Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Summary

electrical and electronics engineers image
Electronics engineers design electronic components and systems for commercial, industrial, or scientific applications.
Quick Facts: Electrical and Electronics Engineers
2015 Median Pay $95,230 per year
$45.78 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 315,900
Job Outlook, 2014-24 0% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -100

What Electrical and Electronics Engineers Do

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs).

Work Environment

Electrical and electronics engineers work in industries including research-and development, engineering services, manufacturing, telecommunications, and the federal government. Electrical and electronics engineers generally work indoors in offices. However, they may have to visit sites to observe a problem or a piece of complex equipment.

How to Become an Electrical or Electronics Engineer

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience.

Pay

The median annual wage for electrical and electronics engineers was $95,230 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of electrical and electronics engineers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024. Change in employment is expected to be tempered by slow growth or decline in most manufacturing sectors in which electrical and electronics engineers are employed.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for electrical and electronics engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of electrical and electronics engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about electrical and electronics engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Electrical and Electronics Engineers Do About this section

Electrical and electronics engineers
Electronics engineers analyze the requirements and costs of electrical systems.

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Duties

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Perform detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure that they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.

Work Environment About this section

Electrical and electronics engineers
Electrical and electronic engineers are mostly employed in industries conducting research and development or engineering service firms.

Electrical and electronics engineers held about 315,900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most electrical engineers in 2014 were as follows:

Engineering services 22%
Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 10
Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing 7
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 7
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 6

The industries that employed the most electronics engineers in 2014 were as follows:

Telecommunications 18%
Federal government, excluding postal service 13
Engineering services 11
Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing 9
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 7

Electrical and electronics engineers generally work indoors in offices. However, they may visit sites to observe a problem or a piece of complex equipment.

Work Schedules

Most electrical and electronics engineers work full time.

How to Become an Electrical or Electronics Engineer About this section

Electrical and electronics engineers
Becoming an electrical or electronics engineer involves the study of math and engineering.

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience. Having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment.

Education

High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.

In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical and electronics engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experience and are growing in number.

At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.

Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.

Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.

Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.

Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and to relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.

Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as electrical and electronics engineers. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After getting work experience, EITs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Electrical and electronic engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

For sales work, an engineering background enables engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

Pay About this section

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2015

Electronics engineers, except computer

$98,270

Electrical and electronics engineers

$95,230

Electrical engineers

$93,010

Engineers

$90,060

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for electrical engineers was $93,010 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $146,820.

The median annual wage for electronics engineers, except computer was $98,270 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $63,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $151,990.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for electrical engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $112,970
Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing 105,870
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 92,900
Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 91,650
Engineering services 90,710

In May 2015, the median annual wages for electronics engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing $107,940
Federal government, excluding postal service 105,960
Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing 101,940
Engineering services 98,250
Telecommunications 90,520

Most electrical and electronics engineers work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Engineers

4%

Electrical engineers

1%

Electrical and electronics engineers

0%

Electronics engineers, except computer

-1%

 

Employment of electrical and electronics engineers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024. Change in employment is expected to be tempered by slow growth or decline in most manufacturing sectors in which electrical and electronics engineers are employed.

Job growth for electrical and electronics engineers will occur largely in engineering services firms, because more companies are expected to cut costs by contracting their engineering services rather than directly employing engineers. These engineers also will be in demand to develop sophisticated consumer electronics.

The rapid pace of technological innovation and development will likely drive demand for electrical and electronics engineers in research and development, an area in which engineering expertise will be needed to develop distribution systems related to new technologies. These engineers will play key roles in new developments having to do with solar arrays, semiconductors, and communications technologies.

Employment projections data for electrical and electronics engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Electrical and electronics engineers

17-2070 315,900 315,700 0 -100 [XLSX]

Electrical engineers

17-2071 178,400 180,200 1 1,800 [XLSX]

Electronics engineers, except computer

17-2072 137,400 135,500 -1 -1,900 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of electrical and electronics engineers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Aerospace engineers

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Bachelor's degree $107,830
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor's degree $132,800
Biomedical engineers

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Bachelor's degree $86,220
Computer hardware engineers

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology.

Bachelor's degree $111,730
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

Associate's degree $61,130
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Postsecondary nondegree award $55,160
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,880
Electro-mechanical technicians

Electro-mechanical Technicians

Electro-mechanical technicians combine knowledge of mechanical technology with knowledge of electrical and electronic circuits. They operate, test, and maintain unmanned, automated, robotic, or electromechanical equipment.

Associate's degree $53,340
Sales engineers

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.

Bachelor's degree $97,650

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

Technology Student Association

For more information about licensure as an electrical or electronics engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

For information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

CareerOneStop

For a career video on Electrical Engineers, visit

Electrical Engineers

O*NET

Electrical Engineers

Electronics Engineers, Except Computer

Radio Frequency Identification Device Specialists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm (visited September 26, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.