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Electrical Engineer: Employment Outlook & Career Info

Electrical engineers have a high starting salary but are expected to see slow job growth in the coming decade. Individuals who graduate from an accredited school will have a better chance of finding employment and becoming licensed.

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Employment Outlook for Electrical Engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for electrical engineers was expected to increase by just 7% over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). This lack of growth may be attributed to U.S. companies hiring a growing number of capable engineers from other countries at lower wages. Electrical engineers may find work with state and federal governments, manufacturing plants, and scientific and technical organizations. Some electrical engineers choose to be self-employed and work as consultants.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for electrical engineers in May 2012 was $87,920. The bottom 10% in the profession made $56,490 or less during this time, and the top 10% earned $136,690 or more per year. The top-paying industry for electrical engineers was the oil and gas extraction industry, with a mean annual wage of $106,780.

Electrical Engineering Career Field

Job Description of Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers work with electrical systems and equipment. They may design electrical systems for vehicles and other products or work in the generation and distribution of electricity. Job duties may also include testing recently developed equipment and overseeing the manufacturing process. Engineers may specialize in an area like communications or aviation.

Electrical Engineer Educational Requirements

To enter the profession, individuals need a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. These programs require students to pass sequences in physics and advanced mathematics. Engineering-specific courses may cover broad principles in electricity, such as circuits, system analysis and electromagnetic fields. Many engineering students use cooperative internships to gain on-the-job training.

Licensing Overview

Engineering licenses are issued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES). According to the NCEES, the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is typically the first step toward sitting for the Professional Engineering (PE) exam and becoming licensed (www.ncees.org). The NCEES requires individuals taking the PE exam to have a minimum of four years of work experience and hold a degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).

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