CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 25, 2014
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How to Become an Electrical Engineer

Electrical Engineers are responsible for designing, building and maintaining electrical equipment. If you have a talent for Maths, Science, IT, Engineering and love solving problems then this could be the right career choice for you.

What do Electrical Engineers do?

Electrical engineers design, build and maintain electrical control systems, machinery and equipment in a number of different industries. An advanced understanding of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and physics is required to be effective as an electrical engineer. This is so that you can adequately design and test your ideas on the computer before attempting to construct or repair a project. Although it is possible to work in a number of areas during your career most electrical engineers will specialise in one area, including:

  • Renewable energy
  • The generation, transmission and distribution of power
  • Transportation and transportation networks, such as railways
  • Building services, such as lighting, heating, ventilation and lift systems.
  • Manufacturing and construction

Typical daily activities could include:

  • Working on teams with people from numerous disciplines such as civil engineers, architects, engineering technicians and IT staff.
  • Using CAD design software to prepare designs thoroughly which simulates circuit diagrams to show whether your designs will work.
  • Estimating costs and make sure that projects meet customer specifications.
  • Carrying out feasibility studies on new developments.
  • Coordinating the work of technicians and craftspeople working on a project with you.
  • Ensuring that all designs are safe and fit for purpose.

Salary

Electrical engineers can receive quite a generous salary. However, as with many jobs the pay very much depends upon the company you work for and your experience. On average though electrical engineers get quite a good salary even when starting out.

Entry Level

£21,000 - £25,000

Experienced

£25,000 - £40,000

Chartered Engineer

£45,000 +

 National Careers Service

Skills Required:

  • Skilled in maths and science subjects especially physics
  • The ability to understand technical data and diagrams
  • To be a logical and methodical thinker
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Great communication and teamwork skills
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • A keen attention to detail
  • An understanding of Electrical health and safety legislation
  • Excellent skills with CAD
  • Leadership and team management skills
  • Budget managing skills

Qualifications and Entry Requirements

The most common way to enter the profession is by obtaining an undergraduate degree in one of the following areas:

  • Electrical engineering
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Building services engineering
  • Communications engineering
  • Computing and software engineering
  • Electromechanical engineering
  • Mechanical and production engineering
  • Physics and applied physics
  • Power and energy engineering

The best way to get a job and gain experience after University is through a graduate training scheme. It is also common during this type of degree to have mandatory work placements. Work placements and training schemes are important as employers in this area usually place more importance on industry experience rather than study.

It is also possible to enter the profession by obtaining a HND in a relevant subject such as applied physics or mechatronics. However, many employers prefer graduates and it is possible in some universities for people with a relevant HND to gain direct entry onto the final year of an undergraduate engineering programme. 

Career prospects and Development

Continual professional development is extremely important for electrical engineers. It is important you keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry. Many companies have structured programmes to provide you with CPD, but if yours does not you must seek it individually by joining professional organisations such as the Engineering Council. You also need to join the Engineering Council to work towards incorporated (IEng) and ultimately chartered engineer chartered (CEng) status to show that you are an expert in your field.

Career Prospects for Electrical Engineers are extremely good as there is a lack of skilled engineers at the moment. However, due to economic conditions competition for any job is hard at the moment. Luckily though the number of people employed in the science and engineering sector is expected to rise from 1440000 in 2014 to 1562000 in 2020.

Electrical engineers have an interesting and varied job that can be extremely demanding. But if you think that you are good enough at Maths and Engineering then this might well be the right career for you.

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