There are basically two types of jobs you can focus on if you want an electrical engineer job. The first focus is on electric power, and the second focuses on electronics. If your electrical engineering career is focused on electronics, you are going to be working with equipment like missile guidance systems, radar, or telephone systems. You may also work in consumer electronics with appliances like stereos, televisions, and so on.
Electrical engineering positions that focus on electric power actually work with creating electricity at power stations. Most often, these power stations use water power or steam power to drive turbines, which convert this type of "motion" or mechanical energy into electricity. If a plant is powered by steam, nuclear power, oil, gas, coal or solar energy may provide the initial fuel to convert the water to steam. Those in these types of electrical engineering positions may also work with equipment that allows consumers to receive electricity from the power plants themselves. These types of engineers also work with the lighting in buildings, with electric motors that power airplanes, automobiles, and other devices. Someone in this type of engineering position will work with a lot of electricity and it can therefore be quite dangerous.
Types of jobs
Whether one works in electronic or electrical engineering, there are a wide variety of jobs to choose from. You can choose from development, research or design, whereby you come up with new ideas for equipment and figure out ways to improve existing technologies and equipment. Many times, what electrical engineers do is to make things safer and more efficient. For example, electrical engineers are even responsible for the computer programs used in medical equipment that helps save heart attack victims' lives.
At other times, electrical engineers work in production or construction. You may oversee the construction of equipment that generates power within a power plant or oversee the circuitry manufacture for a telephone system and its equipment. If you have a strong affinity for sales, you may work as a sales representative for the equipment you know very well. You may also be an executive or a manager overseeing other electrical engineers or sales people for equipment that you're going to have a strong knowledge of. If you have a desire to, you can work for yourself as a consultant on various projects instead of for a company, or you may teach or do research at universities and colleges.
So as you can see, being an electrical engineer can mean many different things, and the choice is yours. What skills do you need to become an electrical engineer?
Education, training and skills necessary
You'll need to have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the minimum. Some colleges also offer specific degrees in electronics engineering. As a college student, it may be possible for you to receive on-the-job training while still in school and be involved in work-study in that capacity to help pay college tuition.
Electrical engineering constantly changes as technologies change, so even after you get your degree, you'll need to keep up with new developments in your field.
If your work specifically affects the public's property, life or health, you'll need to be licensed by your particular state. The degree you receive has to be from an accredited engineering school and you'll need to have four years of experience on the job as an engineer. In general, you'll also need to pass a state exam before you can receive your license as a professional engineer.
Getting a job
Once you've got your degree or just before graduation, you can contact your school placement office and they can help you find work. If you're involved in work-study, you may be able to segue right into working for your current employer on a full-time basis. Of course, job sites on the Internet are plentiful, and it's quite easy to find entry-level electrical engineering jobs by typing in the appropriate keywords, such as "electrical engineering job entry level" or something similar. Your resume as well is going to need to contain the keywords so that prospective employers can find you online.
In addition, the government is also continually seeking electronics and electrical engineers. If you get a job in this particular sector, it's likely that you're going to need to pass a civil service exam in addition to your other requirements.
Salary and outlook
Because engineering jobs occur in a variety of industries, the outlook for these jobs is quite good and work should be steady. Foreign competition will have somewhat of an impact on the electronics sector especially, but the services industries are expected to grow quite fast, especially for those engineers who are in consulting.
On average, those with bachelor's degrees earn about $50,000 year, with a master's earning about $65,000 a year and those with a doctoral degree earning about $80,000 a year. The median salary is about $75,000 year. In general, unless self-employed, jobs include benefits and retirement pensions as well.