From maintaining power infrastructure to developing navigation and communications systems, electrical engineers play crucial roles across nearly every industry. With advanced electrical engineering skills, experts can lead the design, testing and manufacturing of the equipment that keep the world running.
If you’re interested in starting or advancing in a career in this field, you need to be familiar with a range of cutting-edge techniques and essential tools. With the right combination of electrical engineering technical and soft skills, you can implement the powerful solutions and sustainable processes that today’s organizations need to thrive.
What Skills Should an Electrical Engineer Have?
Electrical engineers draw on a thorough knowledge of science and mathematics to solve problems and move complex projects forward. Successful professionals in the field need a solid foundation in methods for analyzing, building and maintaining electrical equipment and systems. The following are some of the most important skills needed for electrical engineering:
Electrical Engineering Skills List
- Circuit design
- Apply linear systems theory and analysis
- Develop electrical schematics
- Data collection and analysis
- Build and operate computer systems
- Prepare operational plans
- Electronic equipment maintenance
- Direct construction activities and equipment upkeep
High-Demand Electrical Engineering Focus Areas
Engineers can prepare to excel in their current and future roles with specialized education and hands-on experience. For example, students taking GW’s Master of Science in electrical engineering online gain key knowledge in one of our high-demand focus areas: electrical power systems or communications and networks. Below are just a few of the electrical engineering skills required for each of these disciplines.
Electrical Power and Energy
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in 10 electrical engineers are employed by organizations specializing in electric power generation, transmission and distribution.
- Design power delivery systems for efficient and reliable operations
- Improve power generation and distribution
- Use electronics for power conversion
- Maintain and secure power systems
Communications and Networks
Individuals and businesses increasingly rely on digital communications for all kinds of everyday interactions and transactions. The GSM Association’s 2018 report on The Mobile Economy projected that by 2025 there will be 5.9 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide, with 53 percent connected at 4G speeds and 14 percent at 5G.
- Understand and apply the principles of digital communication systems
- Implement computer networks and control structures
- Construct and maintain local area networks, wide area networks and wireless networks
- Model wireless communication channel effects and employ modulation techniques
What Tools Do Electrical Engineers Use?
Electrical engineers rely on their tools to make connections, run diagnostics and perform delicate adjustments. Professionals may keep varied assortments of cutters, pliers and tweezers and other items, depending their responsibilities and work environments. However, these are some of the key tools that many experts in electrical systems use regularly:
- Frequency calibrators and simulators
- Laboratory evaporators and safety furnaces
- Scanning probe microscopes
- Semiconductor process systems, such as electron beam evaporators, wafer steppers and wire bonders
- Signal generators
- Tube furnaces
- Voltage or current meters
What Software do Electrical Engineers Use?
Computer software assists engineers in creating and optimizing electrical equipment systems. Some of the most important types of software include:
- Computer-aided drafting tools for circuit diagrams and electrical schematics
- Power system and circuit simulators to analyze and test designs
- Project management software to track tasks, labor and costs
- Computing software for operations including differential equations, linear algebra and curve fitting
Which Programming Language is Best for Electrical Engineers?
- Electrical engineers commonly use high-level programming languages like C or Python to program microcontrollers for integrated circuits
- Do electrical engineers use C++? A knowledge of an object-oriented language like C++ can be highly useful for tasks like designing computing equipment and building hardware simulations.
What Qualities Should an Electrical Engineer Have?
Technical knowhow is indispensable for anyone striving to build an engineering career. To reach your full potential, however, you need to back up your knowledge with strong set of soft skills. These qualities can make all the difference in consistently fulfilling your project objectives and achieving your long-term goals.
Electrical engineers routinely tackle complex challenges and devise inventive solutions. To achieve the best results, it’s important that these experts are prepared to keep up with changes in technology and experiment with various approaches to problem-solving. With each project, an engineer may face new challenges, such as constraints on available resources or a novel interaction between multiple systems.
Professionals can maximize their impact within an organization by developing their skills in both written and oral communication. Engineers should be able to explain their ideas with precision to fellow experts and non-technical audiences alike. Clients and executive leadership must be able to understand an engineer’s recommendations or needs for additional resources.
Engineers make their projects successful by collaborating effectively with multidisciplinary teams. To lead effectively, an electrical engineer must be able to calculate the demands of each project, make strategic choices about using resources and optimize each phase of operations. Engineering leaders understand how their work fits into the larger mission of their organization. In turn, they can guide other professionals in setting and achieving their goals.