What Do Electrical Engineers Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

An electrical engineer specialises in building, testing, installing, and maintaining electrical equipment and systems.

[Featured image] An electrical engineer works on a project with her laptop computer.

Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, upgrade, and maintain electrical systems and equipment. The science of electricity applies to small and large projects, from household appliances or car transmissions to satellite communications systems or renewable energy power grids.

In this industry, your day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Designing electrical products and electrical systems 

  • Creating technical drawings and topographical maps to ensure proper installation and operation 

  • Identifying and correcting power system problems 

  • Using computer-assisted design software 

  • Communicating with customers, engineers, and other stakeholders on engineering projects 

  • Preparing specifications for manufacturing, maintenance, testing, and purchase of electric equipment 

  • Ensuring compliance with safety standards and codes

How much do electrical engineers make?

According to Payscale, the average annual base salary for an electrical engineer in India is ₹4,02,949 as of September 2023 [1]. This amount can vary based on your location, education, and experience. Those working in research and development tend to earn on the higher end of the pay scale, followed by semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing. 

Fields of electrical engineering

Electrical engineering is a broad field covering a wide range of industries. A career in electrical engineering often means specialising in a specific area. Some common specialities include (but are not limited to):

  • Energy and power systems: In this field, you’ll work on generating, distributing, and maintaining electric power systems. This might include traditional sources of power, like motors, generators, and transformers, or emerging technologies, like fusion or green energy.

  • Computer engineering: While sometimes considered separate, computer engineering overlaps with electrical engineering in many ways. As a computer engineer, you’ll work to develop and improve computer hardware and software across a range of industries. 

  • Telecommunications: We can communicate with people around the globe almost instantaneously, thanks to new technologies in telecommunications. Telecommunications engineers address the basic challenge of delivering information from one place to another securely and efficiently. 

  • Microelectronics: The field of microelectronics deals with small (often very small) electronic components. In this career, you’ll work towards further reducing the size of circuits and microchips for use in electronic devices and even nanotechnology.

  • Systems and control: This discipline of electric engineering deals with designing control systems that behave a certain way in controlled environments. This could involve everything from home thermostats to biomedical prosthetics. 

  • Robotics and artificial intelligence: Robotics engineers design and build robots and robotic systems from the circuits up. Some of these systems may also involve artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning.

How to become an electrical engineer

Let’s take a closer look at the basic qualifications you’ll need for a career in electrical engineering, including education, licences, and skill sets.

Electrical engineering degrees 

Becoming an electrical engineer requires at least a bachelor's degree in engineering (BE) or technology (B Tech). Earning a B Tech or BE degree at an Indian college typically requires completing a four-year programme. For admission to a B Tech or BE programme, you must pass entrance exams with the most important being JEE mains, JEE advanced, CET, VITEEE, and BITSAT. 

To pursue entry into a postgraduate programme in electrical engineering, you must have a BTech degree in electrical engineering. For entrance into a doctorate programme, you must have a master’s in technology (M Tech)degree in electrical engineering. Earning a doctoral degree can open up opportunities to work in research and development or to teach at the university level.

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While licensing is not required for all roles, you may need specific certifications to practice as an electrical engineer in parts of India's public or private sector. However, national and international governing bodies including the Engineering Council of India, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) offer resources and guidance on engineering best practices in the country. 

Electrical engineer skills  

You'll also need a specific skill set to succeed as an electrical engineer. The technical and workplace skills you'll need include the following:

Technical skills

  • Mathematics

  • Computer science fundamentals

  • Electrical design

  • Circuit knowledge

  • Programming

  • AutoCAD

  • Systems integration knowledge

Workplace skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Concentration

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Communication skills

  • Problem-solving

  • Organisation

  • Leadership

  • Teamwork

  • Adaptability

Career paths for electrical engineers 

There are many opportunities to advance within the field of electrical engineering, depending on your interests, education, and experience. When entering the workforce, you will have an opportunity to follow a specialisation or sub-profession within the sector. Some sub-professions include product and development engineer, power system engineer, electrical maintenance engineer, and production engineer. 

Electrical engineers may find employment in consultant firms, engineering services agencies, technology companies, and commerce businesses involved in the energy industry. Your ability to develop your professional skills with effective communication, collaborative leadership, entrepreneurial initiative, and networking proficiency will greatly impact the success and growth of your career.  

Get started with Coursera

Experience whether an electrical engineering career might be right for you with Introduction to Electronics from Georgia Tech. If you’re ready to take your electrical engineering career to the next level, learn more about earning your Master of Science in Electrical Engineering online from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Article sources

  1. Payscale. "Average Electrical Engineer Salary in India, https://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Electrical_Engineer/Salary." Accessed October 3, 2023.

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