How to Become an Electrical Engineer

Whether it was a torch you flared up, a light switch you turned on, a tablet you swiped, or a GPS you used to reach your destination, all the credit goes to an electrical engineer for inventing and developing these present era’s amenities.

Electrical engineering is an intriguing and influential profession since it is engaged in creating, designing, and producing electronic equipment and electrical systems that everyone uses daily.

That’s why:

It would not be futile to say that becoming an electrical engineer would be one of the best decisions you can take to establish your career.

But, a question arises here:

How to become an electrical engineer?

To help you answer that:

We have put together a concise explanation of the crucial details in this article, from the tasks one has to perform to the skills required to become an electrical engineer.  

So continue reading if you’re considering pursuing a career in this intriguing field.

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?

Electrical engineers are in charge of creating gadgets that generate or use electricity. These gadgets might be as small as a coin in your shirt pocket or as large as an electrical grid powering an entire block.

Electrical engineers’ duties and responsibilities vary based on who they work for, however, their responsibilities essentially involve:

  • Taking part in briefings, composing reports, and giving presentations.
  • Gathering information for ongoing and prospective electrical engineering projects and research.
  • Developing standards for electrical gear and materials acquisitions.
  • Performing feasibility assessments for new technological advancements.
  • Planning budget by evaluating resources, personnel, or construction expenditures.
  • Creating electrical systems specs, geological maps, or technical illustrations to assure that installation and activities meet criteria and client expectations.
  • Employing designing and engineering software to develop project layouts and circuit illustrations.
  • Conducting a myriad of comprehensive computations to set construction, production, or installation rules or regulations.
  • Creating, preserving, applying, or upgrading electrical machinery, supplies, structures, tools, or systems for residential, commercial, or industrial usage.

We have written a separate blog on what an electrical engineer does. We suggest you go through that for further information.

How to Become an Electrical Engineer?

Here is a list of the steps that will guide you on how to become an electrical engineer:

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
  2. Pass the FE electrical exam and become an EIT
  3. Consider pursuing a master’s degree
  4. Benefit from internships and cooperative programs
  5. Earn work experience 
  6. Pass the PE electrical and power exam to acquire the PE license

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

To become an electrical engineer, you’ll need to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from an ABET-accredited college. Students with bachelor’s degrees in relevant subjects, such as physics, software, electronic or mechanical engineering, may also be considered by some organizations.

You can specialize in one of the following areas within the fundamental overview of electrical engineering:

  • Communications
  • Computer Hardware
  • Control Systems
  • Power Systems

2. Pass the FE Electrical Exam and Become an EIT

After earning a bachelor’s degree, students can take the FE Electrical examination, which consists of 110 problems and lasts six hours. Though it is an optional step, taking and clearing the FE Electrical exam will assist you in landing a job in a growing firm or sector. After passing the FE exam, you will be given the Engineer-in-training (EIT) title, which will help you obtain the PE license afterward.

3. Consider Pursuing a Master’s Degree

Even though a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering provides a solid foundation in the engineering discipline and equips candidates for entry-level positions, you can go the extra mile and acquire a master’s degree. Pursuing a master’s degree will help you present yourself as a strong contender and can pave the way toward high-level roles that would otherwise be out of reach with only a bachelor’s degree.

4. Benefit From Internships and Cooperative Programs

Students wishing to become electrical engineers can benefit from cooperative programs available at several ABET-accredited institutions to acquire practical experience while pursuing their degrees. These programs integrate classroom learning with on-the-job experience to teach candidates their corporations’ rules, regulations, and workflows.

Internships offer a comparable experience and are becoming increasingly popular. They can help students gain a thorough understanding of electrical engineering and earn significant experience before getting their foot into the workforce.

5. Earn Work Experience 

Look out for an entry-level electrical engineering role after fulfilling the academic and practical prerequisites for employment. You need at least four years of experience under a licensed Professional Engineer to acquire the PE license and become an electrical engineer

6. Pass the PE Electrical and Power Exam to Acquire the PE License

Finally, becoming an electrical engineer requires taking and passing the PE Electrical and Power exam to earn the PE license. The PE license will help you enhance your abilities, expand your career, and attain reverence from your fellow employees. In fact, most employers demand engineers to hold a PE license for several job positions, making them more worthy and stand out from other applicants.

