For people who are mad about technology, the opportunity to work in the tech industry in some way can be a very alluring prospect. Not everyone wants to get involved, of course – some people are much happier as consumers of electronics rather than active participants in its development. However, anyone who is looking for a way of getting involved in technology in a meaningful way should give serious consideration to an electrical engineering degree.
When many people think of a tech lover, they instantly picture someone clutching a tablet, their smartphone propped up next to them with YouTube on the screen, and audio being streamed to a giant pair of over-ear wireless headphones. But while consumers of tech might think of it mostly in those terms, those who are deeply passionate about technology are also interested in the more niche uses it has.
Tech is all around us today. In fact, it is so ubiquitous that it often passes us by completely unnoticed. No matter how simple, small, or hidden an electrical system might be, it needs an electrical engineer to design it. If you really love tech and you are interested in the role it plays in our lives beyond its recreational value, this is a career that is well worth considering.
What Is An Electrical Engineer?
An electrical engineer is a multidisciplinary role that is concerned with the physics, mathematics, and other subjects relevant to the workings of electronic devices. Electrical engineers are an important part of many industries. They are far more widespread than lots of people realize. After earning an electrical engineering degree, graduates have a whole world of opportunities open to them and can pretty much focus on whatever industry speaks to them the most.
Because electrical engineers are needed in such a wide range of industries, this is an excellent degree and career choice for anyone who is concerned about choosing a future-proof profession.
An Electrical Engineer Is Not An Electronics Engineer
We will talk in more detail about what the difference between these two roles is further down below. However, for now, it is enough to say that an electrical engineer is concerned with electronic systems, whereas electronics engineer is interested in individual components that comprise systems. Naturally, there is some overlap and there are exceptions to these rules, but they hold true for the most part.
What Does An Electrical Engineer Do?
Exactly what an electrical engineer does on a day to day basis will depend on the specific role and industry that they work in. As we mentioned above, electrical engineers are an integral part of such a wide range of careers that their daily routines can be drastically different from one another. However, there are some things that electrical engineers can expect to do, irrespective of the specific circumstances they do it in.
Evaluating, testing, and overseeing the maintenance of electrical systems. Electrical engineers will also sometimes deal with individual components within the systems and, depending on the role, may also be trained in a range of software used to monitor electrical systems.
Designing and conducting research, either for commercial gain or as part of an academic inquiry. Many electrical engineering research programs are funded by government agencies.
Advising individuals or businesses who need to better understand electricity and electrical systems.
Evaluate pre-production designs and suggest any necessary alterations to make a product viable.
Devising testing protocols for evaluating electrical systems as well as individual components.
Designing new electrical systems and products in response to the needs and demands of customers.
With so many subfields and disciplines covered by the wide umbrella of an electrical engineer, the day to day life of any two electrical engineers can often be vastly different.
Potential Jobs And Careers
One of the main reasons that we can so wholeheartedly recommend this degree to tech lovers is that it opens an unfathomable number of doors. A qualified electrical engineer can pretty much take their pick of the industry that they want to work in the most and then shoot for a role within that field. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what direction you want to go in as an electrical engineer, not only will you have plenty of time to work it out but you will find that your degree opens many of these doors regardless of your specific specialty.
Electronic engineer: Whereas electrical engineers oversee entire systems, electronic engineers are concerned with the individual components within them. This includes all parts of the process from the research and design, through to the actual manufacture and production of electronic components. Much like electrical engineers, electronics engineers are in high demand across a broad spectrum of different industries. There are also equally as many opportunities for graduates to specialize and focus their efforts on achieving specific goals within their target industry.
Microelectronics engineer: Microelectronics engineers are concerned with the world of very small electronics. Ironically enough, the field of microelectronics predates the advent of the literally microscopic structures that we are manufacturing today. The components that microelectronics engineers deal with are generally semiconductor components that are visible to the naked eye. These include microelectronic versions of most standard electronic components. Microelectronic engineers also utilize specialized tools and techniques that most other electrical engineers won’t encounter.
Signal processing engineer: The term ‘signal’ is a deliberately broad one. A signal can mean anything, but in the context of electrical engineering, it is electromagnetic radiation that we are concerned with. Electromagnetic radiation encompasses everything from radio waves to microwaves to visible light to infra-red. The only difference between these different phenomena is the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation involved. The job of a signal processing engineer is to take electromagnetic signals and amplify or enhance them so that they can be better interpreted. This might sound like a relatively niche role, but signal processing engineers are needed in a whole host of civilian and military applications. With private space exploration now becoming a reality, there are even more roles opening up for signals engineers.
Power engineer: Power engineers handle the distribution of power and the electrical systems that are associated with it. This includes the systems responsible for generating, transmitting, distributing, and ultimate utilizing, electric power. As well as the systems themselves, power engineers are also required to have an understanding of the associated infrastructure and individual components that are needed for the systems to operate at maximum efficiency and capacity.
Control engineer: Control engineers, sometimes also known as systems engineers, is a specific field of electrical engineering that is concerned with control components and systems. This is a role that is even heavier on the mathematics and statistical modeling than the other careers on this list, all of which require participants to be adept at working with numbers. Control engineers apply their theoretical knowledge to the design of controllers which causes systems to behave in particular ways. Control engineers work with the ‘raw components’ of electrical systems – microcontrollers, PCBs, logic controllers, and signal processors.
We could literally spend all day listing potential jobs for electrical engineers – there are a lot of them out there. However, the above are the most prominent and reliable career pathways. Don’t let our list sway you though, if you want to get into this field then it should be in pursuit of the job that you want.
Is This A Good Career For Tech Lovers?
Excellent graduate prospects: After graduating, the world is your oyster! Electrical engineers can pretty much pick and choose where they want to work.
Make a difference: Job satisfaction can often feel frustratingly elusive. There’s nothing fun about getting up every day to go and work at a job that you don’t like or care about. Anyone who has had the sweet taste of job satisfaction knows that it is a hell of a drug. But how do you find something so elusive? Well, look at the jobs that consistently report the highest job satisfaction. Nursing is one of the most consistently high-scoring jobs, despite the fact that being a nurse is clearly a difficult and stressful thing to do. But nurses get to make a real difference to the patients that they treat. Electrical engineers rarely work directly with patients, but courses like this one from Kettering University, available through Kettering University Online provides students with an understanding of advanced mobility systems. These are the devices that are enabling us to provide some mobility and independence to people who are injured or disabled.
High starting salary: Doing good is all well and. good, but you still need to get paid. Fortunately, electrical engineering roles are universally highly paid, especially once you get some experience.
Electrical engineering is a fantastic career path for tech enthusiasts to pursue. It is an opportunity to go deeper with your learning and understanding of the technology that underpins daily life. With a wide range of careers to choose from and a skill set that is always going to be in demand, electrical engineering is a degree well worth investing in.