what is an electrical engineer?

As an electrical engineer, you deal with electronics, power, control systems and signal processing. You apply physics and mathematics to design and develop electronics. You rely on computer-aided design (CAD) software to create schematics for electrical components and create simulations illustrating the system functions of electrical devices. Sometimes you carry out maintenance and test if the devices work properly.

what does an electrical engineer do?

Electrical engineers work in various industries, including power generation stations, telecommunications companies and instrumentation development companies. Despite the different specializations, electrical engineers keep electrical systems up and running. Your job is to ensure all systems are well maintained and perform system upgrades promptly. You are responsible for planning and initiating electrical projects. Once a project is underway, you participate in the development process, from planning to the final installation. Furthermore, you continuously guide the company's management team on all electrical issues and supervise other electrical technicians.

You need various skills to become an electrical engineer, from basic circuit theory to project management skills. You are also comfortable using specialized tools like simple voltmeters, high-end analyzers or advanced design and manufacturing software.

Would working as an electrical engineer suit your innovativeness and problem-solving skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an electrical role.

electrical engineer roles

average electrical engineer salary

According to Job Bank, the average salary of an electrical engineer is $136,283 per year. When you are new to the role, you start with a salary of $95,000 annually. As you gain experience and the required license to practise electrical engineering, your earnings also increase. Electrical engineers with experience take home over $139,090 yearly.

how to increase your salary as an electrical engineer

As an electrical engineer, your earnings depend on your qualifications and experience. When you have a bachelor's degree, you earn a lower salary than an electrical engineer with a master's degree and the required licences. The location also influences your earnings since the demand for electrical engineers in the region affects your take-home salary.

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types of electrical engineers

Electrical engineering is a broad field, enabling you to specialize in different areas. Here are some of the different types of electrical engineers:

  • electronic engineers: as an electronic engineer, you design electrical components for different devices and machines, such as circuit boards. Those who deal in very small components are known as microelectronic engineers.
  • power systems engineers: as a power systems engineer, you work in electricity production plants and are responsible for electricity generation, distribution and monitoring.
  • telecommunication engineers: as a telecommunication engineer, you develop, install and maintain telecommunications systems and equipment.
  • computer engineers: as a computer engineer with a background in electrical engineering, you work with software developers to develop computer hardware and software.
  • signal processing engineers: your job is to analyze and change digital signals to boost accuracy and reliability. You also regularly update digital signals for radiofrequency designs, military applications and biomedical signal processing.
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working as an electrical engineer

If you are excited about electronics and would like to be an electrical engineer, check out the duties and career outlook in the profession.


electrical engineer skills and education

To become an electrical engineer, you require the following educational qualifications:

  • education and licence: pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or another related field. The profession requires licensing by a territorial or provincial association to practise as a professional engineer. You are eligible for licensing when you complete a four-year degree program; three years are for supervised engineering and completing the professional practice examination. Some companies also require Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the Canada Green Building Council.
  • experience: find internship opportunities to build your skills and gain expertise to work on complex projects. Entry-level jobs also improve your experience and chances of certification.

competencies and characteristics of electrical engineers

Some qualities for success in electrical engineering include:

  • professional skills: in terms of design, production and safety, you should be conversant in all relevant theories and applications for the success of your engineering projects. These include mathematics, circuit design, project development and electrical systems maintenance. Apart from basic engineering, you plan projects. In this case, relevant skills include sketching, drafting and budgeting for large and small projects.
  • people skills: as an electrical engineer, you ensure your engineers and technicians do everything properly and meet deadlines. You also collaborate with peers and people inside and outside the profession, such as clients. Therefore, you should be able to break down technical terms and communicate other details easily.
  • problem-solving skills: since problems tend to occur in the course of engineering work, you require sound problem-solving skills. This will help you solve problems and troubleshoot issues.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an electrical engineer.


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