Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.
Communications Technologist, Electrical Engineering Technician, Electrical Technician, Electronics Engineering Technician, Electronics Technician, Engineering Technician (Engineering Tech), Engineering Technologist, System Technologist, Technologist
Electronics engineers typically do the following:
- Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
- Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
- Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
- Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
- Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
- Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance
Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.
The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.
Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.
Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.
Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.
Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.
Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.
Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.
Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.
- Engineering services
- Electric power generation, transmission and distribution
- Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing
- Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences
- Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing
High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.
Electrical and electronics engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or a related engineering field. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.
Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experiences and are growing in number.
At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.