How to Become an Electrical Engineer
Electrical Engineer Careers & Degrees

Electrical engineers design, test, and implement the use of a wide range of electrical equipment.

If you enjoy math and science, are technically minded, and have a strong eye for detail, then you might like to become an electrical engineer.

Electrical Engineers apply their knowledge of science and mathematics to electronics across a wide range of applications.

Electrical engineers work within a wide range of industries.

They design and test a range of equipment, which could include electric motors, lighting, electric machinery, wiring, aircraft, or radar, just to name a few.

Most electrical engineers specialize in a particular field, for example computers or auto industries.

Education Requirements to Become an Electrical Engineer

While in high school, try and get good grades in the math and sciences if you would like to become an electrical engineer.

If your school has technology subjects then you should take these as well.

Computer science is also a good choice of subject, as most engineering work is based on computer applications these days.

After high school, look for a college that has a strong engineering program.

To become an electrical engineer, you’ll need to complete at least a four year electrical engineering degree.

Good elective subjects include business administration, math, and science-based subjects.

Most colleges run an electronics club, or something similar.

Joining one of these clubs is a good way to build experience by working on projects.

For instance, many colleges build and race solar powered cars.

Likewise, if you get the opportunity to assist on a research project, then this is a great option as well as completing a dissertation or research project in your senior year.

With a bachelor’s degree, you will be qualified for most entry level jobs as an electrical engineer.

Some research jobs will require you to continue to graduate school, where you can attain a master’s or doctorate degree in a further specialized area.

This would also qualify you to work in engineering faculty jobs at a college.

A good source of information on a career in electrical engineering is the IEEEUSA website.

Electrical Engineer Job Description

An electrical engineer designs new products that consist of electronics or circuitry, and they also improve existing products.

They run stringent tests on products in development to make sure that they function properly and are safe for use.

Electrical engineers design cars, wiring and lighting, robots, generators, GPS systems, and airplane electronics, just to name a few.

Most electrical engineers will specialize in a particular kind of work.

An electrical engineer working in the private sector, the work environment is usually within an office, or sometimes a factory or plant.

For the most part they work a forty hour week, in some instances they could have to work overtime to meet a deadline.

Some engineers work onsite, conducting research, or working with and monitoring equipment.

These hands-on positions can entail more demanding and unusual hours.

They are common in power plants, or in an automotive factory, for example.

Here are some of the tasks of an electrical engineer:

  • Develop new ideas
  • Implement new ideas
  • Improve current systems
  • Test new products
  • Fix problems with products
  • Ensure work meets safety requirements

If you work as an engineer who offers their services directly to the public, certification is required within all fifty states.

Electrical Engineer Salary and Career Path

When you first become an electrical engineer, you will work for a year or two under the supervision of an experienced colleague.

After you gain some experience, you will be given more responsibility.

You might assist others on their projects to begin with, and then later on, head up your own projects.

You may progress to train engineers, or become a head engineer within your field.

Some engineers progress to sales or managerial roles within the industry they work.

The median wage of an electrical engineer is $83,000 a year.

There are good job prospects for qualified engineers, and there is average growth predicted for the coming years.

Some similar roles to that of an electrical engineer include:

A sense of curiosity, an eye for detail, and a good head for mathematics will all be good traits when you become an electrical engineer.

Although growth in this sector is average compared to other occupations, those with qualifications should have no problems securing lucrative employment.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$122,330
New Hampshire$110,670
New Jersey$119,430
New Mexico$117,190
New York$106,360
North Carolina$98,680
North Dakota$97,640
Rhode Island$106,850
South Carolina$89,200
South Dakota$87,480
Vermont- NA -
West Virginia$92,160
Puerto Rico$63,400

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $122,330.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $122,330
New Jersey - $119,430
New Mexico - $117,190
California - $117,070
Washington - $115,990
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Electrical Engineers, OCC Code 17-2071, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is an electrical engineer?

Electrical engineers design, develop and test electrical equipment.

They design the electrical systems for electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, power generation equipment, and automobiles and aircraft.

In most cases, electrical engineers team up with other engineers to work on projects.

Electrical engineers need a variety of skills, including the ability to concentrate on multiple tasks, math skills, initiative, and interpersonal skills.

They also need speaking and writing skills in order to be able to explain their designs clearly and to write maintenance manuals, product proposals, and similar documentation materials.

QuestionHow much does an electrical engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electrical and electronics engineers was $96,640 in May 2018.

How much an electrical engineer makes depends on the employer and their level of experience.

According to, the highest 10 percent earned more than $162,200, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $64,840.

Engineers who work in the telecommunications industry earned a median wage of $95,250 a year, while those who work for the federal government earned around $113,000.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become an electrical engineer?

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree.

They also need practical experience, which can be obtained through internships or by participating in cooperative engineering programs.

The average out-of-state cost for bachelor’s degree programs in Electrical and Electronics Engineering is around $42,000 a year.

The Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology accredits bachelor’s programs in engineering.

If you want to work in research or as an instructor at a university you will also need a graduate degree.

QuestionWhat is the demand for electrical engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for electrical and electronics engineers is expected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Technological innovations are expected to drive demand for electrical engineers in the research field, where they will play a key role in designing and developing new communication technologies, solar arrays or semiconductors.

QuestionHow long does it take to become an electrical engineer?

Electrical engineers need a bachelor’s degree which usually can be obtained in four years.

Five-year programs are also available at some universities and can lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Although licensure is not required for entry-level positions, a Professional Engineering license can give you a higher level of independence.

The process of getting licensed can start right after college when you can take the initial exam in Fundamentals of Engineering.

After getting 4 years of experience in the field you can take the final Professional Engineering exam.

Each state issues its own license and some states also require continuing education classes for engineers to keep their license.

After finishing college you can seek employment in an entry-level position, thus getting the chance of working under the supervision of an experienced engineer.

As you gain experience you can advance to supervisory or management positions.

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