electrical engineer careers

Electrical Engineer Jobs

Did you know?

Would you like to change the world, improve lives and save the planet? Would you also like to make your tired old phone scratch-free again? As an electrical engineer, dreaming up and making all kinds of electrical equipment is what you do.

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Electrical engineer job trends

How much money can you make as an electrical engineer?

£20,000 – £60,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn £20,000 – £60,000 a year on average as an electrical engineer in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need?

You will need:

  • Good colour-vision (you may need to take a colour vision test)
  • IT skills (you can build these up over time)
  • Driving licence (not 100% needed, but useful)

School, college and training

Many engineering jobs require some knowledge of science and being comfortable around maths.

In your GCSEs or the equivalent, aim to get passing grades of 9-4 (A*-C) in at least five GCSEs including English, maths and at least one science.

You can then go on to take 2 to 3 A-levels or a further education qualification in a topic related to science, maths or engineering.

This will give you a good foundation education in the engineering principles you might need to know. It will also help you to apply for further education such as a degree.

Degrees and University

You will need to complete a foundation degree, HND or degree to get into electrical engineering. Many electrical engineers enter the profession as graduates.

Many people choose a degree in electrical or electronic engineering. However, these degrees may also help you get into this line of work:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electromechanical engineering
  • Building services engineering
  • Applied physics
  • Aeronautical engineering
  • Mechatronics

UCAS has more information on degree courses and entry requirements.

You can apply for student finance to cover fees and living costs.

You might be able to join a company’s graduate trainee scheme if you have a degree in a relevant subject.

You can also take the apprenticeship route – or start as a technician and study part-time for an HND or foundation degree, leading to a degree in engineering.

Apprenticeships and training

With an apprenticeship (or advanced apprenticeship) you’ll have a paid job with an employer that includes structured training and learning. This training leads to an official qualification that’s recognised by employers as an industry standard.

You can seek out electrical engineering apprenticeships with organisations like Find an Apprenticeship.

Advanced level electrotechnical apprenticeship

You can apply a three-year advanced level electrotechnical apprenticeship, for which you won’t need A-levels but you will usually need four GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A* – C) including English, maths and a science. You’ll also need some IT skills.

Higher level electrical/electronic technical support engineer apprenticeship

You can also apply for a four-year higher level electrical/electronic technical support engineer apprenticeship. For this, you will usually need one of the following:

  • A-levels at grades A* to C in science, technology or maths
  • A diploma in engineering
  • Equivalent UCAS points

Courses and qualifications

The Institution of Electrical Engineers has information on courses.

The Engineering Council has a list of qualifications and courses. These will qualify you for later registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).

The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) has information about qualifications and training in engineering construction.

Career progression

Electrical engineering gives you the chance to move into different industries like power, renewable energy, transport, construction and manufacturing.

If you become a Chartered Engineer you will find it easier to get project management roles or specialise in your chosen field. It can also help you strike out on your own and do consultancy work.

What experience do you need for electrical engineer jobs?

Work experience

It can help you decide if this is the right career for you if you have previously done work experience in an engineering environment.

Any work experience where you have demonstrated your engineering skills can help your application.

Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company
  • Work placements on a degree course
  • Year in Industry work experience programme for pre-university/undergraduates

Volunteering and extra-curricular activities

Volunteering is an excellent way to build up your skills and CV while making connections with people and organisations who could help you in the future.

If you’re aged 21 or under, you could build experience and skills relevant to engineering by becoming an Industrial Cadet. You’ll join other students from local schools to take part in industry based activities with a local employer. Visit www.industrialcadets.org.uk for more info.

If you’re a Year 12 student, you can apply for a Nuffield Research Placement. Over 1,000 students a year get the chance to work with scientists, mathematicians and engineers from all kinds of universities and organisations.

If you’re still at school, you can work on your engineering skills outside of lessons to build your first CV. One way is to join a school STEM club.

What skills do you need for electrical engineer jobs?

What life and work skills do you need to make a great electrical engineer?

Useful skills to highlight and develop in this career include:

  • Good problem solving skills and an enquiring mind – every time you face a new challenge or project you will think about how to break it down and turn “no I can’t” into “yes we can”.
  • Good organisation skills – this will help you with your education and training, and also with helping you to make sure projects are done on time.
  • Teamworking skills – you could work as part of an engineering team led by a senior engineer. As you progress in your career, you’ll also build leadership and project management skills.
  • Good communication skills – you will be able to work with clients and help them understand your work even if they are not technical themselves
  • Good IT, science and maths skills – you may be using computer modelling and CAD (computer-aided design). You will also need to pay attention to measurements. No-one wants a skyscraper that looked huge in the design but ends up tiny in real life because of incorrect measurements.

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

Start building these skills right now – sign up for free Young Professional training.

What does an electrical engineer do?

Knowing a little more about electrical engineering will help you show employers that you understand what this job is about. It can also help you decide if it’s right for you.

Where could you work?

  • Office
  • Factory
  • Production Plant
  • Workshop
  • Power station
  • Research facility

You will often work on projects with other professionals like civil engineers, architects and engineering technicians. You all have unique skills to help make a project take shape.

Some things you might be doing:

  • Carrying out studies to see if new technical developments are worth doing – these are known as feasibility studies
  • Using design software and computer-aided design (CAD) to draw up circuit diagrams and project plans
  • Estimating how long and expensive a project might be
  • Making sure projects meet safety regulations
  • Testing systems and installations, and analysing the results
  • Co-ordinating the work of technicians and craftspeople
  • Overseeing inspection and maintenance work
  • Going to meetings, writing reports and sometimes giving presentations.

Your first steps into electrical engineer jobs

Electrical engineer jobs are advertised under different job titles.  To find jobs for young people in this role, search on job boards for opportunities with these words in the title:

  • Electrotechnical apprenticeship
  • Electrical technical support engineer apprenticeship
  • Graduate electrical engineer
  • Trainee electrical engineer

Engineering/Manufacturing jobs you might like...

View job descriptions with average UK salary, useful qualifications and a variety of routes into this career. Or see our full list of careers in engineering and manufacturing!

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