Whenever you’re choosing a field to study, many factors need to be taken into consideration. Electrical engineering is a wonderful field with lots of job options, but some people might be wondering how complicated or difficult it is.
Electrical engineering is quite hard. It is thought to be the hardest form of engineering, mostly because it requires a lot of abstract thinking. Many of the things electrical engineers have to work with can’t be seen, which makes their job very complicated.
With some research, we were able to find out some details as to why electrical engineering is so complicated. This is a rewarding field, but get ready to deal with some hard work and tough problems if you choose it as a career.
What is Electrical Engineering?
Engineering, in general, uses math and science to solve problems. Engineering is a very broad term and covers a wide variety of subjects, but it can be narrowed down to 4 main types. Those four types are chemical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.
Electrical engineering is the part of the field of engineering that studies and creates electric technology. This includes things like GPS or Communication systems.
Electrical engineers are everywhere, creating the pieces that make up your computer or designing trains and airplanes. Electrical engineering is a wonderful field with a diverse spectrum of job opportunities.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that “Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.”
Electrical engineers also help make sure equipment is running properly. They use problem-solving skills and their educational backgrounds to figure out why the equipment isn’t working.
If you enjoy math and science and find electricity interesting then electrical engineering might be a good career for you. But if you want to pursue this, you need to remember that this field of work can be very difficult.
Electrical engineering is complicated and covers many subjects, such as calculus. This is why you typically need to go to college before you can become an electrical engineer. Like most other fields, the educational requirements of electrical engineering will vary depending on what job you want.
There are some places that will hire electrical engineers without any undergraduate studies, however, the higher-end jobs require that applicants hold a college degree. Most jobs in the electrical engineering field will require that you have will get a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
However, some higher-level jobs, like management jobs, will even require a master’s degree. This is one of the factors that make electrical engineering hard.
Of course, electrical engineers will need to have an extensive knowledge of electricity and how it works. This includes things like how and why electricity works, its dangers, and its uses. But electrical engineering is also very heavily steeped in math and physics.
This is why a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering will cover subjects like circuit analysis, statistics, linear algebra, calculus, and more.
These subjects can be very complicated for some people to learn, but electrical engineers need to be able to understand and apply them in their jobs. This is another factor that demonstrates why electrical engineering is so hard.
Just like so many other fields, your education doesn’t stop when you get a college diploma. You learn things from other electrical engineers or from new experiments that were performed. Electrical engineers need to stay updated on the recent changes and discoveries in their field of study.
Continuing to learn and study is very important, even after you have a job. New information is always coming forward, easier ways to solve problems are invented, as well as many other things that can help electrical engineers in their work.
Best Colleges for Electrical Engineering
Now that you know the importance of a good education for an electrical engineer, the next thing to look at is where to get that education. A good thing about studying electrical engineering is that you have a lot of options available to you for your undergraduate studies.
There are fewer options if you want to get a master’s degree, but there are still many out there that offer that. There are so many colleges out there that offer electrical engineering programs, but which college is the best?
We compiled a list of some of the top-ranking colleges in the US to go to for electrical engineering.
- Massachusets Institute of Tecnology (MIT)
- Stanford University
- University of California in Berkley
- Olin College in Needham, MA
- Princeton University
- Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA
- Duke University in Durham, NC
- Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
These are all fantastic colleges and universities, and some of them are very prestigious schools. However, just because they are the best doesn’t mean they will necessarily be the best for you. Make sure you look into all the details before you chose which college to attend.
Some of these colleges only offer bachelor’s degree programs, while others will offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.
One thing to consider is tuition rates, which can vary greatly depending on the college. Another thing to consider is acceptance rates. These, and many other factors, should influence your decision on which college to attend for electrical engineering.
Remember to keep all of your options open, even the ones that are far away.
There are some fantastic college options for electrical engineering degrees outside of the US. These include schools like the University of Cambridge in London, the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Switzerland, and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
Related Article: Does It Matter Where You Go to College for Engineering?
Along with your undergraduate education, some jobs will require that you become certified as a Professional Engineer. These certifications are administered by individual states. They might have different requirements, so it is smart to look into your state’s certification process.
Even though the different certification is done by each state, the process is about the same. The National Society of Professional Engineers described the general process of getting a Professional Engineer certification.
