Online Electrical Engineering Degrees and Programs

Whether it’s helping improve telecommunications systems or making sure that GPS receivers are acquiring those all-important signals from communications satellites, electrical engineers are essential to the modern-day world. Electrical engineers work with electrical power distribution systems. This isn’t just limited to power received in the home or in office buildings, but includes widespread systems, such as communications satellites and power grids, as well as industrial machinery and more.

If you wish to pursue an online electrical engineering degree, the College Board recommends having a keen interest in math and science, having a creative yet logical mindset and being a team player. Online electrical engineering degree programs may suit such individuals whether they are recent high school graduates, career changers or working professionals who need to adhere to work, family or other commitments while still earning a college education.

The hands-on component in electrical engineering

It is important to bear in mind that there may be a hands-on component to online electrical engineering degree programs which can require students to be physically present on-campus or at an approved facility. Some programs may allow students to use portable test kits and software simulations along with online instruction videos allowing them to complete the practical component of their coursework at home or in a location convenient to them.

Identifying where your skills sit is important to grow your own career in the industry. That being said, any grasp of current and future electrical engineering trends will give you an insight into very marketable skills.

Difference between electrical and electronic engineering

Electrical engineering is not to be confused with electronics engineers, who help create electronic devices such as the iPhone and Xbox gaming system. Electrical engineers typically focus on the generation, use and movement of electrical power while electronic engineers might deal with specific types of device. However, you may find instances where their roles overlap.

While their duties may vary depending on the industry they work in, electrical engineers typically take care of:

  • Designing and developing new products or suggesting improvements to old ones
  • Directing the manufacture, installation and testing of electrical equipment to ensure it meets specifications and regulatory codes
  • Working with production managers to ensure projects are completed on time and within budgets
  • Carrying out detailed calculations to develop manufacturing and installation standards

Electrical engineers may work in a number of different industries – from power supply to automotive and aeronautical sectors. They may deal with highly specialized electrical systems like those in aircrafts, sophisticated radar and navigation systems or improve existing electrical motors.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that although job growth is expected to be slow, there will still be a demand for qualified electrical engineers in professional, scientific, and technical services firms in order to research and develop new products. Additionally, the need to upgrade the nation’s power grids may also create a demand for electrical engineers.

The table bellows lists occupations related to the field of electrical engineering along with the job outlook, mean wages and projected employment from 2018 – 2026 using data from the BLS.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Electrical Engineers185,570$103,4804.8%
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians122,550$66,2400.2%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What can I do with a degree in electrical engineering?

The BLS states that electronic engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET OnLine:


ELECTRICAL-ENGINEERING
Education Level Required & Percentage of Respondents
Bachelor's degree
70%
Master's degree
23%
High school diploma or equivalent
3%
Source: 2018 Occupational Information Network (O*NET), U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

However, a wide range of programs exist, starting with an associate degree. This program can be valuable to gain basic instruction and to potentially gain work as an assistant in the field. It can also be used as a stepping stone to a four-year degree, which is usually necessary for obtaining an electrical engineering position. Graduate-level study often is required to teach or to participate in research programs, according to the BLS.

According to business magazine Forbes, EV sales will grow 75% in 2018, representing a huge 400,000-car increase. This alone presents job opportunities, especially for engineers with skills in circuits and systems.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

p>Individuals earning an electrical engineering associate degree online can learn how the electrical components work along with how to design and troubleshoot electrical systems. They may also learn how the manufacturing and service processes for electrical systems work.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics cover a range of areas in the field like algorithms, circuits and electronics, electromagnetics, signals and systems, and more. Some courses you may take include:

  • Introduction to engineering technology
  • Introduction to circuit theory and applications
  • AC network theory
  • DC motors/generators
  • AC electric machines

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in electrical engineering?

Online electrical engineering degrees at the associate level may prepare individuals for transfer to a four-year program or for entry-level work assisting electrical engineers. Potential job titles include:

  • Electrical engineering assistant
  • Electrical engineering technician
  • Electrical engineering technologist
  • Instrumentation specialist
  • Instrumentation technician
  • Systems technician

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Online electrical engineering bachelor’s degree programs can take students right from the fundamentals of electrical engineering through to more advanced concepts and techniques. Students may learn how electrical systems can be designed and manufactured to be energy efficient and incorporate sustainable technologies to meet the today’s demands.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics can cover basic electrical engineering systems, industrial design methodologies, semiconductors, and communication technologies among others. Apart from general education courses that include linear algebra, chemistry and physics, classes you may take include:

  • Advanced electronic design
  • Circuit analysis
  • Fundamentals of electromagnetics
  • Introduction to linear systems in engineering
  • Random signal analysis

Possible electives: Communication system design; analog integrated circuits; introduction to nanofabrication

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in electrical engineering?

