• Find a bachelor's degree




    Bachelors Degree Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

In today’s world, an engi­neer­ing bachelor’s degree can take some­one very far — it’s one of the best invest­ments in a bach­e­lor’s degree. Engi­neers build the world and how peo­ple inter­act with it in ways that go beyond what many peo­ple tra­di­tion­al­ly con­sid­er as the type of thing engi­neers do. That is to say, there is a lot more to engi­neer­ing than build­ing struc­tures, although the build­ing of things is def­i­nite­ly a large part of engi­neer­ing as well.

So, what is engi­neer­ing? What does an engi­neer do in gen­er­al? What is the dif­fer­ence in engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy vs engi­neer­ing? The answers to these and oth­er ques­tions con­cern­ing engi­neer­ing as a career option have a lot to do with the type of engi­neer­ing degree an appli­cant will want to pur­sue. In all cas­es, an engi­neer­ing degree is cer­tain­ly worth the effort it takes to obtain one.

An engi­neer takes the the­o­ries and math­e­mat­ics of the hard sci­ences and finds ways to use them to ben­e­fit soci­ety. The engi­neer uses the tools offered by sci­ence to solve eco­nom­ic prob­lems or fig­ure out ways to trans­form the the­o­ret­i­cal into some­thing use­able, prac­ti­cal, or sell­able. Engi­neers work in every sec­tor and are just as impor­tant to com­mer­cial enter­pris­es as they are to pub­lic ones.

What Is an Engineering Bachelor’s Degree? What Are the Different Types of Engineering?

Engi­neer­ing is an incred­i­bly broad cat­e­go­ry with many bach­e­lor’s spe­cial­iza­tions, which can some­times lead to a lit­tle con­fu­sion regard­ing what exact­ly con­sti­tutes engi­neer­ing. The first thing appli­cants should under­stand is the dif­fer­ence between engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy vs engineering.

An engi­neer and an engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gist can have some over­lap, but they are two dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories and often have dif­fer­ent degree require­ments. One broad and very sim­plis­tic way to look at the two cat­e­gories is to con­sid­er an engi­neer as the brain and an engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gist as the brawn.

Engi­neers use math and sci­ence to ben­e­fit soci­ety by solv­ing prac­ti­cal prob­lems. Engi­neers cre­ate advanced designs and sys­tems; they for­ward the field with the­o­ries and fig­ure out solu­tions to com­pli­cat­ed prob­lems. Although this can seem like a broad def­i­n­i­tion of the duties of an engi­neer, it answers the ques­tion of what does an engi­neer do in gen­er­al. Engi­neer sci­en­tists also exist as part of this group.

Engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gists have the knowl­edge to design, build, and cre­ate prac­ti­cal solu­tions that bring the advanced designs of engi­neers to life. These peo­ple often man­age the top-lev­el aspects of projects and deal with the real-world prac­ti­cal­i­ties that come with cre­at­ing an engi­neer­ing project.

A third group also exists, which are the voca­tion­al or spe­cial­ized tech­ni­cians. This group typ­i­cal­ly con­sists of those who have only obtained a two-year engi­neer­ing degree. These peo­ple often work the ser­vice jobs nec­es­sary to install, trou­bleshoot, and repair systems.

Engi­neer­ing degrees usu­al­ly start at the tech­ni­cian lev­el, move through the engi­neer tech­nol­o­gist fields of stud, and end with a full engi­neer edu­ca­tion. For exam­ple, stu­dents may start out learn­ing about the var­i­ous sys­tems in place because of engi­neer­ing and how they work, depend­ing on the type of engi­neer­ing field the stu­dent chooses.

From there, a stu­dent can choose the path of the engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gist where he or she may learn the more prac­ti­cal aspects of engi­neer­ing and man­age­ment, such as sales, pro­duc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing, oper­a­tion, main­te­nance, etc. For those who want to obtain the engi­neer sta­tus, those stud­ies will become more about research, com­plex design, analy­sis, and theory.

When choos­ing engi­neer­ing as a career option, it can help if the appli­cant has a firm idea of what exact­ly they want to do in the engi­neer­ing field. Many branch­es of engi­neer­ing exist, and each branch will have sub­cat­e­gories as well. The main engi­neer­ing branch­es include:

  • Chem­i­cal engineering
  • Civ­il engineering
  • Elec­tri­cal engineering
  • Mechan­i­cal engineering

Where these branch­es cross, there is also inter­dis­ci­pli­nary engi­neer­ing. The best engi­neer­ing degrees to get are those the appli­cant feels they have the most affin­i­ty with. The world needs engi­neers of all types and at all times, so appli­cants should not fear their degree is tied to a dead or dying discipline.

