First, you will need to get a BSEE degree from an accredited (& well
respected) engineering school. In today's economy, I would say you
will need to graduate in top 30% or so from a "well repected"
engineering program where your grades (final GPA) will be respected.
For example, GPA of 3.5 from MIT will be much more valuable than a GPA
of 3.9 from a school without reputation for high-quality engineering
Before your junior year, you should also pick your area of
since junior & senior year coursework or thesis must be concentrated
in your field of specialization (for example, wired/wireless
communications theory, control theory, computer science, analog
designs, digital desings, fiberoptic communications, electromagnetics,
semiconductors, power electronics, power generation/ transmission,
signal processing, etc., are possible specialties)
so that after graduation, you will be somewhat prepared for
When you get the first job (hopefully, as part of a team involved in a
project which utilizes your field of specialty), you will be regarded
as a "junior engineer" or "apprentice". If you learn quickly &
contribute significantly to the project, you will then be considered
by your peers (& by upper management) to be a real "engineer" after a
few years & products that you designs will be mass-produced (or in
case of large systems, installed at customer sites) with confidence
that they will perform as specified.
After successfully completing several major designs/projects, you will
then become a "senior design engineer" in larger companies or "chief
engineer" in a smaller & more hands-on production type companies. If
you have a talent for supervising people and management of large
projects involving many people, then you can choose to go onto become
a project manager, program manager, engineering department manager,
engineering director, VP of engineering, then CEO if you are a good
businessman on top of being a good project/program manager (you might
need to get an MBA somewhere in between in order to get into executive
positions as many executives are MBA's & you will have to think & talk
on the same level).
Or if you just want to keep designing bigger & better things, you can
continue on technical track, write lots of technical papers (in IEEE
type professional publications) and get them peer-reviewed &
published. With enough significant papers & books under your belt you
can become a "fellow" at some large companies (such as IBM, Lucent,
Motorola, etc.). Ultimate honor will be being elected as a "IEEE
fellow" - which is an official recognition that you are a "guru" in
your particular area of expertise. Invitations to be a "guest
speaker" in seminars, shows & IEEE meetings will follow. By the way,
you might have to get a PhD along the way since most engineers at this
high level of technical expertise are PhD's, professors, etc. (with a
team of post-doc's & researchers doing the nitty-gritty
experimentation under your supervision).
Above is my perception of a how an engineer is educated, trained &
then goes on to realize the ultimate dream of being executive or being
a technical guru.
(of course, competition is fierce from one stage to next, so it is not
an easy road to success - but what else in life comes easy? It is not
much different if you want to become a medical doctor, a lawyer, a
businessman, a scientist, a CPA, or any other successful career).
Without a BSEE degree with say 3.0 or higher graduating GPA from top
schools (maybe top 30 or 40 engineering schools in USA), your chance
of getting a real engineering job is VERY, VERY SLIM. Even with a
degree from the top 40 schools, only half of the graduates seem to
land "real engineering" jobs for the past 2 or 3 years - so I am
making an educated guess that maybe top 50% of graduates from the top
40 schools are getting "real engineering" jobs nowadays.
Based on this, I am guessing that chance of landing a "real
engineering job" for a average graduates (say GPA of 3.0) from a
non-top-40 type schools has got to be very, very low. Most large
employers with engineering jobs (like IBM, Lucent, Nortel, Motorola,
etc.) only visit the "top engineering schools", so very few companies
will even visit or recruit from lesser known schools.
Therefore, if you are not sure if you have the academic prowess to get
A & B grades at top 40 engineering schools, you might be better of
with more hands-on type of work which does not require such rigorous
academic qualifications. Electricians & 2-year technician courses at
community colleges might be a better way to land a job in electrical
or electronic careers.
Things change. When I graduated things weren't pretty either. I
slipped in "under the line", but for years it was fugly in the
market. After that it opened up considerably. In the 90s the
season was wide open for any EE with half a brain. Even with
jobs going overseas I see brighter things ahead. There will
always be a need for sharp engineers and the field of local
talent is dwindling (most of the reason for the move off-shore,
In 2003, yes. In 2007, maybe not. An engineering degree will
always be worth more than one in "Ancient-English".
