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What does an Electrical Engineer do?

By Rebecca Partington
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

An electrical engineer focuses on designing, maintaining and improving products that are powered by or produce electricity. Sometimes, an electrical engineer will dedicate his or her time to a single electrical product or type of product, such as motors, generators, wiring or communications systems. He or she often will design, assemble and test new devices. An electrical engineer might work on a single project for more than a year before it is completed and a new project can begin.

Although the terms "electrical engineer" and "electronics engineer" often are used interchangeably, some distinctions can be made. Electrical engineers typically focus on products that supply, generate or transmit electricity. Electronics engineers generally focus on products that use electricity as a power source for their electronics. For example, electronics engineers might design a car's computer system, and electrical engineers would design the car's electrical system that supplies power to the computer system. Sometimes, however, both types of engineers are referred to as electrical engineers.

When beginning a project, an electrical engineer usually starts by determining the intended purpose of the product. He or she will then plan the circuitry and wiring of the electronic components. A prototype generally is built, and extensive tests are conducted on it to make sure that it works as designed and that all of the components work well together. An electrical engineer might test existing products that have malfunctioned or broken to determine what went wrong and whether any design flaws can be corrected. He or she also might test other existing products to identify any problems and determine how their designs can be altered to improve the products.

Often working in a group with other engineers, an electrical engineer must be proficient in the use of a wide array of engineering and design software and a variety of laboratory equipment. He or she also must be able to provide detailed instructions for the manufacture and use of the final product. The engineer often is responsible for overseeing the installation of the product to ensure that it is installed properly and safely. He or she often must create technical drawings, instructions and specifications that can be followed to ensure that the product will be properly installed and correctly operated.

An electrical engineer might spend a significant amount of his or her time meeting with fellow engineers to discuss projects. They often work together to try to come up with solutions to the problems or challenges that they face while working on projects. The engineers might also discuss their research and testing procedures to determine whether they can be improved.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon971002 — On Sep 22, 2014

How much does an engineer make in a month or week?

By anon943988 — On Apr 05, 2014

Does someone become an electrical engineer by degree or by work experience?

By anon940528 — On Mar 18, 2014

I want to study electrical engineering. My question is whats the difference between electrical and electronic engineering? Give me more information about this. Thank you.

By anon930829 — On Feb 06, 2014

What is the importance of civil engineering drawing for an electrical engineer?

By anon339738 — On Jun 26, 2013

I completed electrical engineering and I am very interested in electrical platforms, but I do not know how to get into the electrical field. Can anyone help me?

By anon331866 — On Apr 25, 2013

Why would an electrical engineer work in the IT field? Engineering does not mean punching numbers or writing code. Engineering is a combination of math (30 percent) and physics (70 percent). I saw a lot of my friends working in the IT field and they are electrical engineers.

I am an electrical engineer and I have not found many jobs in our field. People think we also write code. People are so dumb. They do not have any clue that there is a big difference between science and engineering. The biggest joke I have ever seen is software engineering.

There are no major differences between software engineering and computer science. Why do they have different designations?

Another weird thing I found is some people graduated from computer science and their designation is software engineer. Microsoft and Google do it a lot. They made the whole engineering designation a joke. One thing people always forget and I would like to remind them: we do not go to school to make money after we get our degree. The primary reason to go to school is to gain knowledge.

By anon267863 — On May 11, 2012

I studied electrical engineering in college and came out tops but have worked in the first company that hired me as a software analyst for oil and gas maintenance. I wouldn't mind changing jobs, but I fear that I don't have any electrical engineering experience. I can't even defend the first class degree I got! How can I be helped? What books can prepare me for this future?

By anon181897 — On May 31, 2011

thanks and i appreciate it. I am an electrician. how can i earn this experience?

By anon168976 — On Apr 19, 2011

ı think that a genetic engineer is one of the most popular jobs around the world.

By Rashaad McDaniels — On Mar 10, 2011

I just started going to college in order to be an electrical engineer. I have heard that the best way to learn s from experience, I am located in Chicago an I was looking for a place to intern, in Chicago. So if there is anyone out there that knows a place that will let me intern there I will really appreciate it. I am a very good listener, very inquisitive when it comes to learning something I love, great manners, an a very respectable young man.

By anon137822 — On Dec 29, 2010

An electrical engineer is a very rewarding career, however, you must adapt to all changes, from Codes that you must follow, to equipment, such as; Fire Alarm System, Security Systems.

Codes are always changing, therefore, you must be informed of all changes, NEC Calculations are simple yet complicated. There is a lot to learn. The schools do not teach you these things, therefore you learn them on the job, and also from an experienced engineer, if he is willing to teach you.

Learning engineering at your job, requires, patience, willingness to learn, and must of all, love for what you are doing. I have been working on this field for over 35 years, and I took it upon myself to learn and put it into practice. No one wanted to take the time to teach me, therefore, I bought many design books.

I always said you want to be a construction design electrical engineer, you must be an electrician first. Good electrical engineers, with 25 plus years working on the field can command $100,000 to $125,000 a year salary, but you must be prepared to perform.

By anon108479 — On Sep 03, 2010

you study math, then when you work in an electrical company, 50 percent of your time is spent talking to customers.

By anon102615 — On Aug 08, 2010

they make around 88,000 a year.

By anon93152 — On Jul 02, 2010

please, give me more information about electrical engineering.

By anon90186 — On Jun 14, 2010

This is something I'm really good at and i hope to have a career in it. But I'm also curious about the yearly salary.

Interested, but i haven't found what I'm looking for.

By anon78536 — On Apr 19, 2010

i want to study electronics but am in a little bit of doubt. Please give more details.

By anon69962 — On Mar 11, 2010

this is good stuff. keep it up.

By anon68189 — On Mar 01, 2010

I'm looking to go on and study electrical engineering when i have finished my school career. i am in 3rd form at the minute and i am picking my gcse's but the problem is i don't know what to pick.

By anon63909 — On Feb 04, 2010

Discuss the degrees? For what? It's simple: You want a top tier job in engineering? Get a graduate degree.

By anon62442 — On Jan 26, 2010

good job but please try to add a little bit more details on the degrees.

By anon61680 — On Jan 21, 2010

thank you. my nephew is studying electrical engineering in college and this description of his future career was a big help to me.

By anon45186 — On Sep 14, 2009

haven't found what I'm looking for.

By anon36966 — On Jul 15, 2009

woooot this is awsome

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