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Niche jobs for Electrical Engineers?

  1. Oct 31, 2013 #1
    I'm wondering what are some 'niche jobs' or niche markets for Electrical Engineers? The kind of jobs that will always be in demand.

    I've heard that RF Engineers are always in demand, that there's a short supply and such...but what other fields are there within Electrical Engineering?
     
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  3. Oct 31, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    How can one possibly predict a job that will "always be in demand"? There was a time when making buggy whips looked like it would always be in demand.
     
  4. Oct 31, 2013 #3
    Of course you can't predict the future, though you can come to an estimation of it, a probability of it if you will. Certain fields that involve specialists, people who have knowledge in that particular field that is uncommon, there will always be a demand for them. Buggy whips are a completely different context with zero comparison to anything even remotely Electrical Engineering so your analogy doesn't hold.

    I'm really just after some helpful advice thanks :)
     
  5. Oct 31, 2013 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    You asked for "the kind of jobs that will always be in demand." There are no such jobs. Furthermore, if there is a forecast shortage for, say, pastry chefs, and based n that forecast a zillion people major in pastry chefery, you no longer have a shortage.
     
  6. Oct 31, 2013 #5

    jasonRF

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    Yes - the self defeating prophesy.
     
  7. Oct 31, 2013 #6

    jasonRF

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    There was a time when vacuum tubes were ubiquitous. How about today? Yes, tubes do have some niches still, but so do buggy whips. Will there always be a demand for people that know how to design and build high performance vacuum tubes?

    Surely some of the established EE specialties today will become as obsolete as vacuum tube designers.

    Anyway, we will likely have power requirements for the foreseeable future, so one could make the argument that power engineers are required. Do universities already crank out more than we need? Is is a good field to go into? I have no idea...
     
  8. Oct 31, 2013 #7

    StatGuy2000

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    But then this begs the question of what a student should study in college/university. The very reason the OP's question is asked so often to begin with is because the student wants to make a wise investment as to what field he/she should study so that he/she can have a reasonably good chance at employment. And attending college/university is an investment in the future, make no mistake about it, given its costs.

    After all, if a student ends up choosing a given major (whatever that may be) and after spending 4 years (for a BS), 6 years (for a MS), or ~8-11 years (for a PhD) only to end up unemployed or underemployed (e.g. working in retail, garbage man, gas attendant, etc.), can you really say that the education was worth it?
     
  9. Oct 31, 2013 #8

    jasonRF

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    Here is the most helpful perspective I can give:

    The reality is most engineers are constantly learning new things and re-inventing themselves to keep up with the changing world. I am an electrical engineer, and I spend exactly zero hours each week (heck - each year!) working in the field that I specialized in during my graduate work. The key is to get a strong understanding of the fundamentals of a variety of sub-disciplines within EE, even if you do specialize in one particular field. A good undergrad program should give you the basics. Even if you do work in the exact specialty you went to school for you will need to teach yourself a large amount of stuff just to be competent.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2013 #9
    If you aren't learning something new on a frequent basis, you are going to fall behind and get fired. I know people who refused to learn anything new. None of them lasted long.

    Meanwhile, there are those of us who keep sponging our experience and opportunities to improve our skills and knowledge at every opportunity. We're not only still employed, we got promoted.

    And no, I'm not doing the same things I studied for in school. If you are that dull that you don't expect to stray from your studies in college, I wouldn't want to work with you, nor would I expect most other people to want to work with you either.
     
  11. Nov 1, 2013 #10

    AlephZero

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    You need to learn some history. The company that became one of the early leaders in scientific computing (CDC) started out making wooden gliders (sailplanes) for use in WWII. There was no demand for them after 1945, so they switched to computing instead. The management realized their unique selling point was their high level military security clearance, not what they (didn't) know about computing!
     
  12. Nov 1, 2013 #11

    D H

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    That's not a good example. The US Navy built up a sophisticated collection of code breaking tools, equipment, and personnel during WWII. The US Navy was afraid they would lose all of this expertise after the war ended. It was the Navy that found the predecessor to CDC, not the other way around. The Navy looked very specifically for a company with high level clearance capabilities that nonetheless was floundering economically. The Navy foisted this group of code breakers and their tools on the owner of what became CDC.
     
  13. Nov 1, 2013 #12

    Student100

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    Last I remember they were talking about switching from RF to optical satellite communication at my place of previous employment. Although there were still some problems to work out with vibration of the transponders and platform, it was an active area of interest. So it's hard to say things like RF will always in demand.
     
  14. Nov 2, 2013 #13
    The ability to influence, engage, motivate and lead other human beings will always be in demand.

    Well, okay, not always - just until humans no longer exist.

    I think technical fields are still good choices in college, but all that learning just gives you the right to be in the room. To remain relevant, you need to be an influencer.

    Also, everything JakeBrodsky said is right on, as always.
     
  15. Nov 3, 2013 #14

    donpacino

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    Im an entry level engineer at a top earning defense contracting company. They are constantly looking for optical engineers. Also keep in mind this may be a short term thing, as we just picked up new contracts a few months ago before I was hired.

    edit: when I say optical engineer, many of them are ee's with a specialty in lasers, image sensing and classification algorithms and/or rf. The engineers for the most part have some knowledge of some of those areas.

    Please remember when reading on these forums that everyone has an opinion, and most of them suck. Everyone has their own agenda and own experience that will influence them. When you accept advice, take it from many people and form your own opinion.
     
  16. Nov 3, 2013 #15
    When it comes to Electrical Engineering, there is only what is currently in demand. The demand literally changes from year to year within the field. Almost any technology field will change too quick for you to make any useful predictions. My advice is to work on learning foundational skills that are valuable across the board, learn to conquer opportunity, keep an open mind, and pursue what interests you.
     
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