Engineers do more than just build physical structures. Their innovative design ideas help solve problems that can make your daily life easier and push the boundaries of technology.
Engineers use science and math to design and develop everything from massive construction projects to tiny computer chips. There are five basic engineering fields from which many others have arisen: chemical, civil, electrical, industrial and mechanical. Amideast.org, a non-profit educational organization, estimates that within these five fields, more than 250 different specializations are offered at campus and online engineering degree programs in the U.S.
Engineering: training and education
Online engineering degree programs at the associate level provide an excellent basic education for transition to a bachelor's degree, which is required for most engineering jobs. The most common four-year degree is the Bachelor of Science in Engineering, or BSE, usually with a specific engineering concentration.
Popular online engineering degrees at the graduate level include the Master of Science in Engineering, or MSE, which is the traditional graduate engineering degree aimed toward research and academics, and the Master of Engineering, or MEng, which is more geared toward advancing an engineer's professional career.
At the doctoral level, a Doctor of Engineering focuses on applied engineering skills at the highest level, working with the latest technology, while an engineering Ph.D. trains students to make significant advances to the body of engineering theory and research. A Ph.D. is also generally a requirement to teach at the college level.
Certificates are available for engineers who want to increase or update knowledge in their field as well as those looking for focused training that can add another dimension to their engineering career in areas such as biodesign, sustainable building, international security, or data set mining.
Career outlook and salaries for engineers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the engineering specialty projected to outpace all others in job growth is biomedical engineering, with an astounding 72 percent growth projected from 2008 and 2018. The median salaries for some common engineering careers in 2010, according to the BLS, include:
- Chemical engineer: $90,300
- Civil engineer: $77,560
- Electrical engineer: $84,540
- Industrial engineer:$76,100
- Mechanical engineer: $78,160
Trends in engineering may reflect trends in the job market at large. For example, increased focus on green energy technologies may create rising demand for solar engineers. Additionally, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers reports that in addition to job-specific technical skills, employers are looking to hire engineers with skills in areas such as communication, leadership and critical thinking.
Online engineering degrees can help you do more than learn to build tall buildings or massive bridges. They can help you build your career.