By DeVry University
Those who prefer a more hands-on experience may find that engineering technology jobs are more suited for them. But what’s the difference between engineering technology and engineering? There is an overlap between the two fields, with both careers using science and math to solve real-world problems.
However, many distinct differences set engineering and engineering technology apart. Engineering programs will generally have higher-level math and theoretical science curricula, while engineering technology programs prioritize hands-on laboratory skills such as working through project-based assignments using experimental design.
Difference Between Engineering Tech and Engineering Degrees
Engineering programs focus more on theories and advanced concepts. An engineer’s job is more theoretical and requires scientific and mathematical knowledge. It will usually involve the design of new products. Engineers may work in research and development, may create new products and processes or work in projects related to process management. Those who graduate from engineering programs may consider pursuing graduate school to further hone their interests.
Engineering technology programs focus on the application and implementation of ideas and emphasize hands-on learning. Engineering technology graduates may pursue such roles as engineering technicians if they’ve earned an associate degree or engineering technologists if they earned a bachelor’s degree.
Engineering technologists must have extensive knowledge of the equipment and materials needed to design, create, operate and maintain technical products. Generally, they may estimate project costs and suggest ways to improve productivity. For example, they may perform computer analysis or collect data.
Career Outlook for Engineering Technology
If they have the proper education and skills, engineering technicians will be in good shape to pursue careers within various industries across the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), industries employing the most engineering technicians include the federal government, scientific research and development and employment services. There were approximately 117,000 engineering technicians employed in the U.S. in 2020.1
Different fields of engineering technology will experience varying rates of job growth and demand. According to the BLS, the overall growth rate is 3.5% on a national level for engineering technologists and technicians (except drafters) 2020 to 2030.2
What Industries Can I Work In?
Engineering technology graduates can prepare to pursue entry-level positions as technicians or technologists. Individuals who study two-year programs may be interested in pursuing roles as technicians and those who study four-year programs may be interested in pursuing roles as technologists. According to the BLS, electronics engineering technicians work closely with electrical engineers and work primarily in manufacturing settings, engineering services, the federal government, research-and-development laboratories, and the utilities industry.1
The industries they may find work in include but are not limited to:
- Medical Technology and Healthcare System
- Renewable Energy
- Machine Learning and Design Techniques
- Sustainable Power
- Product Design
What Jobs Can I Pursue After Graduation?
Engineering projects will usually need engineering technologists/technicians. Graduates can typically pursue engineering technology jobs in the four main branches of engineering (chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical) and smaller branches (aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, computer, environmental, nano and vehicular).
Here are examples of the types of jobs engineering technology graduates may be prepared to pursue:
- Electronics Technician
- Computer Technician
- Field Engineer
- Quality Engineer
- Project Engineer
- Sales Engineer
Preparing for Engineering Technology Jobs
When deciding on where to pursue an engineering technology degree, the higher education institution should be accredited. This will ensure that the program meets the high-quality standards of an accrediting body, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Furthermore, finding a program, such as our Engineering Technology bachelor's program, that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which assures that a post-secondary program meets the quality standards of the profession, is a plus. Graduating from an ABET-accredited program means that employers know the education students received met the quality standards needed to succeed in the global workforce. If graduate school in engineering is a desire, an ABET accredited ET degree may ease the acceptance into these programs.
Interested in Engineering Technology?
Engineering technology can be a good career option for those who want to enter the engineering field and pursue hands-on work. However, it may be helpful for students to choose a post-secondary institution and program that is ABET accredited. DeVry University’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) degree program meets ABET's rigorous standards.
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Growth projected on a national level. Local growth may vary.