How To Become An Electrical Design Engineer: Complete Guide
Updated 26 January 2023
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
An electrical design engineer makes use of engineering principles, physics and materials science for the analysis, design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems. They create solutions for various electrical-based systems, from minor component designs such as security and alarm systems to large-scale systems such as electrical power grids. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue a career as an electrical design engineer in research, development, design and final commissioning. In this article, we discuss how to become an electrical design engineer, their roles and responsibilities and the industries where they can work.
Related: What Is A Design Engineer? A Comprehensive Career Guide
How to become an electrical design engineer
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become an electrical design engineer:
1. Get a bachelor's degree
The first step to start your career as an electrical design engineer is to get a bachelor's degree. Architectural engineering or a computer design engineering course can be helpful in learning the software that is required for electrical systems design. Apart from an electrical engineering degree, you can also opt for courses focusing on geometry, technical mathematics and building design study material. Most employers prefer a background in electrical engineering while recruiting prospective electrical design engineers.
2. Complete an internship
Alongside pursuing your degree, you can look and apply for part-time job opportunities or internships. Many colleges and institutions have placement cells that help find suitable internships. These internships help you gain practical experience that can prove helpful for your career and be the starting point for building your portfolio. Working as an intern, you can also build a network of fellow engineers which can give you the required contacts to start your career after graduation. Towards the end of your engineering course, start looking for jobs in your line of work to get work experience after you graduate.
3. Build a design portfolio
A design portfolio showcases your design skills and professional experience while applying for jobs. You can add drawings, models and schematics that you have created from the very beginning of your career, including internships, college projects or any freelance work that you may have done. Keep adding and updating your portfolio regularly and later organise it to highlight your best work. Your portfolio can be an asset when you go for interviews and present your designs, as it gives the recruiter an immediate idea of your practical knowledge in the field.
Related: What Does An Electrical Contractor Do? A Definitive Guide
4. Develop your network and look for job opportunities
Connecting with other professionals in your industry and building your network is essential, as a network helps you progress in your career and introduces you to newer and better job opportunities. With a strong network, you can get access to several job openings and exclusive opportunities, provided you are qualified enough and have a knack for design. Your connections can act as references for job openings, giving you the advantage of having a powerful referral supporting your work. You can also simultaneously apply for jobs through reputed job search websites like Indeed to find quality work.
5. Keep upgrading your electrical design skills
It is crucial to keep developing your skills and staying up-to-date with the trends and demands of the industry, as they keep changing rapidly. As new technologies and newer systems are being developed, staying updated with modern skills can get you better job positions, greater salary packages and deserving promotions. You can enrol in additional online courses to enhance your skills and improve your professional portfolio.
Roles and responsibilities of an electrical design engineer
An electrical design engineer performs a variety of duties, ranging from designing systems to troubleshooting bugs in the final commissioning. Here are some duties that an electrical design engineer handles:
Developing efficient electrical systems
Developing electrical systems is the primary job of an electrical design engineer. They are also responsible for enhancing and improving existing and new circuit solutions that optimise the system and give a better output. For instance, in mechanical, electrical and plumbing system design in the construction industry, an electrical design engineer designs and implements lighting systems that improve the efficiency and sustainability of the entire building.
Testing and troubleshooting bugs in electrical systems
Besides developing electrical systems, the electrical design engineer tests, analyses and debugs issues that are observed in the systems. Suggesting modifications in the design to fix the issue and enhance the quality of the system is also a part of their work profile. The technical name for this role is ‘testing engineer' and it is a critical part of the design implementation process.
Related: What Is Electrical Engineering? Definition And Opportunities
Process documentation and reporting
One part of an electrical design engineer's job is to document every part of the design, development and finalisation processes of the system. They document everything, including technical construction specifications, and perform field surveys to collect data for references to develop drawings, visual aids and prototype layouts. They also create a report that mentions all the details and specifications of the particular project. An electrical engineer also conducts inspections, as a part of the quality assurance process, which is to be mentioned in the reports.
