Electronics engineers create and maintain electronics used in computing, aviation, manufacturing, communications satellites, and other technologies. They often work for corporations, the military, medical companies, and scientific organizations. These professionals design new electronics systems, test equipment, and make modifications to existing systems.
The field of electronics engineering offers extremely lucrative employment opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for electrical and electronic engineers approached $98,000 in 2017. Engineers working in closely related industries can earn even more. For example, the BLS reports that aerospace engineers earn a median salary of $113,030.
In order to obtain a job in these industries, candidates must hold a relevant college degree. Through theoretical and practical coursework in areas like advanced circuitry design, analog and digital electronics, microprocessors, and signal processing, a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering can help students develop highly applicable and specialized skills in the field.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering?
If you want to qualify for the highest paying jobs in the field of electronics engineering, you need a bachelor's degree. Some positions, such as electronics engineering technician, only ask for an associate degree. However, the BLS estimates that individuals in these roles earn roughly $35,000 less per year than their colleagues with a degree from a four-year institution.
If you already have an associate degree, or if you currently hold a full-time or part-time job, you may consider an online program. Many of these programs feature asynchronous courses, allowing you to watch lectures and complete assignments on your own schedule.
An electronics engineering bachelor's degree confers a variety of practical skills. For example, students may learn a programming language like C++ in order to work on computers and information technology systems. Learners often design and test circuits to learn more about the properties of electrical components like capacitors, resistors, diodes, and transistors. Nearly all programs feature multiple courses in calculus.
In addition to skill development, electronics engineering bachelor's degree programs confer several nonacademic benefits. By working closely with instructors and classmates, students can begin developing a network they can use to find career opportunities and request professional support. Many schools also offer job placement and internship programs to help students transition from graduation to full-time employment.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering?
Electronics engineers work in a wide range of settings, including the telecommunications industry, the federal government, academia, and manufacturing companies. Some engineers choose to work as consultants, offering their expertise in areas like power generation and semiconductor manufacturing.
Regardless of the career path they choose, electronics engineers must possess extremely strong skills in both math and science. Those working in leadership and project management positions must also know how to clearly and effectively explain complex issues to individuals with little to no technical expertise.
- Electrical and Electronics Engineer
Electronics engineers design and oversee the manufacturing of electronics equipment, including broadcast systems for television networks and global positioning systems for telecommunication companies. They must hold at least an undergraduate electronics engineering degree, and many employers prefer candidates with practical experience from an internship or job.
Median Annual Salary: $97,970*
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
Technicians in this field support the work of more senior electronics engineers. They may evaluate and test new products or diagnose and repair damaged or malfunctioning equipment. While you can qualify for these jobs with just an associate degree, slow employment growth means that candidates with a bachelor's hold a competitive advantage.
Median Annual Salary: $63,660*
- Aerospace Engineers
Aerospace engineers design, test, and manufacture aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, and satellites. Individuals with an electronics engineering degree may work on communications and electronics systems housed within aircraft or spacecraft.
Median Annual Salary: $113,030*
- Sales Engineer
Sales engineers pitch scientific and technological products to businesses. As opposed to individuals who exclusively have a background in sales, sales engineers also possess a thorough understanding of the complex processes that make their products work. To develop that understanding, sales engineers may complete a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering or a related field.
Median Annual Salary: $98,720*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Electronics Engineering
Many schools offer electronics engineering degrees, and you may feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a program. Fortunately, a few questions can help you help organize your priorities and narrow your search.
First, do you want to study online or on-campus? Online programs in electronics engineering, especially those featuring asynchronous classes, offer unparalleled convenience and flexibility. Students can complete their coursework entirely on their own schedule, from any location with an internet connection. You may find; however, that you prefer a more traditional classroom setting, especially when dealing with complex and tactilely demanding subjects such as circuit design. Some programs allow students to take a mix of online and on-campus courses.
Does your program help place students in an internship or field experience? Even for entry-level jobs, many employers prefer to hire candidates with at least some practical experience in electronics engineering. Distance learners should ask whether their program maintains partnerships with any host sites in their area.
How much can you afford? Electronics engineers often net high salaries, but earning a bachelor's degree still requires a significant financial investment. You may consider earning an associate degree before transferring to a four-year university in order to save money.
