An electronic engineering degree appears to lead in some fairly obvious directions – to the electronics industry, for example. However, the options are much broader than this, both within the engineering industry and outside it.
Electronic engineering graduates are typically sought by the following industries. However, different employers will have different requirements, so do check out companies individually.
- Aerospace industry
- Automotive industry
- Defence industry
- Electronics industry
- Fast-moving consumer goods industry
- Marine industry
- Materials and metals industry
- Power generation industry
- Rail industry
- Utilities industry
- IT industry
'A graduate electronic engineer in the aerospace industry would be working on cutting edge technology, introducing or enhancing power-dense electrical controllers and electronics across the Rolls-Royce business sectors. Also, an increasing focus is on emerging technologies for hybrid/electric propulsion for aerospace platforms.'
Eddie Orr, chief of sector for Rolls-Royce Electrical.
Electronics is now an important part of the automotive industry and there is a big call for power electronics skills. Electronic engineers will work on a variety of systems including engine control units, dashboard indicators, air conditioning, safety systems, braking systems and infotainment systems. Their skills set is also needed for the development of autonomous, connected and electrified (ACE) vehicles.
'Electronic engineers in the defence industry optimise hardware and software design concepts, develop sophisticated design processes and test complex products to ensure the equipment is fit for air, sea or land operating environments. Activities could include: circuit design, assessment of equipment behaviour, fault diagnosis, assessment of new technologies and components, simulation and modelling, and data analysis.'
Pamela Wilson, engineering manager at BAE Systems.
A graduate electronic engineer in the electronics sector could work in roles such as design engineering (designing a product or component prior to launch) or applications engineering (supporting a product for its entire life). They may work with chips, integrated circuits, components such as capacitors and resistors, and devices that use electricity as part of their source of power.
'Most of the graduate roles in the fast-moving consumer goods industry are in one of two areas: manufacturing/engineering or supply networking operationss/logistics. For both of these areas, the work is not defined in nice separate buckets of mechanical, electrical, chemical etc but is normally a mixture of different engineering disciplines as a general manufacturing or logistics engineer. Graduates will pick up skills from other disciplines as they go through their training and career.'
Chris Traynor, careers adviser and former engineer and engineering recruiter.
Engineers in the marine industry usually either operate and maintain vessels or design and build them. An electronic engineer could be working on radar systems for warships or complex automation systems, reducing manning requirements at sea and tackling demands to reduce pollution and lower the cost of operation.
'An electronic engineer in the materials and metals industry will be maintaining the control and instrumentation in place and optimising hardware and software design concepts. Activities could include fault diagnosis, simulation and modelling and data analysis. They could well be designing and running a control system for a power station, for example.'
Peter Toms, senior engineering manager at Tata Steel.
An electronic engineer in the power generation industry will often be involved in designing, building and maintaining control and instrumentation plant items such as SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) DCS (distributed control systems), instruments, telephony and data networks.
'An electronic engineer in the rail industry could work in a number of areas, including signalling power, point heating and lighting. Their job will involve writing specifications for power distribution systems, reviewing designs and answering technical queries. On the maintenance side, they will be going out onto the rail network to test equipment or replace components.'
Elen Jones, programme engineering manager at Network Rail.
Electronic engineers in the utilities sector can work in telecoms and energy, eg designing and running a control system for a nuclear power station.
Electronic engineering graduates are often welcome to apply for technical roles in the IT industry. Don't assume that only computer scientists or software engineers are sought.
Non-engineering jobs for electronic engineering students
If you’re keen to explore career paths outside engineering, start by reading What can I do with an engineering degree, apart from being an engineer?. You can remain in the engineering industry but take on a more commercial role. Most engineering employers recruit graduates for roles in HR, finance and supply chain, to name just a few.
Or if you'd like to take a completely new career direction, there are plenty of options. In particular, you might like to consider options such as consulting, law (eg intellectual property law), financial services, sales and pre-sales, education, which are areas in which you can put your analytical skills and high levels of numeracy to good use. You could also put your background to good use in careers such as science journalism or technical publishing.