Online Electrical Engineering Degrees

If you enjoy math and science, and have a passion for design, you may be interested in electrical engineering. One of the newest branches of engineering, electrical engineering is a broad field that covers the application of electricity and electronics. As digital technology became more prevalent throughout the twentieth century, the number of subfields in the discipline grew alongside. Today, electrical engineers study electronics, digital computers, power electronics, biomedical instrumentation, communications, circuitry, microelectronics, and much more.

Given the vastness of the discipline, it’s no surprise that prospective students can pursue a range of specializations in school. Whether you’re interested in designing electric cars, developing computer technology, or something entirely different, you’ll be able to follow your passion in an electrical engineering program. And regardless of whether you want to pursue an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral electrical engineering degree, you’ll be able to do so online.

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John Whitcraft Electrical Engineering

“An electrical engineer must have the ability to work independently without the support of others on a project.”

Online Electrical Engineering Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $15,593 9.41% 2 years N/A $68,500 6.5%
Bachelor's $18,293 9.76% 4 years $62,000 $103,000 3.7%
Master's $20,854 6% 2+ years $88,000 $122,000 2.4%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Online Electrical Engineering Degrees

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Online Associate’s Degree in Electrical Engineering

An associate degree can be a good way to start your career in electrical engineering. Obtaining an associate at a two-year school is much cheaper than completing your freshman and sophomore years at a four-year college, and if you hold an associate degree, you can potentially work in an entry-level electrical engineering position while you complete your bachelor’s in electrical engineering online. Whether you want to go back to school or not, you’ll be prepared to work as an electrical engineering technician, maintenance technician, or other introductory positions in the field. Coursework helps introduce students to the discipline, and highlights a few of the more common subfields in electrical engineering.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Mathematics for the Technologies, Technical Physics, Technical Computing, Scientific and Industrial Instrumentation

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Electrical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Technology (EET), Industrial Electronics Maintenance Technology

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Electrical Engineering Technician, Electronics Engineering Technician, Industrial Electronics & Maintenance Technician

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $61,130 for Electrical Engineering Technicians, $61,130 for Electronics Engineering Technicians, and $55,160 for Industrial Electronics & Maintenance Technicians

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 2% decline for Electrical Engineering Technicians, 2% decline for Electronics Engineering Technicians, and 4% decline for Industrial Electronics & Maintenance Technicians

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering

Most students interested in electrical engineering pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field. The degree prepares you for a range of positions upon graduation, as your specialization or concentration should give you plenty of relevant skills. As a broad degree, an online bachelor’s in electrical engineering will prepare you to work in a variety of industries, both private and public.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Circuit Analysis, Microprocessors, Digital Signal Processors, Calculus, Physics for Scientists and Engineers

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Electrical Engineering, Engineering with concentrations in: Computer Engineering, Digital Signal Processor, Control Systems, Bioengineering

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Electrical Engineer, Program Manager, Circuit Designer

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $62,856 for Electrical Engineers, $109,817 for Petroleum Engineers, $107,830 for Aerospace Engineers, and $86,220 for Bioengineers

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    From 2014-2024: 0% increase for Electrical Engineers, 10% increase for Petroleum Engineers, 2% decrease for Aerospace Engineers, and 23% growth for Bioengineers

Online Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering

A master’s in electrical engineering degree offers students the chance to dive into a specific subject or specialization, and many programs require students to complete independent research or a written thesis. While most coursework will focus on the specialization — such as computer hardware, network systems, or circuitry — many programs also require students to take a few other classes to broaden their understanding of the discipline and hedge against technological obsolescence.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Engineering Electromagnet, Topics in Digital Signal Processing, Power System Control and Operation, Research Projects

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Microelectronics and Microdevices, Signal and Image Processing, Systems and Control, Energy Systems

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Senior Systems Engineer, Senior Electrical Engineer, Software Developer

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $94,761 for Senior Systems Engineers, $95,291 for Senior Electrical Engineers, $85,000 for Software Developers

