Electrical Engineering helped invent the computer, DSL, cellular phones, microchips, and solar panels, to name just a few examples. DVD players, cellular phones, radio, television, computers, airplanes, air conditioning, cars, motorcycles, home appliances, life-saving medical equipment, computer games, and Martian battles fought with joysticks represent a mere sampling of the now familiar facets of life made possible with the input of electrical engineers.
Introduction & Salary
Outlook studies and reports show the electrical engineering job field and related career areas will remain exceptionally stable through at least 2018. With the need for specialized electronics in various fields, including telecommunication, robotics and emerging alternative energy, it’s highly likely the industry will see an increased need for educated people with an electrical engineer degree to begin work on new projects and technologies.
Electrical engineering covers such a broad expanse of specialties that engineers may work in any number of fields, facilities and work environments. The median pay for an electrical engineer in 2008 was $80,000 annually, with some branches and experienced engineers making much more than that. For those interested in earning an electrical engineer degree, there are several important aspects of the field and training to plan for ahead of time.
A strong background in mathematics (basic and advanced) and the sciences – especially physics- is a must for anyone who is seeking an electrical engineer degree. Reading, writing and communication skills are just as important, however, as an electrical engineer will often be responsible for meeting with clients to discuss projects, proposals and budgets. Computer skills are also absolutely necessary as most professional engineers often use computer based design software to help build their projects and blueprints.
For an entry level job in the engineering field, a BA in an applied science, engineering or technology field is usually required, with advanced mathematics and science classes incorporated with the degree. Project management is also very useful for many engineers, as are communication classes such as public speaking or technical writing. Many engineers go on to earn a Master’s or Doctorate degree, or train for specialized sub-fields such as power engineering, control engineering or telecommunications.
Finding the Right University
Many students choose to take their prerequisite classes at a vocational school or community college and transfer to a four-year university to finish their studies. This is often one of the most affordable ways to earn a degree; many community colleges and vocational schools offer basic electronic, drafting and computer classes at a lower price than large universities. There are also reputable online schools that offer high level degrees in engineering. With online schooling becoming a more popular option for many people who cannot relocate to attend a university, accredited Internet based schools are becoming a very viable choice.
Researching training options and funding sources (Pell Grants, scholarships and student loans) is highly recommended before settling on any one school. It’s also recommended for a student who is considering an engineering degree brush up on basic math and science skills, which are usually available through a community college and adult remedial programs. Most universities, vocational schools and community colleges have student advisers that can give more detailed information about specific programs.
Electrical engineers work on the cutting edge of technology in almost every field; they may design robotics for large manufacturing plants all over the world, work on new wiring and electrical systems for commercial airplanes and jets, bring electricity to homes, buildings and arenas, and even prepare remote electrical controlling systems for space shuttles. There are also a variety of work environments that electrical engineers find themselves in.
For example, it’s not uncommon for an engineer to work in a large corporate office designing computer-aided diagrams and blueprints for clients halfway around the world. Conversely, they may work in industrial plants, mines, and rural areas with developing energy needs. Wherever there is a need for electrical technology, an engineer is there at the forefront leading the way.