A North Central College electrical engineering student working with an instrument.

Electrical Engineer Salary: How Much Do They Make?

Reviewed by Jacob Imm

Feb 11, 2022

Electrical Engineer Salary: How Much Do They Make?

Looking for information about how to become an electrical engineer? Electrical engineering is an exciting field that involves the development and maintenance of electrical devices and equipment. With equal parts logic and creative problem-solving, the job itself can be as rewarding as it is enjoyable.

But how much do electrical engineers make?

While electrical engineer salaries vary by location, education level, experience and position, you can expect to earn between $60,000 and $160,000+ working in electrical engineering. In this guide, we’ll explore how these factors affect wages in popular electrical engineering roles, as well as options you have to improve your annual salary.

Popular Electrical Engineering Jobs

Because so much of our modern world relies on technology, electrical engineering offers a wide range of exciting career opportunities and a range of salaries to match. With that in mind, let’s look at the roles and average national salaries for some of the most popular jobs.

Electrical or Electronics Engineer

From communications equipment to cars, electrical engineers design and test the electronic systems we use daily. Should you decide to work as an electrical or electronics engineer, you might find yourself: 

  • Designing devices
  • Improving existing electronics
  • Ensuring equipment meets safety standards

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual electrical engineer salary is $103,390 nationwide. Even the bottom 10% of workers (usually those in entry-level positions) can earn $64,870 per year.

Computer Hardware Engineer

Having trouble weighing the choice of computer engineering vs. electrical engineering? While electrical engineers may work in any number of industries, computer hardware engineers bring their specialized skills to the world of computing. In this type of job, you’ll build and analyze computers and their parts—including motherboards, processors, routers and more.

According to the BLS, computer hardware engineers make $119,560 per year on average. That said, don’t expect to earn six figures right away. You’ll likely start closer to $70,100 per year.

Sales Engineer

Sales engineers take everything they’ve learned about electronics and use that knowledge to deal directly with businesses. Whether they sell services or components, sales specialists need to thoroughly understand the technical specifications of their products to answer customer questions.

In an average day, your work as a sales engineer might include:

  • Explaining electrical equipment to various audiences
  • Communicating with clients to determine their needs
  • Arranging product orders and shipments

Per the BLS, the median annual salary for a sales engineer is $108,830, while the bottom 10% earns around $60,000. Many sales engineers also receive commissions, which can provide a significant boost to their annual salary.

How Can You Earn More as an Electrical Engineer?

It’s important to note that the salaries listed above are the median national wages; they’re meant as benchmarks, not as upper or lower limits. In fact, with some flexibility, commitment and a bit of ambition, you can increase your average salary as an electrical engineer in the following ways.

Improve Your Credentials

There are three primary paths you can take to increase your knowledge as an engineer and, in doing so, make a case for boosting your annual salary:

  • Pursue a master’s degree – Many engineering jobs only require a bachelor’s degree. But with a graduate degree, you are more likely to be  qualified for higher paying leadership positions. The same is true for mechanical engineering vs. electrical engineering.
  • Complete additional training – Depending on your field, receiving certification in project management, AutoCAD software, or other relevant topics can help qualify you for better paying positions.
  • Earn your Professional Engineer license – In many states, a Professional Engineer license is required for high-paying jobs in the government and education sectors.

Work in a Profitable Industry

Some industries pay better than others due to demand or added risk. According to research from the BLS, the highest paying industries for electrical engineers are:

  • Oil & Gas – The annual average salary reaches $131,710.
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing – This field pays an average yearly salary upwards of $123,460.
  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing – Expect to earn an average yearly salary of around $120,430 in this highly specialized industry.

Find out more about North Central College

Top-Paying States

Because of fluctuations in the cost of living and regional demand, some states pay engineers more or less than others on average. As compiled by the BLS, the top-paying states and districts for electrical engineers are:

  • Washington, D.C. ($126,840/year)
  • California ($124,390/year)
  • New Jersey ($120,140/year)

In contrast, Montana, Arkansas, and Maine rank on the lower end of the spectrum for average electrical engineer salaries.

Is There Demand for Electrical Engineers?

Careers in electrical engineering don’t just pay well—they’re also in high demand. And that electrical engineer job demand is growing steadily. 

The BLS expects an average of 22,700 new jobs to open up each year between 2020 and 2030—a 7% increase overall.

Start Your Electrical Engineering Journey 

With above-average starting wages and room for advancement, a career in electrical engineering is ideal for anyone looking to expand their horizons and their bank account.

If you’re intrigued, the first step toward this lucrative career is earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering–but you will need to find the right school. In the electrical engineering program at North Central College, for example, you’ll work hands-on in state-of-the-art facilities with qualified professors. Through intensive coursework and work experience through internships, you’ll be exposed to an array of practical and theoretical concepts that will prepare you for a future in electrical engineering.

Apply to North Central’s electrical engineering program today or schedule a campus visit to learn more!

Jacob Imm is a communications specialist in the North Central College Office of Marketing and Communications. He has 11 years of collegiate communications experience and has worked with hundreds of college students. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University. 

 

Sources: 

Electrical and Electronics Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published September 8, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm

Computer Hardware Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published September 8, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm.

Sales Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published September 8, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/sales-engineers.htm.

What is a PE? National Society of Professional Engineers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020: 17-2071 Electrical Engineers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published March 31, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021.  https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172071.htm#st

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020: 17-2071 Electrical Engineers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published March 31, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021.  https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172071.htm#st

Electrical and Electronics Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Published September 8, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineers.htm