Online Doctorate Degree in Electrical Engineering

The highest level of education an electrical engineer can attain is a doctorate degree, which represents mastery of your chosen specialization and indicates that you have completed a research project that contributes to our collective understanding of the discipline. This degree works well for those who wish to push the boundaries of research on the subjects contained in electrical engineering. Many doctoral candidates eventually become professors or researchers, though plenty of graduates also pursue careers in private industry.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Applied Physics, Computing & Networking, Information Sciences and Systems, Materials and Devices

  • COMMON MAJORS

    DBA and PhD

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    College Professor, Research Engineer, Design Engineer

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $88,460 for College Professors, $103,292 for Research Engineers, and $102,131 for Design Engineers

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    College Professor: 13% increase for College Professors, 3.9% increase for Research Engineers, and 3.9% increase for Design Engineers

Online Electrical Engineering Choose Your Career

Average Electrical Engineering Salaries

$107,830
$61,130
$86,220
$95,230

Until recently, an associate electrical engineering degree was a strong starting credential in the field. Today though, most positions require students to obtain a bachelor’s or a graduate degree. Like in most fields, as you pursue a higher degree, you can expect to earn a higher salary and to face a lower unemployment rate.

Aerospace Engineer

Salary: $107,830
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-2% 72,500 Bachelor's N/A

Due to decreases in funding over many years, there are few aerospace engineering positions available in the job market today, and numbers continue to decline. But with the rise of private space companies, there’s hope for a resurgence. Aerospace engineers study material from a range of disciplines, including electrical engineering. Students in an electrical engineering program may combine their curriculum with classes from an aerospace engineering program, giving them a well-rounded background that prepares them for a variety of positions in aerospace engineering.

Electrical Engineering Technicians

Salary: $61,130
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-2% 139,400 Associates N/A

Due to a decrease in jobs in the field in favor of computer engineering, there are far fewer electrical engineering technician positions available in the job market today, and numbers continuing to decline. Electrical engineering technicians test and build electrical components and systems. Technicians only need to hold an associate degree; this is a good introductory position in the field for students who have an associate and want to work while they complete their bachelor’s degree.

Biomedical Engineer

Salary: $86,220
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
23% 22,100 Bachelor's N/A

Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest-growing subfields in electrical engineering. Professional biomedical engineers often work for biotech companies or academic institutions. At work, they search for technological solutions to problems in medicine. You may only need an online bachelor’s in electrical engineering degree to get started in this occupation, though many specialists in the field have a master’s or a doctoral degree.

Electrical Engineer

Salary: $95,230
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
0% 315,000 Bachelor's N/A

Currently, electrical engineering is a discipline at a crossroads: Professionals in the field are currently in demand, many industry veterans earn six-figure salaries, and yet, the BLS doesn’t project any employment growth for electrical engineers over the next decade. To be sure, it’s a controversial projection. As a field, electrical engineering is growing, and there’s a huge market for the skills that electrical engineers learn in school; even if the BLS’s projection holds, electrical engineers will be able to find work in a variety of fields. Currently, degree holders often pursue jobs in a utilities department designing infrastructure systems for delivering power, or designing methods to control a given system using electronic circuits, programmable logic controls, or other tools.

Online Electrical Engineering Degree in Action

John Whitcraft Electrical Engineering

John Whitcraft is a licensed professional electrical engineer (PE) recognized for his work for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Medical Center. John enjoys problem-solving and has done so under great pressure. His teams have noted his ability to communicate under the most difficult of circumstances, keeping the project on time and within budget. John earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering (BSEE) from Lehigh University.

When and how did you begin pursuing a career in electrical engineering?

During my final years in high school I studied and took the college entrance exams and read college guides for engineering schools. I narrowed down the colleges to those with good engineering programs in a live-in setting. I visited these colleges and selected Lehigh University, because an electrical engineering professor personally met me, talked with me, and showed me the engineering labs. It was a time when big industrial motors were being hauled out of laboratories and digital signal processing was being explored.

