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Career profile Electrical Engineer

Also known as Circuits Engineer, Design Engineer, Electrical Controls Engineer, Electrical Design Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Electrical Project Engineer, Instrumentation and Electrical Reliability Engineer (IE Reliability Engineer), Power Systems Engineer, Project Engineer, Test Engineer

Electrical Engineer

Also known as Circuits Engineer, Design Engineer, Electrical Controls Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$64,870 - $159,520 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Writing
  • Critical Thinking
  • Complex Problem Solving
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Operate computer-assisted engineering or design software or equipment to perform electronics engineering tasks.
  • Prepare technical drawings, specifications of electrical systems, or topographical maps to ensure that installation and operations conform to standards and customer requirements.
  • Confer with engineers, customers, or others to discuss existing or potential engineering projects or products.
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What does an Electrical Engineer do?

Electrical Engineers research, design, develop, test, or supervise the manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment, components, or systems for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.

What kind of tasks does an Electrical Engineer perform regularly?

Electrical Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Operate computer-assisted engineering or design software or equipment to perform electronics engineering tasks.
  • Prepare technical drawings, specifications of electrical systems, or topographical maps to ensure that installation and operations conform to standards and customer requirements.
  • Confer with engineers, customers, or others to discuss existing or potential engineering projects or products.
  • Design, implement, maintain, or improve electrical instruments, equipment, facilities, components, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, or domestic purposes.
  • Direct or coordinate manufacturing, construction, installation, maintenance, support, documentation, or testing activities to ensure compliance with specifications, codes, or customer requirements.
  • Compile data and write reports regarding existing or potential electrical engineering studies or projects.
  • Perform detailed calculations to compute and establish manufacturing, construction, or installation standards or specifications.
  • Prepare specifications for purchases of materials or equipment.
  • Estimate labor, material, or construction costs for budget preparation purposes.
  • Supervise or train project team members, as necessary.

The above responsibilities are specific to Electrical Engineers. More generally, Electrical Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is an Electrical Engineer salary?

The median salary for an Electrical Engineer is $100,830, and the average salary is $105,990. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Electrical Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Electrical Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Electrical Engineers earn less than $64,870 per year, 25% earn less than $79,010, 75% earn less than $128,680, and 90% earn less than $159,520.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Electrical Engineers is expected to change by 6.8%, and there should be roughly 13,700 open positions for Electrical Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$64,870 - $159,520
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Electrical Engineers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Electrical Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Electrical Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Electrical Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Electrical Engineer tend to value Achievement, Working Conditions, and Independence.

Most importantly, Electrical Engineers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Electrical Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Electrical Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Electrical Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and persistence.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Electrical Engineers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Electrical Engineers need?

Many Electrical Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Electrical Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Electrical Engineers

  • 0.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 3.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 6.6% completed some college coursework
  • 6.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 50.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 26.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 6.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Electrical Engineers

Electrical Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, computers and electronics, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Electrical Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Electrical Engineers

Electrical Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Electrical Engineers need abilities such as problem sensitivity, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Electrical Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Electrical Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Electrical Engineers frequently use skills like writing, critical thinking, and complex problem solving to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Electrical Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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