The most common electrical engineering careers

Electrical engineering students looking to shape the future of their field should be aware of the diverse range of electrical engineering careers available to them. Here are some common roles in electrical engineering, highlighting the wide spectrum of professional opportunities.

Broadcast engineer

In television and radio stations, broadcast engineers are responsible for maintaining broadcasting equipment. Their duties include monitoring and troubleshooting equipment during live broadcasts. This role involves working with a variety of equipment from studio consoles to transmission towers.

As of February 2023, the median annual salary for broadcast engineers was about $65,600, based on Payscale data.

A broadcast engineer’s role is technical and dynamic, requiring a keen understanding of both new and existing broadcasting technologies. They often work in high-pressure environments, particularly during live broadcasts, ensuring seamless transmission and resolving any technical issues that may arise.

Substation technician

Substation technicians play a vital role in the electric grid’s operation. They focus on the design and maintenance of electric substations, which are key to distributing power. Their job demands knowledge of various equipment like circuit breakers and transformers, along with an understanding of schematic diagrams and a strong commitment to safety.

Payscale reported the median annual salary for substation technicians to be around $77,700 as of January 2023.

A substation technician’s job is crucial for ensuring the reliability and efficiency of power distribution. They often work outdoors and in various weather conditions, conducting inspections, repairs, and upgrades to maintain the integrity of the electric grid.

Controls engineer

Controls engineers are tasked with designing systems that regulate operations of machines and manufacturing processes, focusing on safety and efficiency. These systems can be as diverse as electrical grids, motor vehicles, and aerospace components. They also maintain, test, and upgrade existing control systems.

The median annual salary for controls engineers was about $81,300 in February 2023, according to Payscale.

Controls engineers work across industries, creating systems that automate and enhance the efficiency of various machines and processes. They need to be adept in both electrical engineering and systems design, often working closely with other engineering disciplines.

Systems engineer

Systems engineers develop and implement power systems, ranging from internal systems within buildings to entire power grids. They might also work on designing computer systems, chips, or robotics. This role often overlaps with computer science and programming.

As reported by Payscale, the median annual salary for systems engineers was around $84,200 as of February 2023.

A systems engineer’s work is often interdisciplinary, requiring not just electrical engineering skills but also knowledge in other areas like computer science. They are instrumental in integrating various system components to ensure optimal functionality.

Electrical project manager

One of the most challenging electrical engineering careers, electrical project managers supervise the design, construction, and installation of electrical systems in various settings. Their role blends electrical engineering expertise with managerial skills to manage staff, budgets, and schedules.

Payscale’s data indicates that the median annual salary for electrical project managers was about $87,500 in February 2023.

An electrical project manager coordinates and oversees electrical projects, ensuring they are completed on time, within budget, and according to specifications. They need strong leadership and communication skills in addition to their technical knowledge.

Hardware engineer

In the realm of high-performance computing, hardware engineers design and upgrade computer systems and components. They assess user needs, specify requirements, test prototypes, and collaborate with software developers.

The median annual salary for hardware engineers was $91,300 in February 2023, according to Payscale.

A hardware engineer’s role is central to the development of new computer technology. They are involved in the entire hardware design process, from conceptualisation to testing and refinement.

Computer network architect

Computer network architects design, maintain, and secure complex computer networks, such as LANs and intranets, in large organisations. This role requires a blend of electrical engineering and computer science skills, focusing on details like equipment compatibility.

The median salary for computer network architects was $124,300 per year as of February 2023, based on Payscale data.

A computer network architect plays a critical role in ensuring the robustness and efficiency of an organisation’s communication networks. They need to be well-versed in network design, security, and the latest technological advancements in networking.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, electrical engineering careers offer a multitude of different paths, each with its unique challenges and rewards. From the technical intricacies of being a broadcast engineer to the strategic responsibilities of an electrical project manager, these roles showcase the diverse applications of electrical engineering skills. Whether it’s designing cutting-edge hardware, ensuring efficient power distribution, or innovating in telecommunications, electrical engineering graduates have the opportunity to make significant contributions across various sectors. As the industry continues to evolve with technological advancements, the demand for skilled electrical engineers is set to remain strong, offering a promising and dynamic career landscape for those entering the field.