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A career as an electrical engineer

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Working in the electrical sector involves designing, developing and maintaining electrical systems, often in the building industry or in manufacturing, transport or electricity distribution.

Becoming an electrical engineer involves practical and academic training, and most candidates enter the profession with a degree in the subject.

<UKNE_MPU />Employment opportunities can be found both in the UK and abroad, with scope for working overseas in the oil, petrochemical and power sectors.

Jobs can also be found with large, international consulting firms or building contractors.

In the UK, jobs in the manufacturing sector can be found in industrial areas such as the Midlands.

To become an electrical engineer, a degree course in electrical or electronic engineering can help candidates to find jobs. Related degree subjects such as software engineering mechanical engineering, physics and electromechanical engineering are also considered relevant.

Alternatively, candidates can become electrical engineers through apprenticeships, offering a more hands-on approach.

To secure jobs as a chartered engineer, a Masters degree is required; however post-graduate qualifications are unnecessary for most employment opportunities.

Alongside academic qualifications, employers look for enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry when hiring electrical engineers. Any relevant work experience is advantageous, in addition to commercial awareness and knowledge of key developments within the sector.

Planning and organisational skills will also help budding engineers gain employment, as well as the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team.

For overseas employment opportunities, the ability to speak a second language will be a great advantage.

For students hoping to enter the profession, many engineering institutions offer undergraduate membership, providing knowledge of the industry, regular newsletters and access to valuable contacts for future jobs.

In particular, the Power Academy, run by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), links universities with power sector organisations to provide support to students on accredited electrical, electronic or power engineering courses.

The IET also offers scholarships to engineering undergraduates, taking applications in any year of study.

Hands-on, practical training is also part of learning the job. Employers often have established training programmes and further training opportunities for electrical engineers.

Candidates hoping to work towards chartered engineer status should determine what training is involved before accepting a job to ensure that the employing company can provide adequate on-the-job development.

Graduates entering their first job as an electrical engineer may be rotated around several areas of a firm for the first two to three years, to build experience and expand skill bases.

Business skills could also be part of job-based training, with candidates taught project management, report writing and presentation skills.

Electrical engineers can demonstrate key competencies by becoming a member of a professional body such as IET, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, or the Institute of Physics.

Each organisation has its own membership criteria, combining practical skills and work experience with continuing professional development (CPD).

For information on the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC), used to measure the standards of professional engineers and engineering technicians, visit the Engineering Council UK (ECUK) website.

More information on a career as an electrical engineer and local employment opportunities can be found on the Prospects website.

Further help with higher education and applying for degree courses can be found on the UCAS site.


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