what is an electrical engineer?

An electrical engineer deals with electronics, power, control systems and signal processing. You apply physics and mathematics to design and develop electronics. You rely on computer-aided design (CAD) to create schematics for electrical components and create simulations illustrating the system functions of electrical devices. You also carry out maintenance and test if the devices work properly.

what does an electrical engineer do?

As an electrical engineer, you work in various industries, including power generation stations, telecommunications companies and instrumentation development companies.

Despite their differences in specialisation, all electrical engineers keep electrical systems up and running in organisations. They make sure that all systems are well maintained and perform system upgrades promptly. These engineers are responsible for planning and initiating electrical projects. Once a project is underway, they participate in the development process to the final installation. Furthermore, electrical engineers offer continuous guidance to company management on all electrical issues and supervise other electrical technicians.

You need various skills to become an electrical engineer, from basic circuit theory to project management skills. You also require specialised tools like simple voltmeters, high-end analysers and advanced design and manufacturing software.

Would working as an electrical engineer suit your project management skills and mathematical aptitude? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an electrical engineer role.

electrical engineer jobs

electrical engineer salary

The median compensation package for an electrical engineer according to National Careers is £20,000 per year at entry-level. When you are experienced, your earnings can rise to over £60,000 annually. You also receive various benefits like medical insurance, life insurance and bonuses. You'll get paid at higher rates if you work overtime.

factors that affect the salary of electrical engineers

As an electrical engineer, your pay fluctuates depending on the work and meticulousness required to make the systems operational and safe. Different specialisations attract diverse wages since some roles are more complex. For instance, you are likely to earn more if you specialise in manufacturing than power engineering. Your experience and educational levels also boost your salary. A professional electrical engineer earns more than a graduate trainee.

Working for private companies pays more than the public sector. The company you work for also dictates your take-home salary. For instance, electrical engineers dealing with research and development projects have better salary prospects than those providing regular maintenance services.

Manual labour
Manual labour

types of electrical engineers

Electrical engineering is a broad field where you can specialise in different categories depending on your preference. Here are some types of electrical engineers:

  • electronic engineers: as an electronic engineer, you design electrical components, such as circuit boards, for different devices and machines. Those who deal in very small components are known as microelectronic engineers.
  • power systems engineers: as a power systems engineer, you work in electricity production plants and are responsible for electricity generation, distribution and monitoring.
  • telecommunication engineers: as a telecommunication engineer, you develop, install and maintain telecommunications systems and equipment.
  • computer engineers: as a computer engineer with a background in electrical engineering, you work with software developers to develop computer hardware and software.
  • signal processing engineers: your job is to analyse and alter digital signals to improve accuracy and reliability. You also regularly update digital signals for radiofrequency designs, military applications and biomedical signal processing.

working as an electrical engineer

Working as an electrical engineer involves the application of physics to design, develop and control electricity and electronics. Here's a breakdown of electrical engineers' responsibilities, work environment, schedule and job expectations.


education & qualifications

To become an electrical engineer, you need to be adept and knowledgeable in the science disciplines, primarily mathematics and physics. Some of the ways to join the field include:

  • university degree: you need to pursue a degree in electrical or electronic engineering. You can also join the profession with a degree in applied physics, mechatronics and electro-mechanical engineering. Alternatively, pursue a college course like Level 4 or 5 Higher National Diploma in electrical engineering.
  • apprenticeship: an apprenticeship in electrical engineering takes 4 to 6 years. You can choose to pursue an electro-mechanical engineer higher apprenticeship or electrical technical support degree apprenticeship.

skills and competencies

Some qualities for success in electrical engineering include:

  • professional skills: you need to be conversant in all relevant theories and applications for the success of your engineering projects in terms of design, production and safety. These include mathematics, circuit design, project development and maintenance of electrical systems. Apart from basic engineering education, you need to prepare projects effectively. The relevant skills you require in this case include sketching, drafting and budgeting for large and small projects.
  • people skills: electrical engineers have to be good leaders. You need to ensure your engineers and technicians do everything properly and meet deadlines. You also need good communication skills. Electrical engineers collaborate with peers and people inside and outside the profession, such as clients. Therefore, you should be able to break down technical terms and communicate other details in an accessible manner.
  • problem-solving skills: problems tend to occur in the course of engineering work. Therefore, you need sound problem-solving skills to solve the problems and troubleshoot issues.


FAQs about working as an electrical engineer.

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