Is an Engineering Degree for You?
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Engineering is the practice of using science and mathematics to develop inventive solutions to everyday problems. In engineering programs, students study a variety of scientific concepts, computer technology, mathematic principles and practical design theories. They also learn about problem analysis, research techniques, prototype building and laboratory testing. Bachelor's degrees in engineering vary according to concentrations; however, many of the awarded degrees are in a specific engineering discipline, such as civil, mechanical, chemical, industrial or electrical.
Advice for Earning Your Engineering Degree Online
Online students can earn the same degree as on-campus ones and still have the time to balance work and family demands. In addition, online engineering majors are held to the same standards as traditional students because they are doing the same rigorous academic program. The most important thing you can do before enrolling in a distance engineering program is make sure that your degree program and online college are accredited by an organization that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes. Degrees earned at accredited schools are more likely to be viewed positively in the job market than those awarded by unaccredited institutions.
Each engineering curriculum varies based on the chosen specialty, but all students will be required to take courses in mathematics and physical and life sciences. Most engineering majors will take physics, chemistry and calculus before or in conjunction with their introductory engineering classes. Some common sophomore and upperclassmen courses include statics, thermodynamics and materials. Once students choose an engineering specialty, they'll start taking classes that are specific to their future field.
Common Career Paths
Engineering students will have many unique and exciting career opportunities waiting for them after completing their degrees. Most graduates will find work within their engineering specialty, but they won't be limited to just that. Some might obtain basic research positions, or advance to technical specialist or project management positions to oversee a staff or team of engineers and technicians. Here are some of the common career paths engineering students can take:
Engineers examine technical problems and develop solutions that are economical and appropriate for consumer needs. They design and develop products using computers to generate specifications, monitor product quality and control process efficiency. They also are involved in production where they supervise factory processes, test products for quality assurance and identify the causes of failed components. Job responsibilities vary depending on the area of engineering one chooses to specialize in, such as chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial or mechanical. But regardless of specialty, duties tend to revolve around problem solving, research, design, production, manufacturing and testing.
These professionals use engineering principles to find solutions to technical problems within research and development. They often assist with research, performing such duties as setting up equipment, conducting experiments, calculating data and recording results. Some technicians work in quality control, inspecting products and evaluating processes, whereas others work in manufacturing and help design and produce products. Job responsibilities vary depending on the area of specialization, such as electronic, industrial, mechanical, civil or aerospace. These types of technicians often work closely with engineers and scientists in environments such as offices, laboratories and manufacturing or industrial plants.
In June 2012, the annual salary of engineering technicians ranged from $25,715 to $92,414, depending on experience, according to PayScale.com.
Engineering managers plan and coordinate engineering activities concerning research, design and production. They are responsible for identifying technical goals within an organization, developing project plans and supervising staff including scientists, engineers and technicians. Job duties are typically related to the staff assignments, project budget proposals, identification of technical problems, supervision of activities and establishment of administrative procedures. These types of managers often work with staffers in the financial, marketing and production departments, as well as various contractors and suppliers to obtain equipment and supplies.
Employment of architectural and engineering managers is expected to increase 9 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May 2010, their median annual salary was $119,260.