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The role of engineer is as old as the pyramids and ziggurats, if not older. The engineer was born the moment someone decided that they needed to build their own shelter, make clothes, weapons for hunting and cooking vessels for food. Dimensions needed to be determined, the best shape had to be decided upon, the proper materials for use, and a method of construction was necessary to bring all the parts together. All of this takes thought, careful planning, and laying out a plan of action. All of these core processes have changed little through the millennia and form the basis of modern engineering. If you find that you enjoy engaging in these processes, then you should consider engineering as a career option. 

Engineering combines art with scientific principles to create something from scratch. It is the first step to designing everything we use in our daily lives. Structures, toys, computers, even software are all the products of engineering. It’s a field with something for everyone who wants to learn how to make things from the ground up. It should come as no surprise that this wide and varied field can create confusion to someone who’s looking at an education in engineering. Further muddying the waters is the fact that someone who wants to go into engineering technology is not strictly an engineer, but is still an engineer nonetheless. Engineering technology vs engineering are two parts of the same whole with both roles working in concert with one another. 

Becoming an engineer means adding your story to an ancient profession that seeks to make life better for everyone. It’s a role that is never short of challenges and opportunities to do new things. An engineer brings concepts to life, helps improve infrastructure, create architecture for computer systems and software, make structures stronger and more. The many branches and sub-branches of engineering means there’s an avenue for anyone and everyone who decides to take up the role as a career. 

Most Popular Schools with Online Engineering Degree Programs

In-Demand Careers for Graduates of Online Accredited Engineering Degree Programs:

OccupationsJob OpeningsAverage SalaryTypical Entry Level Education
Construction Managers40,200$105,000Bachelor’s degree
Civil Engineers28,300$94,360Bachelor’s degree
Mechanical Engineers22,900$93,540Bachelor’s degree
Industrial Engineers22,600$92,660Bachelor’s degree
Electrical Engineers13,900$103,480Bachelor’s degree
Industrial Production Managers13,800$115,110Bachelor’s degree
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians12,700$66,240Associate’s degree
Architects, Except Landscape and Naval11,800$89,560Bachelor’s degree
Engineers, All Other11,700$102,460Bachelor’s degree
Architectural and Civil Drafters10,700$58,080Associate’s degree
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Most Affordable Online Engineering Degree Programs

What Does an Engineer Do?

The role of an engineer has evolved from its four major branches of mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical into six major branches including management and geotechnical. There are hundreds of subcategories under each branch which makes engineering one of the most diverse careers. Since there are so many types of engineering paths, it’s easier to look at what does an engineer do in general to understand the role. 

An engineer brings together their knowledge of science, mathematics and technology to solve a given problem. For example: an engineer is tasked with designing an electrical connector made from plastic. The engineer has to determine the optimal dimensions of the final product, configure the connection ports, design clips to hold the connector together, and make sure there’s enough room for wiring to pass into the ports for the connection. These principles, while specific to the electrical engineering field, are the same across all branches of engineering. An engineer has to be able to take a final drawing of whatever needs to be realized and turn it into a fully dimensioned blueprint for the manufacture or construction of the item in question.

How Do I Become an Engineer?

When looking at how to become an engineer, your best option is to attend a college that offers an accredited engineering program and has a reputation for educational excellence. The best path for how to become an engineer is to attend a four-year program to earn a bachelors degree and take internship opportunities. Becoming an engineer involves understanding the mathematics and sciences involved in the creation of a product in your chosen branch of engineering. Attending a four-year engineering degree program and taking internships helps you grasp the concepts and what it takes to put them into use in a real-life setting. You also make yourself more employable when you can show a potential employer that you have education and experience in engineering.

What Can You Do with an Engineering Degree?

The types of engineering careers are almost limitless. Engineers are the lifeblood of the manufacturing process due to the fact that almost everything we use on a daily basis has been designed, engineered and constructed by hand or machine. As previously mentioned, engineering has six main branches and each has multiple types of engineering careers branching out from the main branch. There are mechanical engineering technology jobs for people who are interested in working in the aerospace industries and are among the highest paid jobs in the engineering field. When asking the question of “is mechanical engineering a good career?”, the answer is yes. Mechanical engineering jobs are found in industries that require a high level engineering skill sets. Employers compensate for these skill sets accordingly. 

On the other side of the coin is the question “what can you do with an engineering degree besides engineering?” There’s a lot you can do with an engineering degree that’s not strictly engineering as a career. Many engineers earn their degree, work in their engineering branch of choice for a period of time, then go on to work in other fields that benefit from the knowledge an engineer brings to the role. Some jobs that value an engineering degree include:

  • Consulting
  • Technical writing
  • Logistics and supply chains
  • Manufacturing
  • Law
  • Investment banking

Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral

Students who are looking at educational options for engineering will find that the degree options range from associates to doctorates. The associates degree is considered preparatory for earning a masters degree at a four-year school, but it’s also an educational option for working professionals in a related field who want to enhance their educational foundation. When looking at the thought of “can you get an engineering degree online?”, the answer is yes. You can get an engineering degree online, but you want to make sure that the degree program offers the opportunity to connect with educators whenever you have an issue that can’t be resolved during class. Your ability to thoroughly understand the coursework is vital to your career as an engineer. 

