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Electrical Engineer

Last Updated Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:31

Electrical engineers are largely concerned with large power applications, generating and
harnessing electrical power. They could be researching more efficient power generation
systems, developing alternative energy sources or planning the future development of the
electricity supply network.
In the move away from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, their work might involve
designing an improved wind turbine, re-examining the advantages and disadvantages of
nuclear reactors or exploring ways of harnessing the power of the oceans.
Electronics engineers, on the other hand, are concerned with using low-power electricity to
control such things as telecommunications equipment, radio and television appliances,
computers, hospital diagnostic equipment, and control systems for everything from satellite
tracking to domestic appliances such as washing machines.
Experienced electrical/electronics engineers usually achieve either incorporated or chartered
status. Broadly speaking, incorporated engineers specialise in applying modern technology,
while chartered engineers focus more on research and development or manufacture and

Entry level
Although it is possible to begin training for craft or technician level jobs straight from school with
good GCSEs/S grades in English, maths and science, the normal way to train as a professional
engineer is to study full time at university or college for a first degree. Entry is with at least two
or three A levels/three or four H grades, normally including maths and a science subject, or
equivalent qualifications, plus five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3). At many universities, you can
take a one-year foundation course if you don't have the necessary background in science and
maths. If you are unsure about specialising in electrical or electronics engineering, you will find
that many courses have a common first year, allowing you to gain knowledge and experience
before making a decision.
Graduate apprenticeships in engineering may be available in England, bringing together study
at degree or diploma level with structured work-based learning.

Making the grade

To qualify as an incorporated electrical/electronics engineer, you should, having successfully
completed an accredited three-year BEng degree or equivalent qualification, undertake a period
of initial professional development, including practical training and professional engineering


Electrical Engineer

Last Updated Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:31

experience. You would then have to pass a professional review, before gaining corporate
membership of the Institution of Incorporated Engineers.
To qualify as a chartered electrical/electronics engineer, you must have an accredited MEng
degree or equivalent qualification, complete a period of initial professional development, which
includes training and professional engineering experience, and pass a professional review with
an interview, before gaining corporate membership of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

Personal qualities
As an electrical/electronics engineer, you should have an analytical mind, be good at maths,
and be highly computer literate. You would need good communication skills, a logical approach
to problem solving, and normal colour vision.
You must have a deep interest in science and technology and the enthusiasm to keep up to
date with new developments in a rapidly changing environment.

Looking ahead
There are opportunities for qualified electrical/electronics engineers in a wide range of
industries. Some of the main ones include aerospace, marine, agricultural, chemical, civil,
energy and medical.
Job prospects are particularly good in the huge and still expanding electronics industry. Rapid
developments in telecommunications, robotics and digital technology are bringing a steady
demand for electronics engineers, and there are skills shortages in some areas.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include aerospace engineer, marine engineer, materials scientist or
mechanical engineer.


Electrical Engineer

Last Updated Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:31

Take-home pay
Graduate salaries start at around 20,000 to 23,000 a year. If you gain incorporated engineer
status, your earnings should increase to around 36,000 a year. Chartered engineers may earn
50,000 a year, or more.

Normal working times are 37 to 40 hours a week, although the actual number of hours may be
considerably longer, depending on the deadlines for any given project. You may have to work
on a rota system if you are involved with industrial production.

Sources of information
Engineering Careers Information Service: www.enginuity.org.uk
Institution of Engineering and Technology: www.theiet.org
Engineering Council UK: www.engc.org.uk