Engineering Degree Guide: 2021 Costs, Requirements & Job Opportunities

in Research   Posted on June 7, 2021  Author: Imed Bouchrika,

With an engineering degree, you can enter the fields of astronomy, agriculture, medicine, chemistry, transportation, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering occupations are expected to have a 3% increase from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2021). Students planning to pursue this degree must be interested in finding out how things work, designing mechanical or technological systems, or helping people in using devices for everyday use. Engineering graduates are expected to be rational thinkers, good at numbers, excellent communicators, team players, and problem solvers.

Your chosen engineering specialization and obtained degree level will determine your salary potential and entire career path. Learn more about what an engineering degree is all about—how much it costs, future jobs you may be interested in, types of degrees, requirements, and more, so you can see if this field fits your future goals.

engineering degree

Engineering Degree Table of Contents

  1. What Is an Engineering Degree?
  2. Cost of Engineering Degree
  3. Engineering Degree Jobs
  4. Types of Degrees in Engineering
  5. Engineering Degree Requirements
  6. What to Look for in an Engineering Program
  7. Majors Related to Engineering

What is an Engineering Degree?

An engineering degree is a field of study that deals with the research, framework, and application of machines, engines, and structures. It affects every aspect of human life, be it about cars, smartphones, and the roads we drive on.

Engineering degree programs entail the study of math, science, technology, and some business principles. Standard engineering courses teach about designing and conducting experiments, identifying and solving problems, understanding professional and ethical responsibility, and communicating well. With this engineering definition, taking this degree requires a long-term commitment to learning and flexibility to keep up with evolving trends and problem-solving approaches (Follman, 2019). Nevertheless, it provides a wide range of options, both academically and professionally.

What can you do with an engineering degree?

An engineering degree is so broad that engineers can be seen going in many directions. This degree can prepare you for a future in designing highway systems, improving communities, creating advanced medical technology, entering the field of research and development to invent new mechanical tools, and even starting a business. Taking this degree can be a difficult path, but it is worthwhile for those who are interested, skilled, and possess a great work ethic (The Best Schools, 2021).

Source: BLS, 2021

Cost of Engineering Degree

An engineering degree tuition depends on the chosen program and type of academic institute. State universities offer lower tuition costs than private universities. Many schools also impose application, registration, and book fees that may add to the overall cost. Engineering costs differ among schools, and some differ every semester, which makes it difficult to determine the average tuition costs of this degree (Study.com, 2020).

How much does it cost to get an engineering degree?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, the average undergraduate in-state tuition and fees for an engineering degree is $13,594. Meanwhile, out-of-state engineering students pay $45,317.

When it comes to engineering graduate degrees, the average tuition and fees for 2021 are $15,761 for in-state residents and $40,289 for out-of-state residents.

Engineering Degree Tuition

 In-StateOut-of-State
Undergraduate Degrees$13,594$45,317
Graduate Degrees$15,761$40,289
*Values are estimates.
Source: College Tuition Compare

Is a degree in engineering worth it?

Some engineers today may have their own complaints about their jobs, but more engineers have felt that engineering was worth it. In fact, statistics show that more decent pay and professional growth await the top engineering occupations (McFadden, 2019).

Engineering is an intellectually challenging and sometimes stressful degree, but it can be also satisfying to know that it is one of those disciplines aimed at making a world a better place to live in.

professinal engineers would recommend engineering to youth

Engineering Degree Jobs

An engineering degree provides exciting career opportunities in various fields. Find out the top engineering degree jobs in this section.

Is engineering in high demand?

The evolution of technology has been threatening the relevance of many careers. The nature of jobs is changing, and this trend is greatly impacted by the field, skills, and course of studies professionals have.

In this modern era, engineering in different sectors is establishing tomorrow’s business applications. Without engineers, there would be no proper irrigation lines, waste solutions, electricity, establishments, machines, agriculture plants, computer systems, public and private transportation, and many of our basic needs in life. They also make sure that people are breathing safe air, eating safe food, and drinking safe water. Even if robots replaced many jobs by 2030, engineers would still be in demand (Mujahid, 2020).

Engineers plan, test, evaluate, study, develop, oversee, and maintain almost every complex system, even luxuries, that people need. That is why they are deemed important, always in demand not just to their respective industries but also to the world (University HQ, n.d.).

What jobs can you get with an engineering degree?

