In engineering, scientific and mathematic principles are applied to the design and development of structures, devices, machines, products, materials, systems, or processes. Engineers may analyze how things should function under specific conditions to predict future behavior, evaluate efficiency, or ensure safety. There are many specialized fields of engineering that can influence the way an engineer needs to approach and resolve technical issues. Some of the most common subfields include:
Engineers in this field combine biological and medical principles with engineering to solve health-related issues. They work with medical researchers to develop systems and devices such as prostheses, imaging systems, and artificial organs.
Chemical engineers may work for chemical or other types of manufacturers planning, testing, and supervising relevant areas of production. By applying principles of physics, mathematics, and chemistry, they can ensure that manufacturing processes and products are safe for workers, consumers, and the environment.
Civil engineers work in the design and construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, airports, and water supply and sewage systems. They often work for construction companies or government agencies.
Electrical engineers work in the design, implementation, and testing of equipment such as power generation, control, and transmission systems; electric motors; and wiring in buildings, automobiles, and aircraft. Specialties within electrical engineering include power systems engineering and electrical equipment manufacturing.
Mechanical engineers work with machines, engines, turbines, and a variety of mechanical devices. They may also design and develop tools other engineers use in their work. Engineers in this specialty may work in industries such as manufacturing, maintenance, or agriculture.
Other specialized areas of engineering include aerospace, agricultural, computer, electronics, environmental, health and safety, industrial, marine, materials, mining and geological, nuclear, and petroleum engineering.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Engineering?
For those interested in pursuing a career in this field, an online engineering degree can be a great place to start. Most engineers will enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, though some positions in research and academia may require a master’s degree. The majority of engineers study electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering, but they may work in a different (if related) field, such as a mechanical engineer working in the aerospace industry. Engineers can work for a number of different employers including manufacturers, construction companies, consulting firms, and government agencies. The job market for engineers is expected to grow as fast as the national average for all jobs, with approximately 11% growth across all specialties expected from 2008-2018 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The fastest growing subfield is biomedical engineering, with 72% growth expected during the projection decade.
Job functions vary depending on an engineer’s specialization, the type of employer, and career experience. Engineers may work in manufacturing, development, sales, management or consulting capacities throughout their careers. In 2008, the median income was $77,400 for biomedical engineers, $84,680 for chemical engineers, $74,600 for civil engineers, $82,160 for electrical engineers, and $74,920 for mechanical engineers. Engineers with the highest salaries were petroleum engineers, at a median salary of $108,020 in 2008. Again, salaries can vary depending on job function, employer, education, experience.
The largest industry employing engineers in 2008 was manufacturing, accounting for 36% of engineering jobs. That same year, about 30% of engineers were employed in the scientific, professional, and technical services industries, and 12% were in government jobs. There are job openings for engineers in most specialties evenly disbursed around the country. However, some fields have a concentration of jobs in certain areas. In the case of petroleum engineering, most jobs are in Texas, Louisiana, Alaska, and California, where there are petroleum deposits and subsequently a number of oil and gas companies.
For engineers who offer services directly to the public, state licensure is required. The requirements for licensure typically include attending a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), four years of experience in the field, and the successful completion of a state licensing exam. Continuing education is also important for engineers as technology constantly evolves and is often a requirement of license renewal. In this instance, online engineering options can be a wonderful option for working professionals.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Engineering?
For those interested in online college, engineering can be a challenging but rewarding course of study. Most engineering programs start by covering the fundamentals of mathematics and the natural sciences along with general engineering courses. Depending on the program, students earning their engineering degree online can then expect to receive training in their chosen specialty during the second half of their study. Courses in design, computer technology, and engineering laboratories are all a common program elements as well.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits programs in engineering and engineering technology, including online engineering programs. It is important to choose a school that is ABET-accredited, especially if you will be seeking licensing after graduation. It is also essential to review the entire program’s curriculum before enrolling in an online engineering college as not all degree programs with the same title are equal. Some programs are more hands-on, preparing graduates for a place in the workforce directly after their bachelor’s education, where others are more theoretical in nature, geared for students looking to pursue a graduate-level education in engineering.