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Accredited Online Engineering Degree Guide for 2015
A simple definition of engineering is that it is the science of design and manufacturing. But as you may have guessed, the field of engineering is anything but simple. There are over 20 fields of engineering to choose from, each requiring a specific skill set based on an understanding of particular areas in mathematics and the sciences. Those who enjoy building and designing things for human use should definitely consider an engineering career. It is advisable to conduct initial research to figure out if you are prepared to do what it takes for entrance into an engineering program, as well as identify the best engineering path for yourself.
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Among possible fields to choose from are biomedical, software, and civil engineering. Biomedical engineering is the design, creation, and improvement of medical devices such as prosthetics, artificial organs, and bioengineered skin. There is also software engineering, which is the work of designing, constructing, testing, and maintaining computer applications software. Civil engineering, yet another engineering path, deals with the design and maintenance of public works such as roads, bridges, and water and energy systems. These are only three of the engineering fields you could consider. There are many more arenas in which an engineer can contribute to society and make a more than comfortable living.
The journey to becoming an engineer is not an easy one. Engineering programs are hard, and people tend to drop out if they are not totally committed. If you are one of the students capable of the type of mathematical and scientific thinking, and dedicated study, required of engineers, there is great reward to be gained through the profession. The demand for engineers is high and the low supply of people with engineering skills drives up the price of engineering labor.
Not every type of engineering degree may be pursued online, unfortunately. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all United States engineers selling their skills to the public must be licensed. In order to be licensed, you must first earn an undergraduate degree accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. The majority of ABET-accredited programs are offered mainly on-site. There are some ABET-accredited online programs, however. A list of those online programs may be found at the ABET website. Before choosing a specific field in engineering, you should make sure that you can either pursue that degree online, or that you are able to attend a program in your chosen field on-site.
Licensing, Certifications, and Exams
In the United States, licensure for engineers is regulated by each state. If you want to become what is known as a Professional Engineer (PE), check the requirements in the state or territory where you plan to practice. Not all engineers must become licensed, but getting licensed opens up many more career growth opportunities. For example, as a PE, you would be able to bid for government contracts, perform consulting services, and offer your services to the public. Essentially, instead of working under another PE, you could work for yourself running your own business.
Each state licensing board has its own laws, but they each follow a common four-step process for licensure:
While getting licensed isn’t necessary to become an engineer, it is highly recommended for those wanting to move through the highest levels of engineering in their chosen fields.
Additional Resources for Certification information
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES ) develops, administers, and scores the examinations used for engineering and surveying licensure in the United States.
To find out if you may work in foreign countries, visit Accreditation.org. Find a list of mutual recognition agreements, where two or more accrediting bodies agree to provide equivalent recognition to the engineering programs each accredits.
TryEngineering.Org provides a list of degree fields and describes different engineering career paths.
Future Outlook for Primary Career
Everyday, without really thinking about it, almost everything we do is the result of the work of an engineer. We need engineers to do their work so we can buy food to eat, have cars to drive, and sleep in a warm and cozy bed. There are so many fields of engineering, that it’s impossible to discuss all of them in one place. The following are three of the currently growing fields for engineers:
Civil engineers are involved in all phases of construction projects and systems. These engineers are needed to both update the nation s aging infrastructure and to guide new development projects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the career of civil engineer will grow 19 percent by 2020.
Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution. They are in demand for their contributions to infrastructure updates, the issues of climate change and the purposes of energy exploration.
Software engineers develop the applications that permit people to do particular tasks on a computer or other device, as well as the fundamental systems that run the devices or control the networks.
Engineering salaries are generally higher compared to occupations that require a similar level of education. At the low end, environmental engineering technicians holding an associate’s degree can expect to earn a median salary of $50,000. Petroleum engineers can expect to make well over $100,000 a year with a bachelor’s degree. Overall, the profession promises great pay for those who attain the appropriate degree.
Engineers apply the principles of science and math to solve problems. The study of engineering involves completing a program that includes mathematics, the sciences, and highly technical courses. From this knowledge base, you will gain many important and marketable skills, including:
- Drafting software
- Designing for manufacturability
- Measurement conversions
- Technical mathematics
- Product design
- Data handling
- Computer literacy
- Problem solving
Internships are intrinsic to gaining the appropriate work experience in any field. What’s great about most engineering internships is that you will get to work on actual projects under highly intelligent and successful engineers. The following are some of the options available for engineering interns:
- Researching in the nanosciences
- Supporting engineers in product development
- Learning how government officials use engineers to make decisions in Washington DC
- Integrating yourself into the work environment of research and manufacturing
- Working on municipal water and wastewater treatment projects
- Gaining practical experience in the fields of chemistry, manufacturing, and controls as they relate to the drug development process
- Performing testing, evaluation, and demonstration of projects involving the environmental degradation of materials
Suggested Online Degree Programs
The programs listed below are all named top online graduate engineering programs and are all sufficiently accredited. As stated above, there are few accredited online programs in engineering, but the list will continue to grow over time.
- UCLA Master of Science in Engineering Online Program received extremely high marks in U.S. News criteria for student engagement, faculty credentials and training, and admissions selectivity. The school received a perfect score of 100 in student services and technology.
- Columbia University s School of Engineering Applied Science offers an education with a faculty whose research activities are focused on increasing the knowledge base of engineering and creating technological solutions that serve society.
- North Carolina State University College of Engineering Online established its first distance engineering programs in 1978 to engage students around the world.
Below are some websites that can help you think more logically about your decision to become an engineer, establish your path towards your chosen engineering field, and learn what you will have to do to in order to get where you want to go.
- Forbes Magazine. article on top paying careers. It covers some fields of engineering.
- Money Magazine. article on the best jobs in the United States. Covers fields in engineering.
- Try Engineering. website dedicated to all things engineering, from assessments to advice to career descriptions to blogs by actual engineers.
- Live Science. website dedicated to science and technology. Explores many careers in engineering.
- ABET (formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology): accredits engineering educational programs and endorses quality and innovation in instruction.