Electrical engineering is a promising profession. Despite all the talk about artificial intelligence, it is humans designing the computer hard drives and robotic chassis that are the backbone of high tech. And the people doing this work are mostly electrical engineers. Electrical engineers are also designing and building the power systems and electronics we rely on every day. This is why they enjoy high pay and excellent job security. Let’s learn how to get started with electrical engineering.
Consider the Career Path You’re Interested In
There are a variety of roles electrical engineers can fill. Understand the career path you want so that you can take the appropriate classes in college. One option is broadcast engineering. These engineers and technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. This is a good choice for those who want to work in entertainment and would enjoy a more stable role behind the scenes. You may also be able to qualify for this job with just an associate’s degree.
Communication engineers work with communication systems from satellite TV to radio to broadband internet to wireless phone networks. This requires a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Network engineers design, implement and support network infrastructure for electrical grids. In short, you’re helping keep the lights on. Electricians do more of the hands-on work installing and fixing electrical systems in homes and businesses; this requires a trade school education and apprenticeship.
Circuit designers lay out the circuits in everything from microchips for smart phones to the electronics in simple electronic toys. This is related to design engineering; design engineering refers to any role designing products from concept to production, though it often includes electrical engineers. Hardware engineers will not just design but test hardware. Robotics engineers and technologists design, assemble and support automated systems.
Determine the Qualifications and Education You Need for the Job You Want
We’ve mentioned the basic educational path you need to be considered qualified to work in a given area. Technologists generally attend trade school or get an associate’s degree. Engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the job, you may want to get a Professional Engineering license. This process starts by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam before working under the supervision of a licensed PE. They will eventually take the PE exam and become a licensed PE. This certification may be required to sign off on power system designs. In areas like robotics, internships and supervised experience may allow you to eventually work as an independent professional.
Learn the Fundamentals of Every Aspect of the Profession
If you want to excel in your electrical engineering career, learn the fundamentals of every aspect of your profession. Learn the basics of signal processing even if you’re studying robotics. Understand the basics of communication protocols though you’re planning on doing circuit design. This will help you if you end up designing circuits for cell phones or other wireless systems. Learn all of the electronic component symbols that are used on drawings and documentation, even if you’re going to become an electrician or assembly technician. Altium designer has an extensive electronic components symbols library. This is an invaluable resource if you’re learning how to read circuit board drawings or going to be designing circuits yourself.
Networking connects you to those already in the industry, and it can get your name on the lists of those considered for plant tours, internships and newly listed jobs. A good first step is joining the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE. They’re the professional association for electrical engineers. Consider joining other industry associations, especially anything related to the niche you want to excel in.
Electrical engineering is a surprisingly broad profession. With the right foundation and the proper set of skills, you should be able to carve a niche for yourself and find something that will speak to your strengths as well as your interests.