Online Engineering Degree Program

Engineers have been vital to how our society functions – from designing, constructing and improving small things (like the alarm clock) that we take for granted to cutting-edge space travel. They work in teams to turn theory into practice, using different skillsets and specialized knowledge within the field of engineering. Generally speaking, engineers create and design products and systems for consumers, companies, or the public at large.

For prospective students who enjoy solving complex problems through technology and innovation, pursuing an online engineering degree may be a good fit. An interest in mathematics or several different scientific fields can be helpful along with being a team player according to the College Board.

A 2019 Learning House Survey found that more and more online students are opting for STEM fields including online engineering degree programs at both graduate and undergraduate levels. These programs can help working professionals, career changers and recent high school graduates gain the skills they need to succeed in an engineering role while still adhering to other commitments.

Some types of engineers along with some of their associated duties are:

Aerospace Engineers:

  • Designing, manufacturing and testing aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and associated products
  • Assessing project practicality and ensuring quality standards are met

Chemical Engineers:

  • Conducting research and developing new and improved manufacturing processes for different industries like chemical, fuel, drugs, and food among others
  • Developing processes for separating components of liquids and gases or for generating electrical currents by using controlled chemical processes

Materials Engineers:

  • Developing, processing and testing materials used to create a variety of products
  • Evaluating the impact different materials may have on the environment

Many engineers choose to specialize in a particular type of engineering. The industries they work in can vary depending on their area of expertise. They may also move into management roles as they gain more experience.

Candidates fresh out of college with internship experience will be highly desirable, because they are still entry-level candidates, but they do have some work experience that other candidates may not possess.

Engineering degrees cover a huge range of industries, and engineering students typically select a specialty prior to earning their degree. Generally speaking, each specific degree track tends to lead to an engineering career in that particular field. The chart below lists some of the most popular career outcomes for engineering majors. Wage and employment data cited in the chart is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the decade spanning 2018 – 2028.

Career
Employment
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Chemical Engineers30,120$117,0906.3%
Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians68,870$55,4805%
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians11,540$68,3404.5%
Aerospace Engineers63,200$119,2201.7%
Materials Engineers26,820$97,8900.2%

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Many companies are going to be hiring less experienced engineers who can be trained to perform the necessary tasks for the job instead of hiring engineers with a lot of experience.

Before choosing their degree path, students should carefully consider which type of degree will appropriately satisfy the educational requirements needed to fulfill their ultimate career goals. Engineers are typically required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in their particular specialty or a related field. On the other hand, engineering technicians usually only need an associate degree. Graduate degrees and work experience are often required for engineers to advance their careers into management and upper-level positions within their respective companies. If an individual is interested in pursuing a career in higher education, they will most likely need to continue their education through to the doctoral level.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Studying for your engineering associate degree online can help you understand the fundamental principles of engineering and how to apply them to solve basic engineering problems. You may also learn how to use different techniques to conduct experiments safely and analyze data.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Students take general education courses along with core classes that introduce them to the physics and math engineers use to analyze and solve engineering issues along with technical subjects. Some courses you may take include:

  • Differential equations and matrix methods
  • Introduction to computing for engineers
  • Introduction to engineering
  • Solid mechanics
  • Statics

Possible electives: Programmable logic controllers; fluid power; tool design

What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in engineering?

Graduates of online engineering degree programs at the associate level may be able to transfer their credits toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering. They may qualify for entry-level roles assisting engineers in their tasks across an array of different industries. Some potential job titles include:

  • Aerospace engineering and operations technician
  • Civil engineering technician
  • Electrical or electronics engineering technician
  • Industrial engineering technician
  • Mechanical engineering technician
The focus for many companies moving forward will be to hire promotable engineers that they can invest in for the long-term to grow within the company.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

An online engineering bachelor’s degree program can offer you a multidisciplinary course of study allowing you to explore the different aspects of the field that interest you. Students can learn how to apply this spectrum of knowledge to engineering issues to come up with comprehensive solutions.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education and requisite physics and math, classes core coursework may include topics from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, aeronautical, and systems engineering among others. Potential subjects you may take include:

  • Digital circuit design
  • Engineering materials and structures
  • Fundamentals of energy systems
  • Introduction to robotics
  • Project management for engineered systems

Students may also have to complete one or more capstone projects to satisfy the requirements of their online engineering degree programs.

Possible electives: You may be able to choose from a variety of electives with the help of your academic advisor

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in engineering?

