Career counseling is an age-old problem in Pakistan. Year after year we see students enrolling in programs about which they know very little (sometimes nothing at all!). Problems arise when these same students realize that they do not find interest in the coursework. This leads to demoralization and poor academic performance, all of which could have been avoided if proper guidance was provided in the first place.
This series of articles is specifically aimed at filling the void left by lack of career counseling and helping you in choosing the career that suits you best.
This particular article will clear all your confusion regarding Electrical Engineering as a career choice. We will cover the following questions:
- What major courses are taught during the degree?
- What skills do I develop from these courses?
- What sort of lab work is taught?
- What’s job market like?
- Freelancing opportunities?
- Industry Jobs?
- Is the Job Market flexible?
- How much pay can I expect?
- Is this degree for me?
All articles in this series will follow the general outline defined by the questions above.
For the longest time, Electrical Engineering was amongst the highest merited degrees in Pakistan (Ranked at no.2 in most engineering universities). This high merit number is what drives most students to pursue this degree in the first place so it’s important to know what you are getting into.
During your EE coursework, you will be studying courses related to Core Electrical (Electronics and Power), Programming, Mathematics, and Communication Systems. Almost all of these Electrical Engineering subjects require you to perform lab work.
Some other mandatory courses include English, business writing, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies, and Thermodynamics. These courses are not exactly aligned with the EE degree and are usually only 2 credit hours (I’ll explain credit hours below) but nevertheless these are mandatory and you must pass them all.
During your university degree, you will hear this term a lot and it’s better if you understand it beforehand. Every course you study in university has a certain amount of credit hours associated with it. In the simplest of terms, the amount of credit hours denotes how important that particular course is for your degree. Credit hours can be as low as 1 and go as high as 4.
If you have a course that is worth 3 credit hours then you will study that particular course for a total of 3 hours every week.
Credit hours of courses that have lab work are written down as (3+1) or (2+1) – see image below, the plus 1 denoting 1 lab each week (important to note; 1 lab lasts 3 hours).
Your grade in a 4 credit hour course will affect your GPA much more than that of a 2 CR course since the former weighs double the latter.
The course names may vary according to the university but the overall content remains.
The course line has a lot of Programming, Physics and Mathematics subjects involved.
Some of the Core Electrical Courses are:
- Linear Circuit Analysis
- Electronic Circuit Design
- Power System Analysis And Design
- Control Systems
- Electrical Machines
Core Electrical Courses also require you to perform labs. These mostly require you to build circuits using breadboards, jumper wires, smaller electrical components such as resistors, capacitors, ICs, transistors, etc., and power supplies. You also get to work with motors and generators. If you opt for courses related to power you will be working with high voltage systems.
As an Electrical Engineer, you will gain knowledge regarding all sorts of electricity-related machinery such as Motors, Generators, Transformers, Distribution lines, Industrial and Domestic Wiring, Antenna Systems, Instruments including but not limited to Voltmeters and Ammeters, and PCBs.
The above-mentioned items are only to give you a general idea, in reality, there’s a lot more to it, A LOT MORE!
Some of the Electrical Engineering subjects involving programming are:
- Introduction to Programming
- Object-Oriented Programming
- Data Structure and Algorithms
- Digital Signal Processing
The languages that you are taught are C, C++, MATLAB, Assembly, and Verilog.
These courses are not intended to make you a software engineer so they only give you a shallow look into the world of programming and leave out many important practical concepts.
All of the programming courses also include lab work
Some of the minor courses (in terms of credit hours) include:
- Pakistan Studies
- Human Resource Management
These courses aim at building up your soft skills which are equally important to excel in your professional life.
You can look at the coursework of universities on their websites, I’ll leave links for some of these universities below.
Job Perspective – Electrical Engineering jobs in Pakistan
Most of you might just directly skip to this section and rightfully so, the job market is the most important aspect to consider when choosing a career path.
If you read the Electrical Engineering subjects section above, you would have gotten the gist by now; EE involves a lot of practical work, almost all of the work related to Electrical Engineering requires you to work on a plant (either manufacturing or some other sort of production work).
