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Electrical and Electronics Engineering Careers, Jobs and Career Information

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Career Overview

Electrical and electronics engineers are involved in a wide variety of technology ranging from huge global positioning systems which can pinpoint the location of a moving vehicle to gigantic electrical power generators. These engineers are responsible for designing, developing, testing as well supervising the production of electrical and electronic equipment and machinery. Broadcast and telecommunication systems, electric motors, controls of machinery, lights and wiring in building complexes, vehicles, aircraft, radar and navigation systems, power generation, control and transmission devices which are used by electric utilities are all examples of equipment built by these engineers. They may also work in fields which relate to computers and IT. However, those engineers who deal exclusively with computer hardware are called computer hardware engineers- an engineering specialty with is discussed separately in the Handbook.

Electrical and electronics engineers may choose to specialize in various areas like power generation, transmission and distribution; communications; manufacture of electrical equipment etc or a one particular specialty within these area; foe e.g. industrial robot control systems or aviation electronics. These engineers are involved in designing new products, writing requirements for their performance, as well as developing maintenance schedules and charts. Testing equipment and machinery, solving operation problems, estimating time and cost of electrical and electronic products also come under their job.

In 2002, electrical and electronics engineers had around 292,000 jobs and constituted the largest branch of engineering. Most of these engineers were employed in professional, scientific, and technical services firms as well as government agencies. Manufacturers of computer and electronic equipment and machinery also employed these engineers. The remaining engineers were absorbed by firms which deal in wholesale trade, communications, and utilities.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Job and Employment Opportunities

Favorable employment opportunities are predicted for electrical and electronic engineers. Job opportunities which would result from retirement and transfers of existing electrical and electronic engineers are in proportion with the degree granted to these graduates and thus demand for these workers roughly equals their supply.

Although the employment opportunities for electrical and electronic engineers are predicted to grow through 2012, their growth rate is slower than the growth of other occupations. Even though there is a rise in demand for electrical and electronic products, (including advanced communication goods) defense-related electronic products, and consumer electronics equipment, competition from abroad and increased use of electronic and electrical engineering services in foreign countries, hinder domestic employment. The growth rate of employment opportunities are predicted to be highest in the service industries which provide electronic engineering expertise.

It is imperative that electrical and electronic engineers continue their education. Those who do not keep abreast of latest advances in technology are at the risk of either loosing jobs or loosing good promotion opportunities.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, the median salaries received by electrical engineers were $68,180 annually. The middle 50 percent received salaries between $54,550 and $84,670 while the lowest 10 percent earned below $44,780. The highest 10 percent earned above $100,980. In 2002, the median annual earnings in the industries which employed the largest numbers of electrical engineers were:

  • Scientific research and development services – $77,410
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing – $72,670
  • Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution – $71,640
  • Navigational, measuring, electro-medical, and control instruments manufacturing – $70,430
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services – $66,980

In 2002, the median earnings of electronics engineers (except computer engineers) were $69,930 annually. The middle 50 percent received salaries between $55,930 and $85,980. The lowest 10 percent received salaries below $46,310, and the highest 10 percent earned above $103,860. In 2002, the median annual earnings in the industries which employed the largest numbers of electronics engineers were:

  • Federal government – $78,830
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services – $72,850
  • Navigational, measuring, electro-medical, and control instruments manufacturing – $70,950
  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing – $70,800
  • Wired telecommunications carriers – $62,670

In a 2003 slaary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, candidates with a bachelor’s degree in electrical/electronics and communications engineering earned starting salaries of $49,794 on an average in a year; those with a master’s degree earned around $64,556; and those with a Ph.D. received $74,283on an average.

Seasoned Engineers may earn even more.