An engineering degree has become one of the hardest degrees to attain. In addition, the most prestigious colleges in the U.S. offer students an engineering degree. The work performed by engineers is largely unknown by most people, yet it is their work that makes our modern world progress. In fact, engineering is one of the oldest professions known to man and has made our advancements possible since ancient times. Engineering is responsible for the lever, pulley, and the wheel in ancient times along with the aqueducts and roads of the Roman Empire. Currently, the designs of our modern world such as aircraft’s and wind power generators were all created by engineers.
Engineering is one of the most complicated educational courses an individual can take. Earning a degree in engineering requires an individual to become comfortable with several areas of study including science, medicine, biology, and mathematics. Both on campus and online options are available to students who want to pursue an engineering degree. An online engineering degree can be convenient for prospective students who have daily tasks such as parental and work related responsibilities. Students heading to college in search of an engineering degree can expect to eventually focus their studies on one of the five main branches of engineering. These branches include:
- Aerospace Engineering: This specific field focuses on the designs of an aircraft and spacecraft.
- Chemical Engineering: Individuals employ chemical principles to create large scale processes useful in designing new materials and fuels, for example.
- Civil Engineering: Design and construction of public and private works such as roads, bridges, and buildings.
- Electrical Engineering: The broadest area of study in this field includes electrical and electronic systems.
- Mechanical Engineering: Design of physical or mechanical systems such as engines, compressors, and power trains.
While these five branches are considered the main branches of engineering, there are many other branches often considered to be sub-fields within the major. In the instance that a sub-field of engineering becomes so large and important in its own right, it can become a major branch of engineering. Some examples of other branches include agricultural, mining, geological, and petroleum engineering.
Getting into an engineering program can be very difficult, even at the undergraduate level. Students applying to an undergraduate program will need to have an impressive high school record, well written entrance essays, and solid personal references. Undergraduate students can expect a heavy dose of science and mathematics classes. As they advance through school they will begin to focus on one particular area of engineering that will determine what further mathematics and science courses are required.
Several top tier universities and colleges boast strong departments in engineering and technical fields with a high number of graduates earning Bachelor's degrees within those fields. Many of these top universities offer a Master's program as well, but their larger focus is on undergraduate studies with a good balance of Liberal Arts studies.
Those interested in a highly advanced education in engineering should consider pursuing a Master's or Doctorate in the field. While a number of major universities may offer focused engineering programs, not all of them have top notch Master's and Doctorate level degrees.
Individuals who graduate with a degree can expect to find solid employment in the public and private sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that many engineering fields will be among the fasting growing job sectors in the coming decade. By 2018 their projections have biomedical, environmental and civil engineering growing at the fastest rate in the field, and much faster than the national average. Other fields such as petroleum, industrial, geological, and mining engineering are also expected to grow faster than the national average.
Generally speaking a Bachelor's degree with an engineering focus, or related branch of study such as physical science, is sufficient to gain entry level employment. Individuals who wish to work directly for members of the public will have to go through an accreditation process to become approved engineers. Experience is the best way for an individual to advance in their field. A good reputation is also one of the best ways to advance.
In the long run, an engineering education, though difficult to earn will be rewarding. As of 2008, the best paying engineering field saw computer hardware engineers earn an average salary of $97,400 per year. Even the lower part of the engineering fields saw great financial rewards with mechanical engineers earning an average salary of $69,850.