The textbook definition says that electrical engineering is “the branch of engineering that deals with the practical application of the theory of electricity to the construction of machinery, power supplies, and so on”.
Because electricity is all around us, electrical engineers are employed across a broad range of industries including aerospace, defense, marine, manufacturing, power generation, transmission and distribution, resources, telecommunications, transportation, and utilities.
When starting their electrical career, one may find employment as a solar technician, electrician, electrical installer or repairer.
Electrical engineering technicians are employed to diagnose, tune and test electrical equipment, and to assist engineers.
Electrical engineers usually specialize either in the power engineering – which is dealing with all matters of power generation, transmission and distribution, including power plants, power supply, high voltage, and substation design – or they are employed across various industries and projects in applied electrical engineering, working on anything from electrical appliances or building lighting design to industrial electrical systems and high-end electronics and control systems.
Some of the jobs available to electrical engineers include:
In the US, electrical engineers are earning between $50,000 (entry level) to $150,000 USD per year (Salaryexplorer.com estimate)
With Bachelor’s Degree, the average salary of an Electrical Engineer is $73,000 USD per year.
A Master’s Degree gets a salary of $111,000 USD per year.
Around the world, electrical engineers are getting consistently higher salaries reflecting their qualifications, education and experience.
Importantly, electrical engineers are employed quickly after their graduation, or even while they are still studying, especially if they have prior experience.
With a lot of large companies being global, having a recognized engineering qualification can open doors to different locations and projects.
There are two major pathways: vocational education, and higher education.
The vocational education pathway may look like this:
At this point, you can start working as an electrician or electrical installer and repairer.
You can now work as an electrical technician
As a fully qualified professional electrical engineer, you are now among the most competent people in the world and capable of solving complex engineering challenges
The higher education pathway typically looks like this:
Graduates can work as electrical engineering technologists
In some cases, applicants with Advanced Diploma qualifications and significant industry experience can progress to Master’s degrees or Graduate Certificates.
It is important to be aware of any regulatory requirements in your country which are set for professional engineers. Graduates may have to register with a regulatory body, go through an individual certification or sit an exam, and achieve CPD (continuous professional development) results to maintain their Professional Engineer status.
Different disciplines within engineering might seem like they have a lot of overlap, and they do, but electrical engineers are trained experts in electrical systems with special skills in the systems that power and control machines or are involved in communication within electronics.
While this is a broad definition it does show that anyone who likes to build, know or create systems that use electricity will benefit from a qualification in electrical engineering.
To become an electrical engineer, you should also show important skills:
There are different paths to enter the job market with a qualification.
Do you want a degree, and then potentially receive a postgraduate degree like a Master of Engineering later? Do you maybe just want a course to start in a workplace, then move up?
Certificates To Become an Electrical Engineer
If you are a school leaver or have little experience in electrical engineering Undergraduate Certificates are short qualifications that help introduce students to the field of electrical engineering.
EIT do not offer vocational Certificate III or Certificate IV, because they are based on workplace experience, but we have some higher education options for school graduates.
Undergraduate Certificates in Electrical Engineering
The six-month certificates function as a way for potential students to get used to the academic environment, offer credit if they decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering later, and also offer a gateway into working at an engineering firm or practice. They have short time commitments and offer a new skill or expertise.
A unique Vocational Graduate Certificate – 52859WA Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies provides practical knowledge on the renewable energy aspects, and will benefit students with previous industry experience, engineering professionals with vocational or higher education, and those with work experience in engineering, science, or technology field.
According to the paper Mathematical Modelling for Engineering Diploma Students: Perspectives on Visualisation engineering students are more often exposed to a technology-rich environment in a fast-changing landscape where conceptual knowledge and technical skills need to be integrated.
Vital skills in engineering applications that demand conceptual understanding are often well addressed within diplomas and Advanced Diplomas. These can be completed in a year, 18 months, 20 months or over two years or three years. Due to the shorter duration, it means engineers can enter the field quicker with up-to-date knowledge and some practical experience.
An added benefit of Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas is that they are often job-specific. This means you are trained to do something extremely well, without having to complete more broad-based or theoretical concepts on top of what you will need to know to function within a professional role. Since these qualifications are also accredited, they usually also count toward a student completing a degree or higher qualification later on.
For electrical engineers EIT offers a 36-month UET50221 Diploma of ESI – Power Systems (Australia and New Zealand students only) which offers skills and the knowledge to work in the electricity supply industry (ESI) as a High Voltage (HV) Substation Project Manager or a Senior Systems Operator or a Power Systems Technical Officer.
The course is focused on developing the latest technologies in electricity supply and power systems for electrical engineers in Australia and New Zealand.
Our two Advanced Diplomas include the 18-month 52883WA Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Electrical Systems) which equips electrical engineers with skills such as electrical technology fundamentals, rotating machinery and transformers, energy efficiency, earthing and safety regulations, and operation and maintenance of electrical equipment.
For those who want to undertake a 24-month Advanced Diploma, our 52888WA Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Power Industry) aims to provide engineers with skills and knowledge in the latest and developing technologies in electrical engineering including skills in the latest electrical system and power industry technologies. This practical program avoids too much emphasis on theory.
Students also use state-of-the-art technologies such as remote and virtual laboratories and simulation software — which ensures you graduate with cutting-edge skills that are valued by employers around the world.
For those who want to enter engineering at a professional level, or upskill to a new level a Bachelor’s degree is of importance.
Not only does it give graduates academic skills, but it also offers in-depth knowledge of engineering.
With this qualification, you will acquire the essential knowledge which underpins both electrical engineering and other fields of engineering. More importantly, you will have become an electrical engineering technologist.
In Australia increasing Bachelor’s degree graduates is also something that is considered important for society at large, and as a result, many students can potentially receive grants or financial aid to help them to complete a degree successfully.
The paper Pathways from VET Awards to Engineering Degrees: a higher education perspective addresses why degrees are important but also what engineers get in return for completing a degree.
In Australia, each engineering discipline (chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical) has more or less the same core content, especially during the first year of an individual degree.
Only in the last years do students specialize further, making it ideal for overall engineering knowledge.
Degree programs contain substantial research and design-based project work during the final year of completion and it is a great entry point to build industry experience.
For electrical engineers, subjects can include:
The article Consumer Behavior: Why Engineers Need to Read About It states it simply, it encourages consumer behavior to be more aligned with sustainability and understanding.
Current changes in energy and power systems, including the distributed production of renewables, an increasing need for flexibility of operations, and energy storage and transmission, affect consumers in one way or another.
As a result, electrical engineers have the opportunity to really know if their work is hitting the right notes in the world.
Changes often require the active participation and support of consumers, who may become prosumers.
Since we’re in the era of increasing technological sophistication the adoption cycles of new technologies have increased, and as a result, electrical engineers are aiding the adoption of these devices among business and consumer cultures.
These changes in technology adoption occur during a very specific time in the world. Global challenges such as climate change, hunger, poverty, and cybersecurity require astute electrical engineers according to Innovation as Part of Electrical Engineers Education.
This relationship is also why sustainability has become so important for electrical engineers in the world. The paper Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Size and Expectations for Growth mentions that engineering talent is difficult to find in the world of green power and sustainable energy, and as a result engineers with a background in this form of energy generation are highly sought.
They are also key players in establishing a green economy. Another article Power Engineering Education: A Description of Current Academic Developments in India offers a lot of insight into why electrical engineers are important in this economy. They are part of the charge to increase awareness about the latest consumables and new engineers graduating from institutions constitute human resources with specialized skills and knowledge.
They are expected to share the national goals of growth through contributions to the economy and societal development. Engineers have technical skills, along with the scope for research and innovation is driving new ways to generate power.
The application of electricity and electromagnetism is electrical engineering in a nutshell, but its use in wider society is more complex. Electrical engineering has an assortment of branches to specialize in, and work at different levels.
Some of the essential knowledge electrical engineers will gain while studying include:
At EIT when completing a Bachelor of Science (Electrical Engineering) we believe that graduates can enter the job market at an Engineering Technologist level in roles focused on the following:
These are extremely exciting prospects.
There sure are. Electrical Engineers are highly employable, and without work experience, a qualified engineer can still be a viable and desirable candidate for employers.
The paper Electrical Engineers’ Career Paths – A Narrative Study on Higher Engineering Education says that research among American engineers on how engineering profiles were built.
What came to light was that high importance was given to technical competence, communication, profound thinking, solution orientation, professionalism, and client orientation attributes among engineers.
The paper then sampled engineers who graduated from a specific university and established that Electrical Engineers had careers that were lively.
All of the engineers entered the realm of professional work no later than completing a Master’s thesis, and then built careers where they worked at a number of companies and were employed in a variety of roles.
They all mentioned that subjects at university played a role in their work and the accelerated their positions by:
1) begin as a technical expert,
2) continue as a senior expert, then
3) as a lower manager, and after that proceed in management tasks.
The paper notes that expertise and professional competencies only came when employees were able to accrue knowledge and experience.
That’s why engineers that start working and then building knowledge through qualifications are equally valued as those who choose to complete basic academic fulfillments first.
Out of the students that were part of the study their perceptions of professional competencies and expertise were related to their actual work, but they were inter-related to what they had studied as well.
Full List of EIT Electrical Engineering Courses
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS’ CAREER PATHS – A NARRATIVE STUDY ON HIGHER ENGINEERING EDUCATION. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268326165_ELECTRICAL_ENGINEERS%27_CAREER_PATHS_-_A_NARRATIVE_STUDY_ON_HIGHER_ENGINEERING_EDUCATION [accessed Jun 02 2022].
Mathematical Modelling for Engineering Diploma Students: Perspectives on Visualisation. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320899808_Mathematical_Modelling_for_Engineering_Diploma_Students_Perspectives_on_Visualisation [accessed Jun 06 2022].
Mil’shtein, S., & Tello, S. (2019). Innovation as Part of Electrical Engineers Education. Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.9734/CJAST/2019/V33I130044
Nagamani, C., Kirthiga, M. V., & Thomas, M. S. (2018). Power Engineering Education: A Description of Current Academic Developments in India. IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, 16(5), 42–52. https://doi.org/10.1109/MPE.2018.2843899