Engineering degrees have long been popular with students who have interests in applied math and science. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines an engineer as someone who "applies the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems." Degrees in engineering may also be a great hedge against economic uncertainty. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, college graduates in 2009 received starting salaries that were lower than salaries from the previous year, with the exception of graduates with engineering and
computer science degrees.
Areas of Study for an Engineering Degree
Approximately 400 colleges and universities are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for their engineering bachelor's degree programs. Some of these institutions even offer engineering degrees online, an advantage for those who are currently working at another job or who wish to study from home.
While the specific course requirements will differ somewhat among engineering schools and between in-class programs and online engineering degrees, most will require some study in the following disciplines:
- Algorithms and data structures
- Chemical processes
- Civil engineering
- Electrical circuits and semiconductors
- Engineering management
- Environmental processes
- Fluid mechanics
- Multivariate calculus
- Science of materials
- Statistics and probability
- Systems design
Prospects for Graduates of Engineering School
Engineering graduates have long been in demand, and a recent survey of employers found that 4 of the top 10 most sought-after job skills belonged to various engineering disciplines. Many companies in a wide variety of industries hire graduates with degrees in engineering. Industries that are especially noted for the number of engineers employed include:
- Aerospace firms
- Automotive manufacturers
- Computer and information technology firms
- Defense contractors
- Federal government agencies
- Health care companies and hospitals
- Power plants and utility companies
- Research laboratories
- Telecommunications firms
- Universities and colleges
Some engineers in certain disciplines are employed in particularly large numbers, including those with computer engineering degrees and electronics engineering degrees. In addition, civil engineers and mechanical engineers make up a large part of the employed engineer base. Engineering fields that are predicted to see rapid growth in the near future include biomedical engineers and environmental engineers.
Some engineering jobs in advanced applied research, engineering instruction or engineering management require advanced degrees such as master's or doctorate degrees.