Computer engineering is the hands-on side of engineering that gives life to engineering projects. While there is a lot of overlap and similarity between engineering and engineering technology, the difference really happens on a simple and foundational level: engineering is the theoretical and conceptual piece of the science, while engineering technology is the application and implementation of the same science. Engineering technology professionals can be found in any industry that there are engineers, from healthcare to aerospace. Professionals are often referred to as technicians or technologists, and typically put science to work in an industry that really appeals to their interests, skills, and personal goals. Careers in engineering technology can be accessible with everything from a vocational certification to a 4-year degree, and are truly customizable to suit the unique lifestyles and needs of professionals. If you’re interested in working hands-on with the science that brings our society to life, then you may want to consider a path to engineering technology.
THE CAREER PATH
Engineering technology professionals work in almost any field imaginable where there are engineers, mechanics, or other types of technology. They typically work under the supervision of engineers and may work in groups to bring together specific projects within a department.
The tasks of engineering technology professionals may vary between industries but will look similar overall. The Department of Labor (DOL) describes some of the most popular job examples in engineering technology:
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians – These professionals bring to life the ideas of mechanical engineers, designing developing, testing, and manufacturing mechanical devices. Most mechanical engineer technicians need some level of postsecondary training or an associate degree in engineering technology. They are among some of the highest paid technicians, making more than $54,000 on average each year.
- Environmental Engineering Technicians – Environmental technicians carry out the plans of environmental engineers. Most employers will prefer environmental technicians with an associate degree. Although they are not as well paid as some other engineering technology professionals—making just over $49,000 on average annually—they are expected to be in incredibly high demand in the coming years, and the path is ultimately rewarding in many ways.
- Industrial Engineering Technicians – The purpose of industrial technicians is to assist industrial engineers in devising efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy. The field of industrial engineering technology isn’t expecting to grow the demand for professionals in the coming years, but the pay is almost competitive with mechanical technology at more than $53,000 annually. Like other technology positions, industrial technicians usually only need a postsecondary education or associate degree in order to be competitive.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in putting your hands-on skills to use in protecting the environment, improving healthcare services, or building more powerful and efficient engines, there’s a unique path to engineering technology that’s perfect for you.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Careers in engineering technology are for professionals who are ready to put their skills to use in a hands-on setting, who have the analytical and problem-solving abilities of an engineer combined with the eye for detail and technical skills that are required for bringing science into reality. Professionals who want to succeed in engineering technology should be prepared to work in team settings and have the communication skills that it takes to follow directions and collaborate across specializations. They must be the types of critical thinkers who are also extremely observational, and who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty bringing products to life.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Careers in engineering technology are great for professionals regardless of their educational background or level of experience. Careers can start straight out of high school, and for more experienced professionals, advanced positions can be made available through flexible online training and certification programs. Some professionals may be excited to find a job opportunity that offers to compensate them for getting their degree or certification. Otherwise, many positions are available with only a vocational certification, postsecondary training, or associate degree.
Most programs will offer specially tailored courses to suit the individual career path of each student—students interested in environmental technology may take classes related to the environmental sciences, while students interested in aerospace technology may take classes related to the physics of space. In general, engineering technology programs will prepare developing professionals to enter the working field by introducing them to the core topics of engineering technology, which may include:
- Applied Calculus
The most prestigious engineering technology degree programs are programmatically accredited by ABET, and there are additional certifications available to engineering technology professionals through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).
Our cost rankings reveal that the average cost an online master's in engineering is just under $28,000. Keep this number in mind as you research programs. Click on a program to see tuition, accreditation, and admission information. The cost estimated includes all fees but does not include other costs like textbooks or certifications that you might attain after graduation. It’s critical that you look into the options that will prepare you to explore your interests and goals in a budget-friendly environment.