I graduated in 1980 and began looking for a job. An engineering manager from Silicon Valley interviewed me at a job fair in Los Angeles. He offered me a job. I would begin my career in the world of work by putting integrated circuit chips in ovens to see if they would work a in harsh environment. Some things came up that weren't covered in college, such as the number of hours in a week. But most of the time I used what I learned in college to do my job. The most valuable classes were in probability and statistics. I even corresponded with my statistics professor about "Lot Tolerance Percent Defective.” It helped me understand my job.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect is that I have the freedom to research a solution to a project using sources that may not be available to the public. Although a client is paying for my services, I am not bound by a company’s limitations on how long it should take for me to complete a project. I do have timelines, but I can spend more time researching laws and regulations, as well as the efficacy of a product or process I will recommend.

What are the most important skills a student develops in a strong electrical engineering degree program?

The most important skills I look for in a student who has graduated from electrical engineering program are as follows:

1. Strong math skills. The student should be able to grasp a complex mathematical problem and propose a simple solution.

2. Tenacity. It's important that an engineer take on a problem and continue to work with it until it is solved to the satisfaction of the customer/client.

3. Report writing/public speaking ability. An engineer must be able to give a presentation to anyone no matter how senior the personnel or how large the group is in a smooth and concise manner so that everyone in the room understands what the problem is/was and propose solutions. Report writing also involves careful documentation of the experiment and the empirical results.

4. Preparation for the exam. An electrical engineering student should prepare to take certification exams as soon as he/she graduates from college. The most common exam to take is the EIT (also called the FE for fundamentals of engineering) exam. (NOTE: After two years of working with a senior engineer, the next step is to obtain six written references and apply to take the professional engineer's exam.)

What is the work environment like in a career like this?

The world of work is much different than the world of a university or college campus. You must actively look for a problem to solve or something to do, then work independently to solve the problem and produce a solution (or multiple solutions) and report that solution(s) to your team.

Also it's important to persuade your supervisor to allow you to get any custom training that's required. For example, if you need to know a new computer language or a design development system that is unique to your new job, you must set aside time with your supervisor's approval to become an expert in a given area and become certified.

What type of person is a good fit for a career in electrical engineering?

An electrical engineer must have the ability to work independently without the support of others on a project. Electrical engineers must also be able to persuade others to support his/her work.

What advice would you give to fresh graduates seeking a job in this field?

Prepare for and take the EIT exam while you still remember all of the engineering fundamentals taught to you in college.

Online Electrical Engineering Professional Requirements

Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) is typically required to earn licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). The exam is intended for students who have recently graduated from an undergraduate engineering program or are set to complete one. The FE includes 110 multiple-choice questions.

Is it required?

Required for some

How long will it take?

6 Hours

The Principles of Practice of Engineering Exam

Unlike the FE (which tests general industry knowledge), the Principles of Practice of Engineering exam (PE) focuses on specific areas of engineering. The exam is designed for those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and have completed at least four years of post-collegiate employment in the field. Exam-takers can choose from 25 different engineering specializations for their exam.

Is it required?

Required for some

How long will it take?

8 Hours

Product & Personnel Certifications

Some professional organizations offer certifications for engineers in certain specialized areas. Most of these are not required to obtain entry-level employment in engineering, although certifications can bolster a candidate’s hireability and provide job security in advanced positions. For example, ASME provides certification in a variety of fields, including nuclear material organization, nuclear quality assurance, and bioprocessing equipment. Duration for certification varies. For example, ASME certifications generally require a six-month commitment, beginning with application submission and ending with certificate issuance.

Is it required?

Required for select specialized positions

How long will it take?

Varies

Maintaining Certification

Several states require professional engineers to renew their license with continuing education courses. PEs must renew their license annually in some states, while others mandate license renewal every two years. Additionally, many states allow engineers to transfer their licenses from other states. Engineers should contact their state’s licensing board to learn about specific requirements.

Is it required?

Yes

How long will it take?

Varies