such as:

  • Semiconductor technology
  • Photonics
  • Nanotechnology

Computer Science

A minor in Computer Science is highly beneficial for electrical engineers as it provides a strong foundation in software development, algorithms, and data structures. This knowledge is particularly useful for those interested in:

  • Embedded systems
  • Control systems
  • Robotics

Mathematics

Mathematics is the language of engineering, and a minor in this area strengthens an electrical engineer’s analytical and problem-solving skills. Advanced mathematics is crucial for fields like:

  • Signal processing
  • Communications
  • Electromagnetics

Renewable Energy

With the growing emphasis on sustainable technology, a minor in renewable energy prepares electrical engineers to contribute to developing green technologies. This minor provides knowledge in:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Other renewable energy systems

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that designs and manages complex engineering projects over their life cycles. A minor in systems engineering helps electrical engineers understand the big picture and integrate various subsystems into a cohesive, functioning whole, which is crucial for large-scale and multidisciplinary projects.

Business Administration

A minor in business administration is invaluable for electrical engineers aiming for leadership roles or entrepreneurial ventures. It provides insight into the industry’s economic, managerial, and organizational aspects, equipping engineers with the skills to manage projects, understand market dynamics, and lead teams effectively.

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Degree Alternatives For Becoming An Electrical Engineer

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Professional Certifications

Professional certifications, such as those offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), provide focused training and validation of expertise in specific areas of electrical engineering. These certifications can be especially advantageous for individuals with a background in related fields who want to specialize or enhance their credentials and marketability. 

Professional certifications offer specialized training and hands-on experience that can set individuals apart in a competitive job market such as:

  • Certified Electrical Engineer (CEE)
  • Certified Power Systems Engineer (CPSE)

Technical Training Programs

Technical training programs or vocational schools offer hands-on learning experiences directly applicable to electrical engineering roles. These programs often include circuitry, digital systems, and control systems courses, providing a solid foundation for those wishing to quickly enter the workforce with practical skills. Institutions like the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offer certification programs for electrical engineering technicians, allowing individuals to gain industry-recognized qualifications and hands-on experience that can lead to fulfilling careers in the electrical engineering field.

Online Courses and MOOCs

Online platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity offer courses in electrical engineering topics ranging from basic electronics to advanced signal processing. Leading universities or industry experts often create these courses and allow for self-paced learning, which can be ideal for those balancing other commitments. 

Platforms like Coursera offer specialized online degrees in electrical engineering, allowing individuals to gain a comprehensive education from the comfort of their homes and at a flexible pace. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are accessible to individuals worldwide, democratizing access to quality education and training in the electrical engineering field.

Apprenticeships and On-the-Job Training

Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction, allowing individuals to earn while they learn. 

  • This path is particularly relevant for those who thrive in hands-on environments and wish to gain practical experience under the mentorship of seasoned professionals in the electrical engineering industry. 
  • Apprenticeships provide valuable opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world projects, develop problem-solving skills, and network with industry professionals. 
  • On-the-job training allows individuals to get a feel for different specialties within electrical engineering and find the area that best aligns with their interests and career goals.

Licensing Requirements For Electrical Engineers

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Earning a degree in electrical engineering opens up a world of opportunities. Graduates can begin working right away in various fields. After accumulating four years of engineering experience, professionals may pursue a Professional Engineer license from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Acquiring this license allows engineers to broaden their horizons and take on more significant responsibilities in their field.

To be eligible for a PE license, engineers must meet specific criteria set by the NSPE. These requirements include:

  • Completing a four-year engineering degree from an ABET-accredited program.
  • Passing the fundamentals of engineering exam.
  • Accumulating four years of progressive engineering experience under a professional engineer.
  • Passing the principles and practice of engineering exam

Once an individual has met all these criteria, they can apply for a Professional Engineer license through the NSPE.

Meeting these licensing requirements ensures electrical engineers have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to excel in their profession. Obtaining a PE license is a testament to an engineer’s expertise and a crucial step towards expanding their career opportunities and responsibilities. 

Related Reading

  • Electrical Engineering Problems
  • Electrical Engineering Recruitment Agencies
  • Best Electrical Engineering Books
  • Job Responsibilities Of Electrical Engineer
  • How To Make More Money As An Engineer
  • Future Of Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering Degree Cost
  • Electrical Engineering Terms
  • Electronics Engineering vs Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering Training Courses
  • Electronics Engineering Certifications
  • Best Electrical Engineering Graduate Schools

Land Your Dream Electrical Engineering Job With Ease With the Help of Our FE Electrical Exam Prep Review Course

StudyForFE is an online exam preparation platform founded by a licensed Professional Engineer with over 15 years of industry experience. It offers comprehensive review courses like the FE electrical exam prep review course and PE power exam preparation course. These courses are designed to help students pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams. 

The company’s founder, Wasim Asghar, authored several highly acclaimed textbooks and study guides, including FE Electrical and Computer Review Manual and PE Power Reference Manual, which have become invaluable resources for exam takers. StudyForFE has guided numerous students, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, in obtaining their engineering licenses and advancing their careers. If you’re looking to pass your exams and achieve your professional goals, StudyForFE is the platform for you. 

Why Choose StudyForFE for Electrical Engineering Exam Prep?

Wasim Asghar, a licensed professional engineer with over 15 years of industry experience, founded StudyForFE. The platform offers comprehensive review courses, such as the FE electrical exam prep review course and PE power exam preparation course, to help students pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams. These courses feature interactive lectures, practice problems, and personalized mentorship from Wasim himself. 

StudyForFE has a proven track record of success, guiding numerous students, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, to obtain their engineering licenses and advance their careers. Wasim’s students have shared their success stories, crediting his courses and mentorship for helping them pass the exams and achieve their professional goals. If you want to land your dream electrical engineering job, contact StudyForFE today to learn more about their FE Electrical Exam Prep Review Course!

wasim-smal

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.