Coordinating design and development teams
An electrical design engineer at a senior position coordinates the design activities of various teams and also works with the testing, production and automation departments. Reviewing designs and suggesting modifications in fellow electrical engineers' projects is a crucial part of an electrical design engineer's job description. They also use their expertise to optimise production processes in other departments and resolve any issues that might arise in the manufacturing process, to reduce downtime and ensure that the project is complete within the time and budget restrictions.
Related: Top 30 Electrical Engineering Interview Questions With Tips
Industries where electrical design engineers work
Electrical systems are a part of every industry, hence there is a wide scope of job opportunities for electrical design engineers across industries. Based on their responsibilities, the role of an electrical design engineer can vary from one industry to another. Here are some common career paths that a potential electrical engineer can consider:
Electrical design engineers in aerospace work on designing and production of satellites, defence systems, rockets, general circuit design and analysis, electrical and signal interfaces and guidance and communication systems. In the aerospace industry, an electrical engineer works with engineers from other fields and is a part of cross-functional teams. For example, they may contribute to the development of electric propulsion systems for a spacecraft as part of a team designing a vehicle for suborbital spaceflight.
Construction and infrastructure
Electrical design engineers in the construction and infrastructure industry work in emergency power generation and distribution systems, lighting designs and controls, information technology systems, HVAC controls, data services, uninterruptible power supply and renewable and non-renewable power generation. An electrical design engineer working in the construction industry requires a ‘Professional Engineer' license. You can enter this industry as a junior electrical engineer to eventually become a professional engineer.
Product development and pharmaceuticals
Electrical design engineers in the product development sector design robotics-based systems, consumer products, medical devices, networking devices and industrial equipment. They handle the development of feedback systems, power management and storage, circuit layouts, printed circuit boards, wireless communication, software, firmware and hardware systems and optics and vision systems. In the pharmaceuticals industry, they design and implement automation concepts and software and hardware tools using engineering software.
Related: 30 System Design Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
Additional certifications for an electrical design engineer
Electrical design engineers may get excellent salary packages depending on their qualifications, experience and talent. For a growing career and better opportunities, it is crucial to keep learning and developing new skills and stay up-to-date with the rapidly changing industry. Here are some additional courses and certifications that can lead to better job opportunities:
Engineer In Training Certification (EIT)
AutoCAD Certified Professional
Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE)
Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)
Along with these certifications, several institutions offer various short-term and long-term courses for electrical design engineering. These courses typically cover an introduction to electrical engineering, design basics like general design standards, design philosophy and flow diagrams. They also cover Computer-Aided Design training (CAD), various software, control centres, cables and schematics. Students can learn the skills required to run a project like drawing requirements, specification requirements and review stage requirements in these courses. They also offer topics like voltage calculation, photometric calculation, cabling, switch-yard and substation design.
Skills required for an electrical design engineer job
Being an electrical engineer offers opportunities to be a part of a new technology-driven age that focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency. Working as an electrical design engineer requires a diverse skill set and familiarity with various software systems. Some of the required technical and non-technical areas of expertise for an electrical design engineering job are as follows:
strong written and oral communication
C++ software language
strong mathematics and IT skills
attention to detail
project management skills
visual and spatial awareness
leadership and management skills
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Explore more articles
- Different Types Of Careers In Editing (With Skills Required)
- How To Start Your Illustration Career (With 8 Popular Jobs)
- What Are The Objectives Of Project Management? (With Phases)
- What Does an Account Executive Do? (Work Duties and Skills)
- What Is Remote Work?
- What Is A Film Director? (Duties And Qualification)
- What Is a Librarian? Role Definition and Career Tips
- What Does A Delivery Person Do? (Plus Skills and Salary)
- How To Become An Art Director (With Duties And Skills)
- What Is a Labourer? A Complete Guide To Understanding the Role
- 15 Administrative Jobs (With Duties And Salary Information)
- A Complete Guide To Venture Capital Careers (With FAQs)