With so much emphasis on STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in high schools across the nation, many students are already positioned to work toward an Electrical Engineering degree and enter this dynamic career field. Electrical engineering is really an interdisciplinary study that combines all four of core STEM concepts, with a specific emphasis on the world of electricity.
If you’ve enjoyed the studies of math and science – and you also have an interest in the underlying physics of electric current (engineering) and in the many ways it can be harnessed to power the next generation (technology), then a career in electrical engineering could be very rewarding for you. It would allow you to work through a wide range of potential challenges, from improving the country’s infrastructure and developing the gaming industry, to harnessing the power of solar energy and creating the next generation of rockets.
A Wide Range of Electrical Engineering Career Options
With an electrical engineering degree, you can jumpstart your career by helping to keep your community’s electrical grid and infrastructure robust and operating at its highest level. Consider these state and municipal job opportunities that keep our homes lit, our factories producing, and our communities safe:
Facilities Electrical Engineer
Average Salary: $67,500
All facilities depend on a complex electrical system to supply continuous operating power. Larger domestic goods and retail product factories, chemical process facilities, mixed-use live and shop complexes, office buildings, institutions, airports, and hospitals all depend on facilities electrical engineers to manage electrical installation, maintenance, upgrades, and security, as well as to provide constant monitoring of building or manufacturing performance in relation to the power grid.
Electric Power Engineers
Average Salary: $86,000
Electric power engineers can expect a variety of assignments, from sizing and designing power distribution layouts to estimating construction costs and monitoring utility connections. Due to the growing need to improve and protect the country’s’ aging power infrastructure, along with the transition to solar power generation, job opportunities for electric power engineers are expected to continue to grow well into the future.
Electrical Engineer – Architectural and Construction Design
Average Salary: $95,060
This is one of the more common career paths for electrical engineers. An engineer in this role designs and develops electrical equipment and power installations for new construction, including commercial, residential, military, and industrial facilities. They utilize the latest in computer drafting and design software, along with analytical programs such as SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis).
Electrical Engineering – Factory Automation and Control
Average Salary: $105,000
This is another prosperous career path with job openings wherever large factories are situated. The emphasis on non-stop, fully automated production demands the expert design of control software and hardware on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), and Personal Computers (PCs), as well as other computer-controlled process control devices.
3 Top Paying Industries for Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineers are an integral part of some of the most technical and innovative industries today. It takes a team of problem-solvers to forge new technological paths that incorporate advanced materials engineering, precision instrumentation, cutting-edge robotics, and high-speed data processing.
Here are three of the top paying careers among all electrical engineering career fields:
Aerospace & Space Defense Systems
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an Aerospace Engineer can expect a median salary of $115,220 per year, or $55.39 per hour. As part of an aerospace engineer team, an electrical engineer can expect to help design and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. Employment projections for aerospace engineers, from 2016 to 2026, forecast an expected growth of 6%, with an increase of over 4,000 jobs.
Advanced Automation & Robotic Systems
The salary of a robotics and automation engineers ranges from $67,842 – $171,000. The role requires a number of engineering disciplines to keep up in this fast-paced industry, including mechanical, electrical, electronic, and software engineering with an emphasis on computer control and power automation. Even bio-engineering is a subset of this career field, as robotic systems aim to emulate human movement and thought patterns.
Computer Hardware & Signal Processing
Annual salaries for computer hardware engineers range from $79,160 – $254,546. Imagine the enormous amount of data and information handled by the computer systems of industry-leading companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook. The computer hardware, signal processing circuitry, and artificial intelligence that are at the foundation of these companies require electrical engineers to design computer parts and components for non-stop data processing.
Consider Electric Engineering Careers “Off the Beaten Path”
You can also take a non-vertical path into a number of non-traditional careers for which an electrical engineering degree is a highly attractive qualification.
Virtual Simulation Platform Engineers
Average Salary: $120,000
The gaming industry requires virtual simulation platform engineers to help create the gaming technology of tomorrow. These game interfaces are visual, audio, or haptic, and they require software integration over portable devices.
Sound and Lighting Engineers
Average Salary: $57,931
An electrical engineering degree can be the foundation for a transition to the film industry as a sound and lighting engineer. The film industry needs educated employees who are familiar with high-tech audio equipment such as cables, wires, lighting banks, and temporary power installations based on the newest technology in A/V engineering.
IoT Solutions Architect
Average Salary: $142,171
The design and product development of domestic and commercial products that take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) represents another unusual career path for electrical engineers. Electrical and software engineers work together to bring smart automation to homes and businesses by integrating electrical power, electronic sensors, embedded smart technology, and cloud computing that is rapidly changing the way we live.
Advanced Opportunities in Electrical Engineering
With an advanced electrical engineering degree, you can also consider doctoral level occupations in research or higher education. These senior electrical engineers can find employment in biomedical equipment research, nuclear energy management, and teaching at the university level.
A PhD-level electrical engineering research engineer can expect to make over $100,000 per year supporting research in hybrid and electric aircraft propulsion in manned and unmanned vehicle systems. In education, an engineering professor can earn a yearly salary of $100,000 annually, or even much higher, depending on the university. For instance, a professor at a top-rated technical university like MIT or Penn State can earn $185,900 annually. Many engineers who decide to make a complete change can look to teaching science or other tech subjects to high-school students as well.
Also consider the fact that electrical engineers who complete an MBA in Business find the move into supervisory level careers much easier and more financially rewarding. As a manager, you can use your engineering and people skills to move projects and employees into a more productive and fulfilling opportunities. If you have leadership skills and an electrical engineering degree, project management may be a good choice for your future.