With an engineering degree, you can unlock many career paths. Astronomy, farming, medicine, chemistry, transportation, and many more sectors are open to those with engineering degrees. From 2019 to 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 3% rise in engineering-related professions (BLS, 2021).
Any student considering this field of study should have a genuine interest in solving problems, creating useful tools for others, or improving the way we interact with machines and technology. Engineers are expected to be analytical, numerate, communicative, collaborative, and problem-solving when they enter the workforce.
Your chosen engineering specialization and obtained degree level will determine your salary potential and entire career path. Learn more about what an engineering degree is all about—how much it costs, future jobs you may be interested in, types of degrees, requirements, and more, so you can see if this field fits your future goals.
An engineering degree is a field of study that deals with the research, framework, and application of machines, engines, and structures. It affects every aspect of human life, be it about cars, smartphones, and the roads we drive on. It encompasses various fields as well. For instance, computer science vs computer engineering is not too different from each other. However, these two fields are vastly different from industrial engineering, aerospace engineering, and the like.
Engineering degree programs entail the study of math, science, technology, and some business principles. Standard engineering courses teach about designing and conducting experiments, identifying and solving problems, understanding professional and ethical responsibility, and communicating well. With this engineering definition, taking this degree requires a long-term commitment to learning and flexibility to keep up with evolving trends and problem-solving approaches (Follman, 2019). Nevertheless, it provides a wide range of options, both academically and professionally.
An engineering degree is so broad that engineers can be seen going in many directions. This degree can prepare you for a future in designing highway systems, improving communities, creating advanced medical technology, entering the field of research and development to invent new mechanical tools, and even starting a business. Taking this degree can be a difficult path, but it is worthwhile for those who are interested, skilled, and possess a great work ethic (The Best Schools, 2021).
Source: BLS, 2021
An engineering degree tuition depends on the chosen program and type of academic institute. State universities offer lower tuition costs than private universities. Many schools also impose application, registration, and book fees that may add to the overall cost. Engineering costs differ among schools, and some differ every semester, which makes it difficult to determine the average tuition costs of this degree (Study.com, 2020).
For the 2020-2021 academic year, the average undergraduate in-state tuition and fees for an engineering degree is $13,594. Meanwhile, out-of-state engineering students pay $45,317.
When it comes to engineering graduate degrees, the average tuition and fees for 2021 are $15,761 for in-state residents and $40,289 for out-of-state residents.
Furthermore, programs in online colleges for engineering degrees may offer students relatively affordable options depending on the institution and the curriculum. They also enjoy fewer expenses on accommodation, food, and others related to living on campus.
Some engineers today may have their own complaints about their jobs, but more engineers have felt that engineering was worth it. In fact, statistics show that more decent pay and professional growth await the top engineering occupations (McFadden, 2019).
Engineering is an intellectually challenging and sometimes stressful degree, but it can be also satisfying to know that it is one of those disciplines aimed at making a world a better place to live in.
An engineering degree provides exciting career opportunities in various fields. Find out the top engineering degree jobs in this section.
The evolution of technology has been threatening the relevance of many careers. The nature of jobs is changing, and this trend is greatly impacted by the field, skills, and course of studies professionals have.
In this modern era, engineering in different sectors is establishing tomorrow’s business applications. Without engineers, there would be no proper irrigation lines, waste solutions, electricity, establishments, machines, agriculture plants, computer systems, public and private transportation, and many of our basic needs in life. They also make sure that people are breathing safe air, eating safe food, and drinking safe water. Even if robots replaced many jobs by 2030, engineers would still be in demand (Mujahid, 2020).
Engineers plan, test, evaluate, study, develop, oversee, and maintain almost every complex system, even luxuries, that people need. That is why they are deemed important, always in demand not just to their respective industries but also to the world (University HQ, n.d.).
Engineers are one of the most highest-paid professionals inside and outside the US due to the weight of responsibility they carry with them. As human safety depends on their hands, engineers only take accurately calculated measures. Thus, they are confined within institutional and work limitations. They need to work carefully so as not to put human lives at risk. An engineering major earns an average of $109,324 annually according to the latest DATA USA numbers (Grad School Center, n.d.).
Regarding certain job titles, aerospace engineers earn $88,990 annually, agricultural engineers earn $72,323, biomedical engineers earn $70,557, chemical engineers earn $78,963, and civil engineers earn $70,946(Payscale, 2023).
Source: Payscale, 2021
A degree in engineering will lead you to where you want to be someday. Hence, it is necessary that you are aware of the existing engineering degree types.
Average time to complete: 2 years
An associate degree in engineering tackles preliminary level subject matter, such as basic engineering theories, physics, calculus, and differential equations. It can already qualify you for immediate specialty work, but with some limitations.