Finally, where is your program located? Distance learners can largely ignore this factor. If you plan to study in person, you should think about the length of your potential commute, the cost of living in your school's community, and whether you or members of your family can find work in the area.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Electronics Engineering
Before you enroll in an electronics engineering program, you should always make sure your chosen school holds accreditation. Accreditation ensures that schools meet minimum educational standards. Students who do not attend an accredited program may not qualify for federal financial aid such as grants and loans. These students may also miss out on future job opportunities if potential employers choose not to recognize the unaccredited degree.
Schools can apply for three different forms of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic. Nonprofit schools, including public colleges and universities, usually receive regional accreditation. By contrast, for-profit and technical schools often receive national accreditation. Programs within a specific discipline, such as forestry or occupational therapy, may also earn accreditation from a professional organization or committee. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits certain electronics engineering degree programs.
Before applying, check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's online directory to determine if your program has received regional, national, or ABET accreditation.
Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering Program Admissions
To apply to bachelor's in electronics engineer programs, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED. Colleges may ask for letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and a personal essay describing your academic goals. You must also request transcripts from all of your prior schools. Schools usually charge an application fee, but may waive this requirement for some students.
After submitting your application, some schools may ask you to participate in an interview. Once you have completed all requirements, your program's admissions team decides either to admit you, deny you, or conditionally admit you. Conditionally admitted students may need to take certain prerequisites or wait for another admitted student to drop out before enrolling.
To improve your odds of admission, try to apply to at least three different programs, including one "safety school."
- Minimum GPA: Some schools do require a minimum GPA, usually around 2.5. These schools usually allow students with slightly lower GPAs to apply for conditional admission. Candidates with low GPAs should have strengths in other areas.
- Application: Submitting your application materials can take some time, so make sure to begin the process well in advance of the deadline. Many schools now use The Common Application, which allows students to apply to multiple institutions at the same time.
- Transcripts: You must submit transcripts from high school and any colleges that you previously attended. Contact your prior schools directly, since they often must send your official transcripts in a sealed envelope. Allow several weeks for your high school to process your request.
- Letters of Recommendation: Many colleges require two or three letters of recommendation. You should plan to request letters from former teachers, employers, and volunteer supervisors. Try to give your recommenders at least two months to write your letter.
- Test Scores: Many schools require applicants to submit either ACT or SAT scores. While your results on these exams play an important part in a school's admissions decision, most schools don't set a specific minimum score.
- Application Fee: Most schools charge an application fee of $30-$100. Schools may waive fees for military members, low-income applicants, or highly qualified students.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Electronics Engineering?
While earning your electronics engineering degree, you should expect to take approximately 30 credits in general education classes such as writing, psychology, and the arts and humanities. On top of that, most programs require roughly 60 credits of prescribed major-specific coursework and an additional 30 credits of electives related to your major. The exact structure and length of your course of study depends on the program you choose.
Courses in a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering Program
Curricula vary from program to program, but most students pursuing an electronics engineering degree take courses in physics, circuitry, and computer programming. Learners can also select from electives such as alternative energy, digital signal processing, and electromagnetic theory. The list below describes five of the most common courses in electronics engineering programs.
For both academic and professional success, electronics engineering students must have a thorough understanding of calculus principles such as limits, derivatives, differential equations, inverse functions, continuity, chain rule, linear approximation, and minimum and maximum values. Most students in engineering programs take several calculus courses.
- Logic Design
Through readings, discussions, and hands-on practice in a laboratory setting, students in this class learn how to design systems. Topics include combinational circuits, switching functions, binary codes, switching function minimization using Karnaugh maps, gate conversion, decoders, encoders, multiplexers, demultiplexers, and programmable logic arrays. Online programs may not offer a laboratory component.
- Signals and Systems
This course provides an overview of modern communications and measurement systems. Topics include normalized energy and power, signal classification, time-domain representation in differential equations, frequency domain representation, convolution methods, Fourier series analysis and transformations, inversion by partial fractions, and digital elements and equations.
- Electric Circuits
Electronic circuits lie at the heart of electronics engineering. In this course, students learn about subjects such as current and resistance, voltage, power and charge, Kirchoff's current and voltage laws, Ohm's law, magnetism, magnetic circuits, and the properties of capacitance and inductance.
- Engineering and Ethics
Stepping back from the highly technical nature of other engineering classes, this course philosophizes on students' responsibilities as electronics engineers. Students first explore the basic concepts of traditional and contemporary ethical theories, then apply these theories to case studies inspired by real-world dilemmas and challenges.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering?
