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What is the Difference Between Engineering and Engineering Technology?

By DeVry University

March 14, 2022

4 min read

Engineering and engineering technology are two related branches of the engineering field that focus on the application of math and physics in order to create new devices. However, engineering technology is more concerned with the ways that engineering principles can be practically applied in everyday life. Engineering technology also has a greater emphasis on hands-on work and the physical creation of new devices, while engineering tends to be a bit more hands-off in terms of execution and focuses more on theory. That said, both fields do overlap, even in the job market. Engineers and engineering technologists often work alongside each other, building devices, testing new technologies and creating plans to improve existing ones.

If you've been considering a career in engineering technology or engineering, but weren't exactly sure how the two fields differ, you're not alone. We'll help you identify the differences between a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology and a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering, along with the similarities between the two and the different jobs that you might find in either discipline as we work through the following sections:

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology

The goal of a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology program is to help you build your technology and engineering skills while helping you gain practical experience.

This means that you'll take courses that deal with concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and controls, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing and operating systems. You’ll also study more traditional engineering subjects such as calculus, statistics and physics.

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering

A Bachelor's Degree in Engineering deals more with theoretical application than a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology does. Courses in this type of degree are more specifically geared toward fostering an understanding of math and physics in order to model new devices and technologies rather than to prepare to build or configure them.

Similarities Between Engineering and Engineering Technology

One of the similarities between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree is a focus on math and physics. These concepts are crucial for engineers in any field to understand, whether you're designing a brand-new vehicle or constructing a bridge. Knowing how the laws of physics work and understanding how to model helps engineers test their ideas against reality.

Beyond learning about similar concepts, engineering and engineering technology degree program graduates tend to work in industries that play a role in manufacturing and in maintaining the quality of production equipment, but they may also work in laboratories, offices or factories. Typically, a team working in this kind of environment will include both engineers and engineering technologists to create a mix of both hands-on and conceptual capabilities within a team.

Engineering Jobs vs. Engineering Technology Jobs

When discussing the differences between engineering and engineering technology, it can be difficult to visualize the ways that these disciplines are different until you see the kinds of jobs that each field includes. As we mentioned, an engineer is primarily tasked with the design and development of a technology, while engineering technology professionals deal more with the hands-on application of that technology.

Here are some jobs that engineering technology graduates might be able to consider after graduation:

    • Electrical Engineering Technologist – Electrical Engineering Technologists work alongside electrical engineers to build and test their designs. Some roles may involve creating layouts of electrical transmission systems, supervising workflows and performing cost estimates.
    • Manufacturing Engineering Technologist – Manufacturing Engineering Technologists design, develop, analyze and implement equipment in order to improve manufacturing processes.
    • Computer Network Support Technician – Network Support Technicians build and develop safe computer networks that companies use to transmit data. These professionals also work to upgrade networks, optimize server performance and improve data security.
    • Engineering Technologist (General) – Engineering Technologists typically work alongside a team of engineers and help to build, test and improve upon an engineer’s original designs. It's helpful to think of it as the engineer modeling a device on a computer that an engineering technologist would then build.

Compared to these more hands-on positions, engineers are much more hands-off. They usually work to design new machines and equipment, but they rely on engineering technologists to actually assemble and test them. After getting the test results back from the engineering technologist, an engineer will tweak their designs based on the findings.

Ready to Take the First Step Toward a Career in Engineering Technology?

If you're interested in gaining hands-on experience while learning how to improve systems, build devices and create new technology, then an engineering technology degree from DeVry might be a perfect fit. Explore our Associate Degree in Engineering Technology, with three specializations to tailor your learning experience to your interests, or our Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology to build your skills in project management, industrial IoT and machine learning within this dynamic field. Start your journey toward a future in engineering technology by contacting DeVry today.

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