Can You Become An Engineer With An Engineering Technology Degree

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 8 minute read

If you’ve ever pondered becoming an engineer, you might have considered majoring in engineering technology. Engineering technology is a career sector linked to engineering, although the curriculum, job titles, duties, and compensation potential might differ significantly between engineering and engineering technology.

Engineering technicians, like engineers, are in high demand in rising sectors across the United States.

Engineering Technology vs. Engineering

Not only are the titles “engineering” and “engineering technology” similar. Engineers and engineering technicians both use scientific and mathematical ideas to solve real-world challenges.

Indeed, due to the overlap between these two areas, particularly their concentration on maths and scientific curriculum, the distinction between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree may not be readily apparent at first.

There are, nevertheless, different academic requirements that distinguish engineering and engineering technology degree programs. While engineering degrees emphasize theory and conceptual design, engineering technology programs emphasize idea application and execution.

Full-fledged engineers are responsible for designing solutions to engineering demands and challenges, whereas engineering technicians and technologists serve as assistants, assisting with data collecting, prototype testing, and machine performance and maintenance. 

Because these two unique job paths include such disparate duties, the education required to operate in these professions is also distinct.

When it comes to education, engineers often complete four-year degrees before pursuing graduate-level opportunities. In general, a bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for becoming an engineer. Engineering bachelor’s degree programs encompass the principles, theories, and foundations of engineering design and provide opportunity to develop practical design abilities as well as the technical skills required to bring an engineering design to completion.

Those who study engineering technology can get an associate’s degree and work as a technician in construction, manufacturing, product design, testing, or technical services and sales. Engineering technicians who pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology can advance their careers in engineering, facilities management, or business administration.

The Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission are two different commissions under ABET that accredit engineering and engineering technology programs.

Is a Degree in Engineering Technology a Good Choice?

A “good degree” might be defined differently by various people. By most standards, engineering technology (in any engineering area) is an excellent degree. It prepares students for a profession with a high earning potential, a generally positive job outlook, and work that is both demanding and rewarding.

You don’t have to spend a decade in school pursuing multiple levels of advanced degrees to get started in this field, which reduces the costs of pursuing this education – not only in terms of tuition dollars, but also in terms of opportunity costs, because you can start sooner, and in terms of the time commitment required.

When answering this question, consider whether you want to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering technology. According to U.S. News & World Report, engineering technology is one of the top degrees that are best earned in a community college rather than a four-year university.

In this area, having particular technical skills and professional certifications is frequently more important than earning a bachelor degree in terms of both marketability and earning potential. According to U.S. News & World Report, a BS engineering technology income is not considerably better than a normal pay with merely an associate’s degree in engineering technology.

It’s also vital to consider whether this degree aligns with your particular abilities and interests. To succeed in an engineering technology degree program, you must be proficient in math and physics, as well as possess the ability to build major technical abilities.

Engineering Technicians and Technologists Are Required

Engineers, technicians, and technologists are employed in a wide range of settings. Federal government, engineering services, scientific research and development, employment services, navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing are among the industries that employ the most engineering technicians and technologists, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data (BLS).

At the end of 2020, there will be around 327,530 engineering technicians and technologists working throughout America’s seven engineering disciplines.

Innovators such as engineers play a key role in the process, but it is the labor of engineering technicians and technologists that really makes these solutions a reality. The more technical abilities you have, the more marketable you will be.

Having a wide range of practical abilities can help you land a wide range of positions as an engineering technician, but if you want to move through the ranks, you’ll need more specialized talents.

Job Opportunities in Various Engineering Technology Fields

As of 2020, aeronautical engineering was the most in demand for engineering technicians and technologists. According to the BLS, aerospace engineering technicians and technologists may anticipate work opportunities to expand by 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is in line with the overall job growth rate.

In addition to receiving an associate’s degree in aerospace engineering technology, you can also finish vocational-technical education in computer programming or robotics, as well as machining. Many aerospace engineering professionals and technologists work for the government on national defense programs, hence they must have security clearances. 

Those seeking civilian employment can find job building airplanes. The BLS predicted an 8 percent increase in job opportunities for environmental engineering professionals and technologists between 2020 and 2030. Environmental engineers and technologists work to prevent or clean up pollution in the environment. They gather samples for analysis, try to reduce pollution sources, and arrange for the disposal of hazardous waste products.

According to the BLS, mechanical engineering technicians and technologists may expect a 6% job growth rate, with 2,300 new positions generated between 2020 and 2030. Many mechanical engineering technicians are engaged on a contract basis rather than being hired on-site.

