Electrical engineers are engineers who design and develop electrical equipment. They may also oversee IT manufacture and testing. Electrical engineers create devices that are used in everyday life and can be found in all types of machinery and electronic equipment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 151,660 individuals in the U.S. were employed as electrical engineers in 2009. These engineers made a median salary of $83,110. Extensive coursework leading to a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become an electrical engineer.
General Education Courses
As part of a degree program leading to a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, students wanting to become an electrical engineer will need to complete general education courses during their first two years of undergraduate studies. Most degree programs require students to take foundational courses in psychology, speech and communication, English, history and other areas of the humanities. These courses are generally required to provide students with a background in a wide variety of fields and to provide a foundation for further study later on.
Advanced Science Courses
Electrical engineers need to have a strong background in the various physical sciences in order to be successful in their career. In addition to the basic required courses in the physical and biological sciences, electrical engineering students need to take courses in physics and applied quantum physics, as well as courses in chemistry. Electrical engineers need a broad background in the sciences to be successful in their career.
Math is the one area in which electrical engineers need to excel the most, outside of their specific engineering courses. Electrical engineering students generally take many different courses in mathematics throughout the course of their degree program. Students can generally expect to take at least three calculus courses as well as coursework covering differential equations. Courses covering statistics and linear algebra are also common for electrical engineering majors.
Electronics and Engineering Courses
The remainder of the coursework for electrical engineers typically consists of a combination of basic engineering and electrical engineering courses. Aside from courses in introductory electrical engineering, students typically complete courses in areas like linear electrical circuits, the fundamentals of circuit analysis, analog and digital electronics, electronics principles, embedded microcomputer systems, magnetic and electrical fields and systems and signals, among others. Some schools offer specializations in various areas of electrical engineering like power and alternative energy systems, electro-mechanical systems and digital and embedded systems.