Electrical Engineer Salary: Your 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

If you want a career as an electrical engineer, it helps to know how much you can make. Discover electrical engineer salary ranges and factors that affect them.

[Featured Image]:  An electrical engineer is going over charts and information on the job site.

Electrical engineers are technical professionals who develop the tools, systems, programs, and computer-aided designs that create, maintain, and enhance a wide range of industries and personal enjoyment. They are the experts who design smartphones, electrical systems in vehicles, fiber optics, satellites, and more. 

When choosing a career path, students and new professionals can consider the different levels of salary options for electrical engineers to maximize an upward trajectory toward success. 

How much do electrical engineers make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for electrical engineers in 2021 was $100,420. Salaries for electrical engineers can vary, so it helps to explore salary ranges within different specialties to get a complete picture of what they make. Electrical engineers working in research and development for life sciences companies have a median salary of $125,080. The median salary for engineering services workers is $99,330 (1). Overall, electrical engineers typically earn more than other types of engineers and more than twice the median salary for all jobs in the US. 

That competitive salary makes sense, as electronics and electrical tools have become integral parts of life for both business and pleasure. Millions of people rely on the engineering behind these systems every day. 

Factors affecting salary

Many factors determine what you can expect to earn as an electrical engineer. You can compare experience, education, industry, city, and company factors. From there, it’s also possible to negotiate with potential employers—especially if you have any specialized skills they seek. 

Education

Most professional electrical engineers earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical or electronics engineering. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology oversees 4,361 programs offered by 850 universities and colleges in 41 countries [2]. Earning a master’s or graduate degree in electrical engineering will open up opportunities to work at some universities or in research and development positions. Engineering professors make an average of $135,105 a year [3].

Read more: What Is a Master of Engineering (MEng) Degree?

Certifications

New electrical engineers neither need, nor qualify for state licensure as a Professional Engineer or a PE. However, after earning a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited school, it is possible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Upon passing, you will be known as an Engineer in Training (EIT) or an Engineer Intern (EI). 

Once you have acquired four years of experience, you’ll be eligible to take the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam. If you receive a passing grade, you can apply for state licensure. This will qualify you for higher leadership roles—and a higher salary.

Level of experience 

After years of working in electrical engineering, you may be qualified to work as an electrical engineering manager. These professionals are tasked with planning, directing, and coordinating activities of engineering teams, earning more. The average median salary of electrical engineers in management positions is $152,350 [4]. 

Industry

Electrical engineers can work in many industries, including:

  • Aerospace

  • Automotive

  • Chemical

  • Construction

  • Defense

  • Electronics

  • Consumer Goods

  • Marine

  • Materials & Metals

  • Oil & Gas

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Power Generation

  • Rail

  • Telecommunications

  • Utilities

Employers in corporations, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies also require electrical engineers as employees. 

While supply and demand play a role in determining which industry pays the most for electrical engineers, a 2020 report found that computer hardware engineers, artificial intelligence engineers, and electrical circuit engineers tend to make more money. These professionals earn more than $254,546 a year [5].

Company size

Another critical variable determining electrical engineers' salaries is the company's size. Smaller companies tend to pay less than larger corporations because larger corporations often have a positive balance sheet that allows for flexibility in pay structure. Employers can afford to pay employees more if the company is more stable.

Plus, formalized performance reviews and enhanced responsibility can allow for annual increases. When considering companies, look beyond the initial salary offer. You may have opportunities to earn more once you’ve shown your worth. 

Industry and salary 

Some industries pay more for electrical engineers' expertise, education, and experience. A look at the average annual salaries by industry includes:

  • Architecture and engineering: $103,770

  • Electrical power generation: $108,960

  • Navigational, measuring, and controls manufacturing: $112,390

  • Scientific research and development: $126,590

  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: $121,820

  • Electrical equipment manufacturing: $89,830

  • Communication equipment manufacturing: $112,490

  • Electric lighting equipment manufacturing: $83,070 [6]

Location and salary

Due to the cost of living variables and the location of top-paying companies, some states have salaries for electrical engineering work on average. In 2020, the top 10 states for the best-paying electrical engineering jobs and their average salaries were the following:

  1. Alaska: $119,130

  2. New Jersey: $118,120

  3. Maryland: $116,560

  4. Vermont: $115,460

  5. California: $114,170

  6. Massachusetts: $113,920

  7. Washington: $113,540

  8. New Mexico: $113,050

  9. Rhode Island: $110,360

  10. Virginia: $109,690 [7]

Company and salary

As with all professions, some companies simply pay better than others. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area of Florida, for example, Motorola Mobility offers an average base salary of $133,738, while Aerotex’s average base salary is $110,318. Florida Power & Light offers their electrical engineers $118,283 on average, while the University of Miami pays, on average, $85,217 [8].

Job title variations and salary

Different jobs within the electrical engineering career path also pay differently. Your job title sometimes determines your salary. Some examples of average salaries and job titles in this profession include:

  • Controls engineer: $60,644

  • Project engineer: $77,686

  • Test engineer: $82,745

  • Design engineer: $86,519

  • Electrical engineer: $95,068

  • Communications engineer: $99,134

  • Systems engineer: $99,446

  • Aeronautical engineer: $102,155

  • Electronics engineer: $103,576 [9]

Read more:What Do Electrical Engineers Do?

How to become an electrical engineer: Next steps

To become an electrical engineer, you must complete a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited college or university. In the meantime, you can augment your resume by specializing in specific skill sets that will set you apart from the competition in the job market. An online course can also help you determine what interests you most to focus your training, education, and experience on an enjoyable and lucrative career. 

For example, Energy Production, Distribution, and Safety, a specialization course offered by the University of Buffalo on Coursera, may establish the foundation for a job in the energy industry. Introduction to Electronics, a course offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology on Coursera, can provide you with the basics of electronics to prepare you for more in-depth work.

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Article sources

1

US Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Electrical and Electronics Engineers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm#tab-5." Accessed October 5, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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