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Electrical Engineering Degree: Electrical Engineering University and College Courses, Schools

Electrical engineering is a diverse field of study with direct application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. The field of electrical engineering first became popular in the late nineteenth century with the rise of industrialism, and has since become a semi-professional career in the field of engineering. Electrical engineers are commonly involved with a variety of electronic systems and mechanics, including power, control systems, signal processing, and telecommunications. The distinction amongst electrical engineers and electronic engineers is primarily made with the size of the systems involved; small-scale electronics such as computers and circuits are commonly managed by electronic engineers, while large-scale electrical systems such as power transmission and motor control are managed by electrical engineers. A comprehensive electrical engineering training program can provide the key skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in electrical engineering.

What Is Electrical Engineering?

Electrical engineering is primarily concerned with using electricity to transmit energy, and a practicing electrical engineer will need to obtain certification to work in the most attractive locations. In some areas of the world, certification is mandatory while in other regions the rules and legislation are more flexible. An electrical engineer is commonly involved with designing, developing, testing, and supervising the deployment of electric systems and electronic devices. They may work in a variety of areas such as:

  • Telecommunication systems

  • Electric power stations

  • Lighting systems of buildings

  • Power grids and connectors of buildings

  • Designing household appliances

  • Controlling industrial machinery

Job Description and Responsibilities of an Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer is primarily responsible for:

  • Analyzing blueprints and developing design modules

  • Development and implementation of various electrical systems

  • Deployment of electrical networks and designs

  • Adopting new techniques for design and development

  • Supervising a staff of electrical engineers

  • Working on electrical engineering projects overseas

  • Working in a fabrication plant to develop and test various products

An electrical engineering degree can provide students with the fundamental training and skill set they need to succeed in their career in electrical engineering. Electrical engineering careers can become very specialized, and may vary significantly depending on the geographic location of plants and infrastructure.

Typical Electrical Engineering Careers

After completing an electrical engineering degree program, the most common types of electrical engineering careers available include positions within:

  • Power engineering
  • Control engineering
  • Electronic engineering
  • Microelectronics engineering
  • Signal processing
  • Instrumentation engineering
  • Telecommunications engineering
  • Computer engineering

Power engineering handles the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity for power electronics, devices, and even power grids. An electrical engineer who specializes in this area is commonly involved with projects within a city, and may work with the government. Another extension of electrical engineering is control engineering. Controllers are often involved with managing electrical circuits, microcontrollers, and digital signal processors. Electronic engineering involves the design and testing of electronic circuits, while microelectronics involves the use of integrated circuits and using transistors. Signal processing engineers deal with the analysis and manipulations of signals. Telecommunications engineers focus on the transmission of information through coax cables, optical fibers and free space. Computer engineers are another division of electrical engineering. Students who complete electrical engineering degree programs in this field are primarily involved with the design of computers and computer systems.

Enrollment in Electrical Engineering Schools or an Electrical Engineering College

Electrical engineering schools provide the basic education and skill set needed for a successful career in electrical engineering and related specializations. An electrical engineering can gain the most experience with an internship or cooperative study program, and these are often a requirement in a typical electrical engineering degree program. Electrical engineering schools prepare students with a background in each of the key specializations. Electrical engineering college can provide training in the areas of:

  • Power generation
  • Transmission and distribution
  • Communications
  • Electrical equipment manufacturing
  • Designing new products
  • Writing performance requirements
  • Developing maintenance schedules
  • Testing and diagnostics
  • Cost estimation

Students interested in an electrical engineering career need to be strong in mathematics, physics, and the sciences during their high school studies. They will need to develop strong communication and technical writing skills, as well as the ability to think creatively.

A successful career in electric engineering requires a bachelor’s degree in most cases, but a two-year program is also an option for those interested in assistant or trainee positions. An accredited electrical engineering college can help students earn credits toward their degree and place them in a job immediately after graduation. An electrical engineering degree online is another way for prospective students to pursue an electrical engineering career. These programs are designed for students who require flexible schedules, and may work well as a supplement to an internship or work study program.

Electrical Engineering Degree Accreditation

Electrical engineering degree programs at colleges and universities are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Education and Technology (ABET). This organization is responsible for monitoring and certifying various electrical engineering degree programs. This is the same organization that accredits most of the electrical engineering degree online programs as well.

Earning an Electrical Engineering Degree Online

Earning an electrical engineering degree online can be beneficial for students who are currently working, or who may not have access to a campus. Many electrical engineering schools are only available in limited cities, and students who need an education from a distance can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of an online format. An electrical engineering degree online can also serve as a supplement to another degree in engineering, and help a student specialize within their field of interest.

Future Employment Prospects and Earning Potential for Electrical Engineering Careers

The advances in electronics and technology are creating a high demand for skilled professionals in electrical engineering. Employment prospects for a career in electrical engineering look promising, and electrical engineering schools can help students find potential employers during their senior year of study. Employment is expected to increase as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. The rising demand of advanced communications equipment, especially in the defense industry, may lead to continued increases in employment.

The median salary for an electrical engineer was $51,888 in 2005; an electrical engineer with a master’s degree earned an average of $64,416 in 2005, while those who pursued a PhD earned $80,206. Related occupations include:

  • Sales engineers

  • Microelectronics engineers

  • Electronic science managers

  • Computer technicians

  • Computer administrators

  • Software technicians


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