Contract employment has advantages and disadvantages in general, but it is a better alternative for experienced contractors such as engineering professionals and technologists than for individuals in unskilled contractor jobs. Mechanical engineering technicians and technologists who work under mechanical engineers may find employment in rapidly increasing industries such as automation, 3D printing, robots, and alternative energy.

According to the BLS, jobs for industrial engineering professionals and technologists are predicted to grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030. Industrial engineering technicians and technologists do things like design production processes, plan manufacturing machines and equipment, and analyze production costs and data.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that manufacturing businesses employ four of the top five industrial engineering technicians and technologists. The computer and electronic product manufacturing industry employs 19% of the occupation, followed by the transportation manufacturing industry, which employs 13% of the occupation, the chemical manufacturing industry, which employs 8% of the occupation, and the machinery manufacturing industry, which employs 7% of the occupation.

Another 10% of the workforce is involved in professional, scientific, and technological services. According to the BLS, new employment opportunities for civil engineering specialists and technologists are expected to rise at a slower-than-average pace of only 2% from 2020 to 2030.

State and municipal governments frequently hire civil engineering technicians and technologists to collaborate with civil engineers on projects to develop, maintain, and enhance the country’s infrastructure. These technicians and technologists work with engineers to plan, design, and build highways, bridges and utilities along with commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.

Civil engineering technicians and technologists study and analyze project designs, inspect job sites, test construction materials and soil samples, and create and manage project files and records.

According to the BLS, jobs for electrical and electronics engineering technicians and technologists will expand by only 2% between 2020 and 2030.

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians and technologists often require an associate’s degree. Because these technicians and technologists mostly work in old industrial businesses that are gradually decreasing, their employment growth is limited. 

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians and technologists, like mechanical engineering technicians, are expected to see contracting opportunities arise, notably in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry, according to the BLS.

Don’t be disheartened if technician and technology employment possibilities in your chosen engineering specialty are developing at a slower-than-average rate right now. Even if the amount of new employment produced is not what you would want, opportunities in these sectors are still available when current workers advance to senior-level positions, retire, transfer careers, or otherwise leave the workforce.

On average, the BLS anticipates 11,000 job openings per year for electrical and electronics engineering technicians and 6,500 job openings per year for civil engineering technicians.

Salary Differences Between Engineering and Engineering Technology

What kind of income can you expect to earn with a degree in engineering technology? Engineering technicians and technologists, like engineers, can anticipate a range of earnings based on the engineering field in which they are employed.

In spite of this, engineering technicians and technologists earn much less than their engineer counterparts in the same profession.

Engineering technicians and technologists may expect to earn anywhere from $51,630 to $68,570 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, there is a significant income disparity between the top and lowest paid engineering technicians and technologists.

An annual salary gap of $70,000 separated the lowest-paid engineering technicians and technologists in less profitable specialties from the highest-paid ones.

Engineering technicians and technologists that specialize in environmental engineering make the least money of the other specialties. Environmental engineering technicians and technologists may expect to make an average of $51,630 per year by the year 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A median pay of $92,120 in 2020 was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for environmental engineers, which is over 80 percent more than the median wage for technicians and technologists.

According to the BLS, civil engineering technicians and technologists may expect to make an average of $54,080 per year by 2020. The BLS predicted a 2020 median salary of $88,570 for civil engineers. That puts civil engineers’ earning potential at approximately six-and-a-half times that of civil engineering technologists and technicians.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for industrial engineering technicians and technologists in 2020 was $58,320. The median yearly compensation for industrial engineers was $30,950 more at $88,950.

Engineers and technologists in mechanical engineering earn an average of $58,230, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2020, the average salary for mechanical engineers was $90,160.

As of 2020, the BLS reported that electrical and electronics engineers made a median salary of $103,390, while electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median annual pay of $67,550.

For aerospace technicians and technologists, the BLS reports that the median salary in 2020 was $68,570, making it the highest-paying discipline for engineers. In 2020, the average pay for aerospace engineers will be $118,610.

Engineer technician and technologist positions are unquestionably less profitable than those of a complete engineer. Engineering technicians and technologists, on the other hand, are still very well-paid, especially if they go for a bachelor’s degree program instead of an associate’s degree program. All employees with an associate’s degree in 2020 were paid $938 per week, or $48,776 for the year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 2020, the median wage for all engineering technicians listed above was significantly higher than the national average of $41,950. In the 90th percentile — those earning more than 90 percent of the profession – engineering technicians may expect to make between $80,000 and $100,000 per year. It’s possible to make more than $103,450 as an aircraft engineering technician in the top 10% of the workforce.

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