Electrical engineering is a broad discipline of engineering that can be found in nearly every modern industry. The diversity of knowledge and skills required for an electrical engineer offers a distinct advantage over most engineering disciplines: the flexibility to hand-pick a career from a variety of industries.
We'll identify the roles and responsibilities of an electrical design engineer and show you how to connect with others in the industry to secure your dream job.
What does an electrical design engineer do?
In the simplest definition, electrical engineers design systems that utilize electricity. An electrical design engineer can design rocket control systems, design infrastructure around the globe, develop user interface software for complex industrial systems, or create innovative consumer products. They might even take their career to new heights as an astronaut.
Earning your engineering degree
An electrical design engineering career, of course, must start in the classroom. Nearly every university with an engineering program offers a degree in electrical engineering. However, the specific curriculum provided by a school can have a significant influence on students' careers.
In some schools, electrical engineering is combined with computer science, due to their overlap in a variety of industries. Students interested in working in a specific industry should consider refining their curriculum to focus on pertinent industry-related coursework.
For example, students pursuing entry-level electrical design engineer jobs in the aerospace industry would take electives related to:
- Communication and Electromagnetism
- Signal Processing
- Systems Engineering
- Modern Optics
- Dynamic Systems and Control Systems
Students pursuing entry-level electrical design engineer jobs with a focus on computer science would steer their curriculum toward:
- Coding and Programming
- Algorithms and Convex Optimization
- Computer Systems Engineering
- Computer Language Engineering
- Artificial Intelligence
Common career paths for an electrical design engineer
The role of an electrical engineer can vary from industry to industry. We've selected three common career paths that rely on electrical engineering. Below, we describe the roles and responsibilities of an electrical design engineer in these industries. When you're ready to get rolling with applying for jobs, consider working from a resume template and cover letter template to get your application materials in proper order.
Electrical design engineers in the aerospace industry are often involved in the production of satellites, defense systems, rockets, communication systems and more. They are usually required to work in large cross-functional teams with nearly every other discipline of engineering. Generally speaking, they tend to have responsibility for designing:
- Electrical/signal interfaces
- Systems that utilize semiconductors such as FPGAs ASICs
- General circuit design and analysis
- Communication systems
- Command & Data Handling (C&DH)
- Harness design
- RF communication
2. Construction and infrastructure
Electrical design engineers who pursue careers related to construction are often responsible for the design of systems that are crucial to modern society. These engineers often work their way up to the eventual title of "professional engineer," and generally start as junior electrical design engineers. These electrical engineers are responsible for the design of:
- Information technology systems
- Power and wiring systems and circuit panels
- HVAC controls
- Data services
- Emergency power generation and distribution systems
- Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
- Lighting design and controls
- Power generation (renewable and non-renewable)
- Substation and distribution
Becoming an electrical design engineer in the construction industry requires holding a PE (Professional Engineer) license. The U.S. National Society of Professional Engineers states, "A PE is a licensed engineer, similar to that of a medical doctor or a board-certified lawyer. In construction, only a PE may prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval, or seal engineering work for public and private clients."
When learning how to write a resume for an electrical design engineer job, always remember to mention any licenses or certifications you hold.
3. Product development
Arguably the broadest of the three career paths, electrical design engineers with a focus on product development design robotics, medical devices, consumer products, industrial equipment, networking devices and everything in between. These electrical design engineers are often responsible for the development of:
- Circuit layouts and printed circuit boards (PCBs)
- Power management and storage
- Motor control
- Feedback systems
- Wireless communication
- Software, firmware, and hardware systems
- Optics and Vision systems
How to become an electrical design engineer
Throughout their academic experience, electrical engineering students should pursue internships in various industries to better understand the differences that exist in the field of electrical engineering. Internships are especially valuable for electrical engineers, as they can showcase the many career opportunities available across industries.
Highlight these experiences, and the skills you learned on the job, in your well-formatted resume and custom cover letter. Reading job descriptions carefully and incorporating specific keywords is essential, as engineering applications are often scanned first by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) systems. Using the keywords and phrases found in the job ad can ensure your resume gets into the hands of a hiring manager.
Are you a student applying for an internship as an electrical design engineer or a recent electrical engineering grad searching for entry-level design engineering positions? Our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder will help you create an application package that stands out from the pack.