Com­plex com­put­er sys­tems are con­stant­ly under­go­ing new designs and new ways to main­tain them. Con­struc­tion always requires new tech­niques and ways to build things in dif­fer­ent cli­mates and in dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ments. So, when con­sid­er­ing the best engi­neer­ing degrees to get, appli­cants should always con­sid­er those they feel they will receive the most reward­ing expe­ri­ence from.

How Do I Find the Best Engineering Schools and Programs? What Kind of Accreditation Should an Engineering Program Have?

For those look­ing for the best engi­neer­ing under­grad­u­ate schools in the world, the search starts by look­ing at the accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus of a school or pro­gram. As with most facil­i­ties and pro­grams that offer under­grad­u­ate degrees, appli­cants must make sure that they stick to those schools and pro­grams that have cur­rent accred­i­ta­tion from the right accred­it­ing groups. For col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, a good place to start is with region­al accreditation.

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion means a school, col­lege, or uni­ver­si­ty has vol­un­tar­i­ly applied for their accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus from one of the sev­en region­al accred­it­ing agen­cies. These agen­cies form the Coun­cil of Region­al Accred­it­ing Com­mis­sions. They set edu­ca­tion­al stan­dards with the full approval of the US Dept. of Edu­ca­tion and Coun­cil for High­er Edu­ca­tion Accreditation.

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion is the most wide­ly known and pop­u­lar form of accred­i­ta­tion when it comes to insti­tutes of high­er learn­ing. In some cas­es, this accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus can make the dif­fer­ence between hav­ing the abil­i­ty to trans­fer cred­its between schools or not.

As the most well-known schools, col­leges, and uni­ver­si­ties have region­al accred­i­ta­tion, they are more prone to accept cred­its from oth­er region­al­ly accred­it­ed facil­i­ties. One caveat to region­al accred­i­ta­tion is that it typ­i­cal­ly applies to the insti­tu­tion as a whole — it is not spe­cif­ic to indi­vid­ual programs.

A school may meet or exceed all stan­dards, but that does not mean the indi­vid­ual tracks or pro­grams with­in the insti­tu­tion ful­ly meet the require­ments of their respec­tive indus­tries. This is an extreme­ly impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for those who choose the engi­neer­ing field. Because of this, appli­cants must also look for spe­cial­ized engi­neer­ing school accreditation.

Spe­cial­ized or pro­gram­mat­ic accred­i­ta­tion typ­i­cal­ly comes from accred­it­ing groups more direct­ly relat­ed to a spe­cif­ic indus­try or field. Some­times, the accred­it­ing body sets stan­dards that prac­ti­cal­ly the entire indus­try adheres to. For exam­ple, engi­neer­ing school accred­i­ta­tion in the Unit­ed States and even inter­na­tion­al­ly comes main­ly from the Accred­i­ta­tion Board for Engi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­o­gy, Inc. (ABET).

Is ABET accred­i­ta­tion impor­tant? Does ABET accred­i­ta­tion mat­ter? ABET accred­i­ta­tion is incred­i­bly impor­tant. In large swathes of the engi­neer­ing field, ABET accred­i­ta­tion require­ments take cen­ter stage.

An engi­neer will almost cer­tain­ly need an ABET-accred­it­ed diplo­ma or an ABET-accred­it­ed online degree. This applies to engi­neers of prac­ti­cal­ly every type as well as to engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gists. Even the voca­tion­al or spe­cial­ized tech­ni­cians may need to show an ABET-accred­it­ed degree in some cases.

If the ques­tion is ABET accred­i­ta­tion impor­tant ever cross­es an applicant’s mind, they should know the answer is yes. Of course, it is pos­si­ble to get into the field and advance with­out an ABET-accred­it­ed engi­neer­ing degree, but appli­cants would do them­selves a heavy dis­ser­vice by not seek­ing an engi­neer­ing school or pro­gram that has not met ABET accred­i­ta­tion requirements.

Types of Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees

Because engi­neer­ing is such a broad field with a tremen­dous amount of spe­cial­iza­tions, there are also var­i­ous types of engi­neer­ing bachelor’s degrees. The best under­grad­u­ate engi­neer­ing schools will like­ly offer pro­grams that allow stu­dents to choose an engi­neer­ing path that works best for their goals. The two main types of engi­neer­ing bachelor’s degrees are the Bach­e­lor of Engi­neer­ing Tech­nol­o­gy and the Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Engi­neer­ing. Often, the two will come down to a case of Bach­e­lor of Engi­neer­ing vs Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence. Each of these degree types can come with a con­cen­tra­tion in a par­tic­u­lar field. The require­ments for an engi­neer­ing degree will also have vari­a­tions between these two degree types.