While getting this certification might sound daunting and complicated, it is most definitely worth it. Some jobs might require this certification while others will be more likely to hire you if you already are certified. Also, it is a reassurance to clients to know that you are a qualified expert.
Putting in the effort to get this certification would be a very smart thing for those who want to work as electrical engineers. Having this certification can open up doors and prove that you are competent and professional.
So, if you are trying to get a higher-level electrical engineering job, you should look into getting your Professional Engineer certification.
This certification is another factor that contributes to how complicated the field of electrical engineering is.
Were you surprised to learn that electrical engineering is one of the hardest branches of engineering? This is because electrical engineers deal with things that you don’t normally see, like electrical currents. A significant part of an electrical engineer’s job focuses on invisible fields. This is one of the big reasons that electrical engineering is so complicated.
Other engineers typically can see their work. For example, a mechanical engineer would clearly be able to see the different parts and components of the engine they were building.
In contrast, electrical engineers have to work with things like magnetic fields and electrical fields, which can’t be seen. This makes their job very complicated. They have to think creatively about the different invisible components they are working with.
All engineering involves problem-solving, and electrical engineering is no exception. Electrical engineers will use problem-solving to figure out things like what is making a circuit malfunction. If you dislike problem-solving or abstract/creative thinking, then electrical engineering probably isn’t the best option for you.
Lots of Math
You might think that electrical engineering is just science, but there is actually a lot of math that goes into it as well. Students studying electrical engineering have to learn and consistently use complex math like trigonometry, statistics, and calculus.
Electrical engineers use math for many parts of their job like designing their products or testing whether or not they will work. They also will use it for things like estimating the required amp or voltage for a device.
Although the specific type of math you use might vary depending on what specific part of electrical engineering you are working in, there is one thing that is constant; without math, you can’t do electrical engineering.
Ok, so we’ve covered that electrical engineering is hard. By now you might be asking yourself, why do people do this if it’s so hard?
One reason is that the people who become electrical engineers are usually people who like math and can deal with these challenges. Another reason is that we need electrical engineers. This complicated job is absolutely necessary for our society. Electrical engineers are needed in a variety of different fields.
From working on planes to creating cell phones, electrical engineers are involved in almost everything. If something is powered by electricity, then an electrical engineer was probably involved in its design. For example, electrical engineers work to design components of roller coasters and other fantastic amusement park rides.
In a world surrounded by electric technology, so many groups and companies need electrical engineers. Computer manufacturers, the military, the government, or places like NASA and Ford are all examples of places that would hire electrical engineers.
With even an associate’s degree in electrical engineering, you have a lot of options available to you. You could work as an aerospace engineer, a computer engineer, or a number of other jobs. Electrical engineering is very versatile and it pays well as a result.
There are also some other, less obvious career options you could choose. One is working as a broadcast engineer. A broadcast engineer is someone who works with radio and broadcasting equipment.
You could also work with bands on tour recording their concerts.
Other Useful Skills in Electrical Engineering
While a degree in electrical engineering might be all that’s required for the job you want, there are other skills that would be very useful as an electrical engineer. Also, extra skills and talents might help you in the hiring process.
One skill that might be nice to have as an electrical engineer is a knowledge of computer science. There are lots of options to specialize in specific parts of electrical engineering. One of these options is to integrate computer science and electrical engineering.
Those who do this are called computer engineers. Computer science is something you can study in college or even in high school. Computer engineers will design and test computer components.
There are a lot of extra skills and qualities that will make working as an electrical engineer much easier. These are things like problem-solving, communication, and a good work ethic.
Similar Career Options
If the idea of being an electrical engineer seems too daunting for you, don’t worry. There are some other career options that are similar.
Electrical engineering might be too intimidating for you, but you might still be interested in other types of engineering. Engineering is a very broad field with many different career options for you to consider. Like we said earlier, there are four different types of engineering. Other than electrical engineering, there is chemical engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Chemical engineers work with issues related to chemicals, food, and drugs. Civil engineers design buildings, bridges, and other structures.
And finally, mechanical engineers study and build machines and tools, such as engines. Of all the engineering types, electrical is the hardest, and mechanical is the most versatile.
For those who are interested in the study of electricity, but not so much the engineering aspect, one option is to become an electrician. Electricians are the ones who install and work on the electrical machines that electrical engineers design and create. They will be involved in installing electrical wiring and components. This career is very useful in daily life.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.