Here we look at the types of academic research jobs in electrical and electronic engineering, typical career paths in the sector and opportunities for progression.
Electrical and electronic engineering research finds solutions to global challenges and problems. From healthcare to wireless communications, research in this field leads to the development of ground-breaking technology which has an impact on every area of our lives.
Working as an Electrical and Electronic Engineering Researcher
Electrical and electronic engineering research is a fast-moving, multidisciplinary field bringing together academics and experts from engineering, digital technology, physical sciences and industry backgrounds.
The research job you apply for could be highly specific to the expertise gained during your PhD. Or you could be working as an electrical engineer in industry and can bring hands-on skills and knowledge to research projects.
You’ll need to have a very good first degree in electrical and electronic engineering and a PhD in an area related to the research projects you wish to be involved in, such as digital electronics or telecommunications.
Equivalent professional experience working as an electrical engineer in industry may also be acceptable, depending on the project and area of research.
On completion of your PhD, your next step would be to secure a postdoctoral research role on a project related to your knowledge and expertise. After gaining experience, you could choose to combine your research with teaching duties in a lecturing role or continue on a research-oriented path as a research fellow or associate.
UK universities generally have established academic career pathways which are structured to guarantee promotion after a fixed period. Promotion would depend on the successful completion of a number of research projects.
Where to find jobs
You’ll find electrical and electronic engineering research jobs in a varied range of specialisms and activities. Universities, governments and industry compete to be world leaders in the development of new technology and want to attract the best and most up-to-date research talent, particularly in areas such as sustainable energy development and digital technologies.
There are research jobs available in universities, global research and development facilities or government bodies. Availability of research roles is project and funding-dependent. You can find out more about how electrical and electronic engineering research and development is funded in the UK and how projects might fit your background and knowledge at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
If you choose to work as a researcher at a university, here are some of the roles you may come across during your search:
- Project engineer
- Postdoctoral researcher/assistant/fellow
- Research technician
- Research Fellow or Associate
- Research Software Engineer
- Senior research associate/fellow
- Lecturer/senior lecturer in electrical and electronic engineering
Find electrical and electronic engineering academic research jobs here.
A typical day for an electrical and electronic engineering researcher will of course depend on the area involved. You may be working in laboratory testing motor control systems or microelectronics, or you may be collaborating with industry partners at specialist sites in the UK or abroad.
However, most research posts are structured as follows:
- Creating and conducting experiments in a laboratory or technical environment
- Data analysis and publication of results
- Collaborating with scientists and engineers in universities, industry and research institutes around the world
- Working within multi-disciplinary teams to design, test and develop technology
- Drawing up research proposals and applying for funding
- Carrying out practical demonstrations for undergraduate and postgraduate students
Salaries in engineering research vary depending on the field and specific research activities of the university. However, as a general rule, postdoctoral researchers and research associates can expect to start on a salary of around £30,000 to £39,999 p.a.
Academic research jobs are project and funding driven, so contracts are usually offered on a temporary, fixed-term basis.
If you’re just finishing your undergraduate or Master’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering, you may be considering a PhD. Doctoral research is ideal for engineering graduates who are looking towards an academic career or those who wish to discover more about a specific field before embarking on a career in industry.
There is a wide range of PhD studentships available in electrical and electronic engineering. A PhD takes around 3-5 years to complete, and most are fully funded and come with a stipend in the range of £15,000 and £17,000 p.a.
You can find current PhD studentships in fields related to electrical and electronic engineering here.
- Academic jobs in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Lecturing jobs in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Senior-level academic jobs in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- PhD Funding – a checklist of sources