Electrical Engineer Salary and Career Guide

Electrical engineering is a very rewarding career that is filled with opportunities. In addition to this, an electrical engineer salary is one of the highest of any engineering discipline. Electrical engineers may focus on the study and application of power electronics, biomedical technology, control systems, microelectronics, power generation, computer hardware/software, transmission and distribution and wireless communications. The telecommunications industry is the fastest growing of all of these fields and includes developing communication networks for cell phones, the internet and the military. The services of an electrical engineering are constantly in high demand so the job market is always expanding. For more information see a detailed job description. The following is an introduction to the career and what you can expect in terms of salary.

Employment Outlook

There should be an increasing number job opportunities for electrical engineers for the next several years. These openings are a result of major growth in the telecommunications industry and the need to replace the aging engineers who are either retiring or being promoted to management positions. This demand is enhanced by the fact that the number of electrical engineering graduates per year has been decreasing since 2003. There were 160,560 electrical engineers employed in the United States as of May 2012. The job market for electrical and electronics engineers is expected to grow by 6% between 2010 and 2020. Much of this growth will be caused by firms that provide engineering services as more companies try to cut costs by contracting out engineering projects instead of employing one or more engineers full time. Wireless communications and computer systems design are the fields that are expected to experience the most growth as the demand for more powerful mobile devices increases.

Required Education

In order to become an electrical engineer (or any type of professional engineer for that matter) you must first acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering or Sciences, depending on what school you attend (find a school in your state). This is a 4 year long program in both the United States and Canada and is all that is required to become a professional electrical engineer. However, to become a licensed professional engineer it is usually required that you complete additional exams and some supervised training. A Master’s degree in the same area of study requires 2 or 3 more years of study depending on the university but is not required to become an electrical engineer. Becoming a Doctor of Engineering requires further study and the completion of original research papers.

Electrical Engineer Solar Panels
An electrical engineer putting the finishing touches on a new array of solar panels

Possible Careers

If you’re just starting out in the field and looking for your first job, you may be looking for a sample resume or a list of possible interview questions. Electrical engineers usually follow a career path that takes them across a variety of disciplines and industries. They usually start out working in a field related to their degree specialization, (telecommunications, power, biomedical, microelectronics, etc.) but many eventually change directions entirely and find themselves working in a position that is better suited to them and fits their interests. These positions could be another field of specialization, or another type of engineering entirely such as environmental engineering or software engineering. An engineering career can sometimes even lead to working for a company in the finance, information technology or marketing departments. Later in their careers, engineers often move up into management positions because they have great technical skills, strong leadership and are able work in groups and deal with people.

Salary Guide

The average salary for an electrical engineer working in the United States was $91,810 according to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2012. The salaries recorded ranged from $53,510 to $126,810. The top three highest paying industries were (in order):

Oil and Gas Extraction –$106,780 per year
Computer Systems Design and Related Services – $102,860 per year
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing – $101,840 per year

Engineers who have their Master of Science (MSEE) do have a higher salary range than those who only have their Bachelor of Science (BSEE) as seen by these statistics:

Only Bachelor of Science Degree – $55,328 – $73,550
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science – $60,350 – $86,607

Electrical Engineer Salary by Years Experience (United States)

Electrical Engineer Salary

According to payscale.com, an average electrical engineer salary ranges from $55,000 to $80,000 (including yearly bonuses and profit sharing). These statistics were gathered from 5,996 licensed electrical engineers as of May 3, 2012, the majority of whom had 1-5 years of experience. The average electrical engineering salary is around $53,000.

Electrical engineering has one of the safest job markets in the world. The job market is constantly expanding and the world will always rely on electricity and electric devices. You will never have too much trouble finding a job if you have a bachelor’s degree in engineering. It’s worth the time and effort and it is definitely something you can be proud of.