A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering can qualify individuals for entry-level jobs as electrical engineers in a variety of different industries including transportation, construction and telecommunications to name a few. It can also lay the foundations for more advanced study. While job titles may vary depending on your specialization (more on that later!) and the industry you work in, potential designations include:

  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Energy Engineer
  • Radio Frequency Identification Device Specialist
  • Telecommunications Engineering Specialist

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online electrical engineering master’s degree programs can help students learn how to use the latest technological developments to develop innovative designs or make older ones more efficient. They can also allow students to learn to conduct independent research.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field

Typical coursework: The classes you take during an online electrical engineering degree program at the master’s level involve more advanced concepts than a bachelor’s degree program. They may focus on more complex subject matter such as power electronics, digital integrated circuitry, quantum science and electromechanics. Some courses that you may take include:

  • Advanced accelerator engineering
  • Energy networks and power distribution grids
  • Grid integration of wind energy systems
  • Linear systems: time domain and transform analysis
  • Signal processing for power systems

You may have to complete a master’s level thesis as a part of your online electrical engineering degree program.

Possible electives: Optimal control; power system control and operation; electric power quality

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in electrical engineering?

Graduate-level study often is required to teach or to participate in research programs, according to the BLS. Graduates of online electrical engineering master’s degree programs may also qualify for supervisory positions in an array of industries. While job titles may be similar to those for bachelor’s degree holders, they may come with added responsibilities and a larger salary. Some job titles include:

  • Electrical Engineer
  • Energy Engineer
  • Engineering Manager
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Solar Energy Systems Engineer
In addition to increased production, the EV industry is experiencing huge innovation. For example, Ford has recently pumped $4.5B into its EV sector. This produces huge opportunities for electrical engineers in areas ranging from driver experience to production and safety.

Graduate certificates can help working professionals build or advance their knowledge in one or more aspects of electrical engineering. As graduate certificate programs are more focused, they usually take less time to complete than a master’s degree. This can help those individuals who do not have the time or financial resources gain some graduate-level education and potentially advance their careers. Graduates of certificate programs may also be able to apply the credits they have earned toward a master’s degree at a later date.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field

Typical coursework: Curricula include topics similar to those in an online electrical engineering master’s degree program, with a narrower focus. While the courses you take can vary depending on the certificate program, some courses that may be available to you are:

  • Antenna theory
  • Electrical safety
  • Power system operation and control
  • Power system stability and control
  • The business of the electric utility industry

Possible electives: Electric energy systems; power system protection; distribution engineering

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Online electrical engineering degree programs at the doctoral level can help students gain advanced knowledge of the field. Students can learn to apply research skills to develop cutting-edge technology for the next generation of electrical-based machinery and devices.

Typical duration: Five to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field, GRE

Typical coursework: Curricula are often customized to meet each student’s needs depending on their area of interest. However, most PhD programs include topics on how to conduct research and analyze data along with a few core courses. Some topics you may study as a doctoral student include:

  • Applied superconductivity
  • Characterization and device fabrication
  • Microelectric device design
  • Microwave solid-state devices
  • Quantum field theory and magnetism

Dissertation: Doctoral students spend a major part of their online electrical engineering doctoral degree program writing their doctoral dissertation based on original research. This dissertation has to then be successfully defended before a panel of experts before individuals receive their doctoral degree.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in electrical engineering?

A doctorate in electrical engineering can prepare individuals for high-level careers and leadership roles in an array of industries which may earn them close to/ or six figure salaries according to 2019 engineering salary statistics published by Michigan Tech. Graduates may also choose to enter the fields of research or teach the next generation of electrical engineers. Job titles can include:

  • Senior research engineer
  • Senior electrical engineer
  • Senior process engineer
  • Senior systems engineer
  • College professor or researcher
Accordingly, EEs with the skills to research and develop advanced safety features and sensors are in hot demand.

Specializations in Electrical Engineering

The many applications of electrical engineering have led to a number of different specializations within the field. Students of online electrical engineering degree programs may be able to choose one in order to narrow down the focus of their education and build their expertise in an area of their interest. It is important to note that not all specializations are available at all colleges and universities.

Some specializations you may be able to choose from include:

  • Bio-Engineering
  • Communications
  • Computer Architecture and Microprocessor Design
  • Control Systems
  • Cyber Security
  • Electronics
  • Integrated Nano-Technology
  • Power/Energy
Moving forward, it’s likely that EEs will find demands made of their skills to be inclusive of software and wider programming talents, which can go hand in hand with their existing mathematical competency.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process schools undergo to demonstrate that their educational offerings, meet the professional standards required in the industry today. Accreditation can be regional, national or programmatic.

Attending an accredited school can be an important prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid or scholarships as well as for transferring credits from one educational program to another. Additionally, employers may prefer hiring individuals who have graduated from an accredited school or program over those candidates who have not. It can also be essential for obtaining professional licensures and certifications. Electrical engineering degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.

