Most engineering programs in the United States offer a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering. It is the most common degree offered by engineering schools, and is also a staple to work as an FE (Functional Engineer certification) in the field to ultimately pursue your PE (Professional Engineer Certification).
Graduates of Bachelor's in Engineering degree programs can have multiple opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates ranges of ~$40,000 and $130,000 for engineers in the U.S. (source), among the highest average salaries in the U.S. There is a huge push by many politicians in the U.S., including the presidential administration, to get more students into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.
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Studying Engineering at the Undergraduate Level
- A main reason is that statisticians estimate a need for employment in those areas - simply put, there are more jobs available and there will continue to be as time goes on. More jobs available means more opportunities for you to find that perfect job.
- Another reason is that with the demand for engineers, salaries should also be on the rise in nearly every engineering field. It's the simple law of supply and demand - unfortunately there are not a ton of engineers out there, so every engineer has a ton of value.
- Lastly, science and technology have advanced the fields of engineering so fast that new engineers are needed. Computer and electrical engineering are very exciting fields, and health care networking advancements have opened up new employment areas and more need for bright individuals.
Individuals who are interested in an engineering career have many engineering fields from which to choose. Becoming an engineer requires at least a bachelor degree in an engineering field. Licensing is required for many types of engineering. To comply with licensing laws and improve employment opportunities, choose an engineering program that's accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.).
Online Bachelor’s in Engineering Degree Programs
Online education has become increasingly popular in recent years not only because of the flexibility and convenience it offers students but also because it allows the student to earn a degree while continuing to work. Engineering programs at the bachelor degree level are not offered online as much as master degree programs because of the internship requirements, but they are offered online.
An example of an online program is the online electrical engineering program at Arizona State University. The most commonly offered online engineering programs are in electrical, computer, software and mechanical engineering, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Common Bachelor’s in Engineering Degrees
Although each type of engineering is unique, the educational programs have many similarities. In addition to classroom learning and lab studies, they all require the student complete field work, internships or participate in cooperative education to obtain real experience. Engineers working in fields requiring licensure must pass licensing exams through the NCEES – FE, PE, and SE certifications. The major difference is in the major-related and elective courses in each engineering field.
Here is an overview on the most popular engineering bachelor degree programs.
Bachelors Degree in Computer Engineering
Computer engineering, an integration of computer science and electrical engineering, is used to develop computer software and hardware; however, unlike CS and EE, computer engineers use data structure and abstract algorithms to control devices. Rich in computer science courses, computer engineering programs utilize many elective courses, allowing students to customize a program to meet their areas of concentration.
This can be seen in the computer engineering program at Georgia Institute of Technology, which offers concentrations in embedded systems and software; distributed systems and software; design tools, test, and verification; computer architecture; computer networks and networking; and VLSI design. Georgia Tech also offers students a cooperative education opportunity. Graduates may also work as computer hardware engineers or may advance their careers and work as information systems managers.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering
Software engineering, also categorized with computer software engineering, deals with the design, management and installation of computer software products. Software engineering students must have a solid background in mathematics and be knowledgeable in computer programming. Generally speaking, students participate in internships, seminars, co-op work experiences and even designing a software product as a senior project. Courses include fundamentals of software development; applied discrete mathematics; algorithms and data structure; software testing; and software design methods.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineering and electronics engineering are two very closely related fields and often used interchangeably. Electrical engineers design and install electrical systems while electronic engineers design and inspect electronic equipment. One example of the difference is in the automotive industry. Electrical engineers design the entire electrical system of the car while electronic engineers design and test the small electronic components like the GPS or stereo systems. Electrical and electronics engineers who plan to work for the government need to be licensed by passing engineer licensing exams.
The electrical engineering program at California Institute of Technology focuses strongly on electronics and electronic systems through theoretical courses, comprehensive lab courses and extensive research. Students learn about bio-options and bio-electronics; power and energy systems; control theory; wireless systems; solid-state materials and devices; communications; modern optics; computational vision and more.
Some colleges, like the University of Pittsburgh Lawrence Technological University, offer electrical engineering programs with concentrations in electronics or in electronics engineering. Other areas of concentrations might be electrical energy systems; embedded systems; and biomedical instrumentation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that one in every five civil engineers have master degrees, which are usually required for managerial positions.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering
Almost everything large we see in the world has been designed by civil engineers, from dams, roads and bridges to tunnels and airports and many more large construction projects. Also known as the people’s engineers, civil engineers may not do the actual building but they do the designing and they monitor their projects to ensure they’re operating correctly. Civil engineers must be licensed in all states where they sell their services.
Civil engineering programs, like the one at Michigan Technological University, may offer concentrations in geotechnical engineering; construction; transportation; structural engineering; and water resources. MTU’s program also offers minors in municipal engineering and remote sensing. Students gain most of their education from research projects, seminars, and extensive hands on training in the research, teaching and training labs. For a senior capstone course, students team up and help design a real client-based project using what they’ve learned throughout the program.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management for Engineering
Project management engineering programs teach students the basic principles of complex engineering projects and how to develop methods of project management and organization. They work in many industries and often work with civil engineers, helping to set up and manage a project so it will run efficiently and in a time- and cost-effective manner. Project management may be offered as a dual-degree program with a bachelor of engineering.
Areas of emphasis in an engineering and project management program might include lean construction, risk assessment and management, construction management, project and corporate management, engineering management, construction disputes & claims resolution, and project finance. A similar program is offered at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Management
Engineering management degrees are similar to project management degrees in that it also teaches students to understand the complex nature of engineering projects and how to develop projects that operate efficiently and save the industry money and time. Students take courses like quantitative problem solving, business law, and special topics in business. Many schools, like Michigan Tech, enable students to learn through research, internships and cooperative education opportunities.
Despite the fact that engineering degrees can help graduates earn excellent wages and find good careers, many engineering students pursue an MBA because they’re also interested in a business career or may want employment at the business end of an industry. This is particularly a wise career move for the individual that wants a managerial position in an engineering firm.
Schools offering combined engineering bachelor and MBA programs, such as the University of Buffalo, turn what would individually take six years to complete down to a five-year program. UB offers MBA programs with several different engineering fields.
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