Electrical Design Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate or bachelor's degree in electrical design? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and electrical design training programs.
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Studying Electrical Design: Degrees at a Glance

Electrical design professionals integrate hands-on skills with theoretical knowledge to develop electrical, electronic and mechanical products. Electrical design specialists may work as engineers or technicians who solve problems through the application of electrical concepts. They research, develop and design control systems, digital electronic circuits and power systems, to name a few. Associate degree programs deliver the basic education required to pursue entry-level technician opportunities in a range of industries. Bachelor's degree programs prepare you for a career in engineering.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that positions in this field are expected to experience slow growth. Employment of electrical and electronic engineers is expected to increase six percent from 2010-2020. Over the same time period, electrical and electronics installers and repairers may only see a three percent increase in employment; the number of employed electrical engineering technicians is projected to grow two percent.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level technician positions in the manufacturing, research and design industries Individuals interested in engineering positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Electrical and electronics installers and repairers ($52,000)*
- Electrical and electronics engineering technicians ($57,000)*
- Electrical engineer ($89,000)*
- Electronics engineer ($95,000)*
- Architectural or engineering manager ($129,000 - roughly five years of experience required)*
Time to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements No additional requirements beyond those of a typical associate program Senior design project
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent - High school diploma or equivalent
- SAT or ACT scores
Online Availability Not at this time Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Associate in Electrical Design

In associate degree programs in electrical engineering technology or electrical technology, you learn how to work with control devices and electrical machinery in the industrial and non-industrial sectors. These programs emphasize the development of skills in programmable logic controls, troubleshooting and the application of electrical theory. You can develop a strong foundation in mathematics, technical writing and science, and you learn how to solve problems using circuit simulation, engineering tools and electrical system maintenance techniques.

Pros and Cons


  • Focus on technical and practical topics rather than conceptual
  • Since some installer and repairer positions only require a high school diploma, you may stand out with an associate degree
  • Programs provide the foundation required for transfer to a bachelor's degree program


  • Advancement opportunities with this degree may be limited
  • The program doesn't prepare you for work as an engineer
  • Sluggish job growth expected for electrical and electronic engineering technicians (two percent from 2010-2020*)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Associate degree programs teach you the basic skills necessary to analyze, troubleshoot, repair and maintain electrical equipment. You learn to communicate technical information, apply advanced electrical theory and interpret blueprints. Most programs require significant time in a laboratory environment where you gain experience with electrical components and systems. Your curriculum may include the following courses:

  • Alternative currents
  • Reading electrical drawings
  • Preventing accidents
  • Direct currents
  • DC network analysis
  • Linear dynamics
  • Digital systems

Online Degree Options

The practical nature of electrical design work makes finding an online program difficult. ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, reports that most accredited programs are offered primarily on campus. Gaining hands-on skills under the supervision of professionals is important when preparing for this career field.

Stand Out with This Degree

Having demonstrable knowledge and experience can help you stand out. While in school, you may participate in internships to develop hands-on experience. You might consider taking courses in computer systems design; the BLS predicted that electrical and electronic engineering technicians in the computer industry may experience better job growth from 2010-2020. You may also pursue certification through organizations like the Electronics Technicians Association and the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians.

Bachelor's in Electrical Design

Bachelor's degree programs in electrical or electronics engineering can prepare you for engineering positions. These programs emphasize the design of communications systems, electromagnetics and physical electronics. Most programs allow you to gain hands-on experience through microprocessor and computer labs. The capstone requirement for these programs is typically a senior design project.

Pros and Cons


  • Prepares you for an engineering career
  • Programs offer a strong technical background, which might improve your job prospects
  • Electrical engineers earn above-average wages (roughly $89,000 per year as of May 2011*)


  • Completion of an ABET-accredited program may be required for licensure
  • Projected job growth for electrical and electronic engineers may be slower than average (six percent from 2010-2020*)
  • Experience is required for engineering management positions

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Electrical and electronics engineering programs help you develop a range of technical skills. In addition to the core engineering curriculum, you take courses in calculus, physics and differential equations. Some of your engineering courses may include:

  • Engineering analysis
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Embedded systems
  • Digital signal processing

Online Degree Options

A few schools offer electrical engineering bachelor's programs in hybrid formats, but campus-based programs are more common. In hybrid programs, you may watch lectures online and attend on-campus lab sessions. In addition, some programs require completion of roughly 60 undergraduate credits before you can enroll. It's important to note that not all hybrid programs are accredited by ABET.

Stand Out with This Degree

In addition to pursuing certifications and internships, you may consider becoming licensed. The path to licensure typically requires completion of an ABET-accredited program, two exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and four years of professional experience.

You can demonstrate your commitment to the profession by joining a professional organization, like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Members of these organizations may have access to benefits, like industry newsletters or professional conferences.

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