Electrical and electronics engineers (NOC 2133)

About this job

Electrical and electronics engineers:

  • design, plan, research, evaluate and test electrical and electronic equipment and systems.

Employers include:

  • electrical utilities
  • communications companies
  • manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment
  • consulting firms
  • government
  • a wide range of manufacturing, processing and transportation industries

To be successful in this job, workers should have:

  • a strong aptitude for math and science, good written, and oral communication skills
  • strong computer skills
  • the ability to think problems through and apply ideas to practical situations
  • leadership, teamwork and project management skills
Common job titles
  • engineer, antenna / satellite
  • engineer, audio
  • engineer, broadcasting professional
  • engineer, line construction
  • engineer, low-voltage equipment
  • engineer, meter / metrology
  • engineer, antenna / satellite
  • engineer, audio
  • engineer, broadcasting professional
  • engineer, circuit design
  • engineer, controls / instrumentation
  • engineer, design - electrical power

Duties

Electrical and electronics engineers:

  • conduct research into the feasibility, design, operation and performance of power systems, electrical machinery and electronic communications, instrumentation and control systems, including the individual equipment and components
  • prepare material cost and timing estimates, reports and design specifications for electrical and electronic systems and equipment
  • design electrical and electronic circuits, components, systems and equipment, such as systems that transmit voice, video and data over copper wires, fibre optics or microwave networks
  • supervise and inspect the installation, modification, testing and operation of electrical and electronic systems and equipment
  • develop maintenance and operating standards for electrical and electronic systems and equipment, and investigate electrical or electronic failures
  • prepare contract documents and evaluate tenders for construction or maintenance
  • may also supervise technicians, technologists, programmers, analysts and other engineers

Special duties

Electrical and electronics engineers may specialize in a number of areas including electrical design for residential, commercial or industrial installations, electrical power generation and transmission, and instrumentation and control systems.

Workers may also be involved in the development of electronics and nanoelectronics, such as solar cells, thin film display, quantum computers, high-speed communications systems, optics and optoelectronics, and medical electronics.

Work environment

Electrical and electronics engineers typically work a standard 40-hour week, however, project deadlines occasionally result in longer work hours.

Work is undertaken in a variety of environments. Many work in an office environment and improvements in technology (such as the use of the internet, PDAs, email, etc.) have resulted in increased opportunities for some people to work from home. Some electrical and electronics engineers inspect, oversee and solve on-site problems in laboratories or industrial plants while others do outdoor field work associated with operational, maintenance or construction activities.

Job hazards vary depending on the situation, particularly during field activities, such as electrical shock from field wiring if safety procedures are not followed.

Insights from industry

Most job openings in the Electrical and Electronics engineering field are expected to result from replacing retiring workers.

Electric, gas, telephone and other utility companies are typical provincial employers that will likely experience increased need in the near future. Since firms increasingly obtain electronic engineering expertise from consulting and service companies, most employment growth will be in these non-manufacturing firms.

According to a study by Engineers Canada and Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists, the engineering profession is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, at the same time as a number of recent graduates are in positions they are overqualified for; this seems like a contradiction, but it reflects the current labour market.

Currently there is a trend where engineering employers are not investing in the training that bridges the gap between the skills acquired through post-secondary education and the additional skills required on the job. Many recent graduates may be underemployed due to a decline in the number of entry-level positions that provide opportunities for them to gain experience and additional skills. These declines in training may result in skills shortages.

Since the reputation of a consulting engineering firm is sought out by potential clients, self-employment may be a less viable option for electrical and electronic engineers.

The aerospace, oil and high voltage power system industries may provide opportunities for larger electronic and electrical engineering companies to work on international contracts. Engineers who would like to work in international consulting must have a good professional reputation and be able to adapt to different cultures.

Rapid advances in technology will continue to make it necessary for engineers to keep up-to-date with new developments in their areas of specialty

The alternative and renewable energy resources sector will have an impact on the traditional electronic and electrical engineering occupation. New technologies such as wind, geothermal, solar, tidal, biomass and other non-traditional resources are becoming increasingly available and will likely have an impact on how this occupation will evolve in the coming years. These developments could result in some demand for engineers to work outside of urban centres.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

There are many different areas of specialization in this field. Some electrical and electronics engineers:

  • perform  electrical design for residential, commercial or industrial installations, electrical power and communications systems, and instrumentation and control systems
  • apply engineering science to make products for homes, such as consumer electronics
  • focus on image processing or control systems for robots
  • design and build a variety of other items (i.e., medical equipment, space technology, environmental monitoring systems, technology used in underwater research, etc.)

Recent graduates begin as a junior engineer or engineer-in-training. With experience, individuals can progress to positions such as senior engineer, project manager, principal engineer or partner. Many professionals pursue a master's degree to work in a more specialized field. Electrical and electronic engineers who pursue a doctoral degree can contribute to the field through research and teaching at the post-secondary level, and may find employment in a larger firm in their specialty.

Additional resources