Choosing what degree to study is a major decision for anybody, no matter how old you are when you make it. Studying for a degree is an investment. Students are required to invest both time and money into their studies in the hopes that the qualification they earn will help them to find the job and career path that speaks to them the most. We all know people who have gone to university to study a particular degree, absolutely certain that it is the right path for them, only to later discover that the subject doesn't speak to them in the way that they thought it did.
Electrical engineering is a degree worth considering for a number of different reasons - not least of all that you are unlikely to regret it.
Excellent Future Prospects
For degrees that are designed to maintain a constant flow of new graduates into working roles within an industry, their restrictive nature can limit graduate options for the future. Degrees that are designed as part of the pathway into a very specific job or profession often have limited value outside of that one pathway. Electrical engineering graduates don't face this issue.
Electrical engineers are needed in such a wide variety of applications that graduates can pretty much choose whatever niche or industry they favor the most and look for career opportunities within it. Below are some of the most popular career paths for electrical engineers to traverse. This list is by no means exhaustive.
● Electronic engineer: In general, electronic engineers are responsible for the research, design, and creation of electronic systems. If this sounds like a broad remit that's because it is. Electronic engineers are needed in fields as diverse as telecommunications, medicine, acoustics, video game console design, propulsion control. The list is essentially endless - if there are electronic devices or systems in play, and electronic engineer is needed to design them.
Note that there is a subtle difference, at least in North America, between an electronic engineer and an electrical engineer. Where the two terms are used interchangeably, the difference is that an electrical engineer takes care of entire electrical systems, whereas an electronics engineer hones in on specific components. While they often work together, they are generally involved at different points in the process. An electrical engineer will often oversee electronics engineers, although one role is not necessarily more senior than the other.
● Microelectronics engineer: A Microelectronics engineer is a specialist within the subfield of electronics. Microelectronics engineers are involved in the study and the production or microfabrication of very small electronic components. Microelectronics were once the absolute cutting-edge of research in electronics, but they are gradually becoming more common. The ability to very precisely manufacture very small electronics has now been surpassed by the advent of nanomachines and self-assembling nanostructures .
● Signal processing engineer: The job of a signal processing engineer is to take the signals and alter them in some way so that they are more accurate and reliable. This is another deliberately vague description - the term ‘signal’ is much broader than many people realize and signal processing engineers are working behind the scenes in a variety of different industries. For example, signal processing is needed for the speech recognition that underpins virtual assistants, they are also needed for image and speech recognition - both important and active areas of current research. There are also innumerable space and military roles for signal processing engineers .
This is just a small sliver of the multitude of careers that are out there for qualified electrical engineers. Both electronic and electrical engineers are increasingly finding roles within the telecommunications industry, they are also needed to shape the development of better instrumentation design and results processing.
Opportunities To Help Other People
For many of us, sustainable job satisfaction has felt like a pipe dream for most of our lives. Life far too often feels like it is forcing us to choose between a job that we enjoy and one that can reliably pay the bills. And yet we know that job satisfaction does exist because there are so many people around the world who are enjoying their job right now.
One of the careers that constantly scores the highest for job satisfaction is nursing. No one would argue that nursing is an easy or stress-free job, but despite the significant challenges that nurses face, the profession continues to provide rewarding work and retains staff for the duration of their careers. A big part of this, as backed up by myriad studies and interviews on the subject, is because nursing is so rewarding. Nurses are able to make a difference in their patients' lives in a way that most people will never be able to achieve with their customers or clients.
Electrical engineering has plenty to offer the world of healthcare and nursing, and this represents just one of the many ways that a career in electrical engineering can enable you to make a real difference in people's lives.
● Medical devices: There isn't much overlap between people who have a solid understanding of electrical engineering and people who have a solid grasp of human biology and medicine. As a result, medical devices are conceived of, designed, and put into production by people from both of these groups working together. Electrical Engineers can choose to specialize in medical device manufacturing or can even study a medical degree to supplement their electrical engineering degree.
In either case, there are boundless opportunities for Electrical Engineers who want to get involved in making a real difference to other people's lives to work in fields like medical device design and manufacture. One very promising area of current research is that of mobility-enhancing devices.
● Green energy projects: With the climate crisis rapidly going from a hypothetical problem for the future to deal with something that is very much with us in the here-and-now, there are lots of people looking to dedicate their professional lives to fighting climate change. This is driven by the same impulses that lead people to pursue a career in fields like nursing, except that some, electrical engineers included, are able to help a huge number of people simultaneously.
While fighting climate change will require more than just investing in technology, we need societal level adjustments to people's attitudes and we need them to happen fast, there is no doubt that technology has a role to play in both mitigating the effects of climate change and preventing us from exacerbating them. Electrical engineers are the people who will ultimately design the electronics that underpin in this technology, regardless of how simple or complicated it might be.
● Restoring mobility and independence: Over the course of human history, our capabilities with regards to artificial limbs have gone from crude wooden limbs to the realistic smart limbs we see today. We live in an age where artificial limbs that “wire in” with the body’s own neurological network to provide a realistic replacement for a biological limb are becoming a reality.
If this is the kind of thing that you would like to do as an electrical engineer then you should check out Kettering University Online - the online arm of Kettering University . This course covers advanced mobility, AI, and robotics, among other things.
When most people think of careers that involve helping other people, their minds tend to go to the frontline roles that involve working directly with patients in a hospital. But as noble as this work is, there are plenty of auxiliary staff working behind the scenes who are just as important. Similarly, there are people who, however incompetently or deftly, oversee multiple medical facilities on behalf of the state or private healthcare businesses. When these people do their jobs right, they are able to make a difference to potentially millions of people.
Electrical engineers can similarly be involved in the kind of work that, while rarely acknowledged, improves the quality of life for large numbers of people simultaneously. If helping people other people is something you are passionate about, this is a career path worth considering.
Excellent Starting Salaries
When all’s said and done, we all want to get a decent wage for the work that we do, whatever it may be. Careers like those in electrical engineering that require workers to first invest their time and money in earning a degree need to be able to justify the barriers to entry. In the case of an electrical engineering graduate, you will be entering the marketplace with a versatile degree. Perhaps you even have a specialty attached - you don’t necessarily have to stick with that specialty, of course.
If you have a specialty and get a job that utilizes your specialty, then you will usually be able to command a higher salary. But even if not - electronics are everywhere and we are always going to need people to design and maintain those devices and the systems that they comprise.
Electrical engineering is a future-roof industry and a smart career choice for any forward-thinking student who is good with numbers. If you want to work in a role that enables you to help other people, there are plenty available. Equally, if you just want to get paid good money for electronic engineering work, you will find lots of high-paying opportunities.