Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.
Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.
Typical Duties of an Electrical Engineer:
- Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
- Perform detailed calculations to compute manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
- Direct manufacturing, installing, and testing to ensure that a product, as built, meets specifications and codes
- Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
- Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget
Typical Duties of an Electronics Engineer:
- Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
- Analyze electrical system requirements, capacity, cost, and customer needs, and then develop a system plan
- Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
- Evaluate systems and recommend repair or design modifications
- Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
- Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems to improve technical performance
Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in diverse technologies, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.
The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to perform engineering tasks. Both types of engineers must also work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.
The median annual wage of electrical engineers was $84,540 in May 2010. The top 10 percent earned more than $128,610, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,030.
The median annual wage of electronics engineers was $90,170 in May 2010. The top 10 percent earned more than $135,080, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,860.
Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of electrical engineers in May 2010 were as follows:
|Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing||$92,070|
|Scientific research and development services||$90,790|
|Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing||$89,590|
|Electric power generation, transmission and distribution||$83,960|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||$83,750|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.