At the start of the Further Education and Training (FET) phase of high school (Gr 10-12), students are faced with a critical decision. These students must decide what career path they want to follow. They need to make this decision before they choose their subjects in Grade 10, to ensure they meet the entry requirements for their desired qualification. This can be a challenging decision for students as it is deciding the course of their life.
That is why we decided to write this article, to take a look at one of these career options, namely electronic engineering. We will examine what the field entails, what electronic engineers do, and the subject requirements for the relevant tertiary education qualification. We will also look at the salary range for this profession in South Africa. We hope this will provide students with a better understanding of this career option, allowing them to make an informed decision regarding their future.
What is Electronic Engineering?
The field of Electronic Engineering is a branch of Electrical Engineering with a particular focus. This field focuses on the design and development of electronic products, or products using electronic technology. This field of engineering emerged alongside the development of electronic broadcasting technology like radio. Since then the field of electronics has grown more and more with most devices in modern life using some form of electronics. Today this field drives the development of information technology and many of the devices we rely on every day. These include smartphones, computers, and networks including wifi. Additionally, this field has applications in many industries including medicine, telecommunications, science, and many more. It is worth noting that electronic engineers will often perform some coding, especially when working with computer systems.
What an electronic engineer does
Broadly speaking electronic engineers design, develop, and oversee the production of electronic products and systems. This includes testing the products and components to ensure they work efficiently, reliably, and safely. Throughout this process, there are a number of tasks electronic engineering professionals will perform. We will take a closer look at these below.
The first step in developing electronics is planning. In this phase, the electronic engineer will determine the appearance, function, cost, and project length. Essentially it is at this phase that they draw up the design of the product and its specifications. Additionally, during this phase, the engineer must consider the needs of their client, and any safety guidelines that may be relevant to their work.
While those working in electronic engineering design the products they also assist with the manufacturing of the products and systems. This is mostly done as part of a team, making individual components and then assembling the final product with others and their components. This work requires the engineer to understand and adhere to the specifications of the design, and the relevant safety guidelines.
Once the product is assembled it undergoes testing conducted by an Electronics Engineer. This is done to ensure it operates as intended and meets the specifications of the design. Engineers will also look for potential areas of improvement, and whether they are cost-effective to make. Should changes be approved they will be implemented before the product is released.
Those working in electronic engineering don’t spend all their time with electronics. As an important role of an Electronics Engineer is to coordinate with stakeholders. This entails email, phone calls, and meetings with vendors, suppliers, project managers, and other engineers. This must be done to ensure everyone is working together towards the completion of the product.
Writing usage instructions
As electronics engineers know the products they design and manufacture best. They are responsible for writing the usage instructions/recommendations for the products. These instructions inform the users about how to operate, troubleshoot, and maintain their electronic products. This is intended to ensure the products are used safely and efficiently.
Maintenance and repairs
Electronic engineering also deals with the maintenance and repairs of electronic products, many of which require regular maintenance. This often involves conducting circuit traces in order to detect faults and then replacing faulty components. This maintenance is done to pre-empt problems before they escalate and require more costly repairs.
If the tasks mentioned above sound like your dream job, you are probably wondering what subjects you will need to pursue an electronic engineering career. In order to apply for a BEng Electronic Engineering course you will need the following minimum Matric results:
|English Home Language or English First Additional Language
Alternatively there are also Diploma qualifications in electronic engineering. Diplomas are more focused on vocational training ensuring you are equipped with the skills and knowledge to begin your career. The minimum Matric results required for a diploma are as follows:
As you can see no matter what level of qualification you choose to pursue you will need English, Mathematics, and Physical Science. This is because the coursework for electronic engineering deals a lot with Maths and Science. This does make obtaining the qualification difficult, however, if you are passionate about this field nothing will stop you.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning that should you not meet these requirements in your matric results. There is always the option of completing a Matric upgrade to improve your results. There are many of these courses available however one of the best is offered by Elroi Academy. They offer this course online allowing anyone with an internet connection to improve their matric results. Allowing them a second chance at pursuing their dreams.
The big question for many people when considering a career is the salary. Electronic engineers earn an average salary ranging from R361 655 to R532 451 per year in South Africa. This depends on experience and what industry they work in. However, it is clear that a career as an electronic engineer can be quite lucrative.
As we have seen Electronic Engineering is responsible for many of the electronic products we enjoy today. It is a good career that can impact the world and can be financially rewarding for professionals. We hope this article has provided you with a deeper understanding of this career option, and the subjects you will need in the FET phase to pursue it. Allowing you to decide if it’s the right career for you. So you can find your passion and purpose in life, and create a successful future for yourself.