The cell phones, washing machines, power plant generators and car navigation systems that run the world feature components designed by electrical engineers. They often work in teams, especially on complex projects, and may be assisted by engineering technologists. The money an electrical engineer makes depends on employer and job location.
Although their salaries could exceed $125,810 per year or fall to less than $52,990 annually, electrical engineers earned an average yearly $85,350 as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They make this money by creating, testing and overseeing the production of electrical devices including dish-washing motors, flight navigation systems and LCD television sets. They must manage their developments so they are completed within a specified schedule and under budget. They must also deal with complaints from customers or the public by recommending solutions and modifying original designs.
Architectural, engineering and related services held the most jobs for electrical engineers, employing 22 percent of 154,670 professionals, and paying a mean annual $85,990 per year. The best pay was in business support services, such as for electrical systems in buildings and factories. Average salaries ran $116,110 per year. These industries require a minimum bachelor’s degree for electrical engineers. They also want to see practical experience, so many students join internship or cooperative programs to obtain working skills. Although electrical engineers may obtain Professional Engineer licenses, these credentials are not as common as in other engineering fields.
Electrical engineers looking for the highest pay in 2011 worked in Massachusetts to earn a mean annual $102,160. Other states with the highest mean annual wages were Alaska at $96,240, California at $95,370 and the District of Columbia at $92,840. The BLS classified this district with states. For metropolitan areas, the highest for average annual pay was Sherman-Denison, Texas, at $123,060, followed by Stockton, California, at $115,850, Santa Cruz, California, at $111,000 and Sacramento, California, at $109,950.
The job increases for electrical engineers from 2010 to 2020 will only average about 7 percent, nearly half the expected 14 percent growth rate predicted for all occupations in all industries. Employment will increase due to growth in emerging technologies and portable electronics. However, it will decrease because many of the positions are in manufacturing, a sector that is either declining or growing very slowly. Engineering services firms will provide the highest growth rates because many companies are cutting costs by contracting out electrical engineering work to consultants.