How to Become an Electrical Engineer

Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer conceptualises, creates, maintains and controls electrical systems. They will ensure that any electrical systems that they work with are economical, safe, sustainable and reliable. Electrical engineers can work across many industries.

An electrical engineer works with electric systems in all areas including the conceptualisation, creation, maintenance and control of the system. They may be in charge of the entire process of a project, from start to finish, or just one area. They can work in various industries, including the power, renewable energy, manufacturing and construction sectors. 

This role is varied, depending on the sector that the electrical engineer is based in, but duties will include the following: 

  • Looking at proposed technical developments and customer requirements and assessing their feasibility.
  • Creating project plans and circuit diagrams by making use of computer-assisted engineering and design software.
  • Analysing other projects that have been designed by others. 
  • Estimating costs and project timings for specific projects
  • Coordinating the work of technicians and craftspeople.
  • Testing installations and systems and analysing the data of tests. 
  • Ensuring that all projects meet safety regulations.
  • Writing reports from meetings and giving presentations. 

Most candidates who are becoming an electrical engineer will obtain a relevant degree. Relevant disciplines are electromechanical engineering, building services engineering, physics, and aeronautical engineering. Another popular way into this vocation is a degree apprenticeship.

For non-graduates, it is possible to become an electrical engineer by taking a diploma and undertaking relevant work experience. Higher apprenticeships may also accept diploma students onto electrical engineer schemes. Furthermore, candidates could work up to this level from being an electrical engineering technician, or move from a related engineering area.

There are several soft and hard skills that candidates will need to excel in electrical engineering. They should have proficient science and technology skills and mathematical knowledge – an understanding of physics is especially required. They should also be able to learn how to use specific computer operating systems relating to the job. An eye for design is also essential.

Prospective electrical engineers should be open to continually learning new things, as the engineering world is dynamic and continuously changing. They should have excellent attention to detail, as this will be needed in many of their plans, and analytical thinking, as they will often need to find creative solutions to issues. 

Candidates should have the initiative to think of solutions independently, with little assistance from others (once qualified). However, the nature of the profession does require candidates to frequently work as part of a team, and they should be able to collaborate with other engineers, architects, surveyors, and other professionals.

The electrical engineer salary progresses over time, as the candidate gets more experience and can specialise in a particular area. Gaining chartered engineer status is beneficial for an electrical engineer’s salary and career progression.

An electrical engineer will be required to take a colour vision test before working. They will work in sometimes hot, dusty and cramped conditions, and may need to work at height. They will generally work from Monday to Friday, although in busy periods they may need to work overtime. 

What degree is most commonly held by an Electrical Engineer ?

  • Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and Electronics
  • Bachelor of Electrical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Control Systems and Electrical Design

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
There is a strong chance that electrical engineers could find work abroad, mainly if they are working in the oil, petro-chemical or power sectors. Professionals who are qualified in these areas and have a wealth of experience could apply directly for jobs overseas or get an overseas posting at their initial company.

What is the Salary of an Electrical Engineer ?

Experience Average salary | year
Electrical Engineer 1-3 yrs $66,000 £36,000 $63,700
Electrical Engineer Manager 3-5 yrs $80,000 £40,000 $83,087
Electrical Engineer Supervisor 5-10 yrs $102,000 £50,000 $102,473

What skills are needed to become an Electrical Engineer ?

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering
  • AutoCAD
  • Microsoft Office
  • Project Management
  • Matlab
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Project Engineering
  • Electrical Design
  • Power Distribution
  • Electricians
  • Commissioning
  • Power Systems
  • Microsoft Word
  • Electronics
  • Testing
  • Project Planning
  • Management
  • Construction
  • Teamwork
  • Electrical Wiring
  • Leadership
  • C++
  • Energy
  • Customer Service

Electrical Engineering Courses

Being an electrical engineer is a constantly evolving role, so it is beneficial for candidates to take some supplementary courses. On FutureLearn, we have both general and niche electrical engineer courses to help candidates develop an understanding of electrical engineering as a whole and in specific areas. Take a look at the science of nuclear energy and technology metals for a green future for some examples.
  • Electrical Engineering: Sensing, Powering and Controlling

    Get a taste of an electrical engineering degree Build your confidence in communicating ideas and using technical vocabulary

  • New Energy Technologies: Energy Transition and Sustainable Development

    Explore the development of new energy technologies and discover key energy challenges with this online course

  • Data Science Ethics

    Explore the ethics of big data collection and sharing and consider the importance of data privacy in our society today

  • Technology Metals for a Green Future

    Learn how critical raw materials are found and used and explore their role in contributing to a more sustainable future

  • Energy Systems Integration: An Introduction

    Discover innovative sustainable energy systems solutions and explore an integrated perspective on the energy market

  • The Science of Nuclear Energy

    Discover the science behind nuclear energy and its role in energy provision in the past present and future

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

We partner with over 170 world-class universities, institutions and industry leaders to create world-class courses to help you with your career. Whether you’re just starting out, wanting to deepen your knowledge or change direction, FutureLearn and our partners can help. These are just a few of our world-leading partners.