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How to Become an Electronics Engineer

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Electronic Engineer

What electronics engineers do

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), the work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is not dissimilar. They employ similar tools to help them perform engineering tasks and both often must collaborate with other types of engineers on projects.

There are differences, however. Electronics engineers typically perform the following tasks:

  • Create electronic parts or systems for various applications
  • Study the requirements of electrical systems and devise a system-wide strategy
  • Establish procedures to maintain electronic components and equipment
  • Appraise and recommend whether to repair or make design modifications to systems
  • Ensure electronic equipment and systems meet safety requirements and in compliance with regulations
  • Design applications and suggest changes to improve the performance of electronics found in parts and systems

Electrical engineers generally do the following:

  • Innovate methods for using electrical power in the creation and enhancement of products
  • Perform calculations to assist in meeting standards of manufacturing, construction and installation
  • Oversee product-building procedures to ensure that completed product is up to code and meets all requirements
  • Research complaints, analyze what is problematic, and suggest ways to rectify
  • Collaborate on projects with those who manage them to ensure they are completed in an acceptable, cost-effective and timely manner

How to become an electronics engineer

High-school students interested in pursuing electrical or electronics engineering should take courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Drafting courses may also come in handy when it comes time to prepare technical drawings, which these engineers are commonly tasked with doing.

According to the BLS, electrical and electronics engineers usually are required to have a bachelor’s degree. Degree programs should be accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Graduates of cooperative engineering programs—whereby students earn academic credit for structured work experience—may have a leg up on the competition, as employers also value practical experience. Obtaining a professional engineer (PE) license may also improve an engineer’s employment opportunities and is especially beneficial for those working in companies with government contracts at all levels.

The steps may vary, but in general, the path to becoming an electronics or electrical engineer may include the following steps:

  • Earn a high-school diploma or GED
  • Enroll and complete a program of study in electronics or electrical engineering that offers the opportunity to gain relevant work experience while earning academic credit at a college or university
  • Apply for employment

For more information about becoming licensed as a professional electrical or electronics engineer, visit NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying).

Additional certifications, training or education may be required and no employment is guaranteed.

Career outlook for electronics engineers

National employment of electronics engineers is expected to grow by up to 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. Electrical and electronics engineers’ adaptability with emerging technologies has contributed to this expected job growth. The decline of many manufacturing areas in which electrical and electronics engineers are employed could temper employment growth, however.

Per the BLS, the national annual wage of electrical engineers (excluding computer hardware engineers) was $91,500 median in 2011 with the lowest-paid 10-percent making up to $58,870 nationally and the highest-paid 10-percent making up to $139,500 nationally.

Quick Facts: Electronics Engineers

*All facts from BLS.gov*

2011 National Median Pay      $91,500 per year
$43.99 per hour
Entry-Level Education   Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training        None
Number of Jobs, 2011     136,310
Job Outlook, 2010-20      5% nationally (Slower than national average)
Employment Change, 2010-20       6,800

     

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172072.htm

NCEES, Advancing Licensure for Engineers and Surveyors, http://www.ncees.org/

ABET, http://www.abet.org/

 

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