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Electrical Engineer

by Staff Reporter
If you have an interest in figuring out how things work and putting your problem-solving skills to the test, a career as an Electrical Engineer could be for you.

Career Overview

As an electrical engineer, you will be involved in the ongoing process of developing electrical control systems and devices.  The job of an electrical engineer also incorporates problem-solving and testing new equipment. This is an exciting space of coming up with solutions which support different kind of technological systems.  

You will be able to contribute to developing creative designs in various fields.  The work electrical engineers do focus on reliability, quality, safety, sustainability and economy.  Some of the sectors you will work in include:

  • health (for example: electric prosthetic devices etc.)
  • energy (the production and distribution of power)
  • transportation (and transport networks)
  • building (including lighting, heating and ventilation)

Required School Subjects

Most tertiary institutions will require you to have taken the following subjects in high school:

  • English (matric level)
  • Pure Maths (matric level)
  • Physical Science (matric level)

There will also be a certain standard that you will have to meet for each subject.  

Recommended subjects:

  • Electrical Technology
  • Computer Applications Technology (CAT)
  • Information Technology (IT)

Institution and APS

Each institution offering engineering offer an exceptional programme. The best universities to consider for Electrical Engineering courses are:

  • University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • WITS
  • University of Pretoria (UP)
  • University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN)
  • Stellenbosch University

The minimum requirements for your required subjects are generally as follows:

  • English: 60%-69%
  • Maths: 60%-69%
  • Physical Science: 60%-69%

In general, a minimum APS of 35 is required for a student to apply for the programme. However, all universities stress that higher pass marks are more attractive, so meeting the minimum threshold is does not guarantee an acceptance.  If you apply to a university of technology or TVET college, the minimum requirements will be lower.

Required Qualification/s

The engineering qualification that you get will depend on the institution you attend.  Your matric pass will determine which qualification you can study towards.  To qualify as an Electrical Engineering, you will need one of the following qualifications:

  • University: BEng in Elctrical Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (there is also the option of getting an honours or masters)
  • University of Technology: Bachelor degree, Diploma or National Certicate (Vocational) in Electrical Engineering
  • TVET College: Higher Certificate, Diploma, National Certificate (Vocational) in Electircal Engineering
  • Private College: Higher Certificate, Diploma in Electrical Engineering

Required Skills

You should have the following skills for a career in Electrical Engineering:

  • critical and innovative thinking
  • technological knowledge
  • maintaining an active learning journey
  • complex problem solving skills
  • mathematics and physical science skills
  • practical thinking

Where you can work

As an Electrical Engineer, you will have a versitile set of skills that can be applied to a varity of working environments.  Some of the main areas Electrical Engineers find themselves in include:

  • the mining, minerals and engineering industry
  • the electronics sector
  • system engineering
  • software development
  • biomedical research
  • game design
  • advanced control systems
  • IT departments in banks
  • insurance companies
  • self-employment and consultancy

Working Hours

The working hours will depend on the environment you work in as well as the project/s you are working on.  Electrical Engineers can work on multiple projects which could result in +/-10 hour days.  In general, you will be working a 40 hour week with the possibility of working longer when there are deadlines to meet or problems to resolve.  There are some jobs that offer flexi hours.  

Expected Salary

Due to the fact that electrical engineering is a scarce skill in South Africa, there is a demand for Electrical Engineers.  Therefore, salaries in the industry are competitive.  Specific salaries will depend on your job title and where you work.  In general, the average salary for an Electrical Engineer in South Africa is R35 000.  The best way to get an increase in this indurstry is to gain experience.  The more you learn, the more you earn.

What to expect

Here are a few things you can expect from a career in Electrical Engineering:

  • the road to qualifiying as an Electrical Engineer can be a long and winding one.  However, if you have a passion for the discipline that you have chosen within electrical engineering
  • you could work in a range of environments from a production plant to an office to a labortory.  This means that you could be exposed to tough conditions, depending on the location
  • after building a reputation and gaining experience in the industry, you could take on the opportunity of self-employment or consultancy

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