Online Engineering Programs Home

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Power Systems Engineer

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years)

After graduating from high school, aspiring power systems engineers will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, ideally from a university accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

These four-year programs provide a solid foundation of understanding in the field and prepare graduates for transitions into the subdiscipline of power systems engineering. Admissions requirements vary from program to program, but generally include some combination of the following: a competitive high school GPA (3.0 or greater); SAT and/or ACT scores; letters of recommendation; and a personal statement.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University, which is ranked second in the nation for online undergraduate degrees, offers a bachelor of science in engineering (BSE) in electrical engineering that can be completed entirely online. Students in this online program will develop engineering skills that will focus on the design of electronics, electric power systems, antennas, semiconductor devices, and signal processing algorithms. They will also be prepared for careers that pioneer new technologies in robotics, robotics, the energy sector, and beyond.

Courses cover topics such as Introduction to engineering; digital design fundamentals; circuits, signals and systems; computer organization and assembly language programming; fundamentals of electromagnetics; random signal analysis; and senior design laboratory. The program consists of 120 credits. The program will also allow students to pursue a concentration in electric power and energy systems.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as aerospace engineers, solar energy systems engineers, wind energy engineers, radio frequency identification device specialists, telecommunications engineering specialists, energy engineers, and nuclear engineers.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET; Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $688 per credit

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University also offers a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at its Colorado Springs campus providing students with a solid technical background and the opportunity to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills to work with equipment ranging from smartphones and small electronic devices to supercomputers, within the various fields of electrical engineering and the high-tech industry.

The curriculum covers areas such as differential calculus; circuit analysis; embedded microcontrollers; advanced engineering mathematics; advanced circuit analysis; signals and systems; and electromagnetics. The program consists of 190.5 credits.

  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Accreditation: Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $340 per credit

Step Two: Get Certified as an Engineer in Training or EIT (Timeline Varies)

Several states require power systems engineers to be licensed in order to practice. Specific requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but further information can be found on the website of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

In order to begin the licensure process, applicants must get certified as an Engineer in Training (EIT) by passing a Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam in their area of study. While there is no FE exam that focuses solely on power systems engineering, there is one for electrical engineering, and many undergraduate programs prepare their students specifically for this exam. The 110-question exam, which is administered by the NCEES, is six hours long and costs $175.

Step Three: Gain Initial Work Experience (One to Four Years)

After being certified as an EIT, it’s possible to begin work as an engineer, albeit under the guidance and supervision of a professional engineer (PE). Work experience at this stage is critical for accumulating the credentials necessary to become a PE in the future. Furthermore, it allows young engineers to build a resume and network as they explore multiple areas of the discipline and choose which is right for them. And, finally, it’s even possible that employers will pay for some of a young engineer’s graduate-level education.

Step Four: Earn a Master’s Degree (Optional, Two to Four Years)

While it’s not a requirement, many power systems engineers choose to pursue a master’s degree from an accredited institution. While undergraduate programs focus primarily on the foundations of electrical engineering, a graduate program can dive deeply into the specifics of power systems engineering.

Whether one is looking to build their resume, move into research, or advance into leadership and development roles, a master’s degree is often the first step. Admissions requirements vary from school to school but generally include some combination of the following: a competitive undergraduate GPA (3.0 or greater); strong GRE scores; work experience; letter(s) of recommendation; and a personal statement.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University offers an online master of science (MS) in energy systems that takes a practical and interdisciplinary approach. Designed for those pursuing a career in public planning or industry, it prepares graduates for leadership roles within power systems engineering. Required courses cover the following areas: economic decision-making; the fundamentals of energy system integration; mathematical models for mechanical engineers; and the foundations of accounting and finance.

Students then choose two elective courses from a list of options that includes electrochemical energy storage; power plant design and analysis; smart grid; sustainable energy; and hydropower. The program consists of 32 credits.

Admission requirements to the program include an undergraduate degree (engineering major preferred), a completed online application, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, transcripts from all institutions attended, a current resume, and TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores for international applicants. GRE scores are not required for admission.

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,689 per credit

Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech also has an online master of science (MS) in electrical engineering with a focus on power systems. Notably, the Air Force, American Electric Power, and Consumers Energy have all funded this university’s research endeavors. Online students in this program enroll in the same classes as on-campus students and follow the same schedule and syllabus completing almost the same coursework. Lectures can be viewed at their convenience from the comfort of their office or home.

Classes cover topics such as distribution engineering; circuits and instrumentation for cyber-physical systems; electric energy systems; power electronics; advanced methods in power systems; transient analysis methods; power system protection; wind power; and power systems dynamics and stability. The program consists of 30 credits, of which 21 are dedicated to electric power. If pursued on-campus, it’s possible to extend the program and combine the MS degree with a PhD.

  • Location: Houghton, MI
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,343 per credit

Step Five: Become a Professional Engineer or PE (Optional, Timeline Varies)

While it’s not a requirement in every context, many power systems engineers choose to become licensed as professional engineers (PE). This enables one to lead publically-funded projects, and it also opens up pathways for advancements and job opportunities—especially on publicly funded projects—that are unavailable to those who lack the PE certification.

Eligibility requirements include four years of practical work experience under the supervision of a PE. Once deemed eligible, applicants need to pass a Principles of Engineering (PE) exam in their area of focus; an exam is available for the subdiscipline of power systems. The 80-question, nine-hour exam is administered by the NCEES, and exam fees vary by state.

Helpful Resources for Power Systems Engineers

Power systems engineering is not only an extremely collaborative discipline, it’s also a dynamic and evolving field. To catch up on where the conversation around power systems engineering is at today, check out some of the resources below.

  • Journal of Electrical and Power Systems Engineering
  • Journal on Power Systems Engineering
  • IEEE’s Power & Energy Society
  • National Association of Power Engineers (NAPE)

Related Articles

25 Top Electrical Engineering Professors

Meet 25 top professors of electrical engineering, and learn more about their areas of expertise, their achievements, and their contributions to both engineering and their respective programs.

Electrical Engineering Specializations

Electrical engineers bring a range of electronic equipment to life. Through research, design, development, testing, and manufacturing supervision, electrical engineers are the humans behind all the systems and devices that produce, use, or conduct electricity. Specializations in electrical engineering tend to be incredibly multidisciplinary.

Online Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering (EE) – MSEE, MSE

Electrical engineering is a field where professionals research, develop, and design various electrical components and systems. An online master’s degree can be valuable to students who wish to take up advanced positions in their career.

Ten Professors to Know in Power Systems Engineering

Power systems engineering focuses on generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity as well as building and repairing the various electrical devices involved in these processes, such as transformers, motors, and generators.