Bachelor of Engineering vs Bachelor of Science

The main dif­fer­ence between the two degree types comes down to cur­ricu­lum. The Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence has a more pro­nounced lean­ing towards the­o­ry while the Bach­e­lor of Engi­neer­ing will focus more on appli­ca­tion. A huge amount of crossover exists between the two types of degrees, so appli­cants should not wor­ry they might not receive a full and well-round­ed edu­ca­tion in either case.

Some exam­ples of what a stu­dent will learn in a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence pro­gram include:

  • Advanced analy­sis of engi­neered solutions
  • Apply­ing engi­neer­ing the­o­ries to new engi­neer­ing chal­lenges and techniques
  • Larg­er scale design fun­da­men­tals, such as for infrastructure

Some exam­ples of what a stu­dent will learn in a Bach­e­lor of Engi­neer­ing Tech­nol­o­gy pro­gram include:

  • Man­u­fac­tur­ing and devel­op­ment tech­niques for com­mer­cial­ly viable engi­neer­ing designs
  • Research skills with a focus on new and emerg­ing technologies
  • Prac­ti­cal use of and dis­sem­i­na­tion of engi­neered designs for imme­di­ate projects

Basi­cal­ly, the two degree types mark the dif­fer­ence between engi­neers and engi­neer tech­nol­o­gists. The best under­grad­u­ate engi­neer­ing schools typ­i­cal have paths for both types of degrees and sim­i­lar require­ments for engi­neer­ing degree types.

Since the cur­ricu­lums have so much over­lap, stu­dents will have to put some extra thought into which direc­tion they want to go in. How­ev­er, require­ments for engi­neer­ing degree appli­cants are not just the main con­cern. When speak­ing of types of bachelor’s degrees in engi­neer­ing and col­lege class­es for engi­neer­ing, it is impor­tant to speak of the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines or specializations.

Engi­neer­ing cov­ers a wide array of spe­cial­ties, and not all schools will offer all types of col­lege class­es for engi­neer­ing. For exam­ple, a bachelor’s degree in engi­neer­ing at the most afford­able engi­neer­ing schools does not always include every engi­neer­ing dis­ci­pline for an appli­cant to choose from. In fact, appli­cants who have a firm idea of what type of engi­neer­ing dis­ci­pline they want to pur­sue should look for the most afford­able engi­neer­ing schools that have a his­to­ry of deal­ing with the par­tic­u­lar spe­cial­iza­tion they are look­ing for. Agri­cul­tur­al engi­neer­ing and audio engi­neer­ing are wild­ly dif­fer­ent things, even though they both fall under the engi­neer­ing umbrel­la. Appli­cants can earn a bachelor’s degree in engi­neer­ing in:

  • Aero­space engineering
  • Auto­mo­tive engineering
  • Civ­il engineering
  • Com­put­er engineering
  • Elec­tri­cal engineering
  • Mechan­i­cal engineering
  • Soft­ware engineering
  • Bio­med­ical engineering
  • engi­neer­ing management
  • sys­tems engineering
  • envi­ron­men­tal engineering
  • indus­tri­al engineering
  • health care engineering

Engi­neer­ing majors will need to study course­work like ther­mo­dy­nam­ics, mate­ri­als sci­ence, applied sci­ence, and com­put­er sci­ence, as well as soft skills like prob­lem solv­ing and project management.

The list goes on and on. Basi­cal­ly, if some­one can use math and sci­ence to build some­thing of any sort, be it a sound record­ing or a sky­scraper, there is a cat­e­go­ry of engi­neer­ing to go with it. In addi­tion, the engi­neer­ing bach­e­lor degree require­ments may vary wide­ly depend­ing on the type of spe­cial­ized engi­neer­ing degree an appli­cant chooses.

Can You Get an Engineering Degree Online?

If you won­der can you get an engi­neer­ing degree online, the answer is a def­i­nite yes. Obtain­ing a bach­e­lor’s in mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing online or procur­ing an online mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing bach­e­lor degree works the same way as obtain­ing an engi­neer­ing degree at a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty. In fact, online degree pro­grams have many advan­tages for work­ing adults.

Appli­cants must choose an engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree online with a good rep­u­ta­tion, a cur­ricu­lum that fits their goals, and accred­i­ta­tion. The most afford­able online engi­neer­ing degrees are direct­ly com­pa­ra­ble to the most afford­able degree pro­grams at any col­lege or university.

