Were you the kind of kid who took apart all kinds of electronic equipment as a child, to the chagrin of your parents? Consider majoring in electrical engineering, a field in which engineers design, develop, and test electrical equipment. They work with all kinds of equipment, including computers, radios, motors, and other digital devices. Students may pursue the degree at all levels, although a Ph.D. in electrical engineering is only usually necessary if individuals plan to teach at the university level.
Electrical Engineering Course Work Basics
The electrical engineering curriculum at top accredited online colleges is designed to prepare students for a career in the industry or further study. Undergraduates will develop a thorough understanding of fundamental concepts in the field. Elective courses at top rated online colleges allow students to focus on specific disciplines. Courses heavily emphasize math and science, and students should expect to take several classes in physics and calculus before they move on to a more detailed study of electrical engineering. Courses may include:
- Introduction to Devices and Circuits: Students will learn about circuit analysis and simulation; semiconductor device fundamentals and operation; and basic transistor circuits.
- Circuit Theory: This course will introduce students to circuits with sinusoidal signals. The course will also cover topics in system functions, complex frequency, and frequency response.
- Digital Circuits and Systems: Students will receive an overview of digital computer systems, including digital logic, Boolean algebra, and the design and operation of digital computers.
- Introduction to Digital Imaging Systems: This course will introduce students to concepts such as image representation and standards; visual perception and color spaces; image restoration; image and video coding; and camera modeling.
- Engineering Leadership: Students will learn how to lead in an engineering organization or team. The course will cover leadership for both the technical manager and the technical professional, and discuss topics such as staffing, motivation, performance evaluation, communication, intellectual property, and professional ethics.
Most programs include a capstone requirement, in which students complete a research-based project toward the end of the program that combines theory and application. Employers value practical experience, so electrical engineering graduates may participate in cooperative engineering programs, during which students earn academic credit for structured work experience.
Careers for the Electrical Engineering Graduate
Electrical engineers must remain up-to-date with the fast-paced changes in technology. Some electrical engineers may obtain a license, although licensure is not as common among electrical engineers as it is among those in other engineering disciplines. To become licensed, engineers must graduate from an ABET-accredited program and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. After gaining some work experience, engineers may take the second exam, the Professional Engineering (PE) exam, to become fully licensed engineers. However, students should note that licensing requirements may vary slightly from state to state.
Most electrical engineers will work for corporations, although some may take government positions. The well-paying field is predominantly male, so engineering schools are always looking for qualified female applicants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of electrical engineers is $89,200. Electrical engineers who move into management positions as engineering managers and program managers will likely earn higher salaries. In order to move up the ranks, however, engineers must gain experience by working under the guidance of experienced managers.