A bachelor's degree in engineering is
required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates
with a degree in a physical science or mathematics occasionally may qualify
for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand. Most
engineering degrees are granted in electrical, electronics, mechanical,
chemical, civil, or materials engineering. However, engineers trained
in one branch may work in related branches. For example, many aerospace
engineers have training in mechanical engineering. This flexibility allows
employers to meet staffing needs in new technologies and specialties in
which engineers may be in short supply. It also allows engineers to shift
to fields with better employment prospects or to those that more closely
match their interests.
Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an
engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and science.
Most programs include a design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer
or laboratory class or both.
requirements for undergraduate engineering schools include a solid
background in mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus)
and science (biology, chemistry, and physics), and courses in English,
social studies, humanities, and computer and information technology.
Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are designed to last 4
years, but many students find that it takes between 4 and 5 years to
complete their studies. In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2
years are spent studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory
engineering, humanities, and social sciences.
In the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering,
usually with a concentration in one branch. For example, the last 2 years
of an aerospace program might include courses in fluid mechanics, heat transfer,
applied aerodynamics, analytical mechanics, flight vehicle design,
trajectory dynamics, and aerospace propulsion systems. Some programs offer
a general engineering curriculum; students then specialize in graduate
school or on the job.
Internships and Coops provide students with a great
opportunity to gain real-world experience while still in school. Click here for more information.
Alternate Degree Paths
Some engineering schools and 2-year colleges have agreements
whereby the 2-year college provides the initial engineering education, and
the engineering school automatically admits students for their last 2
years. In addition, a few engineering schools have arrangements whereby a
student spends 3 years in a liberal arts college studying pre-engineering
subjects and 2 years in an engineering school studying core subjects, and
then receives a bachelor's degree from each school. Some colleges and
universities offer 5-year master's degree programs. Some 5-year or even
6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study and practical work,
permitting students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of
Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty
positions and many research and development programs, but is not required
for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many engineers obtain
graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new
technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in
government and industry began their careers as engineers. It is
important to select a degree program that has been accredited.
interested in a career in Aerospace Engineering should consider reviewing
engineering programs that are accredited
by ABET, Inc. If you choose to
attend a program that is not ABET accredited, you should be sure that the
university is regionally
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics. Photos are courtesy of NASA.