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Electrical engineering comprises the design, implementation, and maintenance of electrical equipment and machinery. Although similar to electronics engineering, which is the study of small electronic circuits and the technology behind them, electrical engineering remains a distinct discipline.
This guide focuses on the expected learning outcomes from an accredited online electrical engineering degree and the careers and salary expectations usually associated with the degree. Below, you can find a brief list of industries where a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering provides job applicants an employment advantage in the field.
What is Electrical Engineering?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% job growth rate for electrical engineers, on par with the growth rate for all other jobs. Several U.S. colleges and universities now offer electrical engineering degrees online. A versatile degree, electrical engineering provides graduates with employment opportunities in several different industries. According to the BLS, engineers receive mean annual salaries of $99,580 . Factors, such as positive growth rate, diverse employment opportunities, and lucrative salary make electrical engineering a great career choice for those considering the engineering field.
A well-designed online electrical engineering degree offered by an accredited college or university provides more than diverse career options, it also serves as an excellent foundation for postgraduate studies. Electrical engineering remains a competitive field, and a master's degree can set you apart from the crowd. For those already working in the field, an advanced electrical engineering degree can lead to more responsibilities, a higher salary, and faster advancement potential.
You can still enjoy diverse professional options, even if you choose not to focus your career in electrical engineering itself. The math- and science-heavy curriculum that characterizes a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering qualifies you for several jobs outside the field, including technical sales engineer, acoustic consultant, multimedia programmer, and design engineer.
What Can I Do with an Online Electrical Engineering Bachelor's Degree?
A highly technical field, electrical engineering degrees provide graduates with skills they can use in industries not solely focused on technology. As you review both on-campus and online electrical engineering programs, look for those that offer project-based learning in addition to lectures and programs with an internship component. Projects, such as group papers, field experiments, and internships impart a different set of skills applicable in a variety of professional settings.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
Like any other bachelor's program, an online electrical engineering degree gives students the chance to learn industry-specific knowledge. Some student learning outcomes from accredited electrical engineering programs include the ability to design a system compliant with regulatory, environmental, health, safety, and ethical requirements; apply mathematical, scientific, and engineering principles to solve engineering-related problems; and design and conduct experiments. Professional electrical engineers can readily apply these skills in any engineering arena they choose to focus their career on, including aerospace and telecommunications engineering.
In addition to gaining industry-specific knowledge, electrical engineering programs also provide students with opportunities to develop other useful skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively and clearly, work well in multidisciplinary teams, and understand the role and impact of their profession on a global, economic, and environmental level. These skills transfer well to other work environments -- which is part of the reason electrical engineers can find work in diverse industries.
The electives you enroll in while pursuing your undergraduate degree help define your career after graduation. For example, if project management work appeals to you, consider taking business or management electives as an undergraduate. If you wish to explore a teaching career, an electrical engineering degree can qualify you to teach secondary-level subjects, such as mathematics or science. However, you may still need to complete a training program and internship hours before you can begin teaching.
Careers and Salary Potential
Electrical engineers engage in different types of work in various industries. Employers know that a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering produces graduates who have completed a rigorous and challenging program. Graduates gain discipline and focus through their studies, making them highly desirable as job applicants in several fields. The five industries below typically seek electrical engineers.
- Engineering Services: In companies that offer general engineering services, electrical engineers often work with other types of engineers to design integrated systems that can include electrical, mechanical, and electronic engineering components.
- Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution: Electrical engineers apply their knowledge of electricity to harness and distribute electrical power in ways that meet regulatory stipulations and satisfy environmental safety thresholds.
- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences: Electrical engineers use their research and experimental skills to contribute to a range of emerging technologies used in smart buildings, artificial intelligence, DNA sequencing, solar cells, and biosensors.
- Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing: Electrical engineers often devise new methods of routing power through components used in the semiconductor industry that yield faster, safer, and more economical products.
- Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing: The work of electrical engineers makes it possible to view the world from space with global positioning systems and even from within the human body with micro-imaging devices that rely on quantum optics.
Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Annual Median Salary : $97,970
Electrical engineers find fresh ways to use electrical power to design and develop electrical devices, such as navigational and communications systems, electric motors, and power generation equipment.
Annual Median Salary : $113,030
Aerospace engineers can design aircrafts, satellites, and missiles; test prototypes to ensure sound engineering principles and function according to design; and make sure project proposals meet safety operational standards.
Architectural and Engineering Managers
Annual Median Salary : $137,720
In addition to their supervisory role, engineering managers also determine staff and equipment needs, evaluate project budgets, research and develop new products or processes, and make sure all aspects of the project meet client and regulatory specifications.
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