Degree programs in engineering technology are offered at the undergraduate levels. Courses in drafting, mechanical design and engineering analysis might be included in such programs. To prepare for those classes, prospective students should take as many science and math courses as they can while in high school. Both associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma, while letters of recommendation and SAT/ACT test scores typically are submitted as part of the application process to a bachelor's degree program.
A 2-year associate's degree program tends to lead to a career as an engineering technician, whereas a 4-year bachelor's degree program might prepare an aspiring engineer or technologist. Students may choose a program specialization to concentrate in, such as civil, chemical or mechanical engineering. Depending on the program, completion of a senior project or internship might be expected. Graduates might earn certified technician or technologist designations by passing the requisite examinations.
Associate of Science in Engineering Technology
Although some employers hire engineering technicians without formal training, most prefer to hire individuals with associate's degrees. Candidates in this program learn fundamental science, math and engineering skills. Opportunities to develop computer-aided drafting (CAD) skills may be available, and students may be encouraged to participate in for-credit internships. The types of courses offered depend upon the engineering specialty studied. For instance, those who study electrical engineering technology take courses in areas such as the following:
- Electronics fundamentals
- Electric motors
- Electric equipment
- Mechanical systems
Those enrolled in mechanical engineering technology programs may take courses in:
- Engineering mechanics
- Mechanical design
- Fluid mechanics
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology
The bachelor's degree program in engineering technology offers concentrations for several engineering disciplines. Students take many of the same courses as in the associate's degree program in addition to advanced upper-division engineering technology courses and labs. Students who have completed an associate's degree program in engineering technology may transfer credits to an engineering technology bachelor's degree program.
Those enrolled in an engineering technology program take science-based courses as well as numerous labs. The types of courses taken depend on the chosen engineering specialty. Electrical engineering technology candidates, for example, take courses that include:
- Engineering analysis
- Linear networks
- Fluid mechanics
Students who study mechanical engineering technology may take the following courses:
- Machine design
Popular Career Options
According to the BLS, many engineering technicians work in the electronic or electrical engineering fields. Other common engineering technology jobs are available in engineering disciplines that include the civil, industrial, mechanical, environmental, aerospace and electro-mechanical spheres.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), predictions about engineering technician employment during the 2014-2024 decade depend on the specialty. For example, aerospace engineering technicians were expected to see 4% growth in employment, while environmental engineering technicians would see 10% growth (www.bls.gov). As reported by the BLS, the median annual salary for environmental engineering technicians in 2015 was $48,650. Aerospace engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $66,180.
Continuing Education Information
Those who complete an associate's degree engineering technology program can take the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) exam to become certified. Those who pass the exam are classified as certified technicians, and the NICET offers four levels of certification.
Baccalaureate graduates may pursue certification if they have completed engineering technology programs accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC/ABET). A bachelor's degree in engineering technology is required to receive certification as an engineering technologist.
Obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in engineering technology can prepare students for technician or technologist careers in their specialization area. Employment is projected to grow up to 10%, depending on the field, and students may elect to pursue professional certifications to make themselves more marketable.