Electronics Engineers Overview
Electronics engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in engineering to begin work, but some research jobs require a masters degree. The job outlook for electronics engineers is good as employment is expected to grow at an average rate. Starting salaries are usually some of the highest among all college graduates. Electronics engineers must complete continuing education throughout their careers to keep up with changing technology.
Nature of the Work for Electronics Engineers
Electronics engineers use math and science to determine economical solutions to technical problems. They link science and commercial applications to meet societal and consumer needs.
Often, electronics engineers develop new products considering several factors. They may specify precise functional requirements, design and test components, produce a final design and evaluate that design’s cost, safety, reliability and effectiveness.
In addition to development and design, electronics engineers often work in maintenance, production or testing. They may determine the cause of malfunction, test for quality or supervise factory production. At the supervisory level, electronics engineers oversee major components or entire projects.
Computers are used extensively by electronics engineers. They simulate and test system operations, produce and analyze designs, control efficiency and monitor quality. Nanotechnology is now introducing new principles to the design process as well.
From global positioning systems (GPS) to portable music players, electronics engineers are responsible for a variety of technologies. They design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing process of electronic equipment including broadcast and communications systems. The work of electronics engineers is often closely related to computers, but those who work exclusively on computer hardware are classified as computer hardware engineers. Specialties for electronics engineers include aviation electronics, control systems, communications or signal processing.
Electronics engineers usually work in labs, factories or offices. Some spend time at production sites and others travel her and abroad to plants or worksites.
Most electronics engineers work a 40-hour workweek, but when deadlines or design standards bring pressure, longer hours are common.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Electronics Engineers
For entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering is usually required of electronics engineers. A natural science degree or mathematics degree can qualify some grads for electronics engineer positions. Even with an electrical and electronics engineering degree, typically electronics engineers can also work in civil engineering or mechanical engineering. The flexibility is helpful for employers needing to staff up and employees trying to find the best jobs.
Most electronics engineers also must take math, science, general engineering, design, computer and laboratory classes as well. Even social science and humanities are often required.
Beyond the standard engineering degree, an engineering technology degree is offered, both 2 and 4-year programs. These programs prepare graduates with skills somewhere in between those of an engineer and a technician. They often work on practical design and production work, with hands on classes, more than jobs that require more theoretical and scientific knowledge.
For electronics engineers, 4-year programs sometimes take 5 years to complete. The first two years are dedicated to core curriculum, while the second two years focus on engineering and a specialty. Some universities offer a 5 year master degree program and some offer a special 5- or 6-year program that combines classroom work with practical work so students can gain experience and finance part of their education.
All 50 states require electronics engineers who offer services directly to the public to be licensed as professional engineers (PEs). Requirements include graduating from college program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), 4 years of relevant work experience and the completion of a state exam. Recent grads can complete the process in two steps, taking one exam at upon graduation to become an engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI) and then taking the second exam and suitable work experience is completed.
Creativity, an inquisitive and analytical mind as well as being detail oriented are all good qualifications for electronics engineers. They also need to be able to work on a team and communicate both orally and in writing. Those working for the Federal Government usually must be a US citizen and may need to hold a security clearance.
At the entry level most electronics engineers work under a more experience engineer and may even receive on the job education. With experience and skills, they can take on more challenging projects and have more independence. Some electronics engineers become technical specialists or supervisors. Others become managers or take on jobs in sales in which they can discuss technical aspects of a product and help plan, install and use products.
A variety of professional certifications are available to electronics engineers. They may be beneficial for those looking to advance to senior technical or managerial positions.
Top 10 Most Popular Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering Schools
1. Georgia Institute of Technology, Main Campus (Atlanta, Georgia)
2. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
3. The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)
4. University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign (Champaign, Illinois)
5. University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
6. Stanford University (Stanford, California)
7. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Pomona, California)
8. University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
9. North Carolina State University at Raleigh (Raleigh, North Carolina)
10. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York)
Most Popular Online Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering Schools
1. DeVry University - Online School
2. Arizona State University - Online School
3. University of Florida - Online School
4. ECPI University - Online
5. Ellis University
6. Keller Graduate School of Management - Online School
Employment and Job Outlook for Electronics Engineers
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to little or no change (decrease or increase by 2%).
About 1.6 million engineers are employed and 143,700 are electronics engineers. Most jobs are found in manufacturing industries, professional, scientific and technical services industries (primarily architectural, engineering and related services), construction, telecommunications and wholesale trade. Government agencies employed about 12 percent of engineers and 3 percent were self-employed.
Employment for electronics engineers is expected to experience little to no change. Yes, there is a rising demand for electronic goods that should increase demand for electronics engineers including defense-related equipment, consumer products, medical electronics and communications equipment. Unfortunately, foreign competition in electronics development and the fact that more and more companies are outsourcing engineering services will limit employment growth for electronics engineers and can make them more vulnerable to layoffs during slow periods. Service-providing industries, such as firms that provide design and engineering services, will experience the fastest growth. Some jobs will also become available as electronics engineers leave jobs or retire.
Throughout their careers electronics engineers must continue their education as employers rely on the to keep up with the latest technology. Those electronics engineers that fail to keep current in the industry won’t be able to deliver the best solutions to their employers and may be at a disadvantage when seek promotions or new jobs.
Earnings and Salary for Electronics Engineers
Electronics engineers earn median annual salaries of $89,310. The highest 10 percent earn above $133,350, the lowest 10 percent earn below $56,860 and the middle 50 percent earn between $70,480 and $110,390. Average starting salaries for electronics engineers were $60,125, some of the highest entry-level wages among bachelor’s degree graduates.
Annual Salary for Electronics Engineers
On average, Electronics Engineers earn $89,310 per year.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook