Looking for a lucrative career in a continually growing field? Want to put your curiosity and problem-solving skills to work? Well, you might be an engineer. Engineers created the technology that we use everyday, from elevators to email, and they are hard at work improving old ideas and generating new ones that will change the way we live in the future.
A bachelor’s degree in engineering can open the door to a career in one of the dozens of technological fields that are expanding every year. Some engineers go on to acquire a doctoral degree, but many more find rewarding and well-compensated employment with a combination of a bachelor’s degree and work experience. Starting salaries for engineers average around $64,000 in many fields, and they are among the highest-paid technical professionals today.
Engineering graduates also enjoy a broad choice of professional environments. Some work for the government or nonprofit agencies, others for private firms, and still some others start their own consulting businesses. Engineers can focus on cutting-edge research or become entrepreneurs. They may partner with professionals in other areas like medicine and geology to develop new products and to scale systems. Whatever your interests, it’s possible to apply engineering to literally every passion that one can dream up.
Although civil engineering is the most popular field for graduates, engineering isn’t all roads and bridges. Careers abound in biomedical, chemical, automotive, petroleum (which has the highest average salary), industrial, computer, mechanical, and electrical engineering. Engineers have created or refined things like the Ferris wheel, snowboards, running shoes, special-effects in films, waterslides, space shuttles, virtual reality, interactive television, and even facial reconstruction surgery. Theme parks and the entertainment industry have become completely separate but powerful subfields of engineering. You don’t have to choose between a creative career and one that uses your applied science skills – they’re often one in the same.
Engineering is not just for men as common perceptions suggest. A woman named Emily Roebling supervised construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program in 1843 in response to an article on a completely hypothetical device, the Analytical Engine. Actress Hedy Lamarr made significant contributions to wireless technology (the technology was designed for communications during World War II, but instead it became the foundation of modern wireless communication and has been used to control intercontinental missiles). More recently, astronaut Judith Resnik, who lost her life in the Challenger accident, held a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and Barbara Johnson, general engineering student, led teams of NASA engineers and is considered a pioneer for women in aerospace engineering.
The Benefits of an Accredited Online Engineering degree
The benefits of an online education are many, especially for nontraditional students – i.e., those who are returning to school after spending a few years in the workforce, the military, or taking time to start a family. Online classes are much more flexible for working people and parents than classes at a traditional university: you can attend class any time and will save significant commuting hours. Tuition for most online programs is also less expensive, even for the online version of a traditional four-year school. Admissions requirements may also be less stringent, so your grades and scores are not such a critical part of your admission portfolio. These schools, and your prospective employers, are interested in the whole person – in your life experience and skills, not just your academic statistics.
There are hundreds of universities offering online degrees in engineering; some are offshoots of well-known traditional universities, like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others are exclusively online, such as Apollo Career Center. An online degree from MIT might get you a job interview faster than one from a lesser-known school, but it comes at a price –about $38,000 a year, and online programs typically take six years to complete. Apollo, on the other hand, costs less than $9,000 per year and boasts a 96% graduation rate. Research carefully and weigh the benefits of the schools that appeal to you.
The most important factor in choosing an online program is its accreditation from the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). This means that the school meets nationally established standards of engineering education. Accredited schools can offer their students federally funded sources of financial assistance. A degree from an accredited program is required to pursue an advanced degree at any other accredited university, and most employers will not consider applicants without one. Do your homework before investing your money and time, and choose a program that can offer you a bright future in the fascinating and ever-changing world of engineering.