January 31, 2024

Thriving in the Evolving Landscape of Electrical and Electronics Engineering: A Key to Success

In this photo, a woman is sitting at a desk holding a piece of cuircuitboard. She is sitting in front of a computer. A man stands to her side examining the chip.

In today's landscape of advanced technology, the engineering profession is undergoing more transformations than ever. Innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics are reshaping a multitude of sectors. Consider manufacturing, where conventional operations are transitioning into smart factories. On those factory floors, IoT sensors deliver real-time data to enhance equipment performance and production processes, while AI algorithms predict maintenance requirements and optimize production schedules. This trend toward integration and optimization with advanced technologies is rapidly becoming standard practice, redirecting the future career paths of engineers and demanding a broader skill set — regardless of experience levels.

The Influence of Advanced Technology

As design teams integrate more emerging technologies into the workplace, those teams are simultaneously shaping the interests and pursuits of the engineering community. According to IEEE-USA, consumer electronics secured the top spot as the most lucrative area of technical competence in 2022. Globally, engineers — particularly the newer generation — are increasingly drawn to specialties supporting electronic product design.

 In a 2023 case study conducted by EETech, next-generation engineers — five or fewer years of experience — expressed the desire to pursue areas of expertise that align with the evolving digital landscape, with embedded development ranking #1, followed by power design as #2, and PCB layout #3. In contrast, industry professionals — defined as those having six or more years of experience — showed a strong interest in analog design, reflecting a more traditional, non-digital approach. Notably, career pros also recognize the importance of adapting to the changing landscape, with embedded development and PCB layout ranking as their #2 and #3 expertise choices. This trend suggests a need for experienced professionals to pivot their skills to align with engineering innovations.

New Skills Are Driving the Next Frontier in Electronics and Engineering

Next-generation and professional engineers agree on two prevalent workplace challenges: there are not enough engineers on staff, and engineers lack needed skills. With a growing and transitioning electronics industry, companies are increasingly in need of engineers with specialized skills. Take Audi, for example, a company that allocated a €500 (approximately $553) million budget in 2022 to train its technical workforce with new, digital skills as part of a strategy to expand its electric vehicle market. This highlights how urgently companies are working to address talent shortages in hopes of fueling the future of electronics. Another case in point: the recently passed CHIPS ACT strives to advance the USA’s technological edge, with currently over $231 billion in investment commitments toward expanding jobs and research for semiconductor production. As shown, skilled professionals are vital to the engineering profession, giving individuals with specialized skills, like those holding advanced degrees, an advantage in the job market.

Heather Woods

“For me, earning a master’s degree was about achieving a deeper level of understanding in my field and staying competitive in the long run, since many of my peers have advanced degrees.” - Heather Woods, Data Engineer at Texas Instruments

According to an AspenCore case study, 89% of engineers worldwide, across all disciplines, said that their job requires continually learning new skills. This is especially true for tenured engineers, who feel increased pressure to keep up-to-date with new technologies and design techniques. Consequently, younger engineers are recognizing the importance of formal training to maintain in-demand skills throughout their careers. Continuous learning is not only imperative for those looking to advance within their field, but also for those looking to pivot their career in a new direction.

“Having a masters degree in ECE significantly broadens my potential career prospects. Gaining dual specialization makes it much easier for me to transition between various careers when it comes to mechanical engineering and now electrical engineering. - Kyle Kieninger, MSECE Graduate Student at Purdue University

Kieninger believed that he would gain a career advantage by combining his undergraduate background in mechanical engineering with his newly acquired skills in electrical engineering. With advanced skills in a new field, Kieninger is excited about the opportunity to be more selective in choosing prospective job roles, expanding the types of opportunities he can pursue. In addition, he sees an increased potential to pursue management-level positions much earlier in his career.

Advanced Degrees Are a Strategic Investment in Your Future

With a 5% projected growth rate from the present till 2032, electrical and electronics engineering is expected to be a booming field, anticipating 17,800 job openings annually. While obtaining a bachelor’s degree can land one a job as an entry-level electrical engineer, those with advanced degrees have greater adaptability and market competitiveness. Advanced degrees offer engineers a deeper skill level and technical specialization — improving one’s likelihood of higher pay, more interesting job opportunities, and job security.

The earning potential of an advanced degree is noticeably higher for electrical and computer engineers. According to IEEE USA's Salary and Benefits 2023 Survey Report, engineers with a MSEE or MSCE earned a median annual income of $177,187, compared to engineers with a BSEE or BSCE who earned $151,900. Here, we can see that engineers holding master’s degrees have over a $25,000 increase in income  — surpassing those holding bachelor’s degrees by 16.65%.

Pursue Advanced Education with a Top-tier University

While pursuing an advanced degree has proven to strengthen an engineer’s career, many working professionals hesitate to take on the extra responsibility of education. To address this concern, Purdue University has created a fully online Electrical and Computer Engineering master’s program directed toward working professionals seeking to balance education with work commitments. Purdue’s program has consistently ranked as the #1 online graduate electrical engineering program for the past three years by the U.S. News & World Report. This program empowers engineers to grow their skills alongside their current roles, simultaneously gaining expertise to advance their careers. Within this program, students can expect to receive the same benefits as Purdue’s on-campus program, sharing access to the same faculty, class options, and university resources, all while maintaining the flexibility of online education. 

Most importantly, Purdue’s program enables students to customize their curriculum experience, aligning classes that fit their specific interests. Given the wide range of technical skills within electrical and computer engineering, Purdue students have the option to choose courses across disciplines or focus on gaining in-depth knowledge in a particular area of specialty. There are numerous sub-areas to choose from, including AI, machine learning, embedded systems, automatic control, and power engineering. Not only is the program led by award-winning faculty, but classes also integrate cutting-edge virtual labs, allowing students to apply skills learned in class to real-world applications.

“The wide range of classes available online let me tailor my coursework to my interests and goals,” says Heather Woods, Data Engineer at Texas Instruments and Purdue Online MSECE alumnus. “As I wanted to pursue more data-related work, I enrolled in a machine learning course at Purdue that not only equipped me with fundamental knowledge, but helped me in changing roles” (from a process engineer to a data engineer). 

Students like Heather are elevating their careers with specialized knowledge gained through advanced degrees. Ready to take your career to the next level? Explore Pudue’s Online MSECE program and discover how it can help you reach your career goals.