Electrical and Computer Engineering Career Outlook

Electrical and Computer Engineering Career Outlook

We’ve seen incredible advances in the most sophisticated software in the world over the past few years, with major breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence beating humans at poker and some of the first publicly available virtual reality studios. As impressive as these applications are, the hardware and systems that make them possible are equally so. This has increased demand for people who not only understand the potential of leading-edge software, but who have skills to design and manage systems for a constantly evolving discipline.

Although the career outlook for electrical and computer engineers can vary depending on their specific area of expertise, the field covers numerous high-demand skills. For example, Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that the number of cybersecurity job openings will more than triple from 2017 to 2021. Fields such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and holography are also poised for significant growth in the next five years, and will increase demand for creative engineers who can plan, build and manage the systems that back these technologies.

The growing complexity in computer and electrical systems means that engineers will be in high demand, from designing complex communications networks to building and managing the hardware that runs next-generation artificial intelligence.

Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering Careers

While not all opportunities in the field require a graduate education, earning a master’s in electrical and computer engineering can help you enter senior-level roles and provide a salary increase for some specific positions.

According to PayScale, for example, the average salary for computer engineers with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree is $77,260, while the average for those with an M.S. in Computer Engineering is $90,881.

For some other computer and electrical engineering careers, the salary ranges are even more vast. Paysa salary survey data shows that the range (including bonuses) for AI engineers is $124,542 on the lower end of the spectrum and $257,530 on the higher end of the spectrum; roughly half of AI engineers have a master’s degree.

Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering Careers Salary Information

Job Title Common Skills required Average Salary
High-Performance Computing Engineer linear systems, OpenGL, algorithms, systems engineering $82,030
Senior Network Engineer virtualization, VoIP, network administration, VMWare $126,196
Solutions Architect C++, machine learning, Java, distributed systems $114,000
Systems Architect .NET, C#, virtualization, cloud computing $107,824
Senior Solutions Architect cloud computing, system architecture, Java/J2EE $130,453
Principal Architect system architecture, enterprise solutions, cloud computing, project management $131,195*
Artificial Intelligence Engineer Java, machine learning, Python, C++, distributed systems $171,715

*Median salary reported instead of average
Source: Salary data compiled from PayScale and Paysa

Top 3 Soft Skills for Electrical and Computer Engineers

Although the specific technical skills required will vary by domain of expertise, most electrical and computer engineers will need at least some familiarity with scripting and statistics programming languages, different types of systems and optimization techniques as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Additionally, the importance of soft skills like communication has risen dramatically alongside the growing need for cross-discipline collaboration. Below is a list of core soft skills and how they apply to electrical and computer engineering.

  1. 1. Communication
    One of the important elements to communication for engineers is being able to express complex, sometimes abstract ideas to both technical and non-technical professionals. From a technical perspective, engineers will often need to work alongside experts in other domains to optimize something for a specific purpose (e.g. hardware engineers collaborating with software engineers).

    Another key element to communication is being able to communicate complex technical concepts to non-technical professionals. This is especially true for senior engineers and engineering leaders, who may have to make business cases for their decisions.

  2. 2. Adaptability
    Electrical and computer engineering have a unique demand for adaptable experts. In addition to the usually dynamic forces in organizational and business settings, engineers face constant change from the technology they work with. In fact, entire strategies for provisioning IT resources can shift dramatically within just a couple years. For example, Rightscale’s annual State of the Cloud survey shows that 71% of organizations leveraged hybrid cloud in 2016, yet this dropped to 51% by 2018.

    Changes like these force engineers to be highly adaptable both in the short and long-term. Projects don’t always go as planned, business requirements change and long-term strategies must be regularly updated to keep pace with technology.

  3. 3. Creativity
    It is one thing to have the technical acumen to design new systems to a set of specifications, but it takes a blend of technical expertise and creativity to build a system that solves a new problem.

    While fostering creativity is easier said than done, it will become more important as engineers tackle more complex challenges. One of the ways to enhance creative thinking is to look at problems from a different perspective. For example, if someone presents an idea that first seems unfeasible, thinking about what would be required to make it possible might yield surprising results – perhaps a way to implement the idea or a similar one that was inspired by the original.

About the University of Arizona’s online M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering

The University of Arizona’s online M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering program offers advanced practical and conceptual knowledge required in today’s job market while still giving students the flexibility to specialize in an area that aligns with their career interests. In addition to core electrical and systems engineering knowledge, students can gain advanced skills by specializing in one of the following areas:

  • High-Perfomance Computing
  • Digital Signal Processing, Communications, and Control
  • Computer Networks
  • Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence
  • Detection and Estimation
  • Holography and Diffractive Optics
  • Simulation Modeling and Heterogeneous Systems Design
  • Wireless Communications and Networks

As one of the top 50 schools for both electric and computer engineering, according to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Arizona’s online Engineering Programs offer one of the highest quality engineering educations in the country with the flexibility of online learning. A degree from UA can give you a considerable competitive edge in the career market. According to Paysa’s data, the average salary for UA’s STEM graduates with just two years of work experience is $123,274.


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