How­ev­er, an engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree online, online mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing bach­e­lor degree or any oth­er type of engi­neer­ing degree online may have some lim­i­ta­tions. For exam­ple, some engi­neer­ing cur­ricu­lums require more hands-on edu­ca­tion than oth­ers, such as aero­space engi­neer­ing. The oppo­site is true of oth­er types of engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree online options, such as com­put­er engineering.

In addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al online degree options, accel­er­at­ed engi­neer­ing pro­grams also exist. Accel­er­at­ed engi­neer­ing degree pro­grams can typ­i­cal­ly help appli­cants com­press some of the bachelor’s cur­ricu­lum into as lit­tle as two years. Nev­er­the­less, those who seek an accel­er­at­ed engi­neer­ing degree online must make sure they are pre­pared to put in the extra effort that comes with such accel­er­at­ed engi­neer­ing programs.

What Types of Careers are There in Engineering?

Numer­ous types of engi­neer­ing careers exist. Non-tra­di­tion­al engi­neer­ing jobs and careers are out there as well. Stu­dents of engi­neer­ing can apply their knowl­edge of the inner work­ings of com­plex sys­tems to a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things, so there is always some­thing for those who want to know what to do with engi­neer­ing degree knowl­edge. Still, the tra­di­tion­al types of engi­neer­ing careers offer a lot of options on their own and even non-tra­di­tion­al engi­neer­ing jobs can show up as sub­cat­e­gories of the tra­di­tion­al ones.

Some of the more cur­rent­ly pop­u­lar types of engi­neer­ing careers can include:

  • Aero­space engi­neer­ing – Air and space travel
  • Chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing – Foods, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, etc.
  • Civ­il engi­neer­ing – Infra­struc­ture design
  • Elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing – Elec­tri­cal design and technology
  • Mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing – Machine design
  • Petro­le­um engi­neer­ing – Work­ing with oils and plastics

These engi­neer­ing career fields are only a tiny part of the indus­try. How­ev­er, these are some of the most pop­u­lar fields in mod­ern times.

Is mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing a good career? Is mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing a good idea for all engi­neer­ing stu­dents? As mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy jobs increase, the urge to go direct­ly for that par­tic­u­lar spe­cial­ty may grow, but these jobs are com­pa­ra­ble to the oth­er pop­u­lar engi­neer­ing spe­cial­ties as far as how good they are as a career choice.

Under­stand that each of these fields come with sev­er­al sub­cat­e­gories of engi­neer­ing. Appli­cants look­ing for the high­est paid engi­neer­ing field or the best engi­neer­ing degrees for jobs will like­ly find it in one of these career specialties.

Engi­neer­ing job require­ments will depend on the type of spe­cial­ty involved. Appli­cants may have to seek fur­ther train­ing, edu­ca­tion, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to enter some fields or to meet engi­neer­ing job require­ments. This can be true even with engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree jobs that do not out­right state oth­er engi­neer­ing job require­ments may become necessary.

Nev­er­the­less, the ques­tion of what to do with engi­neer­ing degree cre­den­tials does not just start and end with the tra­di­tion­al engi­neer­ing fields. The high­est-paid engi­neer­ing field for one per­son may not offer anoth­er per­son enough to achieve their goals. For exam­ple, a lot of entre­pre­neur­ial oppor­tu­ni­ties exist for those who want to know what can you do with an engi­neer­ing degree besides engineering.

A pas­sion for engi­neer­ing can lead down a num­ber of paths, and a pas­sion for oth­er things can give some­one a rea­son to apply their engi­neer­ing exper­tise to a giv­en sub­ject. Engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree jobs are not the only thing avail­able to an engi­neer­ing technologist.

To make the most of your career oppor­tu­ni­ties, the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics sug­gests get­ting a master’s degree, although intern­ships are a great way in the door as well. An online bach­e­lor degree can set the stage and cov­er pre­req­ui­sites for grad­u­ate study with high­er-lev­el engi­neer­ing cours­es. Some careers, like elec­tron­ics engi­neers, may also require licensure.

What Kind of Salary Comes with an Engineering Bachelor’s Degree?

Engi­neer­ing salary varies wide­ly and depends heav­i­ly on dif­fer­ent fac­tors. Some of the most obvi­ous fac­tors that deter­mine salary has to do with loca­tion, demand, and the engi­neer­ing spe­cial­ty in ques­tion. Expe­ri­ence also plays a large role in engi­neer­ing salary expectations.

