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Electrical engineering, the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism, developed into a branch of engineering in the latter half of the 19th century after telegraphs and telephones became more commonplace. The first department of electrical engineering was founded in 1882 by the Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany, but the first electrical engineering degree program was offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more commonly known as MIT. Electrical engineering degrees are offered at every level, associate, baccalaureate, master, doctorate, and certificate.
An electrical engineering curriculum typically begins with the fundamentals of engineering, along with several science and mathematics classes. Courses on computer-aided drafting and design, microprocessor interfacing, and CAD, as well as digital logic will also likely be required. Associate’s in electrical engineering are specifically designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the field after two years of study.
There are a number of fields graduate with an associate’s in electrical engineering can enter into, including: communications, transportation, medical technology, manufacturing, and computers. Common titles with this level of education include: Instrument and Controls Technician, Test Technician, Relay Tester, Electrical Technician. Earnings at this level range between $49,399 and $53,601.
A Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering (BEE) goes under a few names, including a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) and as a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering (BEEE), but the curriculums are largely the same. Taking four years to complete in the US, a BEE student will spend time studying electrical machines, AC & DC motors, transformers, generators, direct current, power engineering, computer architecture, signals and systems, and more.
A bachelor’s degree is often needed to work in the utilities sector of electrical engineering, and, to qualify for licensure, the institution must be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). After graduation, to become licensed, students must taken the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. After passing, they’ll be known as EITs, engineer-in-training, until they’ve earned four years of experience. At that time, aspiring engineers can take the Professional Engineer (PE) exam, making them fully licensed, independent electrical engineers. Depending on which state being practiced in, further education (typically certificates) may be required to maintain that licensure.
Industries that individuals with a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering can pursue: Aerospace, Automotive, Construction, Defense, Electronics, Fast-moving Consumer Goods, Marine, Materials and Metals, Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Power Generation, Rail, Utilities. The average entry-level salary at this level of education is $61,000.
While a master’s isn’t a requirement to become an electrical engineer, it can lead to a higher entry-level salary as well as an accelerated career. The primary focus at this level is specialization, narrowing the focus within disciplines, and cultivating the ability to lead entire teams of engineers.
Specializations in electrical engineering include: bioengineering, acoustics, magnetic resonance, circuits, communication systems, control systems, electromagnetics, microelectronics/photonics, nanotechnology, power and energy systems, signal processing, remote sensing and space science. The median salary with this level of education is $121,000.
This level of education, like with most doctoral degrees, is research for advanced level research and academia. Programs typically take five years to complete and qualify graduates to teach at the university level.