Have you ever switched on a light, used a smartphone, had your blood pressure taken, or driven somewhere using GPS navigation? If yes, you can thank an electrical engineer for creating and designing these modern-day conveniences. Electrical engineers are skilled professionals who work in fields related to electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics. They develop technologies upon which people depend every day.
If you’re interested in becoming an electrical engineer, it’s essential to understand how to position yourself for success in this rewarding career path while you’re still in high school.
About Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineering specifically deals with electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics. It also covers power, control systems, telecommunications, and signal processing.
An electrical engineer applies the physics and mathematics of electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics to design and develop new electrical equipment and systems, solve problems, and test equipment.
Electrical engineers can work on various projects, from designing household appliances to large-scale electrical telecommunication systems, electrical power stations, and satellite communications systems.
This career is very similar to that of an electronic engineer - both careers are used interchangeably in the United States. The main difference is specialization. While electrical engineers take care of entire electrical systems, electronics engineers hone in on the smaller parts, such as individual computers, electronic circuits, resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, and diodes, and use their knowledge of electronic theory and materials properties.
Steps to Take from High School
Preparation for electrical engineering begins in high school. Engineering school entrance requirements vary, but they typically include chemistry, physics, trigonometry, algebra, geometry, and calculus. English, computer science, applied technology, and statistics will also help provide a foundation for college. While you’re in high school, focus on excelling in these upper-level classes and AP courses offered at your school.
Know that electrical engineers use science and math daily.
Extracurricular Activities and Internship
Participating in extracurricular activities, clubs, camps, or internships relevant to electronics is excellent preparation to be an electrical engineer. Internships are a particularly good way for students to learn from professionals, network, and boost their resumes.
Earn a Bachelors Degree
To pursue a career as an electrical engineer, an individual must first meet several criteria. Perhaps most importantly, an aspiring electrical engineer must complete a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university, specifically in the field of electrical engineering.
It is important to note that an individual may find work as an electrical engineer in some circumstances even if he or she didn’t obtain a bachelor’s degree in that specific field. For example, an individual with a degree in civil or mechanical engineering who took courses on electrical engineering and shows exceptional skill in this area may be able to find work as an electrical engineer. Furthermore, some students may obtain a bachelor’s degree in an entirely different field and then a master’s degree in electrical engineering; these individuals would all be eligible to find work in the field.
Get a Professional License
Once you have an accredited degree, you can qualify to take exams for professional licensing. Not all electrical engineers need a license, but licensing gives you the legal authority to sign and approve documents and is attractive to employers with government contracts.
We recommend you take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which is a 6-hour test with 110 multiple-choice questions that cover various subjects in engineering.
Once you’ve passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, you will earn the title of engineer-in-training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI). You can now begin applying to work as an electrical engineer!
Are you suited to be an electrical engineer?
Electrical engineers have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also realistic, meaning they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty.
Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if electrical engineering is one of your top career matches.