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What Types of Online Engineering Degrees and Programs Are Available?
- AE / Associate of Engineering: Engineering students can obtain this degree online in two years or even less with an increased class load. Core classics, the basics of engineering, and even a few electives are included.
- BSE / Bachelor of Engineering: These four year degrees can be obtained in several specialties including electrical, mechanical, and even computing. Different degrees and programs may demand a high GPA, SAT score, or other requirements.
- MSE / Master of Science in Engineering: An advanced graduate degree, it takes two years to obtain after a successful completion of a Bachelor’s degree. Research is heavily emphasized, as is term papers and more.
- PhDE / Doctorate in Engineering: This doctorate degree is ideal for those wishing to work in the top of the engineering field, in addition to those who would like to teach the subject at the university level. If you posses a four year or Master’s degree, have good grades, and are looking to move up, this program is worth looking into.
What Should I Consider When Choosing an Online Engineering Degree?
Because licensing may be required for your engineering path of choice, accreditation is key.
Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology lists hundreds of approved engineering degrees and programs. Simply click on “search for all accredited programs” to look by institution, program specialty, and even location. If you don’t live in the United States, they also accredit engineering programs in India, the UAE, and others.
Be sure to look for scholarships when studying engineering, as there are quite a few out there. There are societies for various specialties in engineering such as civil or mechanical, as well as for engineering students who are women or minorities. Financial aid is also available at any accredited institution for those with low, or even moderate, incomes.
What Education, Training, Experience, and Certification is Required to Become a Engineer?
According to The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a Bachelor’s degree is required for most entry level jobs, with continuing education being required as technology evolves. They have designated 17 engineering specialties which can require everything from development and design to simulation and testing. Graduate degrees are essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs.
Although engineers can find work with a degree in math or the sciences, an engineering degree is preferred. However, those with a degree in a specific area of engineering can often find themselves switching to a related specialty, such as from mechanical to aerospace.
All 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, require licensure for engineers who offer services directly to the public and are called professional engineers (PE). The license requirement varies from state to state, but generally consists of a four step process. They include graduation from an accredited engineering institution, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, some work experience, and successful completion of the PE exam. To view the requirements for your state click here.
What Schools Offer Online Engineering Degrees?
A quick check on the BLS websites shows about 1,830 programs at colleges and universities offering Bachelor’s degrees in engineering that are accredited, with another 710 programs in engineering technology. Below are a few that offer online options.
Penn Foster College – Associate of Engineering
There is a wide variety of online Associate’s Degrees in Engineering to choose from including civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Other related degrees offered include computer information systems and PC maintenance technology.
DeVry University – Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
One of several online degrees offered through their College of Engineering & Information Sciences, several specialized tracks are offered. They include Business Management, Computer Forensics, Health Information Systems, Systems Security, Systems Analysis and Web Game Programming, in addition to the four other Bachelor’s degrees in engineering they offer.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University – Master of Engineering – Interdisciplinary Studies in Engineering
Stop by this university to take a look at this degree which examines the latest in wireless innovation. Other online Master’s degrees in engineering include computer engineering, cyber security, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and manufacturing engineering.
Walden University – PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences – Engineering Management
Choosing this specialization allows either practicing engineers to move into management or engineers who are already managers to learn the social and behavioral aspects of management. This online PhD degree also offers related specialties in Information Systems Management and Operations Research.
What Career and Salary Opportunities are Available to Students With an Online Engineering Degree?
In 2006, engineers in all specialties held approximately 1.5 million jobs in the United States. That number is expected to grow in the coming years and vary by engineering specialty. Those who held the most positions were in engineers in civil and mechanical with agricultural, mining, and geological holding the fewest jobs.
Starting salaries for engineers are directly effected by the type of degree chosen, according to Table 3 in the engineering section of the BLS website. For example, for the two most popular engineering career choices, civil and mechanical, starting salaries varied by $14,000 to $16,000, depending on graduate or undergraduate degree. Mechanical engineering students with entry level jobs made a median salary of $54,128 with a Bachelor’s degree, $62,798 with a Master’s, and $72,763 with a doctorate.
Earnings for engineers also vary significantly by specialty, industry, and education. The BLS published average earnings for all 17 specialties in 2006. The highest earners were petroleum and nuclear engineers with median yearly salaries of $98,380 and $90,220, respectively. Specialties with median salaries in the 70’s and 80’s were aerospace, computer hardware, electrical, mining and geological, along with others. The lowest earning engineers were agricultural and health and safety engineers with median salaries of about $66,000.