Engineering is the application of math and science to real world, technical problems. Specialists in this broad field tackle everything from manufacturing to construction to nanotechnology. Almost every aspect of modern life bears the imprint of engineering insight, from indoor plumbing to GPS systems. Engineers test, develop, create, repair, and maintain the products and systems that ensure the convenience, safety, and reliability of modern society.
Although you can specialize in any number of engineering programs, the two main branches of engineering are civil and material. Aerospace engineers work with aircraft and spacecraft. Biomedical engineers develop new medicines to help people live healthier lives. Computer engineers design software and hardware. Electrical engineers design electrical systems for residential and commercial buildings. And mechanical engineers work with machines. Common to all of these branches, however, is extensive training and education.
Engineering Degrees and Coursework
A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirements for entry into the field, with some employers requiring a master's degree. Engineers who work on public projects must also obtain certification and licensing before they can go on the government payroll. One major reason for this extra caution is engineers don't have much wiggle room when it comes to errors. Poorly wired office buildings, weak bridges, and faulty gadgets can all have disastrous consequences. So in addition to math, physics, computer science, information technology, computer aided design, and engineering, expect to take courses in regulations, legal issues, business ethics, and safety guidelines. It's also not uncommon for engineers to pursue apprenticeships and internships both during and after their studies. In this way, they can apply theoretical training to practical engineering problems while under the watchful eye of more experienced professionals.
Online Career Training in Engineering
Many engineers enjoy the freedom and flexibility offered by online degrees. From the comfort of a home or office computer, you can master the essentials of this broad field. If you do decide to pursue online career training, however, be sure to include on-the-job training in your education. The more practical hands-on experience you bring to the table, the more attractive a candidate you can be for future employers.
Career Opportunities in Engineering
Job growth for the entire engineering industry is expected to keep pace with the national average for all other industries (11 percent from 2006 to 2016). Competition within each engineering discipline, however, varies considerably. Biomedical engineering is expected to grow by as much as 21 percent, while electrical engineering might only enjoy 6 percent growth over that same ten-year period.
Salary Projections for Engineering
Salary potential also varies considerably within engineering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median incomes ranged from $75,000 (agricultural engineers) to $107,000 (ceramic engineers) in 2007. Additional education and super-specialization can potentially improve your earning potential.