Is becoming an electrical engineer right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming an electrical engineer is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an electrical engineer or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become an Electrical Engineer
Becoming an electrical engineer requires a combination of education, practical experience, and professional licensure. Here are the general steps to becoming an electrical engineer:
- Education: The first step towards becoming an electrical engineer is to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from an accredited college or university. The program typically takes four years to complete and covers subjects such as circuit analysis, digital systems design, electromagnetics, and control systems.
- Internships and Co-Op programs: During your undergraduate degree program, it is beneficial to gain practical experience in the field through internships or co-op programs. This will give you the opportunity to apply your classroom knowledge to real-world problems and gain valuable skills and experience.
- Professional Licensure: In order to practice as a professional electrical engineer, you will need to become licensed in the state where you plan to work. This typically requires passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, gaining four years of professional experience, and passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.
- Continuing Education: Electrical engineering is a rapidly evolving field, and it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends. Continuing education courses and professional development opportunities are available through professional organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
- Specialization: Electrical engineering is a broad field, and many electrical engineers choose to specialize in a particular area such as power generation and distribution, telecommunications, or electronics. Advanced degrees, such as a master's or doctorate, may be necessary to specialize in certain areas of electrical engineering.
There are several certifications that electrical engineers can pursue to enhance their skills, demonstrate expertise, and improve their career prospects. Some notable certifications include:
- Professional Engineer (PE) License: The PE license is a widely recognized credential for electrical engineers in the United States. It signifies that the engineer has met the necessary education, experience, and examination requirements to practice as a licensed professional engineer. State-specific exams are typically required.
- Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional (CESCP): Offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the CESCP certification focuses on electrical safety standards, codes, and practices. It is particularly relevant for electrical engineers involved in safety compliance, risk assessment, and electrical systems design.
- National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET): NICET offers certifications for various engineering technology disciplines, including electrical and electronics engineering technology. These certifications validate a technician's proficiency in areas such as electronics systems and industrial control systems.
- Project Management Professional (PMP): While not specific to electrical engineering, the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is valuable for engineers involved in project management roles. It demonstrates proficiency in project management principles, a skillset important for overseeing engineering projects.
- Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) Certifications: BICSI offers certifications related to information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure design and installation. Certifications like the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) may be relevant for electrical engineers working in data communication and networking.
- Certified Automation Professional (CAP): Issued by the International Society of Automation (ISA), the CAP certification is designed for professionals involved in the design and implementation of automation and control systems. It's relevant for electrical engineers working in industrial automation.
- Certified Energy Manager (CEM): The Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) and the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO) offer the CEM certification. It is suitable for electrical engineers involved in energy management, efficiency, and sustainability initiatives.