Electrical Engineers research, design and develop products that use electronics, for example, telecommunications systems, computers, lasers, satellite systems, radar and television.
Electrical Engineers are involved in the generation, supply and use of electricity.
Also known as
- Engineer, Electronics/Electrical
Video: - Allan: Electrical Engineer
As an Electrical Engineer, you will work as part of a team to research, design or develop electronic products. To produce an image of an electronic product you are working on, you'll use computer-aided design (CAD) technology.
Then, you can begin to build a model (a prototype) of the new product, or a version of an existing product. You'll carefully test how the model works and change your design, if necessary.
When the prototype is fully tested and ready, you will now become responsible for producing samples of the new model in a laboratory, and then overseeing the start of production on a large scale.
You will also be responsible for dealing with any problems that come up during production.
There are many different types or speciality of Electrical Engineer, including:
- Microelectronics Engineer - designs and works tiny electronic circuit components
- Signal Processing Engineer - deals with digital or analogue signals
- Telecommunications Engineer - specialise in working on communications technology, such as mobile phones, internet, email, satellite and cable systems
- Instrumentation Engineer - specialises in the design of measuring devices, used for measuring pressure, slow and temperature. You will need a great knowledge of physics
Developing an electronic product usually involves the Electrical Engineer working closely with other people, such as Design Engineers, and marketing and sales departments. You'll also work with clients to discuss their personal requirements and to explain the development of the product.
Some Electrical Engineers design electrical industrial machinery and supervise the installation of heating, ventilating and lighting systems.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Electrical Engineer, you need:
- to have technical ability and good computer skills
- to be willing to keep up to date with any advances in technology
- to be able to work as part of a team
- good communication skills for writing technical reports and liaising with other staff and customers
- organisational skills to plan and co-ordinate resources
- the ability to pay close attention to detail
- an understanding of electrical health and safety regulations
- an analytical and logical mind to help with solving problems
- to remain calm under pressure, as you often work to deadlines
- a willingness to take on responsibility, and to lead and motivate others
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £23,500 - £26,000
- With experience: £28,500 - £33,500
- Senior Electrical Engineers earn £36,000 - £39,500
Hours of work
Most Electrical Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, early starts, late finishes and some weekend work may be required.
Where could I work?
Employers are firms in a variety of industries, including engineering manufacturing, electricity generation and distribution, communications, transportation, chemical, water, and marine and offshore industries.
There are also opportunities within the public sector, the armed forces and computer manufacturers.
Opportunities for Electrical Engineers occur throughout the UK.
This career could involve working for an
Some Electrical Engineers work as self-employed, independent consultants.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).
GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Entry Routes and Training
Normally, employers will expect you to have a HND, HNC or a degree in order to go straight into this career. However, if you are thinking about leaving school after finishing your A levels, you could consider getting a lower level job and training within the industry you intend to specialise in. You might be able to get onto a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area.
Then, once you have gained relevant industry skills and experience, you might be able to apply for Electrical Engineer positions.
After completing your A levels, you might be able to get onto a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship in a relevant area.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
If you would like some training, then BTEC offer a level 3 diploma in electronic engineering. This course has a mixture of mandatory and optional units which include:
- health and safety
- communications for Engineering Technicians
- engineering projects
- mathematics for Engineering Technicians
- electrical and electronic principles
- engineering design
- electrical technology
- construction and applications of digital systems
- electronic fault finding
- electrical installations
- principles and applications of microcontrollers
Other courses could be available in your area.
Depending on your qualifications and experience, you can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of engineering projects and teams of engineers.
Some engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.
Previous experience working in the engineering industry (mechanical, chemical or electrical) would be really useful for this career.
The usual entry requirements for a degree in electrical and electronic engineering are:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
- maths and a science or technology subject, eg, physics or electronics, are normally required at A level
- English, maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above
To get onto an Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need at least 2 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.
Other qualifications are often accepted, such as:
- BTEC level 3 - electronic engineering
- BTEC level 3 - electrical technologies theory
- BTEC level 3 - electrical engineering
- City & Guilds level 3 - electrotechnical technology
- International Baccalaureate Diploma
Check college/university websites carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Engineering) could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education (HE). No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
London South Bank University offers an HNC and HND in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, via part-time evening study.
Numerous institutions offer part-time degrees, or postgraduate degrees, in Electronic Engineering.
London College UCK offers an HNC and HND in Electronic/Electrical Engineering, via distance learning.
The University of Portsmouth offers a BEng (Hons) in Electronic Systems Engineering, via distance learning. However you will need to have a relevant HND, Foundation Degree, or have started studying for a full-time relevant degree, in order to get onto this course.
Information on pathways to registration as a Chartered (CEng) or Incorporated (IEng) Engineer can be found on the Engineering Council's website.
Sponsorship for higher education study is available (in several branches of engineering) from the larger engineering and manufacturing companies.
Funding for postgraduate study is available through universities from some research councils, especially the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Grants and scholarships for study of accredited degrees, and fellowships for postgraduate courses, are available from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
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Getting into Engineering Courses
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Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)
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Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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Tel: 01793 444000
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
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Electrical Careers - The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership