Approximately 193,100 electrical engineers are employed in the United States. More engineers work in the electrical and electronics field than in any other division of engineering. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers reports that there are 10 key industry sectors in which engineers are employed: Aerospace, Bioengineering, Computers, Education and Research, Energy and Electric Power, Manufacturing, Semiconductors, Service Industry, Telecommunications, and Transportation and Automotive. Some work as private consultants.
Many students begin to research companies that they are interested in working for during their last year of college or even before. It is possible to research companies using many resources, such as company directories and annual reports, available at public libraries.
Employment opportunities can be found through a variety of sources. Many electrical engineers are recruited by companies while they are still in college. Other companies have internship, work-study, or cooperative education programs from which they hire students who are still in college. Students who have participated in these programs often receive permanent job offers from these companies, or they may obtain useful contacts that can lead to a job interview or offer. Some companies use employment agencies and state employment offices. Companies may also advertise positions through advertisements in newspapers and trade publications. In addition, many newsletters and associations post job listings on the Internet. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn can also be useful.
Interested applicants can also apply directly to a company they are interested in working for. A letter of interest and resume can be sent to the director of electrical engineering or the head of a specific department. One may also apply to the personnel or human resources departments.
Electrical engineering careers usually offer many avenues for advancement. An engineer straight out of college will usually take a job as an entry-level electrical engineer and advance to higher positions after acquiring some job experience and technical skills. Electrical engineers with strong technical skills who show leadership ability and good communications skills may move into positions that involve supervising teams of engineers and making sure they are working efficiently. They can advance from these positions to that of a chief engineer. The chief engineer usually oversees all electrical engineering projects and has authority over project managers and managing engineers.
Many companies provide structured programs to train new employees and prepare them for advancement. These programs usually rely heavily on formal training opportunities such as in-house development programs and seminars. Some companies also provide special programs through colleges, universities, and outside agencies. Electrical engineers usually advance from junior-level engineering positions to more senior-level positions through a series of positions. They may also specialize in a specific area of electrical engineering once they have acquired the necessary experience and skills.
Some engineers move into sales and managerial positions, with some engineers leaving the industry to seek top-level management positions with other types of firms. Some electrical engineers set up their own firms. Electrical engineers can also move into the academic field and become teachers at high schools or universities.
The key to advancing in the electrical engineering field is keeping pace with technological changes, which occur rapidly in this field. Electrical engineers will need to pursue additional training throughout their careers in order to stay up to date on new technologies and techniques.
Tips for Entry
Read publications to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) publishes many journals and periodicals about electrical engineering and related topics, https://www.ieee.org/publications/index.html.
Search for job listings by job title and state at this Web site: https://jobs.ieee.org.
Join professional associations such as the IEEE (https://students.ieee.org/student-members) to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.