Not true at all. Some also like to hire "local talent". If the
biggies aren't local, you're mostly right (there are exceptions
everywhere). The big thing is to wiggle into a coop program.
These are the route to the good jobs. Work thy butt off in the
coop positions and come back for more!
Bad advice. If he wants to shoot for the moon, encouragement is
needed, not doom and gloom. A technician's (or electrician's)
job is a *poor* second to an engineering job. It'll take a lot
of work, but so does being good at anything (other than a union
OP had written "what if you cannot get into the top schools" which
suggests that he is not in the top 10% ranking in high school
(especially in math & science areas) and he wrote that "I have no
background in science". Therefore, I was just trying to give him a
Interest and talent in science & math are two very basic
qualifications before one should enter an engineering school. Pay is
just slightly above average and if you don't really enjoy designing
circuits or new products, you will not last very long as an engineer
even if you had the brains and discipline to get a good engineering
A young person should be reminded that one gets paid well because one
is extremely good at doing something - and it may take 10 to 20 years
of education & experience to become extremely good at something. If a
high schooler does not have the raw talent & keen interest in math &
science by junior or senior year (for example, if math PSAT or SAT
score is not within top 10%), then it would be irresponsible to
encourage him or her to become an engineer.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Nam Paik) wrote in message
Let's not overstate the importance of a high percentile ranking in a
HS graduating class. I graduated in the very middle of my HS class,
but still was offered scholarships at RIT, MIT, Rutgers, and Drexel.
The fact that I scored in science as highest in the graduating class
likely helped a lot, as did my B&L award in science and my SATs plus
Stanford test scores, but class standing had nothing to do with it.
Curiously, pretty much the same thing happened with my youngest
I eventually received my BS from Drexel, then went on to both be
employed by and do my graduate work at Princeton before joining
I believe it is a serious disservice to HS student to suggest that if
they are not in the top 10% of their graduating class, that they have
no chance of being accepted at a first rate university. This is
absolute nonsense, providing that they have demonstrated some
outstanding ability in a specialized area.
Everyone else must rely on their family connections, unless of course
they have a building named after their family at Harvard, Yale, MIT,
or elsewhere. History demonstrate this.
I was also in the middle of my HS class (bottom middle,
actually), yet because of decent SATs (actually ACTs), I was
accepted into a top school (paid my own way). I did well in my
major, though not so in non-major classes. I worked my way
through college as a technician for the school and landed a very
good job on graduation.
I couldn't afford to go on to grad school, so went directly to
industry. They sent me to grad school (Syracuse extension) but
it was a total waste of time so I dropped out after four *lousy*
I agree! Encourragement is needed. If he;s serious it *can* be
done. I'd highly recommend some serious calculus classes in a
junior college followed by *retaking* the same classes in college
of his dreams. There is no such thing as too much math.
Never turn your nose up at family connections either. In the end
it's all about performing though.
Thanks for the IEEE plug.
Affiliation with them has helped teach me new EE skills, broaden my speaking
ability, widen my professional horizons and enjoy a great bunch of people
who have the same goals and attitudes (not to mention nearly the same sense
of humor). My local chapter has members from new graduates to emeritus
(retired at least once).
Attend the IEEE industry conferences in your specialty and participate in
the standards development process.
Joining the IEEE student chapter is a great link into the corporate
engineering world. Also, a summer intern program can be a good resouce for
knowledge and future job offers.
SM - IEEE / IAS
What's your background? What are your interests? How old? It's
a lot of work, but I think it's been worth it.
I knew I wanted to be an EE by the time I was 10. Of course my
father was an EE Prof, and two brothers were EEs, so...
how's your math?
i wonder why you want to be an EE?
it's fun, but maybe a ME?
are you interested in electric?
it is a wide open field.
many EEs are in sales, they're the ones making a buck, i suspect.
good luck to you.
diesel BMW motorcycle, homebuilt electric motorcycle, gold wing trike, honda
Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.