The development of Electrical Engineering started with little experiments that involved batteries and static charges.
Later on, Michael Faraday, André-Marie Ampére, Charles Siemens, Thomas Edison, and Nicola Tesla made history in the Electrical Engineering field with their inventions. Today, Electrical Engineering is present almost everywhere around us.
Did you know that every time you use any electronic device, the hard work of an electrical engineer is behind it? You use your smartphone, computer, or heat your meal in the microwave — all these things were made possible with the help of the ingenious minds of electrical engineers.
If you were that kid that always wanted to fix things and were (and probably still are) curious how everything works, from television sets to computers, or even cars, then maybe you should consider studying an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering.
What do electrical engineers do?
Electrical Engineering is a field of study that deals with the design, development, testing and the supervision of the whole process of manufacturing electrical equipment, devices, and systems such as electric motors, navigation and communications systems, power generation equipment, etc.
Steps in building an electrical device:
- Establish what the new device/system is meant to do.
- Design all the components of the electronics, usually with the help of a computer.
- Create a prototype, then test it and fix eventual bugs.
However, the work of an electrical engineer involves a lot more than sitting in a lab and testing devices all day long. Often times, electrical engineers work in a team, keeping contact with clients, and certain sub-fields of Engineering (e.g. Power Generation) include plenty of field work.
Undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering in the U.S.
First things first. Before you become an electrical engineer, you need to get the right undergraduate degree. Look for a college or university that offers studies in Electrical Engineering.
If you’re a high-school graduate and consider Electrical Engineering as a major, you’d better have strong knowledge of Math and Physics, as this field relies heavily on these subjects.
An Electrical Engineering study programme in the U.S. usually takes 4 years to complete. Students can expect to take classes in:
- Digital Circuit Logic and Analysis
- Signals and Systems
- Digital Signal Processing
- Computer Modelling
- Electromagnetic Theory
You can also complete your education faster with an associate degree, which usually takes around two years to finish and provides enough training to begin an entry-level engineering job in the States or abroad.
Although some of them have a vocational emphasis, associate degrees in Electrical Engineering don’t focus on a speciality or major, they simply offer a basic understanding of electrical engineering mechanics, circuitry, and industrial systems.
Top-ranked electrical engineering schools in the U.S.
According to the U.S. News Global University Ranking, these are the best American colleges and universities providing Electrical and Electronic Engineering degrees:
- University of Texas, Austin
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Princeton University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
- Stanford University
- New York University (NYU)
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Virginia Tech
- University of Houston
Main reasons to study Electrical Engineering in the USA
Deciding to study Electrical Engineering (in fact any Engineering field) in the U.S. will most likely prove to be beneficial, both in terms of academic education and future career opportunities.
Let's look at some of the most important advantages of studying Electrical Engineering here:
- The USA has over 345 universities approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the national organisation that ensures standard competence among Engineering colleges.
- The United States is a world leader in most areas of Engineering and Technology, including research in both of these fields. As an Engineering student in U.S., you will have access to the most advanced technology and research resources and might even get the chance to meet and work along with leading professionals in the Electrical Engineering field. For example, some of the current students enrolled in Electrical Engineering undergraduate programs work with NASA's Research Centre.
- You can help develop some of the greatest inventions that will change our future, like a flying car. If you think that is too far in the future, some U.S. companies have already started their research in this area.
- Graduates have plenty of job opportunities. Actually, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the job outlook for electrical engineers shows a 3% predicted increase between 2019 and 2029.
Highest paying electrical engineering jobs in the U.S.
Like in any other Engineering field, Electrical Engineering graduates have the chance to secure high paying jobs.
Whether you decide to stay in the U.S. after you finish your studies and develop a career here, or you would rather work abroad, the international job market is very promising and full of offers. Just keep in mind that both career opportunities and salaries will increase if you continue your education and pursue a graduate degree (Master's) in Engineering.
Now, let's look at some of the highest paying electrical engineering jobs in America. We've also included a few general tasks and responsibilities to give you a better idea of what each job implies:
Electrical Engineering Technician – 44,700 USD/year
- Diagnose, fix, and maintain electrical equipment and systems
- Order and install new components; replace malfunctioning components and make sure they are recycled or properly disposed of
- Research new troubleshooting methods and tools
Entry-level Electrical Engineer – 73,300 USD/year
- Check electrical equipment specifications to ensure inter-compatibility
- Review information from vendors and test various components, gadgets, and systems
- Write detailed reports about your activity, findings, and conclusions
Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor – 84,400 USD/year
- Develop a proper Electrical Engineering curriculum and study plan, in accordance with the current needs of students and the demands of the job market
- Provide academic counselling, tutoring, and overall support to students
- Evaluate students' assignments, tests, and academic progress
Senior Electrical Engineer – 90,300 USD/year
- Develop, upgrade, test, and maintain electrical components, systems, and machinery
- Provide mentoring to new apprentices and supervise other (electrical) engineers
- Conduct research and create detailed reports
Electrical Engineering Manager – 115,200 USD/year
- Manage and supervise all electrical engineering activities within various organisations
- Create and update procedures related to design, testing, maintenance, and safety
- Approve new designs, policies, and components
In conclusion, if you would like to continue the work of former (and current) electrical engineers and help millions of people every day by creating many of the electrical components in consumer goods, computer systems, power plants, and so on, start your engine and contact a U.S. college or university to enrol in a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering.