- What do electrical engineers do?
- Electrical engineer career path
- Electrical engineer salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Electrical engineer skills
- Pros and cons of being an electrical engineer
- Electrical engineer work-life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs
Are you intrigued by how things work? Do you find fixing things satisfying? If you want to combine your attention to detail with your ability to work through a problem, a career as an electrical engineer could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in a career in electrical engineering? Explore the engineering sector jobs available right now.
What do electrical engineers do?
Electrical engineers are responsible for making and repairing electrical systems throughout many different sectors. You could work with the electricity in buildings, in transport systems or even with the national grid working to make sure power gets across the country. Here are the responsibilities and tasks that you have as an electrical engineer:
- Meeting with clients to discuss the requirements of a job.
- Making technical designs for the client, including all the electrical equipment that a build needs to work.
- Modelling designs with specialised software to make sure they work effectively for the intended purpose.
- Working out timeframes and estimated budgets for the project.
- Oversee building and construction work to make sure it fits with your plans.
- Test the systems, making sure they work properly and fit with safety regulations.
- Write reports on the work you’ve done to show to clients and colleagues.
Electrical engineer career path
Your career path as an electrical engineer can take you upwards in a company. You have the option to explore other career paths like side-stepping into other types of engineering if you like the design side of the job without the electrical facet. Or, you could go into project management if you like the organisational side of electrical engineering without the technical requirement. Here is the typical career path associated with electrical engineers:
You could begin your career in a junior electrical engineer job. This is a highly supervised job. You check off the work you do with your manager or supervisor who is a senior member of the team to make sure there are no issues with your designs that could pose a safety risk. The purpose of the junior role is so you learn all the professional skills that you need for your future career which is why it’s heavily monitored by your senior colleagues.
When you’ve learned everything you need for the career and demonstrated your skills, you progress to a mid-level electrical engineer. This role gives you more freedom and you work on your own projects with less requirement for supervision. You may still present to your colleagues and show them your work but you probably won’t need it signed off by a senior member of the team.
With much experience and a lot of excellent work under your belt, you progress to a senior electrical engineer position. You have much more responsibility in this role. You train junior colleagues, check their work and sign off on it if it’s safe and of good quality. You work with bigger clients on more complex or higher-profile assignments because you have the relevant experience to do these projects well.
If you decided you wanted to take on a more managerial role, you could progress to the senior management team within an engineering firm. In these jobs, you oversee the work that your team is doing, make sure they are working within budgets and maintain high standards. You may liaise with clients, making sure they’re happy with the work they’re receiving or persuading them to choose your firm for any future work that they have.
Electrical engineer salaries
Alongside good career progression, electrical engineering jobs often boast good pay rates too. Here are the salaries that you could earn when working as an electrical engineer:
- In an entry-level position, you earn £25,000 per year on average as a junior electrical engineer.
- As a mid-level electrical engineer, you earn between £25,000 and £50,000 per year with an average of £35,000 per year.
- In senior electrical engineer jobs, you earn an average of £42,000 which can extend to over £60,000 depending on the firm and location.
Qualifications and training
To work as an electrical engineer, you need a combination of skills and experience. Here is the education that you need to start your career as an electrical engineer:
Since the role is within the engineering sector, having an undergraduate degree in engineering gives you the theoretical knowledge that you need to do the job well. Some universities offer specific electrical engineering degrees that you could look into. If you have a non-specialised engineering degree, you could consider specialising at master’s degree level. However, having a master’s degree isn’t a requirement for being an electrical engineer. You can also enter the career path with a degree in applied physics or other subjects with high math content.
If the degree route isn’t for you, you can look into the college diploma options. These often take less time to complete than degrees, cost less and have a greater amount of practical training. You can explore the current diploma options for electrical engineering with Keystone’s academic course search tool.
Another option is an apprenticeship. Many companies offer apprenticeships where you learn about the role by working in it with industry experts. Some apprenticeships include a university element where you work towards a degree while working for the firm. You’re often offered a moderate salary and a job at the end of an apprenticeship whilst gaining the practical experience that you need to do the job. You can explore the apprenticeships available with this government apprenticeship search tool.
Electrical engineer skills
Combining your education with the right skills helps you impress hiring managers and demonstrate why you would be great for any electrical engineering job. Here are the skills that you need to work as an electrical engineer:
- Design software. Part of your job as an electrical engineer includes using software to model your designs, making sure they’re accurate and work for their intended purpose. You should have a good understanding of how this design software works so you can make great designs that are useful for the construction phase.
- Problem-solving. To be a great electrical engineer, you need good problem-solving skills. This is so you can think of innovative ways of dealing with the issues that you come across in the process. Take this Bright Network Academy creative problem-solving module to improve your skills.
- Communication. You need to be a great communicator to tell your client about the work you’re doing, tell the construction crew your vision and ideas and tell your colleagues about the updates in your work. Improve your communication skills with this Bright Network Academy module on adapting your communication style.
Pros and cons of being an electrical engineer
Being an electrical engineer has positive and negative aspects. Learning about the good and bad parts of a job helps you decide if it’s the right career path for you. Here are the pros and cons of going into an electrical engineer role:
- It’s a high-paying career path.
- You’re often given good pension schemes for the work you do.
- You can split your time between the office and onsite work which can break up the working week.
- You get a lot of support in the first few years because you’re working under the supervision of another member of the team.
- Travelling to construction sites can add to a long working day.
- Electrical equipment can be dangerous and, if anything goes wrong, you might be held accountable.
- There is the potential for long working days around big deadlines.
- The first few years of work can be stressful because you have lots of deadlines and have to report all your work to your supervisor or manager.
Electrical engineer work-life balance
Your working days are typical office hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. This is assuming that you don’t have any deadlines coming up which might mean you have to work beyond your allotted hours. In entry-level positions, you often have deadlines which means your working week can be long.
You split your working week between the office where you meet with colleagues and make designs, a testing facility or factory and the construction site where you oversee the building of the electrical system, whether this is a building or transport system. The working site might require a longer commute which adds to your working week. But it can be nice to separate the places that you work and make your working life more varied and interesting.
Knowing the typical employers that hire electrical engineers can help you find out the type of organisation that you’d like to work for. Here are the typical employers that you could work for in electrical engineering: