So, you are interested in becoming an electrical engineer. Electrical engineering is a very math- and technology-centered field. For this reason, a solid foundation in math and science is essential. Preparation for this career requires education at a four-year university, experience in entry-level positions, communication skills and on-the-job training.
Beginning in high school, you should focus on physics and mathematics, especially algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Just about everything in electrical engineering can be broken down into a mathematics problem in one of these three areas, so these subjects are essential for electrical engineering. Drafting classes, including computer-aided design, also are beneficial. A four-year college degree at an accredited university or technical institute is also required for this field.
Entry Level Experience
Entry-level experience allows you to get your foot in the door when you are seeking a job. The best place to get this is through your college's cooperative education program or an internship. Cooperative-ed allows you to go to school one semester and work at an electrical engineering company the following semester. This lasts for two or more years, depending on where you go to school. At The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, UNCC, this is handled by the University Career Center. To be eligible for a co-op at UNCC, students must be enrolled full time, maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA, and be able to commit to working for the same company full time for three semesters. Each work semester you are charged a $60 co-op fee to maintain your full time status, university housing, health center and financial aid at the school while you are working.
Communication skills are very important in electrical engineering. Engineers must be able to communicate clearly and accurately with colleagues, clients and government regulators. This is especially important if you are placed in a management position. Public speaking and management classes are important choices while you are in college. Writing skills are also very important. Basic composition and technical writing classes are huge benefits in this career choice.
No matter how much you learn in college, on-the-job training is where you really learn what it is to be an electrical engineer. Every company is different, but most companies will set you up with a mentor. Your mentor will take you under his or her wing and explain your job position, show you how to do it, and share with you information about themselves and their history with the company. After you have been in your position for a while, then your company will send you to their initial training classes. This is where you learn the basic engineering information and terminology that the company wants you to have.
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