The core skills produced by learning and working in the field will be of continued use, but the key to continued relevance is learning to cross-skill and to be confident with new technologies as they emerge.

Licensures and Certifications in Electrical Engineering

Licenses are not mandatory when you are starting off in your career. However, the BLS states that a Professional Engineering (PE) license can allow you to obtain supervisory positions overseeing other engineers, sign off on projects and provide services directly to the public. Obtaining a license typically requires graduation from an accredited school, having at least four years of work experience and passing two examinations. Although states issue their own licenses, most states recognize licenses from other states providing their requirements meet or exceed their own.

Professional certifications can help electrical engineers and technicians demonstrate their commitment and areas of expertise in the field. Certifications for electrical engineering technicians include:

Certifications for electrical engineers include:

There’s no two ways about it. Going to school can be expensive. However, there are plenty of financial aid programs, grants and scholarships available to eligible electrical engineering students. Competition for some scholarships can be stiff, so it can be a good idea to put in some time to research the various options available to you to find the best fit. Additionally, it can be wise to talk to your university’s financial aid office to see if you are eligible for any of their offerings. Listed below are a few scholarships to help you get started in your search.

Other resources for aspiring electrical engineers

Employment Statistics

General and Operations Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (except Copyrighted Works)
  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution
  • Electrical Equipment Manufacturing
  • Communications Equipment Manufacturing
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • Yuba City, CA
  • Salinas, CA
  • Anchorage, AK

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
  • Communications Equipment Manufacturing
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing
  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing
  • Electrical Equipment Manufacturing
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Virginia
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Burlington-South Burlington, VT
  • Salinas, CA
  • Bremerton-Silverdale, WA
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • California-Lexington Park, MD

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

  • 17-2071.00 – Electrical Engineers, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, www.onetonline.org/link/summary/17-2071.00, accessed September 2019
  • 2019 Engineering Salary Statistics, Michigan Tech, https://www.mtu.edu/engineering/outreach/welcome/salary/, accessed September 2019
  • Associate of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology, South College, https://www.south.edu/programs/computer-science-electrical-engineering-information-technology/associate-science-electrical-engineering-technology/, accessed September 2019
  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Colorado Technical University, https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/electrical-engineering, accessed September 2019
  • Career: Electrical Engineers, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/architecture-engineeringand-drafting-electrical-engineers, accessed September 2019
  • Certificate in Electric Power Engineering, Michigan Tech, https://www.mtu.edu/ece/online/certificates/, accessed September 2019
  • Certificate in Renewable Electric Energy Systems, NC State University, https://www.ece.ncsu.edu/grad/certificate/, accessed September 2019
  • Doctor of Electrical Engineering (D.Sc, PhD), School of Science and Engineering, Atlantic International University, https://www.aiu.edu/Doctor%20of%20Electrical%20Engineering.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering, M.S. and Ph.D., Distance Programs, Mississippi State University, https://www.bagley.msstate.edu/distance/programs/, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineering-technicians.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical Engineering (Ph.D.), University of North Dakota, https://und.edu/programs/electrical-engineering-phd/, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical Engineering MS Degree, Stanford School of Engineering, https://online.stanford.edu/programs/electrical-engineering-ms-degree, accessed September 2019
  • Electrical Engineering, Colorado State University Online, https://www.online.colostate.edu/degrees/electrical-engineering/, accessed September 2019
  • Graduate Certificate in Wireless Engineering, University of South Florida, https://www.usf.edu/engineering/ee/graduate/online.aspx, accessed September 2019
  • Major: Electrical Engineering Technology, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/engineering-technologies-electrical-engineering-technology, accessed September 2019
  • Major: Electrical Engineering, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/engineering-electrical-electronics-communications-engineering-electrical-engineering, accessed September 2019
  • Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering, Penn State World Campus, https://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/penn-state-online-electrical-engineering-masters-degree/overview, accessed September 2019
  • Online Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering, College of Engineering and Computing, Florida International University Online, https://fiuonline.fiu.edu/programs/online-undergraduate-degrees/bachelor-of-science-in-electrical-engineering.php, accessed September 2019
  • Online BSE in Electrical Engineering, Arizona State University Online, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/undergraduate/bachelor-science-engineering-electrical-engineering/, accessed September 2019
  • Online Electrical Engineering Technology, AS, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, https://engineering.siu.edu/tech/undergraduate/engineering-technology/online-electrical-engineering-technology/, accessed September 2019
  • Online Master of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering, Arizona State University Online, https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/master-science-engineering-electrical-engineering/, accessed September 2019
  • Today’s EE Job Market and Future Trends, EE Web, 2018, https://www.eeweb.com/profile/janesandwood/articles/todays-ee-job-market-and-future-trends
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