Electrical engineer: job description

Last updated: 27 Feb 2024, 13:52

Electrical engineers design, develop and install electrical systems.

an electrical engineer soldering components to a chipboard.

Electrical engineer : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Electrical engineers work on projects involving electrical systems. Unlike electronic engineers , who focus on electronic products and components, such as smartphones and microchips, electrical engineers work on large-scale initiatives within power generation, manufacturing and transport, for example.

Typical duties include :

  • agreeing project specifications, budgets and timescales with clients and colleagues
  • carrying out feasibility studies for new projects
  • using computer-aided design (CAD) and engineering software to create project plans and diagrams
  • overseeing the installation of electrical systems
  • analysing and interpreting data
  • undertaking research – for example, into renewable energy options
  • creating test procedures and maintenance schedules
  • maintaining project documentation and records
  • keeping up to date with safety requirements and other legislation
  • keeping clients informed of progress.

You may need to travel to meet clients and visit sites, and there may be times when you need to work extra hours to meet deadlines.

Graduate salaries

According to salary survey websites, salaries for graduate electrical engineers tend to start at around £28,000. Earnings increase with experience, especially if you achieve chartership.

Typical employers of electrical engineers

You will typically be able to find employment at:

  • Telecommunications and IT companies.
  • Utilities companies.
  • Defence organisations.
  • Manufacturers.
  • Engineering consultancies.
  • The Civil Service.
  • The armed forces.
  • Retailers.
  • Transport providers.

Once you have built experience, it’s possible to become a self-employed electrical engineer and to take on contract work.

Jobs are advertised on targetjobs by university careers services, on the websites of engineering and technology professional bodies and specialist recruitment websites.

For help with applying for engineering jobs and internships, take a look at our engineering CV and covering letter tips and our advice on filling out online applications for graduate engineering roles . To find out how much money you could earn as an engineer, head to our engineering salary round-up .

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into electrical engineering for both school leavers and graduates. Graduates need a degree in a relevant subject such as electrical engineering, building services engineering or engineering science. Your degree may need to be accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Recruiters may also consider applicants who hold a degree in a science subject such as physics. A 2.1 degree may be required – however, there are electrical engineering employers who will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Take a look at our list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees for more information.

A postgraduate qualification can be advantageous and may be necessary for some posts. See our article on engineering postgraduate study to learn more about your options.

Many employers offer final-year project work, degree sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements. These can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession. Head to our list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships .

If you want to work in a technician role, it is possible to enter the profession with a higher national diploma (HND) or a higher apprenticeship. However, if you decide you’d like to progress to an engineer role, you will need further qualifications.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can put you in better stead employment wise. It’s also likely to lead to higher earnings and a wider range of job opportunities. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree with honours in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to engineering chartership .

Key skills for electrical engineers

Electrical engineers must have:

  • Commercial awareness.
  • Excellent technical skills.
  • The ability to work well under pressure.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • Strong problem-solving abilities.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • Enthusiasm for your own professional development.

Read our article on the skills engineering employers seek for more information. Then find out how you can prove that you have developed these competencies at engineering assessment centres .

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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