How to become an... Electrical Engineer
There is a high demand for electrical engineering jobs in the UK, thanks to a variety of projects planned around the country, as well as steady investment.
Keep reading to find out more about the skills you’ll need and to find out if a career as an electrical engineer is the right fit for you.
£20-60k dependent on experience
Hinkley Point C / HS2
NVQ, City & Guilds
What do electrical engineering jobs involve?
As an electrical engineer, you’ll be responsible for designing, developing, controlling and maintaining electrical systems, machinery and components. Your work will focus on ensuring a consistently high level of quality, safety and reliability across all systems and components.
The electrical equipment you work with can be used across many sectors, giving you a good selection of different career routes.
Your daily responsibilities will vary depending on your employer and industry, but can include creating project plans and circuit diagrams using computer software, designing systems and products, estimating costs and timeframes, testing installations, ensuring safety regulations are met, and more.
What is an electrical engineer’s salary?
Salaries can vary from employer to employer, as well as in different locations or sectors. However, you can expect to earn a starting salary of between £20,000 and £25,000 per year. As you progress through your career and gain more experience, this could increase to up to £40,000.
More senior electrical engineers, especially those who have achieved chartered status, can earn up to £60,000 per year.
These figures are intended as a guideline only.
What skills do I need?
In electrical engineering jobs, you’ll need to possess excellent maths, science and IT skills. You’ll need a keen eye for detail and the ability to create and understand complex, technical diagrams.
It’s important that you have both commercial and technical knowledge, and an enthusiasm to keep your knowledge up-to-date. Planning, organisational and time management skills are also key, as is the ability to work confidently both on your own and as part of a team.
What qualifications do I need?
To become an electrical engineer, you’ll usually need to complete a foundation degree, HNC, HND or degree. While it is your best option to complete a degree in electrical or electronic engineering, entry may still be possible with other related engineering degrees, including:
- Aeronautical Engineering
- Building Services Engineering
- Communications Engineering
- Computing and Software Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Production Engineering
- Physics and Applied Physics
Some organisations will offer graduate trainee schemes, which can be a good route into the industry, although they are usually highly competitive.
A postgraduate degree isn’t necessary to gain employment but can help with career progression, as can gaining incorporated or chartered engineer status.
Finally, if you’re going to be spending time on a construction site, you may need to apply for a relevant Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.
What are the hours and conditions?
Electrical engineers usually work between 37 and 40 hours per week, although some overtime may be required to meet deadlines, as and when projects dictate. Some roles may offer flexible working arrangements, while others will fall more in line with the traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.
Depending on the employer and project, you could spend your days in a number of locations, such as an office, workshop, production plant, construction site or research facility. This means travel within your working day is a common occurrence.
With the right training and experience, there are opportunities to progress in your career. Many people will choose to move into general management or project management roles, while others will opt to go into consultancy.
Achieving chartered status and gaining membership to a relevant professional body are seen as essential steps in successful career progression.
Areas of specialism
There are a number of areas you can choose to specialise in, from power and renewable energy to transport and manufacturing.