Students who enjoy science and mathematics and who want to be involved with the design and implementation of new technology should consider earning a degree in electrical engineering. Electrical engineers develop, test, and oversee the manufacture of electrical equipment, including navigation systems, computers, and communication devices. Graduates of an electrical engineering program should have a solid understanding of how electrical communications systems and computer architecture work. They will also have the wherewithal to work effectively on their own or as part of a team, and they will also be able to use their knowledge to find engineering solutions to existing problems.
Classes and Assignments of an Electrical Engineering Major
Electrical engineering students may take computer architecture, signal processing, electronic materials and devices, and engineering electromagnetics, in addition to the core mathematics and science classes. These courses are lecture-based, and some may have a laboratory component as well. A student's grade is based on his or her performance on exams, research projects, essays, reading assignments from scientific textbooks, and class discussions. Although this area of study can be found at many brick-and-mortar universities, there are also online masters electrical engineering degrees available as well.
Degree Levels for an Electrical Engineering Major
- Associate. Online associate electrical engineering degrees provide a solid foundation for baccalaureate study and can also land a candidate a job as an electrical engineering technician. Engineering technicians help engineers and scientists plan, research, and test now technology. In an associate program, students may learn about digital and analog electronics, microprocessors, computer applications, and DC and AC circuits.
- Bachelor's. Students who are interested in an engineering career need at least a bachelor's degree to obtain an entry-level position. By the time students graduate from online bachelors electrical engineering degrees, he or she should be able to use their scientific knowledge and analytic skills to design solutions to existing issues and communicate and work effectively with others.
- Master's. Students interested in leading engineering teams or eventually pursuing a doctoral degree should consider earning a master's in electrical engineering. Depending on the program, master's students may specialize in a certain field, including energy sources and systems and microelectronics. The classes changed based on the specialization. For example, an energy sources and systems student may take modeling and simulation of power, while a microelectronics student may enroll in nanoscale transistors.
- Doctoral. A doctoral degree is typically required to teach at colleges or universities. Doctoral students receive further training in the principles of electrical engineering, and they may enroll in integrated circuits fabrication processes, microwave semiconductor devices, or physics of semiconductor devices. These classes typically feature lecture with a laboratory component.
A Future as an Electrical Engineering Major
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of electrical engineers is expected to grow 2% between 2008 and 2018. Despite strong demand for electronic devices, international competition and the use of employees outside of the United States will limit employment growth domestically. The median annual salary of an electrical engineer in May 2010 was $84,540.
Meanwhile, employment of engineering technicians is expected to decline 2% between 2008 and 2018 because of foreign competition. The median annual salary of an engineering technician in May 2012 was $56,040. However, keep in mind that job availability and salary is not guaranteed. Instead, your salary and job prospects will vary, depending on your employer and the state of the economy.