The types of engi­neer­ing and salary also some­times go togeth­er. For this rea­son, look­ing at spe­cif­ic types of engi­neer­ing and salaries asso­ci­at­ed with those spe­cif­ic types of engi­neer­ing is impor­tant. Many peo­ple may want to start by know­ing the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs or which engi­neer­ing has the high­est salary possibilities.

Indeed lists a gener­ic engi­neer salary aver­age of approx­i­mate­ly $86k. How­ev­er, engi­neers of the same expe­ri­ence can see up to and over $100k if they work for some key com­pa­nies. Accord­ing to PayScale, the aver­age mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing salary is around $70k

Aver­age elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy salary, accord­ing to the BLS, is approx­i­mate­ly $100k while the aver­age com­put­er engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy salary has medi­an salaries rang­ing from $93k to $114k depend­ing on the type of com­put­er engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy salary involved.

When it comes to the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs and which engi­neer­ing has high­est salary poten­tial cur­rent­ly, the petro­le­um engi­neer comes with an aver­age salary of $156k. Under­stand these num­bers aren’t always a good indi­ca­tor of what an appli­cant can make in their par­tic­u­lar loca­tion with their par­tic­u­lar specialty.

Elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy salary can rise if the appli­cant seeks a career where that type of engi­neer­ing is in high demand. This also all applies when com­par­ing things like engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy salary vs engi­neer­ing salary. Engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy degree salary is com­pa­ra­ble to engi­neer­ing salary in gen­er­al and comes with all the same variables.

Professional Organizations in Engineering

Engi­neer­ing is a broad field full of spe­cial­ists, experts, and peo­ple who play a role in plan­ning whole soci­eties. It makes sense there is a pletho­ra of pro­fes­sion­al engi­neer­ing orga­ni­za­tions out there. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions for engi­neers exist at the local, state, nation­al, and inter­na­tion­al levels.

Join­ing a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion comes with tremen­dous ben­e­fits such as access to jobs, con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, access to mate­ri­als and infor­ma­tion not found else­where, and var­i­ous oth­er things. Maybe most impor­tant­ly, pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions offer net­work­ing opportunities.

As these groups tend to con­sist of those in the field who move things for­ward, it is always a good idea to join an orga­ni­za­tion, par­tic­i­pate, and meet mem­bers. As there are so many of these pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions for engi­neers, appli­cants should nar­row their choic­es down by seek­ing groups that con­sist of those who prac­tice the same spe­cial­ty or sub­spe­cial­ty of engineering.

In addi­tion, engi­neer­ing orga­ni­za­tions also exist for peo­ple of par­tic­u­lar des­ig­na­tions. For exam­ple, there is the Soci­ety of Women Engi­neers, the Nation­al Soci­ety of Black Engi­neers, and oth­er such groups. Many schools also have engi­neer­ing groups, so stu­dents do not have to wait until they grad­u­ate to join an asso­ci­a­tion. Stu­dents can start build­ing con­nec­tions, net­work­ing, and expand­ing their under­stand­ing of their cho­sen field while they are still learning.

ABET itself, con­sists of var­i­ous orga­ni­za­tions which are pro­fes­sion­al engi­neer­ing soci­eties and groups in their own right. Many places offer lists of engi­neer­ing groups.

The Future of Engineering

Engi­neer­ing is one of those fields that will exist for­ev­er. For appli­cants look­ing towards the future or those who want to know which engi­neer­ing branch is best for future endeav­ors, or the best engi­neer­ing jobs for the future, all they have to do is look at the world around them.

Elec­tron­ics, AI, robot­ics, and com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy are all cre­at­ing inter­dis­ci­pli­nary engi­neer­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Pri­vate, com­mer­cial enter­pris­es are active­ly mak­ing efforts to do more in the realm in space. Com­pa­nies are try­ing to fig­ure out how things like self-dri­ving car tech­nol­o­gy can work with cur­rent infra­struc­ture even as gov­ern­ments are try­ing to fig­ure out how to get the infra­struc­ture in line with cur­rent technology.

For an appli­cant look­ing for which engi­neer­ing branch is best for future growth, there is no one answer. The best engi­neer­ing jobs for the future will encom­pass prac­ti­cal­ly every type of engi­neer­ing discipline.

Relat­ed Rank­ings:
25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Engi­neer­ing Degree Pro­grams
15 Best Online Engi­neer­ing Degree Bach­e­lor’s Pro­grams
10 Fastest Online Engi­neer­ing Degree Bach­e­lor’s Pro­grams
10 Most Afford­able Online Engi­neer­ing Degree Bach­e­lor Programs