In general, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for Electrical Engineering jobs in Pakistan. Below is a brief overview of the type of jobs you can expect and the companies that offer Electrical Engineering jobs.
If technical electrical work is what intrigues you then you would be working with the following job descriptions;
- PCB designing.
- Design wiring and circuitry systems in buildings.
- Designing RF systems.
- Plant supervision and maintenance.
And some of the companies that you would be working for include;
- Fatima Fertiliser (FFCL)
- Fauji Fertilizer (FFC)
- National Instruments
- Textile mills
- Steel Mills
The above mentioned are all industries that require expertise in the core concepts of Electrical Engineering, however many other industries offer Management Trainee (MT) and Graduate Trainee (GT) programs that offer an escape from the technical side and into managerial positions. These job positions judge you on the basis of your soft skills (confidence, presentability, communication, etc. ). The nature of these jobs is mostly desk work and supervision of other staff members.
Examples of industries that offer MT/GT programs are:
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
- House of Habib
Disclaimer: the following conclusions are based on my personal experience, some people may disagree but these represent the consensus of a majority of the EE graduates.
I’ve mentioned a lot of companies above that offer jobs to EE graduates but the reality is that there are rarely ever any openings in these companies.
Each of the industries I have mentioned above only has a handful of openings each year (sometimes even less) and they have a pool of thousands of students from all across Pakistan.
You see a lot of companies during recruitment drives. Some conduct their own tests, some simply accept your CVs however anyone rarely ever hears back from these companies. The reason for this is that these companies receive thousands of applications every day and by the time you send in your CV, there is a very good chance that one vacancy is already filled or there might be no job opening, to begin with.
The MT/GT programs seem like a good alternative however these are usually ‘training leading to a job’ type of programs. For any of these programs about 10-15 students are selected for the training however only a couple of these trainees are actually offered a job, sometimes none of them are offered a job and in the end, all you have is an experience letter and you are back to square one.
To summarise the job market, it is a struggle, one that never gets easy
Freelancing is the kind of work that certain employers outsource to workers around the globe. 90% of freelance work out there is related to working on a computer so it goes without saying that the kind of skills you develop in EE does not provide you with a lot of opportunities for freelance work.
Most of the skills you develop are helpful in an industry environment (on-site work) so there is no real freelance opportunity.
The bottom line here is that you will not find much luck with freelance work.
Job market flexibility
By a flexible job market, we mean how convenient is it to start a job in a different field after completing your degree.
There are multiple fields in which Electrical Engineers start a career. You will find EE graduates working as Software Developers, Data Scientists, Management Officials, HR Analysts, and in many other fields. Some of these jobs require you to develop additional skills during your 4-year degree such as learning advanced level programming or developing soft skills that help you stand out for management jobs.
The PayScale – Electrical Engineering salary (2021-2022)
To be honest, there is no right answer to this question. An Electrical Engineers salary in Pakistan covers a very wide range, it all depends on what type of job you take up and what company you work for.
For a general idea, the range starts from about 15k PKR and goes all the way up to (and even above in some cases) 100k PKR. A more detailed breakdown is mentioned below.
- Research/Lab Assistants (dependant on the university) — 15k-25k PKR
- Technical Job at a start-up or small firm — 30k-40k PKR
- Technical/Management Jobs at a well-established firm — 60k-80k PKR
- Technical/Management Jobs at Multi-National Companies – ~100,000 PKR
Electrical Engineering scope in Pakistan — Is it for me?
Electrical Engineering subjects are not exactly the easy kind. As mentioned before, they involve a lot of mathematics, physics, and lab work.
If you have an interest in electronics or electrical devices in general and are curious about their working then you should definitely go for it however if that is not the case and you are confused about your choices then you need to ask yourself the following questions;
- Do I enjoy mathematics(advanced level – not the basic one)?
- Am I comfortable with a lot of practical/ lab work?
- Do electronic devices/ electrical machines fascinate me?
- Am I ok with the lack of jobs (Maybe you are research-oriented)?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then there’s really not a lot to think about, just go for it otherwise decide which of the above questions carry more weightage for you and then decide accordingly.