How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Engineering
If you grew up with a passion for building things or have always had a strong curiosity for how computers and electricity worked, you may be an engineer-in-the-making. Not only can it be a very fun and rewarding career for someone who is interesting in these things, it generally pays pretty well all across the board, regardless of which concentration or specific field you end up in.
Getting an associate’s degree in engineering will open up many doors for you. You could potentially become a mechanical engineer, software engineer, industrial engineer… the list literally goes on forever. The point is, the options are endless. Rest assured — you do not need to know exactly what you want to do going into the program. The associate’s program is designed to give students a glimpse of what they can expect, and from there, they can make an informed decision on a possible career path in the field.
An associate’s degree in engineering typically takes two to three years of full-time study to complete. However, if you choose to earn your credential online, you may be able to complete it earlier. Depending on how many classes you can take per quarter/semester, you may be able to finish a lot sooner.
Pursuing an associate’s degree in engineering online is a great choice for students who have busy schedules and need the flexibility for school. It gives students the chance to learn while attending to their personal obligations. If you are a motivated and independent learner, distance learning can work very well for you. It is essential to make sure that the college you choose is accredited so that the credits you earn can be easily transferred to a four-year college should you decide to continue your education.
By virtually attending classes online, you will have access to all course materials and participate in class discussions just like you would normally in a traditional classroom setting. The main difference is that you would not have to stress about commuting to campus or making time for class meetings. Instead, you would be able to just log on from anywhere to complete required coursework.
Common Associate’s in Engineering Curriculum
There are many different routes that engineering students can take after finishing their associate’s degree. Whether you want to enter the workforce right away or continue into higher education, you will be well-equipped with foundational knowledge to help you succeed. At the associate’s level, students will be exposed to the fundamentals of the subject on a general level, giving them the opportunity to find their niche. Core specialties in engineering are:
- Industrial engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Software engineering
- Computer network engineering
- Electronics engineering technology
Online associate degree programs in engineering give students a strong foundation in both math and science, along with specific engineering principles necessary for an entry-level job or internship, or to continue on to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a more specific field within engineering. Some common coursework in engineering associate’s degree programs include:
- Modern physics
- Engineering principles
- Calculus and differential equations
- Pulse and logic circuits
- Industrial systems
- Aerospace engineering
- Mechanics, electricity, and magnetism
Of course, depending on the school you choose, the classes will slightly differ, but you will get a solid foundation needed to pursue a career in engineering. On top of book knowledge, students will develop crucial skills involving problem solving, conceptualizing solutions, drafting solutions, and producing/testing a solution. Engineering students often finish their degree with a great eye for detail since they always have to pay close attention to detail in their work. While undergraduate studies in engineering is more on the theoretical side, the problems you will be tackling in your career can have human lives at stake. With that said, it is important that engineers work with this in mind.
Coming out of the associate’s degree program, students should be able to:
- Solve technology problems using math, science, engineering, and technology.
- Communicate via written, graphical, and verbal media.
- Make professional decisions while applying ethical standards.
- Work efficiently as a member of a technical team.
- Demonstrate basic laboratory skills.
In addition to engineering-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not directly engineering related, but will help you develop a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will be useful when it comes to understanding real-life situations and succeeding in whatever career they choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in social sciences, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.
Associate’s in Engineering Careers
Graduates of the associate’s degree in engineering have a number of options when it comes to careers. Salaries will differ depending on where and for whom you work, but compared to many other fields, engineering is extremely lucrative and high in demand. Usually, graduates who don’t want to continue higher education will start off by filling some sort of engineering technician role, and from there, gain work experience to advance in the industry.
Some examples of technician roles include:
- Mechanical engineering technician
- Civil engineering technician
- Industrial engineering technician
- Electrical engineering technician
In addition to these careers, many graduates opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, which will open up even more career possibilities. Some examples of possible careers with a bachelor’s degree in the field include:
- Electrical engineer
- Software engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Process engineer
- Chemical engineer
- Nuclear engineer
- Petroleum engineer
Outside of engineering, other possible career paths for engineering graduates include:
- Construction Manager
- Urban Planning
- Cost Estimator
As you can see, the career path options are plentiful after graduation. Engineering careers typically require formal education, along with experience. Getting an associate’s degree in the field is a great place to start. While the curriculum may be challenging, it is definitely rewarding in the long run for the right person. With so many different classes to choose from and career options to ponder, it is unlikely that you will find your engineering journey not stimulating.