The courses in an associate degree in engineering are calculus, chemistry, engineering construction, information systems, and physics. This two-year degree is a stepping stone to learning basic technical skills and earning eligibility for working in the field.
However, associate degree in engineering holders would not be qualified to earn a Professional Engineering (PE) license. Those who plan to become professional engineers are advised to earn a bachelor’s degree (The Best Schools, 2021).
Entry-level jobs: mechanical technician, consumer goods tester, research assistant
Average time to complete: 4 years
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is a typical choice for students who aim to exceed the technician status and become professional engineers. In this degree, you will dig deeper into math and life sciences.
Engineering courses in a bachelor’s degree are chemistry lab, computer-assisted design, engineering and programming, engineering and technology, fluid mechanics, measurement systems, principles of electricity, and thermodynamics.
This degree leads to roles in energy, transportation, computer science, health care, and architecture industries. It also serves as a ticket to taking a licensure exam. Some schools offer five-year programs, which combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Entry-level jobs: chemical engineer, civil engineer, mechanical engineer
Average time to complete: 2 years
A master’s degree in engineering is commonly concerned with enhancing knowledge, expertise, and research skills. Most master’s degrees in engineering also demand senior thesis completion.
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Engineering both focus on math, the sciences, and technology. The only difference is that a BA in Engineering is merged with some courses in liberal arts and humanities. On the other hand, a BS in Engineering delves into some subdisciplines on math and science. Courses in a master’s degree in engineering are computer-integrated manufacturing, energy systems design, engineering management, experimental engineering, aerospace engineering introduction, mechatronics, applied mathematics, and robotics.
Some schools offer more nonexclusive master of engineering degrees, and this means that the degree will mostly be in a specialized field, depending on preference (The Best Schools, 2021).
High-level positions: senior systems engineer, software developer, design engineer
Average time to complete: 3 – 6 years
Earning a doctorate degree in engineering is the requirement to become a researcher or college-level professor. This degree requires students to earn a master’s degree in engineering or a related field. It provides an extensive program in certain areas of specialization. If you pursue a doctorate degree, you would design and conduct your own research focus with the aid of a mentor. After graduation, you can work in private firms, government-funded initiatives, and nonprofit projects.
High-level positions: researcher, college-level professor
Some certificates are also available for specific specializations. Certifications, such as systems design, information technology, and technical maintenance, can help in building strong credentials and advantages among other candidates (The Best Schools, 2021).
Engineers are best known for their scientific and mathematic expertise that helps them solve many technical problems. To become an engineer, you must attain the right credentials first. Featured below are some of the basic engineering degree prerequisites.
Admission requirements and processes vary from school to school. Generally, schools will ask applicants to complete an application and take admission tests such as the SAT or ACT. Sometimes, applicants will need to apply directly to certain degrees and meet other requirements like earning high scores and finishing specific high school programs (McKay, 2019).
High school English, mathematics, and sciences will also help you prepare for the degree. Standings in courses, such as biological and physical sciences, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus, social studies, and a foreign language also help in forming a strong foundation for future engineering courses.
Other engineering degree prerequisites may include recommendation letters, personal essays, and other school-specific requirements.
In addition to having outstanding math and science skills, students must exhibit the following engineering degree skills:
There are particular elements that shape the success of a college program. Make the right decision by recognizing what to look for in an engineering program.
Engineering covers a vast spectrum of industries; therefore, it is highly suggested to limit your research according to specialization. Prioritize engineering degree programs offering specializations that suit your individual and professional needs. Consider if its kind of related work environment would also make you feel at ease (The Best Schools, 2021).
When choosing where to study, always choose an accredited program. Accreditation means that the program has complied with certain standards. An accredited program enables you to become licensed and get hired.
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the accreditation agency for engineering degree programs in the US (McKay, 2019).
Many schools offer great professional connections and opportunities to their students by partnering with prominent firms and organizations. Taking an internship with a reputable agency can fast-track your job search after finishing college, or even lead you to a permanent, full-time position right away.
For the past few years, the federal government has been emphasizing the importance of the sciences, specifically engineering, resulting in an increase in the availability of financial aid for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students. Engineering students can take advantage of grants from several sources. Aside from the federal government, schools, companies, and organizations also offer college grants for engineering degrees (College Scholarships.Org, n.d.).
There is more to engineering than a promise of a well-paying career and numerous job opportunities. Humanity is currently battling a climate crisis, rampant infrastructure instability, and tricky technologies. Equipped with the skills of creation, engineers are what the world obviously needs right now and in the years to come.
Engineers are considered the frontliners of the present and future. Help make the lives of people better by becoming one (Degree Query, n.d.).