You can begin your career as an engineering technician or an engineer with an associate’s degree, depending on your career goals. Whether or not a two-year degree in engineering is in demand depends on a variety of factors, including whether or not you study engineering or engineering technology, what field of engineering you choose, and how much additional training you receive.
Applied Science and Technology
When it comes to pursuing an associate’s degree in engineering, prospective students should be aware that there is a distinct difference between engineering and engineering technology. Many colleges and universities offer associate’s degrees in engineering technology, rather than engineering itself. If you want to be an engineer, you’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree first. If you want to pursue an associate’s degree in engineering technology, you’ll either have to transfer to a four-year university to finish your bachelor’s degree requirements, or you can pursue a career as an engineering technician, which is a different but related path.
All of these options can lead to an excellent job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers, who use scientific and mathematical principles to solve real-world problems, earn a median annual wage of $92,220l (BLS). Engineers’ technology is installed, tested, maintained, repaired, and troubleshooted by engineering technicians. Based on discipline, engineering technicians can expect a median salary of $50,230 to $66,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), though in senior-level roles, they can earn six figures.
Having a bachelor’s degree and a Professional Engineering (PE) license is required for the use of the title “engineer,” but licensure is optional.
Engineering Technicians are in high demand.
Overall, engineering technician jobs are growing at a similar rate to those in other professions. For all engineering technicians, mapping technicians, and drafters, the BLS expects a six percent increase in employment. However, your career prospects in this field are heavily influenced by the specific field of engineering technology you decide to specialize in.
Environmental engineering is the fastest-growing branch of engineering technology, employing approximately 17,000 people in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 13% increase in environmental engineering technology job opportunities, resulting in 2,200 new positions. Engineering technicians may have a lower rate of job growth, but these occupations will add more jobs to the economy. An anticipated job growth rate of nine percent in the United States is expected to create 6,600 new jobs for civil engineering technicians, who currently make up 81,100 people.
Jobs for other types of engineering technicians aren’t growing at the same rate. Only 400 new industrial engineering technician jobs are expected to be created over the next decade, a growth rate of just 1%. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians are expected to grow at a slower rate than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
There is an average job outlook for aerospace engineering technology, with an expected 7% growth rate, but it is the most profitable branch of engineering technology.
Engineers are in high demand
After completing your associate degree, you may wonder what the future holds for engineers who are willing to put in an additional two years of study. Over the next decade, the BLS projects an increase of nearly 140,000 new jobs in engineering across all specialties.
Engineers are likely to find more opportunities in some engineering fields than others, just like in engineering technology roles. Eight percent more engineering jobs are expected to be available in the next few years. As of now, petroleum engineering employs 33,700 Americans, but that number is expected to rise by 5,100 in the next few years. Even though the field of marine engineering is expected to grow at a 12% rate, it only accounts for just over 8,000 jobs. Civil engineering, which employs 303,500 people in the United States, is expected to add 32,200 new jobs over the next decade at an annual growth rate of 11%.
Slower-growing engineering positions are also available. Nuclear and materials engineers are experiencing “slower than average” job growth, according to the BLS. Only 700 new jobs will be created for nuclear engineers at a four percent annual growth rate. If job growth is only 2% as predicted, only 400 new positions will be created for materials engineers during the next decade. In addition to mechanical engineering and health and safety engineering, there are a number of other engineering disciplines that are growing at about the same rate.
Engineering and engineering technology programs have very different curricula in terms of what students learn. In order to become a professional engineer, one must complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology at a four-year institution.