Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment. Electrical equipment includes power generating and transmission equipment used by electric utilities and electric motors, machinery controls, and lighting and wiring in buildings, automobiles, and aircraft. Electronic equipment includes radar, computers, communications equipment, and consumer goods such as TV sets and stereo components.
The specialties of electrical and electronics engineers include several major areas-- such as power distributing equipment, integrated circuits, computers, electrical equipment manufacturing, or communications--or a subdivision of these areas--industrial robot control systems or aviation electronics, for example. Electrical and electronics engineers design new products, write performance requirements, and develop maintenance schedules. They also test equipment, solve operating problems, and estimate the time and cost of engineering projects. Besides manufacturing and research, development, and design, many are employed in administration and management or technical sales.
Electrical and electronics engineers held over 440,000 jobs in 1990, making in the largest branch of engineering. Most jobs were in firms that manufacture electrical and electronic equipment, career machines, professional and scientific equipment, and aircraft and parts. Computer and data processing firms, engineering and career consulting firms, public utilities and government agencies accounted for most of the remaining jobs.
Employment opportunities for electrical and electronics engineers are expected to be good through the year 2000 because employment is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations and shortages of electrical engineering faculty and laboratory equipment may act to restrict enrollments in electrical engineering programs. Despite rapid growth, however, the majority of job openings will result from the need to replace electrical and electronics engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Although increased demand by careeres and government for computers, communications equipment, and military electronics is expected to account for much of the projected employment growth, consumer demand for electrical and electronic goods and increased research and development on robots and other types of automation should create additional jobs.
Since many electrical and electronics engineering jobs are defense related, cutbacks in defense spending could result in layoffs. Furthermore, those who fail to keep up with the rapid change in technology in some electrical engineering specialties risk technological obsolescence, which makes them more susceptible to layoffs or, at a minimum, likely to be passed over for advancement.
Sources of Additional Information
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/United States Activities Board, 1111 19th St. NW., Suite 608, Washington, D.C. 20036.