Discovering your passion
Electrical engineering is a very popular profession among defense contractors, who typically are located around military installations. Electrical engineers typically do the following:
- Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
- Do detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
- Direct manufacturing, installing and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
- Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems and recommend solutions
- Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time and within budget
If you are considering a career as an electrical engineer, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. You should also take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with this career path.
Education and training
Once you have made the decision to pursue a career as an electrical engineer, you can explore the many tools and resources on MySECO to assist you in achieving the education requirements necessary to practice in your profession. Entry-level requirements for electrical engineers vary greatly depending on your employer and specific job. At a minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Many employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which you earn academic credit for structured work experience, is valuable as well. Having a professional engineer license can also greatly improve your chances of finding employment.
College Scorecard is a great starting point for researching and selecting an education institution. When you visit College Scorecard, search by program/degree, location, size and more to find a program of study near you. You can also use the Scholarship Finder to assist with locating funding relevant to the military community to pay for classes.
Most private companies do not require an electrical engineer to obtain a specific license to be eligible for employment; however, it is encouraged for those working in companies that have contracts with federal, state and local governments. Engineers who become licensed are designated Professional Engineers. Licensure generally requires the following:
- A degree from an Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology-accredited engineering program
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
- Relevant work experience
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering exam
The initial Fundamentals of Engineering exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training or engineer interns. After gaining work experience, EITs can take the second exam called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state's requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Be sure to view the Spouse Licensure Map for up-to-date legislation and licensure information for your specific state.
Now that you've met the education requirements to become an electrical engineer, it's time to find a job in your occupation. One of the first places to look is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search. Hundreds of partner employers have made the commitment to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. A recent search of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search provided job listings using the keyword “Electrical Engineer,” including positions with the following:
The Department of Defense Priority Placement Program for relocating military spouses can help you pursue a career in federal employment as an electrical engineer. If you are eligible for the Priority Placement Program, the program provides you with employment placement preference when applying for Department of Defense civilian personnel positions. Eligibility requirements include the following:
- Being the spouse of an active-duty service member
- Relocating due to a permanent change of station move to an active-duty assignment
- Having been married to the service member prior to his or her reporting date at the new assignment
- Applying for a position within commuting distance of your service member's new permanent duty station
- Being considered one of the “best qualified” job applicants for the opening
Consider volunteering, if possible, or doing an internship. Tell family, friends, co-workers and all others that you are hoping to become an electrical engineer and ask for contacts they might have who can help you build and expand your network.
Professional organizations and networking
Another key to starting and progressing in your career as an electrical engineer is to make the right connections through networking. Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies for electrical engineering. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals in your industry will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location. Remember, networking is the most effective job search method. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.
To explore additional information related to starting your career as an electrical engineer, check out the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Enter the keywords “Electrical Engineer” to learn more about your specialty field. If you need additional information on obtaining the proper license or certification as part of your specialty field, visit the Advantages of Licensure article in the Licensures and Certifications section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO.
You can also speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647 to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field.