Electrical Engineer Career Profile

Electrical engineers work in all industries, either as employees or as contractors. Electrical engineers are always in demand and their work is universal. Their work includes inventing and designing systems, and creating the electrical schematics for new machines and power systems. Electrical engineers are involved in every aspect of electrical design, from the basic home appliance up to interplanetary orbiters. They also design things like the new, fast electric cars, and even the energy grids that power their designs.

The work environment

There are two basic work environments for electrical engineers: Self employment and as technical staff of organizations. Most work in the technical staff role, but some are independent contractors, usually as designers. 

A Days Work  

A new factory's production line requires an electrical system for all its machinery. An electrical engineering firm is commissioned to design the entire system from the ground up, working in conjunction with the architects who designed the new factory. 

A senior electrical engineer is appointed to coordinate the design, with a staff of five other electrical engineers. Using the architectural plans, and the schematics for the production line systems, the system is designed for maximum efficiency. The factory owners also want a separate generator system in case of power failure, which will require its own housing wiring and connections. The architect creates a space for the generator system on the revised architectural plan to accommodate the generator. 

There are several primary design issues:

  • The machinery used in production and its layout on the factory floor: The functional aspects of the production line require extensive electrical plans. 
  • Statutory requirements for electrical connections and safety: These require detailed CAD plans to be submitted for approval. 
  • Power systems for the machinery: These are mechanical systems, and their power requirements are very important to the system design. 
  • Alternative wiring for the generator backup system: This is a separate plan, requiring that the generator is powerful enough to replace the grid power when required.

Separate plans for each element of the design must be prepared on CAD plans. Issues for the design include cutoff switches, fusing, and hooking up system monitors, so the production can be monitored in real time. Each part of the new design is tested after completion to ensure performance. The electrical engineering firm also provides technical support for the client after installation. 

Wages and hours

The average engineer will earn $65,000- $120,000. Income can also be based on contracts. Some design elements may involve intellectual property rights. 

Also, the hours worked will typically be standard hours, but often dependent on job requirements. 

The career environment

Electrical engineers have very high job mobility, with an ongoing demand for their services. Career advancement is based largely on skills, specializations and qualifications. An industrial electrical systems designer can also operate as an independent contractor, which may involve very large contracts. 

The career path can be exceptionally rewarding. As a consultant, a senior electrical engineer in advanced systems design may be involved in the creation of whole new design concepts, working with brand new technology.