Average Salary of Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineering is a good career choice in terms of income, and it is one of the solid reasons to become an electrical engineer as they earn a lot of money. Moreover, there are many high-paying electrical engineering jobs in the USA. 

The median electrical engineer’s income is $92,682 per year in the United States, which translates to $47.53 per hour.

Entry-level electrical engineer jobs have a starting salary of $75,010 per year or $38.47 per hour. On the other hand, the most experienced electrical engineers earn up to $120,444 per year or $61.77 per hour.

Skills Required for Electrical Engineers

Following are the essential skills you have to acquire to become an electrical engineer:

1. Interpersonal Skills

Being an electrical engineer entails not only technical knowledge but also engaging with individuals from all backgrounds on a daily basis. Interpersonal skills are required to be effective in this area of employment.

Interpersonal skills are a catch-all word for soft skills like attentive listening, social perceptiveness, and feedback management. They are all centered on emotional intelligence and communication abilities.

While establishing outstanding relationships with teammates and others is not always attainable, strengthening your interpersonal skills will help you, the individuals around you, and the company you work for.

2. Speaking skills

Aside from the technical skills required to design, assess, and create products, electrical engineers must acquire effective speaking skills.

They need this skill as they must present goals, information, and findings clearly and concisely to bring their ideas to fruition. They must also be able to interpret technical aspects in layman’s terms in a captivating and professional way. This will help them convey their results, strategies, and initiatives to workmates who comprehend technical jargon and prospective customers in corporate meetings.

3. Writing Skills

Becoming an electrical engineer requires possessing solid writing skills. It is because electrical engineers have to write reports and emails to communicate technical data and findings, provide information about operations and targets, and explain design features and outcomes. These reports and emails may be perused by either technically oriented or non-tech company managers. Therefore, electrical engineers must compose their reports in straightforward, understandable language to stand out among their teammates and appeal to a wide range of customers.

4. Math Skills

You must have strong mathematical skills to become an electrical engineer and perform your responsibilities well. It is because electrical engineers have to employ calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced mathematics to design and assess electrical devices and systems. They also apply math to create computational models and novel product layouts. In addition, mathematics skills also help them figure out how many amps and volts are needed for electrical operations.

5. Concentration

Electrical engineers must be highly focused when performing their duties. They need to maintain a record of all alternations in production and notify of any errors or mishaps. So, if they don’t concentrate well on the operations, they will have to pay a hefty price, and even a minor blunder can cause far-reaching consequences. Not paying proper attention to the details can also have long-term effects in terms of expenses and even workplace safety.

6. Initiative Skills

Initiative skills refer to a person’s dynamic and self-starting approach to work activities and objectives and their perseverance in overcoming obstacles and failures.

Employers require workers who proactively confront challenges, take advantage of the opportunities, and constantly enhance their workplace environment. Electrical engineers with strong initiative skills are more valued since they are more disciplined, innovative, and deliver top-quality work.

You might also like to look at our separate blog post on the top skills employers look for in electrical engineers.

Most Prevalent Jobs for Students With an Electrical Engineering Degree?

With an electrical engineering degree under their belts, students can get their foot into the following job positions:

  • Automotive Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Electronics Engineers
  • Electronics Communications Engineers
  • Oil and Gas Engineers
  • Photovoltaic Engineers
  • Systems Engineers

You can check out our dedicated article on what you can do with an electrical engineering degree to explore these job roles in detail.

Electrical Engineers’ Licensing Criteria

You need to follow these steps to obtain your electrical engineering license:

  1. Acquire a four-year bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from an ABET-accredited engineering institution.
  2. Take and clear the FE Electrical and Computer Engineering examination and become an EIT.
  3. Earn four years of progressive engineering experience by interning under the supervision of a Professional Engineer.
  4. Take and pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination to get the PE license to become a licensed engineer.

You can read the detailed procedure for the licensing requirements for electrical engineering here.

Conclusion

Electrical engineering is a developing and constantly evolving profession because it is the foundation for a broad range of services and items across numerous sectors.

Whether it be competitive pay or numerous employment opportunities in various industries, opting to become an electrical engineer will be a beneficial decision from every perspective. 

We hope this in-depth article gave you a thorough insight into how to become an electrical engineer. You can also visit our blog section to read more informative articles.

wasim-smal
Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

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.