Accredited Online Engineering Associates

If you’re looking at an associate’s degree in engineering, keep in mind that the degree will only get you so far in terms of a career if your intention is to enter the engineering field after finishing the degree. However, if you’re a working professional in a field that can benefit from understanding basic engineering principles, getting an associate’s can help you boost your knowledge base and improve your career trajectory. Entering into an online associate’s degree in engineering program makes it easier for a working professional to earn their degree while working a day job. The online engineering associates degree program also offers students the flexibility to take lower-level classes at their own pace and attend a different school for the final two years of the bachelor’s degree in engineering. 

Accredited Online Engineering Bachelors

Most people begin their engineering career with a bachelors degree and return to school later to earn a masters or doctorate degree. The bachelors level of engineering education is sufficient enough to help launch a career and start learning how to apply what was learned in school. A four-year bachelors degree in engineering program includes classes such as calculus I and II, computer graphics, materials engineering, physics, algebra, AutoCAD and more. Many schools offer a bachelor degree in engineering online with the appropriate support for students. A student who is looking at online engineering bachelor degrees should make sure that the program offers the requisite coursework and the school itself has a solid reputation. 

Accredited Online Engineering Masters

A masters of engineering helps engineers refine their career by focusing on a specific branch or sub-branch of engineering. Engineers who return to school to get their masters can pivot into a different branch and enable themselves to find employment in a different branch of engineering. It also offers the opportunity to learn about the latest advances in the field and refresh existing knowledge. Students returning to a master’s degree program after taking time off to work can benefit from attending an online master’s of engineering program. An online master’s in engineering course of study can be taken at a pace that’s convenient for the student and is more accommodating to a work schedule than an on-campus program that can require a commute. Another benefit of attending an online master’s in engineering is the fact that a student can attend a school that’s a distance away from home or in another state entirely. 

Accredited Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering

An engineer who has a passion for teaching people about the field or wants to go into a research position will benefit from getting a doctorate of engineering. A doctorate of engineering also opens up the opportunity to work at an advanced level of employment and be qualified for jobs that require a high level of education that are not typically available to most engineers. Someone who is interested in earning their doctorate can be well-served by getting their doctorate of engineering online. Many highly regarded universities offer an online engineering doctorate program which makes it easier for an aspiring engineering doctorate candidate to earn a prestigious degree that can open many doors. 

Accreditation

Engineering school accreditation means that the program offered by an accredited school meets the educational standards set by a federally recognized accrediting organization. The major accrediting body for engineering schools is Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology, also known as ABET. Does ABET accreditation matter? Yes, ABET accreditation does matter when it comes to having confidence in the quality of education an engineering program offers. The standards for engineering education set by ABET are used around the world with over 4,100 programs in 32 countries having received accreditation from ABET. 

ABET accreditation requirements include aspects such as the program needs to be offered in an institution that grants a degree, has at least one graduate from the program, be accreditable under one of the ABET accreditation commissions, and meet ABETs definition of a program. ABET does not give accreditations to schools. Instead, it accredits programs offered by schools that meet their criteria. Students who want the best possible education should make sure that the program they want to attend is accredited by ABET or another nationally recognized accrediting body. 

Certifications/Licensure

The engineering field has multiple licensing bodies that help an engineer show the public and employers that they are capable of performing their work at a specific standard. The National Society of Professional Engineers offers a license known as a PE, or Professional Engineer. Another licensing body, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying also offers a PE and PS for surveyors. These are just two of many licensing organizations that have created professional standards for engineers. Engineers who want to get licensure can usually get their engineering certification online. However, licensing from any one of the many engineering licensing organizations are not a requirement to work professionally as an engineer. 

All states in the U.S. have licensing boards and requirements for engineers, but each state will have different qualifying standards for licensure. Licensing boards ensure that engineers working in the state are held to professional and ethical standards. An engineer who gets a license is sworn to uphold industry standards and perform their work to accepted standards. An engineer who violates any of their licensing requirements or has a complaint filed against them is required to go through a hearing process and defend their decisions. 

Scholarships for Engineering Students

Scholarships for engineering help a student save on their tuition and make their education more affordable. The width and breadth of the engineering field in terms of career options means there are a lot of scholarships for engineers to choose from. Students can apply to general engineering scholarships, such as the AACE International Scholarship and the ASCO Engineering Scholarship program, that give a student the freedom to apply their funds to a field of engineering of their choice. 

The engineering field has long been a male-dominated world, but efforts are always being made to attract more women into engineering. Women are capable of working in the STEM fields the same as men and bring a fresh perspective to the work of an engineer. Scholarships for women in engineering are designed to attract women to the field of engineering and many have generous amounts to help women attend engineering school. One scholarship for women engineers, Women Techmakers Scholars Program, is awarded by Google in honor of Dr. Anita Borg. In fact, many major corporations offer engineering scholarships for women in order to create more diversity in the field and help develop more brilliant minds in the field of engineering. 

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