Dec 4, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Electrical engineering is a branch of engineering which deals with the technology of electricity. Electrical engineers “design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing and installation of electrical systems, equipment, or components,"  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, Computerworld claims, "Electrical engineering is a critical occupation that’s often described as key to technological innovation."

While most electrical engineering careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, most firms prefer employees with advanced degrees. Additionally, electrical engineers work in many different settings, including commercial, industrial, scientific, and the military. And then there’s the fact that there are many electrical engineering sub-specializations, including three particularly red-hot fields. Here’s a closer look at these in-demand areas, along with how electrical engineers can get the training they need to excel in them. 

1. Electrical Power and Energy

Where would we be today without electrical power and power systems? Electricity is a secondary source of engineering derived from primary sources, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear fission, wind, sunlight and hydropower. Unfortunately, many of these primary sources are non-renewable, which means that cannot be replenished in a short period. These include oil, gas, coal and uranium. And while they may seem abundant, they will eventually run out -- with no hope of replacing or revitalizing them. Not only that, but procuring them damages the environment, leading to everything from acid rain to global warming.

Take a real estate firm in Stockholm, Sweden, which recently found a way to use body heat from commuters to warm an adjacent building. One of its creators, said, "This is old technology being used in a new way. The only difference here is that we’ve shifted energy between to different building." This is exactly the kind of project tackled by engineers with specialized knowledge in electrical power and energy, who are on the frontlines when it comes to identifying and developing new technologies utilizing efficient renewable sources. In doing so, they have the potential to become real agents of change in the world today.

2. Signal and Image Processing, Systems and Control

Almost all modern technology uses signal processing. Medium explains, "A signal processing engineer’s life revolves around extracting and processing the information embedded in the signals. A signal’s information content is usually present in its frequency. Frequency analysis of the signals using different types of the mathematical tools like Fourier transform, Laplace transform, The Fast Fourier Transform has enabled digital signal processing to form the crux of the current buzzwords like Computer Vision and Machine Learning."

In short, if digital innovation is happening, signal processing is present. The takeaway? Specializing in this field can help you drive progress across a breadth and depth of industries, including healthcare, finance, entertainment, AI and countless others. There’s good reason why signal processing has been hailed as "the career of the future."

3. Communications and Networks

Cybrary claims, "Technology continues to change and improve, evolving faster and faster as it advances. Along with it, careers in the information technology industry also continue to grow. As a network engineer, you will be in the heart of the technological realm. You will have a wide range of duties that include designing, building, and maintaining computer networks for the organization you work for. These networks also vary widely – from a simple system that you can handle alone to a complicated system of LANs, WANs, intranets, and extranets that it takes a whole IT team to manage."

In addition to being on the cutting edge of technology, for example 5G technologies, there are many other benefits to working as a network engineer, such as high salaries and reputable employers.

A Core Foundation and Specialized Technical Learning

Because electrical engineering is the bedrock upon which many aspects of modern society rest, a core foundation in electrical engineering is valuable. Even more valuable is specialized technical learning in these three high-demand focus areas. One program which offers this is George Washington University's Online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.

Featuring a carefully designed curriculum comprising ten courses, the program is taught by distinguished faculty who are experts in their fields and offers students the multidisciplinary knowledge and hands-on training they need to tackle some of the industry’s most complex challenges -- with the unparalleled flexibility of an online degree. 

Alumnus Chris Williams, a cybersecurity architect, says, "The online M.S. in Engineering Management program enabled me to expand my education by hearing from seasoned experts in Washington, D.C., while continuing to work full-time at my office in California. The program was an outstanding exploration into today’s fast-moving realm of cybersecurity and positioned me for my current position building secure IT systems for my company’s customers….I would highly recommend this program to everyone looking to understand cybersecurity at a strategic and managerial level."

Also, graduates of the program earn an average salary of $119,547 -- more than 60 percent higher than the average for electrical engineers.

If you are looking to evolve your engineering career in a meaningful way while getting the specialized training you need to guide the direction of some of the world’s most exciting technical developments, George Washington University’s online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering may be exactly what you need. A bright future awaits...

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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