Most bachelor's in electronics engineering programs require students to complete approximately 120 credits. For full-time students, this usually takes about four years. Part-time students may need up to eight years to earn their degree, depending on how many credits they take per semester.
Under certain circumstances, students may graduate in three years or less. For example, students with an associate degree may apply up to 60 credits towards their bachelor's program. Some schools may also allow students with prior professional experience or demonstrable expertise to test out of certain subjects or course requirements. Students who take summer terms can also graduate more quickly.
Many online colleges offer accelerated and self-paced courses. In self-paced classes, students advance through coursework as quickly or slowly as they would like. For each unit, learners take an exam that shows they have mastered the material. Advisers typically state that new students should not attempt to finish their degree in any fewer than three years, since they run the risk of experiencing unmanageable levels of stress.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering?
The cost of a bachelor's in electronics engineering varies greatly from program to program. Price fluctuates depending on factors such as school location, the reputation of the program and faculty, and delivery format. Generally speaking, these schools charge approximately $250 to $500 per credit. For a 120 credit bachelor's degree, students pay between $30,000 and $60,000 in tuition.
Remember to factor in other costs related to your education, including room and board, campus activity fees, books, and course materials. Online students can avoid some of these expenses, but may have to pay a small distance learning fee to help cover technology costs.
When considering how to pay for your electronics engineering degree, start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A FAFSA allows the federal government to determine if you qualify for grants, fellowships, work-study jobs, and student loans.
Many private organizations also offer scholarships for academic excellence, community service, or financial need. Some scholarships support students from a particular geographic area or ethnic background. Remember, you do not need to pay back scholarships or grants, but you do need to pay back student loans.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Electronics Engineering Prepares For
- Professional Engineering License
All states set different requirements for candidates looking to earn a professional engineering license. Generally speaking, you must earn at least a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program, pass the fundamentals of engineering exam, accrue at least four years of relevant professional experience, and pass the final professional engineering exam.
- IEEE Wireless Communications Engineering Technologies Certification
This certification demonstrates mastery over wireless communications technologies. To receive this credential, you must pass an exam and pay a fee of $450-$550. You must also recertify every three years by completing professional development units and paying a fee of $180-$210.
- Engineering Manager Professional Certification
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Management jointly offer this credential in engineering management. To qualify, you must pass an exam and either hold a relevant degree or possess at least five years of professional experience.
Resources for Electronics Engineering Students
Aspiring electronics engineering students should complete the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal grants, fellowships, work-study opportunities, and student loans. This site also provides information on other ways to finance your education, including scholarships and private loans.
EEP provides a host of resources for students looking to brush up on electronics engineering concepts or read about the latest research in the field. The site also features practical guidance from other engineering professionals.
Eta Kappa Nu is the national honor society for electrical and electronics engineers. The group grants awards to exemplary students in the field, hosts a student leadership conference, and offers a workshop on transitioning from academia into a career.
NCEES develops and administers the Professional Engineering certification exam. This site offers advice on how to pass the exam and guides on how to meet the requirements for licensure in various states.
When trying to convey highly complex information to customers or colleagues without technical expertise, you must know how to write clearly and concisely. The Purdue OWL offers a wide range of writing guidance, including how to properly cite sources and how to draft a graduate school application essay.
Professional Organizations in Electronics Engineering
After earning your electronics engineering degree, joining a professional organization can help you access the resources you need to succeed in your career. These groups offer professional certifications, provide continuing education courses, host research conferences and local networking events, and advertise job opportunities for recent graduates and established professionals. Professional organizations also recruit and support populations traditionally underrepresented in the field, including women and people of color.
IEEE represents more than 420,000 technology professionals from around the world. The institute organizes networking and affinity groups, hosts research conferences, establishes professional standards and codes of conduct, publishes scholarly journals, and administers certification and licensure.
ASEM serves engineers who combine technical duties with managerial responsibilities. The society offers two professional certifications and an annual conference. ASEM also advertises job opportunities in academia and the private sector.
ASEE advances the interests of postsecondary engineering educators. The society also advocates for equal access to educational opportunities and greater representation for women and minorities.
In addition to professional development seminars, events, online communities, and discussion forums, IET also hosts resources for individuals considering a career in engineering.
With more than 100,000 members, ACM is the world's largest computing society. The association organizes 37 online special interest groups and 860 professional and student chapters. Members network, collaborate, and share best practices.