  1. Aerospace Engineering Jobs. Aerospace engineering jobs focus on designing better airplanes. Aerospace engineers can take on technical supervisory roles, lead an engineer and technician team, or be offered executive or managerial positions.
  2. Agricultural Engineering Jobs. Agricultural engineering jobs center around bioprocess technology, aquaculture, forestry, and more. Agricultural engineers can lead an agricultural engineering team, take engineering managerial roles, or move to sales work.
  3. Biomedical Engineering Jobs. Biomedical engineering jobs resolve problems related to biology and medicine, develop health care solutions, and design artificial organs, prostheses, and more. Biomedical engineers can manage a research team, specialize in more advanced medicine studies, or pursue law to work as patent attorneys.
  4. Chemical Engineering Jobs. Chemical engineering jobs create chemical processes and products, such as gasoline, plastics, cement, and more. Chemical engineers can become college professors, researchers, or managers.
  5. Civil Engineering Jobs. Civil engineers design streets, establishments, bridges, airports, and almost everything people see and use outside. Civil engineers who earn graduate degrees can become managers.

What kind of salary can I earn with an engineering degree?

Engineers are one of the most highest-paid professionals inside and outside the US due to the weight of responsibility they carry with them. As human safety depends on their hands, engineers only take accurately calculated measures. Thus, they are confined within institutional and work limitations. They need to work carefully so as not to put human lives at risk. Engineering majors earn an average of $109,324 annually according to the latest DATA USA numbers (Grad School Center, n.d.).

Regarding certain job titles, aerospace engineers earn $84,892 annually, agricultural engineers earn $66,766, biomedical engineers earn $67,763, chemical engineers earn $75,772, and civil engineers earn $67,612 (Payscale, 2021).

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How Much Do American Engineers Earn?

in USD

How Much Do American Engineers Earn?
Aerospace engineers: $84,892

Aerospace engineers

$84,892
How Much Do American Engineers Earn?
Agricultural engineers: $66,766

Agricultural engineers

$66,766
How Much Do American Engineers Earn?
Biomedical engineers: $67,763

Biomedical engineers

$67,763
How Much Do American Engineers Earn?
Chemical engineers: $75,772

Chemical engineers

$75,772
How Much Do American Engineers Earn?
Civil engineers: $67,612

Civil engineers

$67,612

Source: Payscale, 2021

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Types of Degrees in Engineering

A degree in engineering will lead you to where you want to be someday. Hence, it is necessary that you are aware of the existing engineering degree types.

What kinds of engineering degrees are there?

  1. Associate Degree in Engineering

    Average time to complete: 2 years

    An associate degree in engineering tackles preliminary level subject matter, such as basic engineering theories, physics, calculus, and differential equations. It can already qualify you for immediate specialty work, but with some limitations.

    The courses in an associate degree in engineering are calculus, chemistry, engineering construction, information systems, and physics. This two-year degree is a stepping stone to learning basic technical skills and earning eligibility for working in the field.

    However, associate degree in engineering holders would not be qualified to earn a Professional Engineering (PE) license. Those who plan to become professional engineers are advised to earn a bachelor’s degree (The Best Schools, 2021).

    Entry-level jobs: mechanical technician, consumer goods tester, research assistant

  2. Bachelor Degree in Engineering

    Average time to complete: 4 years

    A bachelor’s degree in engineering is a typical choice for students who aim to exceed the technician status and become professional engineers. In this degree, you will dig deeper into math and life sciences.

    Engineering courses in a bachelor’s degree are chemistry lab, computer-assisted design, engineering and programming, engineering and technology, fluid mechanics, measurement systems, principles of electricity, and thermodynamics.

    This degree leads to roles in energy, transportation, computer science, health care, and architecture industries. It also serves as a ticket to taking a licensure exam. Some schools offer five-year programs, which combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

    Entry-level jobs: chemical engineer, civil engineer, mechanical engineer

  3. Master’s Degree in Engineering

    Average time to complete: 2 years

    A master’s degree in engineering is commonly concerned with enhancing knowledge, expertise, and research skills. Most master’s degrees in engineering also demand senior thesis completion.

    A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Engineering both focus on math, the sciences, and technology. The only difference is that a BA in Engineering is merged with some courses in liberal arts and humanities. On the other hand, a BS in Engineering delves into some subdisciplines on math and science. Courses in a master’s degree in engineering are computer-integrated manufacturing, energy systems design, engineering management, experimental engineering, aerospace engineering introduction, mechatronics, applied mathematics, and robotics.

    Some schools offer more nonexclusive master of engineering degrees, and this means that the degree will mostly be in a specialized field, depending on preference (The Best Schools, 2021).

    High-level positions: senior systems engineer, software developer, design engineer

  4. Doctorate Degree in Engineering

    Average time to complete: 3 – 6 years

    Earning a doctorate degree in engineering is the requirement to become a researcher or college-level professor. This degree requires students to earn a master’s degree in engineering or a related field. It provides an extensive program in certain areas of specialization. If you pursue a doctorate degree, you would design and conduct your own research focus with the aid of a mentor. After graduation, you can work in private firms, government-funded initiatives, and nonprofit projects.