An online bachelor’ degree in engineering may allow students to work as engineers in a variety of different industries, coordinating between teams of engineers with different specialties or conduct research for the design and manufacture of new products. Students may also choose to study further and enter other professions, like law for example, and use their specialized engineering knowledge in that field. Potential career opportunities include:

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Civil engineer
  • Electrical or electronics engineer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
At the moment, many engineering sectors are facing a significant shortage of experienced workers, and some sectors have a hard time finding less experienced engineers in their sectors as well.

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online engineering master’s degree programs can help students gain a broader perspective of engineering principles as well as business practices. This can help them hone their leadership abilities in the field.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics or a related field; some programs may require GRE scores

Typical coursework: Classes can include a mixture of business topics along with core engineering coursework. Some examples include:

  • Analysis of manufacturing and service systems
  • Application of engineering analysis
  • Business, government and society
  • Introduction to financial and managerial accounting
  • Management of projects and technological innovation

Possible electives: Adv. Eng. systems modeling; lean six sigma; design of experiments

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in engineering?

A master’s degree may allow individuals to advance their careers and move into supervisory or management roles. While job titles may be similar to those mentioned in the bachelor’s degree section, they may come with added responsibilities and higher wages.

Some of the industries experiencing worker shortages are mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and controls engineers.

Accreditation

Accreditation can play an important role for both the educational institution offering online engineering degree programs as well as the student enrolled in them. An accredited status can demonstrate that a school’s educational offerings meet or exceed professional requirements. Many employers may also prefer hiring graduates from accredited programs. Additionally, attending or graduating from an accredited program can be a prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid, scholarships, transferring college credits or being eligible to apply for professional certifications and licensures. Online engineering degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.

Specializations, Graduate Certificates and Online Doctoral Degrees in Engineering

Students of online general engineering bachelor’s degree programs may be able to choose a specialization or concentration within the field. Typically, graduate programs are highly specialized and focus on a particular specialization. Graduate certificates can take that focus even further and concentrate on just one or two aspect of a specialization. As master’s and doctoral degrees are highly specialized, it may be easier to find and enroll in an online engineering degree program in an area of your interest. Click on the links below to explore them in more detail:

Licensures and Certifications

Entry-level engineers do not typically require licenses. Graduates of ABET accredited bachelor’s degree programs may be able to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam following which they would be allowed to use the Engineers In Training (EITs) or Engineer Interns (EIs) designation. However, those aspiring to advance their careers may need to obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license. This usually requires four years of work experience. Licensures need to be renewed periodically.

Professional certifications may not always be necessary. However, they can demonstrate your commitment and know-how in particular aspects of the field. Some engineers like software engineers for example, may be required to obtain professional certifications in the products or programming language they use.

As with many STEM fields, you may find there are plenty of scholarships available for eligible students of online engineering degree programs to help take the financial burden off their shoulders. Scholarships may be offered by governmental bodies, educational foundations and universities themselves among others. It can be a good idea to check with your school to see if you are eligible for any discounts or scholarships they offer. Here is a list of a few scholarships to help you get your search started!

Other resources for aspiring engineers:

Employment Statistics

Electrical Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
  • Technical and Trade Schools
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • Ohio
  • Arizona
  • Florida
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  • California-Lexington Park, MD
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
  • Boulder, CO

Civil Engineering Technicians

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
  • State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation)
  • Water, Sewage and Other Systems
  • Natural Gas Distribution
  • Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation)
States with the highest level of employment
  • Texas
  • California
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Stockton-Lodi, CA
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

  • Aerospace Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/aerospace-engineers.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Architecture and Engineering Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/home.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Associate of Science in Engineering Fundamentals, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, https://erau.edu/degrees/associate/engineering-fundamentals, accessed September 2019
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, https://erau.edu/degrees/bachelor/engineering#ww-campus, accessed September 2019
  • Chemical Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/chemical-engineers.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Clinefelter, D. L., Aslanian, C. B., & Magda, A. J., Online college students 2019: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences, The Learning House Inc., 2019, Louisville, KY: Wiley edu, LLC, https://www.learninghouse.com/knowledge-center/research-reports/ocs2019-research-report/
  • Engineering Hiring Trends for 2019, Austin Nichols Technical Search, 2018, http://www.austintec.com/engineering-hiring-trends-2019/
  • Engineering Technology A.S. Degree, Penn Foster College, https://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/engineering-and-drafting/engineering-technology-associate-degree, accessed September 2019
  • Major: Engineering, General, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/engineering-engineering-general, accessed September 2019
  • Materials Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/materials-engineers.htm, accessed September 2019
  • Online part-time M.S. In Engineering – General; University of Toledo, https://www.utoledo.edu/online-degree-programs/programs/masters/engineering-online/, accessed September 2019
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