What Do Electrical Engineers Do

What Do Electrical Engineers Do?

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Electricity keeps today’s digital world running, from elementary applications such as the maintenance of homes to complex transportation systems, traffic lights, and electronics that keep our technologies alive.

Electrical engineering is mainly responsible for many innovations and designs we see and work with everywhere. The field creates various systems and allows many tools and devices to run smoothly, laboring on everything, including the nation’s power grid and the microchips inside smartphones and digital watches.

It involves semiconductors, electronics, power, sensors, industrial control, wired and wireless communication, signal processing, and computers. Electrical engineers have learned to practically employ mathematics and the laws of physics to design products that allow electrons to work for us.

This article will discuss the general aspects of electrical engineering, focusing on its different types (sub-disciplines) and what electrical engineers do. We’ll also address these questions: Which tools do electrical engineers require? And what is the highest-paid electrical engineer?

Now, breathe deeply, and read on!

What Is an Electrical Engineer?

An electrical engineer uses the physics of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism using mathematical tools to test equipment, solve problems, and design and develop new electrical equipment and systems. 

Electrical engineers are able to work on multiple projects, including designing home appliances, power stations, electrical satellite communication systems, and large-scale telecommunication systems.

Specifically, electrical engineering is concerned with electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. The field also covers control systems, power, signal processing, and telecommunications.

History of Electrical Engineering

The history of electrical engineering goes back to the late 19th century and is relatively newer than other branches of engineering. On the other hand, the field of electronics emerged in 1904 when the thermionic valve diode vacuum tube was invented. This invention marked the foundation of all modern electronics, including television, radar, and radios.

Pioneers of Electrical Engineering

Can you name a few most essential pioneers in electrical engineering? Yes, the list always starts with the American inventor:

  • Thomas Edison for the electric light bulb
  • Nikola Tesla for induction motor 
  • George Westinghouse for alternating current
  • Philo T. Farnsworth for television.
  • Guglielmo Marconi for radio, 

These geniuses turned innovative concepts and ideas into useful devices and systems that we use today.

Which Tools Do Electrical Engineers Require?

Electrical engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to create schematics and lay out circuits. Also, they use computers to simulate the function of electrical systems and devices.

Electrical engineers work in diverse industries using skills ranging from basic circuitry to managerial mastery. They also use many tools and equipment, such as the voltmeter, a high-end analyzer, and advanced design software.

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?

Electrical engineers usually work on diverse projects, such as smartphones, robots, cards, radars, wiring, lighting, navigation systems, etc. An electrical engineer’s job includes the following:

  • Design and conduct research programs
  • Evaluate electrical systems, components, products, and applications
  • Apply knowledge of electricity
  • Confirm system capabilities by continuous evaluation
  • Develop electrical products
  • Enhance manufacturing processes

What Are the Electrical Engineering Sub-Disciplines?

There are numerous sub-disciplines of electrical engineering. Some specialize in one sub-discipline, while others focus on several subfields. The most popular electrical engineering sub-disciplines include the following.

Electronic Engineer

In general, electronic engineers perform research, design, develop and test electronic systems and components in areas such as controls, acoustics, telecommunications, aerospace guidance, or propulsion control.

Electronic and electrical engineering are used interchangeably in the United States and Canada. However, specialization is the key difference.

Microelectronics Engineer

Microelectronics is a type of electronics that deals with circuit components and small electronic designs. Many elements of the standard electronic design have their microelectronic equivalent. These include capacitors, transistors, diodes, resistors, insulators, conductors, and inductors.

Signal Processing Engineer

A signal processing engineer evaluates and changes digital signals for precision and reliability. Responsibilities mainly include developing, updating, and managing digital signals and devising algorithms for a more efficient process.

Power Engineer

A power engineer, or power systems engineer, works in a subfield of electrical engineering that generates, distributes, transmits, and utilizes electric power using the electrical equipment designed for these systems. 

Engineers in this field need technical information about transformers, motors, generators, and power electronics.

Control Engineer

Control systems engineering (or control engineering) is typically taught together with electrical engineering. Control engineers specifically focus on implementing control systems acquired through mathematical models of various systems.

Telecommunications Engineer

Telecommunications engineers use electrical and computer engineering techniques and practices to enhance telecommunication systems. Their tasks include circuit design and providing data transmission services.

Instrumentation Engineer

Instrumentation engineers use electronics and electrical engineering to deal with the design and development of measuring devices for flow, temperature, and pressure.

This subfield requires an excellent understanding of physical principles to deal with measurements, automation, and control processes.

Computer Engineer

Many schools offer computer engineering as a degree, a sub-discipline, or a dual degree in computer and electrical engineering. Computer engineering involves researching, designing, developing, and testing computer systems and their corresponding components, including computer circuit boards, processors, memory devices, microchips, networks, routers, etc.

How to Become an Electrical Engineer

Project management and communication skills are essential for electrical engineers. However, a solid professional and educational foundation is also crucial.

The first step is to earn an electrical engineering degree. It will prepare you to handle the essential tasks of an electrical engineer. A master’s degree can enhance learning and help you focus on a specific area of electrical engineering. Typical examples are electronics development, renewable energy, or engineering management, which could help you progress as a leader in your industry.

Once you earn a degree, seek licensure and certification to become a professional engineer (P.E.). Your professional license allows you to stand out as an exceptional applicant. It also helps you join a growing field vital to today’s technology-driven world.

