If you are considering earning a degree in engineering technology, you may wonder what your curriculum might look like. Over a period of two years, you will take science and mathematics courses, develop technical skills and learn to apply those skills to real-world situations. The heavy emphasis on math, science and technology can make this degree program a challenging one, but it will prepare you for a career that offers rapid job growth and an excellent salary, especially considering that it requires only an associate degree.
A Two-Year Curriculum
Unlike engineering degrees, engineering technology degrees are typically offered at the associate’s level. You can complete your education in two years of full-time study. Some colleges do offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs in engineering technology, but an associate’s degree is a more popular educational background for this career path, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, engineering technology is a degree that is better to earn at a community college than a four-year school, according to U.S. News & World Report.
If you want to earn an engineering technology degree, then you can choose whether to study at a community college or a vocational-technical school. The coursework of an accredited engineering technology program is similar regardless of where you study, but programs offered at community colleges tend to focus more on theory-based coursework and include a more extensive liberal arts component, the BLS reported.
It’s important to note that a degree in engineering technology will not qualify you to be an engineer. Engineering technicians and technologists have different job responsibilities from engineers, as well as a different earning potential and job outlook.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the same organization that accredits engineering programs, is responsible for accrediting engineering technology programs.
Science and Math
All ABET-accredited engineering technology programs require that students complete at least enough math courses to be able to use mathematical concepts to solve technical problems. Those courses include algebra and trigonometry for associate’s degree programs, while baccalaureate programs must also add studies in integral and differential calculus. Students of engineering technology degree programs should also be prepared to take science courses, including chemistry and physics.
Laboratory science courses are required for aspiring engineering technicians and technologists in ABET-accredited programs.
Just how technical is coursework in engineering technology? At least one-third of an engineering technology degree program must be technical content that emphasizes the application of science, math and engineering concepts. Engineering technology programs are typically specialized, and students in such programs learn how to use the tools and equipment needed for their chosen discipline of engineering technology. ABET requires accredited programs in engineering technology to expose students to technical core coursework that will prepare them for more complex coursework later in their studies.
The technical content of an engineering technology degree program composes more than one-third of the program, but not more than two-thirds.
If a major portion of an engineering technology degree program is learning how to apply math, science and engineering principles in real life, it only makes sense that part of the curriculum should include opportunities for practical application. Often, students in an engineering technology program are encouraged, if not required, to complete an internship or cooperative experience.
You may be able to gain college credit for your internship or co-op program, if it meets ABET requirements.
Like engineering programs, engineering technology degree programs are often specialized. Some of the classes you will take depend on what discipline of engineering technology you are studying.
For example, a student in electrical engineering technology will most likely take classes in circuitry, programming languages and logical processors, the BLS reported. Students may also have the option to further specialize in a concentration such as communications electronics, computer electronics or industrial electronics. In a civil engineering technology program, students will study design and the computer software used for designing civil engineering systems. Students of environmental engineering technology programs will take classes in environmental assessment and hazardous waste management.
Some branches of engineering technology are more lucrative than others. Aerospace engineering technicians earn a median wage of $67,240, while environmental engineering technicians earn $50,230.