How to Become an Electrical Engineer

How to Become an Electrical Engineer: Career Path Guide

If you want to become an electrical engineer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as an electrical engineer:


Those who become electrical engineers are individuals that have a keen academic interest in electrical systems and components. They tend to enjoy the idea of specifying, designing, implementing and testing products and systems for a living.


In order to become an electrical engineer, you will have to be able to explain design ideas clearly to non-experts. You will also need a high level of stress tolerance, as this is required to cope with new demands and solve new problems.


In order to succeed in a career as an electrical engineer, you must be able to visualize complex processes, and you must be very precise in your work and when you perform calculations.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an electrical engineer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become An Electrical Engineer

The minimum educational requirement for becoming an electrical engineer is a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.


Electrical engineering jobs with more advanced levels of responsibility typically require further education. For example, most specialized electrical engineers have at least a master's degree. Also, most electrical engineers that work in research have doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees.


Those that wish to pursue a career as an electrical engineer and are enrolled in a bachelor of science program can choose to specialize in electrical engineering at the post-graduate level. 


If you are in high school and are interested in becoming an electrical engineer, it is advised that you take courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful for a career as an electrical engineer, as these engineers are often required to prepare technical drawings.




Electrical Engineer Job Description

Electrical engineers are engineering professionals that are responsible for designing, developing, testing, evaluating and overseeing the safe operation of electrical components and systems.



Fields of Work for an Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers work in a variety of areas, including:


•Transport networks, including rail electrification and signaling

•Power generation, transmission and distribution

•Renewable energy sources, such as solar paneling, hydroelectric, and wind turbines

•Commercial Manufacturing

•Residential, commercial or industrial construction

•Building services, such as lighting, heating, ventilation and lift systems

•Nanotechnology, such as nanoscale sensor development

•Communications, including the compression, transmission, routing and reception of numerical, audio, video or digital data information



Areas of Specialization for Electrical Engineers

Within each field of work for electrical engineers there exists an opportunity to specialize in a certain set of functions, including:


•Maintaining and trouble shooting existing systems

•Conducting electrical engineering research

•Specifying, designing, implementing and testing products and systems

•Designing and simulating electronic product prototypes

•Designing manufacturing processes

•Developing test and quality control procedures

•Ensuring that products meet quality specifications and safety standards



Electrical Engineer Job Duties

Although electrical engineers work in a variety of different industries, and they may specialize in a certain set of functions, they are generally responsible for performing the following duties:


• Review design proposals

• Make recommendations regarding the specification, design, development, testing or application of products and systems

• Prepare drawings and specifications for project construction

• Design electronic product prototypes

• Implement, develop and test products and systems

• Design manufacturing processes relating to products

• Develop testing and quality control procedures in order to satisfy safety standards and quality specifications





Licensing Requirements for Becoming an Electrical Engineer

Licensing Requirements in Canada: Most Canadian provinces require you to be a registered member of their engineering association if you want to practice as a Professional Engineer (PE). However, if working under the direct supervision of a Professional Engineer you do not have to be registered, although in that case you are not able to call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the work “Engineer” in your job title.


Licensing Requirements in the United States: In the United States electrical engineers are not typically required by law to be registered as Professional Engineers, however it is recommended for those working in companies that have contracts with the government at all levels.


Please contact your provincial or state engineering association for more details on how to become a Professional Engineer.



Who Hires Electrical Engineers?

Electrical engineers are hired on a part-time, full-time or contractual basis by organizations involved in designing, developing, testing, evaluating and overseeing the safe operation of electrical components and systems.


Organizations that hire Electrical Engineers include:


•Engineering consulting firms

•Electrical utility companies

•Construction companies

•Government agencies

•Manufacturers of electrical equipment

•Resource extraction and processing companies

•Transportation companies

•Communication companies

•Health authorities

•Universities and colleges

•Public and private research institutions



Electrical Engineer Salary

The salary level of electrical engineers varies based on the requirements of the job, the qualifications of the individual, and other factors.


Electrical Engineer Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group earn an average of between $36.54 and $60.56 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $46.34 per hour.


Electrical Engineer Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group is $79,906 per year.


Electrical Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of Electrical Engineers is $84,540. The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are below $54,030, and the top 10% are above $128,610 per year.



Electrical Engineer Jobs

Our job board below has "Electrical Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Working Conditions for Electrical Engineers

Hours of Work: Electrical engineers typically work a conventional weekday schedule, although like other professions they may work extended hours, including evenings and weekends, in order to meet deadlines.


Work Setting: Electrical engineers may work in a variety of settings, depending on the requirements of their job. For example, they may be based in an office, factory, production plant, workshop, power station or research facility.


Work Environment: From time to time electrical engineers may experience a great deal of stress, particularly when trying to meet a fast-approaching deadline or a difficult design requirement. In rare circumstances, electrical engineers may be exposed to various hazards, including chemical gasses or work in severe weather conditions. 



Careers Similar to Electrical Engineer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Electrical Engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Circuit Designer


Electronics Engineer

Hydro Engineer

Nuclear Engineer



References: How to Become an Electrical Engineer

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an Electrical Engineer.


Alberta Learning and Information Service website:

National Careers Service website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:



Scholarships for Becoming an Electrical Engineer

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as an Electrical Engineer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Majors that Apply to Becoming an Electrical Engineer

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an Electrical Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: