Which country pays electrical engineers the most?

Sector profile electrical engineering and electronics industry

Computers, telephones, television - none of this would be possible without electronics and electrical engineering. In Germany, the sector is the second largest industrial sector in terms of employment figures after mechanical and plant engineering. Electrical engineering is also one of the global players when it comes to exports.


General information on electrical engineering

In normal everyday life, you usually have no idea what would no longer work today without electronics and electrical engineering. Both of these have become indispensable in our lives: household appliances, lighting, heating, entertainment electronics, batteries, security systems - nothing would work. Probably none of that would even exist. Automation, nanotechnology - industry would also have a few disciplines poorer. In Germany, it was Werner von Siemens who brought the electrical engineering industry to life. His company built the first telegraph lines in Europe.

The electronics and electrical engineering industry today is roughly divided into the two Areas of equipment manufacturing and power supply. Many companies and engineers have joined the Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e. V. (ZVEI) or in the Association of Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies (VDE). The statistics show 3,568 companies for the branches of industry 26, i.e. the manufacture of data processing equipment, electronic and optical products, and 27, i.e. the manufacture of electrical equipment. 94% of the companies have fewer than 500 employees, which - similar to mechanical engineering - shows the strong medium-sized character.

The statistical delimitation of the electrical industry is not very easy. In the branch statistics of the Federal Statistical Office, the electrical industry is not shown as an overall branch, but is divided into around 30 individual branches of industry. In most cases, however, the electronics and electrical engineering branch is reduced to branches 26 and 27 mentioned above.

Employment, turnover and export in electrical engineering

At the end of 2018, around 890,000 people were working in the electrical industry. Compared to the previous year, this was an increase of around 33,000 employees. The number of employees in the German electrical engineering and electronics industry has been rising continuously since 2011 (around 841,000) with minimal undulations. In terms of employees, the electronics and electrical engineering industry is the second largest in the country. Most of the employees work in the segments

  • Automation: 277,500 employees
  • Components: 80,100 employees
  • Energy technology: 63,400 employees
  • Information technology: 14,300 employees
  • Consumer electronics: 10,200 employees
  • Batteries: 8,700 employees

The sales The German electrical engineering and electronics industry is also rising continuously again after a slight lull in 2012 and 2013. In 2018, sales were 193.5 billion euros, which was an increase of 1% compared to the previous year. The majority of sales (152.7 billion euros) came from Industrial goods, followed by the Automation (54.7 billion euros), which includes electrical drives, switchgear and measurement technology. The third strongest segment was the Consumer Goods, which also includes consumer electronics, with a turnover of 17.2 billion euros. Compared to the previous year, however, there was a loss of 5.7% in this segment. Incidentally, electrical companies from Bavaria generated a third of the entire industry turnover, followed by Baden-Württemberg (22%) and North Rhine-Westphalia (17%) in second and third place.

German electronics and electrical engineering companies generated 52.5% of their sales abroad in 2018, and 47.5% domestically. The electrical industry is thus one of the largest export sectors in Germany. It ranks fourth worldwide. Only China, Hong Kong and the USA export more in this sector. The main customer countries include China, the USA, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The automation department accounts for the largest share of exports in electrical engineering with around a fifth.

The study of electrical engineering

The electrical engineering / electronics degree covers all processes that generate, transmit, use and distribute electricity. With the Bologna Process, the previously diploma-based degree in electrical engineering was converted to the Bachelor and Master system. The prerequisite for the bachelor's degree is a high school diploma, the so-called general higher education entrance qualification, or advanced technical college entrance qualification. Some universities also expect a pre-study internship of at least 8 weeks, at other universities a selection process must be passed. Otherwise, the admission criteria are moderate, only a few universities have a numerus clausus (NC). This is usually not particularly high, but includes 4 to 6 waiting semesters.

In order to be admitted to the master’s degree at a later date, electrical engineering students must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 180 to 210 ECTs or a comparable degree with this number of points. If necessary, English foreign language skills at a certain level are also required. During the entire course of studies, industrial internships lasting several months are not only desirable, but in many cases mandatory. Due to the technological development, the electrotechnical degree program is nowadays strongly influenced by communications and information technology. This is why these courses are often offered in combination. In the master’s course, the basics of the bachelor’s degree are deepened; electrical engineering offers a variety of specialized fields. For example:

  • Information and communication technology
  • microelectronics
  • Electrical power engineering
  • Automation, measurement and control technology
  • robotics
  • Medical technology (to the medical technology industry profile)
  • Renewable energies (to the industry profile energy and environment)
  • Electromobility

Electrical engineering is offered at more than 150 universities, technical colleges and vocational academies across Germany. The electrical engineering / electronics course was the second most popular subject among male foreign students after mechanical engineering in the 2017/18 winter semester. Technical interest, good grades in mathematics and physics, logical thinking and a fundamental interest in computer science are not an official requirement, but more than useful for studying electrical engineering / electronics.

To ... more Women To win for electrical engineering and information technology, the VDE supports the national pact for women in mint professions (mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology) with numerous initiatives. Obviously with success. For a long time electrical engineering / electronics was one of the subjects with a low proportion of women, but that has changed over the years. The proportion of female students starting the 2018/19 winter semester was 16.9%. In 1995 it was only 4.9% and in 1976, the first year in which these statistics were recorded, just 2%.

In terms of degrees, electrical engineering has been around 11,000 male graduates every year since 2015. Since then, there have been 1,200 to 1,300 female graduates on a regular basis. By 2015, the number of degrees both men and women had steadily increased.

Engineer employer in electronics and electrical engineering

The companies in the field of electronics and electrical engineering are divided into companies that manufacture equipment and supply power. It is not possible to name all of them, some of the best known include:

  1. Aixtron (compound semiconductors, nanomaterials)
  2. Carl Zeiss (including optoelectronics, semiconductor technology, measurement technology)
  3. Deutsche Telekom (communication electronics)
  4. Harting Electronics (connectors, magnet systems, fiber optic transmission systems)
  5. Heraeus Holding (medical technology, sensors and special light sources)
  6. Infineon (semiconductors)
  7. Jenoptik (electro-optics, electromechanical systems)
  8. Liebherr (including household appliances, automation systems)
  9. Manz (image processing, control technology)
  10. Miele & Cie. (Electrical appliances for household and commercial use)
  11. Osram (lighting)
  12. Philips (semiconductors, lighting, household appliances, consumer electronics)
  13. Polytec GmbH (photonics, spectral technologies)
  14. Q-Cells AG (photovoltaics, solar cells)
  15. Robert Bosch GmbH (conglomerate, including power tools, household appliances, industrial and building technology)
  16. Rohde & Schwarz (communication technology)
  17. Schulz Systemtechnik (automation technology)
  18. Siemens (conglomerate, including telecommunications equipment, lighting technology, household appliances, medical technology)
  19. Vescon (including robot programming, electrotechnical plant construction)
  20. Vodafone GmbH (communication technology)

The sub-areas of electrical engineering

Electrical engineering can be divided into different subject areas, some of which can already be selected as a specialization during the course. This includes the following sub-sectors, sorted alphabetically:

  • Drive technology
  • Automation technology
  • Computer technology
  • Energy Technology
  • building technology
  • Device technology
  • Semiconductor technology
  • High frequency technology
  • Information technology
  • Communication technology
  • Medical technology
  • measuring technology
  • microelectronics
  • Communications engineering
  • Nanoelectronics
  • Control engineering
  • robotics
  • Control technology
  • Technical computer Science
  • Technical mechanics

Careers in electrical engineering

A degree in electrical engineering enables young engineers to start their careers in many industries. Because our world is becoming more and more networked and automated, electrical engineers can find a job almost everywhere. This offers a wide range of activities. It ranges from development and production through commissioning and testing to the sale of electrical components, devices and systems - software development is also part of it.

Electrical engineers find jobs in the electrical and electronics industry, in mobile communications and telecommunications companies, in mechanical and plant engineering as well as in the automotive, aerospace and aerospace industries. Employment in an engineering office is also possible. Software companies also need electrical engineers. Those who want to become self-employed can, for example, work as an appraiser or expert. In addition, electrical engineers can specialize in the scientific field, i.e. research and development, at universities.

According to the Federal Employment Agency, electrical engineers are the least likely of all academic groups to be threatened with unemployment. The unemployment rate shows almost full employment, and the number of registered jobs continued to rise in 2018. A VDE survey of young electrical engineers showed: 9% are already recruited at the university without even having to apply. The others will have their first job after a maximum of 5 applications and 2 interviews.

A postgraduate degree (master’s) is usually required for management positions. A doctorate is also beneficial for a career: electrical engineers with a doctorate have better chances of awarding management positions and managerial positions in companies.

The future in the electronics and electrical engineering sector

The great interest shown by many high school graduates in studying electrical engineering helps to cover the need for skilled workers. According to the Federal Employment Agency, there were no nationwide bottlenecks in 2018. An exception in this case is automation technology, in which skilled workers are urgently needed.

In the future there will hardly be a job profile that is not constantly changing due to digitization. In addition to IT specialists, electrical engineers are the designers and drivers for digitization. The foundations for the wide-ranging topics Industry 4.0 and digitization are laid in the electrical engineering course. But: According to a VDI study, universities are insufficiently preparing young engineers for the digital transformation. And a VDE survey also showed that every eighth student is concerned that Germany will fall behind in the race for innovation in view of the US dominance in software and Internet platforms.

In the opinion of these young electrical engineers, the current state of digitization in Germany is not sufficient to be able to keep pace with a global comparison in the future. The lack of infrastructure, especially with the 5G and broadband expansion, is seen as the greatest obstacle on the way to digital transformation.

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