Electronics engineers design a variety of electronic products and components that use relatively small amounts of electricity. Although the role is similar to that of an electrical engineer, using the same basic concepts of engineering, electrical engineers design equipment that use large amounts of electricity. Electronics engineers develop and design small, portable devices such as GPS systems and large electronics such as communication systems, all of which use small amounts of electricity.
Those interested in a career as an electronics engineer typically must obtain a bachelor’s degree from an educational program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Many programs combine electrical and electronics engineering coursework, because both disciplines use the same principles of design and electricity. Coursework includes computer-aided design, electrical circuit theory and systems design. Educational programs also offer cooperative training with local employers, allowing students to gain practical experience.
Electronics engineers start by reviewing the design concept. They analyze system requirements and costs involved with the new design, which can include electronic components, equipment, systems or software. After the design is complete, they build and test the electronics and make design changes as required until the design is complete. Along with designing new electronics and their related software, electronics engineers evaluate electronics systems and products, then recommend modifications or repairs.
Testing and Inspection
After the design is complete, electronics engineers develop procedures to test the electronics and perform routine maintenance. They often oversee the manufacturing of the electronics they design to ensure that it meets the required specifications. Electronics engineers also inspect the equipment and systems they design to ensure they meet required safety standards.
Careers and Salary
Only 6 percent growth is expected for electronic engineers between 2010 and 2020, according to statistical data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although expected growth is lower than the average because of the decline in the manufacturing sector, electronic engineers will be needed to design and upgrade portable devices as new technology emerges. In 2011, the average salary for electronics engineers was $94,670 per year, according to the BLS.