Though both are important, there’s a tendency from more theory to more practical skills. We should also emphasize the importance of communication and presentation skills in electrical engineering.

If you enter the field of electrical engineering and become an important part of it, you can play an essential role in developing innovative new technology. And you can profoundly impact the electrical systems that people will rely on in their everyday lives– today or in the future.

Developing Renewable Electrical Power

One of the most significant work areas for electrical engineers is developing, designing, and managing electrical power systems. Today’s industrial growth requires an exponentially increasing number of jobs in the evolving field of renewable energy.

Many notable areas continue to expand in electrical engineering. Proficient electrical engineers can contribute to developments in clean energy, electric vehicles, and the advancement of the electrical grid. The increasing need for clean technologies and renewable energy increases the demand for electrical engineers, who will work to build, design, and manage better electrical power systems.

Electrical Engineers Fuel Technology Advancements

Another critical role of electrical engineers is developing smartphones, computers, and advanced technologies that power our modern age. Improvement in technology will require better electronic devices that consume less energy and are environmentally friendly.

The use of technology has significantly grown and evolved in recent years. According to a 2021 report, more than 96% of people aged 18-29 and over 95% of people aged 30-49 own smartphones.

The stats are even more astonishing in the professional world. Automated technologies are booming. There are now robot-assisted surgeries and self-driving cars that may one day become widespread.

This spectacular digital technology growth is possible because of the innovation of electrical engineers who develop and design electrical components that bring life to modern machines.

Electrical Engineer Skills

Every professional in the electrical engineering field needs to have a specific skill set to succeed.

  • Mathematical & physical knowledge
  • Technical skills & programming
  • Computer science fundamentals
  • Electrical design & Circuit knowledge
  • Systems integration knowledge
  • Workplace & Analytical skills
  • Concentration & interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving & leadership
  • Organization, teamwork, & adaptability

Lastly, electrical engineers should also know about possible electrical failures and what they can cause. Roar Engineering Electrical Engineering Service can determine the cause of any electrical failure.

See also: Electrical Failures: How To Prevent Electrical Equipment Failures.

Career Paths for Electrical Engineers

There are many excellent opportunities to advance within electrical engineering, depending on your interests, education, and experience. After you’ve met your basic requirements and obtained the necessary licenses, you may move on to become a project manager, consultant, or contractor. Some electrical engineers pursue academic careers, teaching others the skills required for success in the field.

Bottom Line

So, we’ve learned that electrical engineers work in and across many industries, such as construction, transport, energy (including renewables), building services, and manufacturing.

Electrical failures can result in serious harm (and even death), dangerous fires, and explosions. That’s why today’s society has a specific demand for experience and skill sets that are only procurable during years of hard work. 
If you have further questions about electrical engineering, don’t hesitate to contact us and speak with our team of electrical engineers, made up of experts like Ashish Jaggi, P.Eng., who are always happy to help you learn more about electrical engineering.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Highest Paid Electrical Engineer?

Electrical engineers usually earn more than the national average salary, and we expect this trend to continue. Electrical engineering jobs typically have some of the highest career potentials, but the electrical engineering salary depends very much on the industry. 

The top 3 initiatives where you can achieve the highest electrical engineer salary include Computer Hardware & Signal Processing, Advanced Automation & Robotic Systems, and Aerospace & Space Defence Systems.

Is Electrical Engineering Hard to Study?

Generally speaking, studying electrical engineering is not a simple walk in the park. To succeed, you need to have various STEM skills and a solid comprehension of base knowledge to scaffold into more complicated aspects of the discipline. Most people would agree that electrical engineering is a complex study area. Although the course is challenging, most qualified electrical engineers will tell you it is well worth the effort.

How Hard Is Electrical Engineering?

Regarding the study and this field, most students find mathematics-related subjects (statistics, calculus, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry) the most complex topics in electrical engineering. 

And when it comes to careers, electrical engineers should be able to apply what they learned during theoretical and experimental courses in university or college to practical problems. An electrical engineering degree’s level of abstract thinking, critical analysis, and problem-solving may surprise seasoned electrical engineers.

Is Electrical Engineering A Good Career?

It has been a common misconception that electrical engineering is not a career option. These seven pointers clearly state why electrical engineering is one of the best career options you can pursue in 2022 and beyond.

  • Global career opportunities: Electrical engineering is a versatile career that you can work anywhere in the world after acquiring a certified electrical engineering degree. 
  • Lucrative salaries: Electrical engineers are paid well not just in the latest stages of their journey but also in the first stages as freshers with limited work experience. 
  • The never-ending demand for professionals: over the last few years, the global markets have witnessed a continuous rise in the need for electrical engineers with different skills and expertise.
  • Tremendous scope for career growth: Many companies provide skill-oriented training to newly recruited electrical engineers. Therefore, you’ll always have a capacity for skill development, which will, in turn, help your career growth as you progress in the industry. 
  • Hands-on job: Electrical engineering can be a hands-on job that will leave no room for the possibility of a tedious desk job. 
  • Recession-proof career: Electrical engineers will constantly be in demand, irrespective of the situation. Even when COVID-19 forced the world into a global lockdown, electrical engineers had to work hard to provide people with what they required. These include, for example, electricity in their homes, uninterrupted wireless, and WiFi service to continue working from home.
  • Multi-specialization career option: Electrical engineering is a multidimensional career option. While pursuing electrical engineering, electrical engineers can further enhance their portfolio by including relevant specializations to help them gain better career opportunities.