    High-level positions: researcher, college-level professor

  5. Certificate in Engineering

    Some certificates are also available for specific specializations. Certifications, such as systems design, information technology, and technical maintenance, can help in building strong credentials and advantages among other candidates (The Best Schools, 2021).

Engineering Degree Requirements

Engineers are best known for their scientific and mathematic expertise that helps them solve many technical problems. To become an engineer, you must attain the right credentials first. Featured below are some of the basic engineering degree prerequisites.

General College Admission Requirements

Admission requirements and processes vary from school to school. Generally, schools will ask applicants to complete an application and take admission tests such as the SAT or ACT. Sometimes, applicants will need to apply directly to certain degrees and meet other requirements like earning high scores and finishing specific high school programs (McKay, 2019).

Coursework

High school English, mathematics, and sciences will also help you prepare for the degree. Standings in courses, such as biological and physical sciences, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus, social studies, and a foreign language also help in forming a strong foundation for future engineering courses.

Other Requirements

Other engineering degree prerequisites may include recommendation letters, personal essays, and other school-specific requirements.

Skill Requirements

In addition to having outstanding math and science skills, students must exhibit the following engineering degree skills:

  1. Problem-solving to identify problems and resolve them quickly
  2. Critical thinking to analyze each solution well and figure out which one would work best
  3. Teamwork to work harmoniously and make tough decisions with a team
  4. Communication to be a good listener and speaker

What to Look for in an Engineering Program

There are particular elements that shape the success of a college program. Make the right decision by recognizing what to look for in an engineering program.

Available Specializations

Engineering covers a vast spectrum of industries; therefore, it is highly suggested to limit your research according to specialization. Prioritize engineering degree programs offering specializations that suit your individual and professional needs. Consider if its kind of related work environment would also make you feel at ease (The Best Schools, 2021).

Accreditation

When choosing where to study, always choose an accredited program. Accreditation means that the program has complied with certain standards. An accredited program enables you to become licensed and get hired.

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the accreditation agency for engineering degree programs in the US (McKay, 2019).

Professional Connections and Opportunities

Many schools offer great professional connections and opportunities to their students by partnering with prominent firms and organizations. Taking an internship with a reputable agency can fast-track your job search after finishing college, or even lead you to a permanent, full-time position right away.

Financial Aid Options

For the past few years, the federal government has been emphasizing the importance of the sciences, specifically engineering, resulting in an increase in the availability of financial aid for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students. Engineering students can take advantage of grants from several sources. Aside from the federal government, schools, companies, and organizations also offer college grants for engineering degrees (College Scholarships.Org, n.d.).

strong growth in STEM occupations

Majors Related to Engineering

  1. Computer Science
  2. Biology
  3. Physics
  4. Geography
  5. Geology

The World Needs More Engineers

There is more to engineering than a promise of a well-paying career and numerous job opportunities. Humanity is currently battling a climate crisis, rampant infrastructure instability, and tricky technologies. Equipped with the skills of creation, engineers are what the world obviously needs right now and in the years to come.

Engineers are considered the frontliners of the present and future. Help make the lives of people better by becoming one (Degree Query, n.d.).

 

References:

  1. Belasco, A. (2020, August 26). So You Want to Be an Engineer… College Transitions.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, May 14). Architecture and Engineering OccupationsBureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. College Tuition Compare. (n.d.). Best Engineering Colleges Tuition Comparison. College Tuition Compare.
  4. Degree Query. (n.d.). What Can I Do With an Engineering Degree? Degree Query.
  5. Follman, A. (2019, July 16). What You Need to Know About Becoming an Engineering Major. US News.
  6. Grad School Center. (n.d.). Engineering Career Guide 2021: Salary and Degree Info. Grad School Center.
  7. Indeed. (2021, February 23). What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree? Top 17 Engineering Degree Jobs. Indeed.
  8. McFadden, C. (2019, May 28). Is It Still Worth Becoming An Engineer? Interesting Engineering.
  9. McKay, D. (2019, November 20). How to Become an Engineer. The Balance Careers.
  10. Mujahid, A. (2020, January 10). Is An Engineering Degree Still in Demand in 2020? Swinburne University of Technology.
  11. The Best Schools (2021, May 20), How to Choose the Right Engineering ProgramThe Best Schools.
  12. The Best Schools. (2021, April 26). What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree? The Best Schools.
  13. University HQ. (n.d.). Careers in Engineering – Career Paths & Earning Potential. University HQ.