College students weighing the pros and cons of selecting the electrical engineering major should make the smart move of inquiring about the field’s employment outlook.
According to the BLS, the United States currently employs 183,770 electrical engineers for a mean annual wage of $98,620, or $47.41 per hour. These engineers specialize in designing, building, and testing electric components used to make everyday appliances from power generators to motors and cell phones. Electrical engineers possess deeply technical skills to properly connect wiring, develop circuitry, implement electronics prototypes, and brainstorm fixes to bugs. Unlike computer engineers, electrical engineers have infinite possibilities creating high-tech devices of all types that improve people’s lives.
Here’s an overview of the hiring outlook for those intrigued by electrical and electronics engineering.
Job Prospects for Electrical Engineers
The Brookings Institution reports that the manufacturing sector’s hiring plummeted from 162,000 to 18,000 between 2014 and 2016 across America. Therefore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that decline in manufacturing will cause sluggish job growth for electrical engineers. More engineering services firms are outsourcing or contracting for these electronics jobs to save their bottom lines. Increased need for R&D to find new technological innovations and more sophisticated devices is the only saving grace for electrical engineers seeking work. Through 2024, it’s expected that the number of electrical engineers will slowly grow from 178,400 to 180,200 for a measly 1 percent uptick of 1,800 positions.
Where Electrical Engineers Find Jobs
Although CareerOneStop lists the employment outlook as cloudy, the website presently compiles 41,662 jobs for electrical engineers. Job creation is less than stellar, but openings will exist because of electrical engineers retiring or leaving the profession. Some companies with the most 2017 job listings include Randstad, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Eaton Corporation, FieldCore, Raytheon, and CBRE, several of which made CNN’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Electrical engineers should begin job searches with firms specialized in electric power generation, navigational manufacturing, automobiles, telecommunications, biomedical services, and computer systems. States with the highest employment levels of electrical engineers are California, Texas, New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
Maximizing Your Employability in Electrical Engineering
Ninety-seven percent of electrical engineers in the U.S. have received post-secondary education beyond a high school diploma. Hopeful electrical engineers have the best job prospects after finishing a four-year Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) at an ABET-accredited college. Several universities offer five-year bachelor’s/master’s programs for electrical engineers to gain supervisory skills. Hiring companies will strongly prefer résumés listing extensive experience, so consider the great internships at Boeing, Saab Defense, Google, Chevron, and Carnegie Robotics. Some might expect grads to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam for the Professional Engineer (PE) credential. Electrical engineers can also network by joining the over 400,000 IEEE members.
Engineering is America’s fifth most popular major according to Niche with 104,762 graduates, but there’s still a shortage in several technical trades. Double-digit job growth is projected in biomedical engineering, petroleum engineering, environmental engineering, and geological engineering. Picking these specialties could better position you for fast job placement after graduation. Yet if you’re really passionate about the inner workings of electronics, don’t give up on electrical engineering because Forbes reports that 25 percent of the field’s current workforce is aged 55 and older.