Online Electrical Engineering Degree Programs

Take a look around. No matter where you look, there's bound to be an electrical system humming away or waiting to be switched on. Everything in our world that uses electricity owes its existence to electrical engineers, and electrical engineering degree programs can help you be a part of the next wave of innovative devices and systems to hit the market.

The specific tasks performed by an electrical engineer depend on the components and/or system being worked on, but here are some general duties a job in electrical engineering is likely to entail:

  • Developing inventive ways to use electricity in new or existing products
  • Calculating detailed mathematical models of electrical systems
  • Installing and testing electrical equipment to ensure that products and systems are up to regulatory codes
  • Working directly with project managers to ensure that budgetary and production goals are met

In all but the rarest cases, successful candidates for electrical engineering positions have earned at least a bachelor's degree in the field. Hands-on experience is also valuable, so programs that provide practical familiarity with the tools and methods of the profession can give graduates an edge when it comes time to hit the career market.

Coursework in Electrical Engineering Programs

The electrical engineering major may differ slightly from one institution to another, but most programs tend to cover the same core concepts. Here's a short list of subjects that students in electrical engineering programs can expect to study on the path to their degree:

  • Algebra, calculus and other high-level mathematics
  • Circuitry and digital electronics
  • Microcontroller engineering
  • Digital systems design
  • Signal processing
  • Technical report writing
  • Statistics and mathematical analysis

Master's and doctoral programs generally focus on preparing students for jobs in research, instruction or other more academic segments of the field. Some universities may even offer a hybrid bachelor's-master's program, for students who know from the beginning that they plan to continue their education to the graduate level.

Career Outlook for Electrical Engineering Majors

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for electrical engineers are expected to increase about 5 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022, adding approximately 8,000 new jobs to the field. Growth is expected to occur primarily among firms that provide engineering services, because cost-cutting measures among commercial and manufacturing enterprises will likely lead to more extensive hiring of engineers on contract.

Electrical engineers in the U.S. earned a median annual salary of $87,920 in 2012, according to the BLS, with the top 10 percent earning more than $136,690. Positions in electronics engineering, for which electrical engineering majors often qualify, earned a median annual wage of $91,820 that same period.

With some additional education or specialized work experience, graduates of electrical engineering programs can find work in other career fields with competitive salary averages. Computer hardware engineers, for example, earned a median annual salary of $100,920 in 2012, while engineering managers earned a national median salary of $124,870, according to the BLS.

Sources:
"Electrical and Electronics Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm
"Computer Hardware Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm

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