Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer researches, designs, installs, and tests electrical and electronic equipment and supervises its manufacture. Their work involves the generation, distribution and management of all appliances and installations that generate or use electrical energy.

Electrical engineering is often associated with power generation and distribution of power. Power generation involves the generation of electrical power from a variety of sources: hydro-electrical, thermal coal power, nuclear, as well as renewable sources of power such as solar and wind power. Distribution involves transmission lines and sub-stations that are used to distribute electrical energy for power, heating, lighting and other uses.

The fact that there are so many varieties and sources of electrical power means that there are also numerous areas of specialisation in the field of electrical engineering. Specialisation may also include the design of electrical transmission systems, electric motors and generators, high voltage engineering and power electronics, to name but a few. The nature of the work may include research and design of new products, the writing of performance requirements and the development of maintenance schedules. Electrical engineers test equipment, solve operating problems and estimate the time and cost of engineering projects. Many electrical and electronics engineers also work in areas closely related to computers (see Computer Software Engineer and Computer Hardware Engineer).

There are various similarities, although also differences, between electrical and electronics engineering. Electronics engineering is often referred to as “light current” engineering and electrical engineering as “heavy current” engineering. The difference lies in terms of the storage, retrieval, transfer and processing of information associated with electronics engineering, versus the application of electrical energy associated with electrical engineering, which is now split into heavy and light current engineering. See Electronics Engineer for more details. However, there is some blurring between the two areas in today’s world and career handbooks today prefer to describe electronics engineering as a sub-division of electrical engineering.

Electrical engineers work in a variety of work environments depending on the nature of the work. These environments include offices, design centres or laboratories, as well as outdoors in the project management of large constructions and installations, for instance power stations.

Engineering graduates usually begin work under the supervision of experienced engineers and are gradually given more responsibilities as they gain experience. Some engineers with experience and additional education, move into administration or management. Many high-level executives in industry began their careers in engineering.


  • government departments

  • the mining industry

  • organisations such as Transnet, Eskom, Mittal Steel, CSIR, Sasol, Kentron, SABS, SABC, Denel, Portnet, Metro Rail

  • municipalities

  • universities and universities of technology

  • manufacturers of electrical equipment

  • private engineering consultants

  • self-employment, with enough experience and initiative, can work as a consultant or start own manufacturing or engineering company

Getting Started

  • read as much as you can about electricity

  • arrange to speak to an electrical engineer about this type of career and seek permission to observe the work

  • try to obtain vacation work as an assistant to an electrical engineer


Abm University College, Accra Institute of Technology (Ait), All Nations University College, Botho University, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Cavendish University, Centurion Academy, Gideon Roberts University, Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre, Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (West), International School of Business and Technology (Isbat), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Tanzania), Kigali Independent University, Koforidua Polytechnic, Kumasi Polytechnic, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Machakos University College, Makerere University, Moi University, Mount Kenya University, Muhabura Integrated Polytechnic College, Multimedia University of Kenya, Namibia University of Science and Technology, New Era College, North-West University, Regional Maritime University, The Copperbelt University, Triumphant College, Université des Mascareignes, University of Botswana, University of Cape Town, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eastern Africa Baraton, University of Energy and Natural Resources, University of Johannesburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Malawi (The Polytechnic), University of Mauritius, University of Mines & Technology Tarkwa, University of Namibia, University of Pretoria, University of Rwanda, University of Stellenbosch, University of Swaziland, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Zambia, YMCA Comprehensive Institute

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