Electrical engineering is one of the largest individual fields of engineering as a whole. However, when evaluating for yourself whether or not this path might be right for you, one essential component is determining whether or not there is a demand for the position. Knowing this will enable you to see what the potential job outlook might be in the future, and whether or not embarking on a journey to getting this degree is worthwhile.
First, it’s important to determine what exactly is meant by an electrical engineer. Electrical engineers and electronics engineers are sometimes used interchangeably, and sometimes used to distinguish between entirely different lines of work, even if closely related. If a difference is made, electrical engineers deal with larger power generation and supply, motors, machinery and more, whereas electronic engineers deal with smaller circuits and systems.
Combined, the fields of electrical and electronic engineering are actually the single biggest field of engineering, with over 300,000 jobs in the United States. Those jobs are split up fairly evenly between electrical and electronic engineering. In both cases, job growth is not expected to be very much over the current decade of projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lasting from 2008 to 2018. Electronic engineering is shown to have no statistical projection growth, and electrical engineering is shown to have a slow growth of about two percent.
This does not mean that electrical engineers are not in demand, though. The sheer number of jobs currently held in the market shows that there is a huge need for skilled, knowledgeable workers in the field. What it does show however is a change in the marketplace and in technology.
On the one hand, many companies continue to outsource employment to foreign countries, where they can find cheaper labor and still get the job done. This has long been a problem for skilled workers in the United States in many fields. On the other hand, many technological innovations, even those developed by electrical engineers, have allowed automated systems, computers and machines to take over maintenance and control jobs that electrical engineers themselves would hold.
Both of these factors take away from the job prospects of electrical engineers, however, there’s always a need for these individuals in the right settings, and it’s not as if the field will have a decline in jobs available over the coming years. In fact, in the right market segments, there will be a growth with more individuals being hired, which offsets the loss of jobs due to outsourcing and technology in other sectors.
The bottom line is that while growth for electrical engineers will not be high, they are still in demand. Combined with electronic engineering, electrical engineering is the biggest field of engineering, with hundreds of thousands of employees in the country. Even with job losses in some areas, other areas demand brighter, well trained individuals, and a modest growth rate in a staggering economy is a good thing, and showcases an even more optimistic future of the profession down the road.