Electrical engineer

Electrical design engineer

Career outlook for electrical engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would design, build and maintain the electrical systems and equipment that are vital to industry, the railways and manufacturing.

There are many industries you could work in, such as:

  • Transport – including rail electrification and signalling
  • Energy – generating, transmitting and distributing power
  • Renewable energy – solar panelling, hydroelectric power and wind turbines
  • Manufacturing and construction
  • Building services – dealing with lighting, heating, ventilation and lift systems

You would use computer-assisted engineering and design software to draw up new project plans and circuit diagrams for high and low voltage electrical equipment.

You’d lead the installation of a system and make sure it meets the safety regulations.

Depending on the industry, you would:

  • assess whether new technical developments are feasible
  • create project plans
  • draw and interpret technical diagrams
  • estimate costs and timescales for projects
  • coordinate the work of technicians and craftspeople
  • test electrical installations and systems
  • analyse the data from tests
  • oversee inspection and maintenance programmes

You’d also have to write reports, attend meetings and give presentations about projects. You’d need a good understanding of electrical health and safety regulations.

You would work on projects with other professionals, such as civil engineers, architects, engineering technicians and IT staff.

Working conditions


You would usually work around 40 hours a week. You may have to work occasional overtime in order to meet deadlines.


Depending on your job, you could be based in an office, factory, production plant, workshop, power station or research facility.


You may need your own transport to get from site to site.

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Analysing

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.


You would need qualifications at SCQF levels 4 to 6: a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8), a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or a postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) in:

  • Electrical or Electronics Engineering
  • Building Services Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Physics
  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Mechatronics

Alternatively you can do a Modern Apprenticeship and gain relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Electrical Installation (SVQ level 3).

Entry to a Electrical Engineering degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires Highers at BBBC or above; Advanced Highers are helpful.

An integrated Masters qualifications such as an MEng can also be studied at university. These courses incorporate more independent research and will give you a greater knowledge and understanding of electrical engineering science. They could also prepare you for further postgraduate study such as a PhD or EngD (SCQF level 11). 

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

You will also need

To work with electrical wiring, you will need to pass a Colour Vision Assessment.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF Level 5).

Employers value work experience. Finding courses with work placements or taking on an internship can be especially useful.

Working towards incorporated or chartered status could benefit your career in the long-run. To do this, you would need to register with a relevant industry body and apply to the Engineering Council.