Engineering Technology

Engineering technology involves the marriage of advanced math and science techniques and knowledge to create new innovations in technology which benefit society as a whole. Professionals in this field use engineering and science to analyze current products and find ways to improve upon them. They then manufacture new ones. Engineering technology focuses on core engineering values and technical skills.

Engineering technology is different from engineering in several ways. Engineering focuses more on math knowledge and theory, while engineering technology focuses more on applications. While engineering professionals spend most of their time planning projects, those in the engineering technology field create plans and implement them. In addition, engineering students are often required to complete an internship before landing a job. Engineering technology students, however, are fully prepared once they graduate to enter the field without an internship. Their work has more of narrow focus than that of engineers.

A technical institute or community college provides a solid education for those interested in the engineering technology field. A technical institute is more intensive and offers more hands-on experience, while a community college offers a more well-rounded education and includes more theory. However, the types of courses offered at each are generally the same. The exact courses you will take depends on your specialty or area of interest. You can expect to take, at a minimum, advanced math and science courses. You may also be required to take computer, design, physics and engineering courses. You should also possess desirable skills such as creativity, communication and teamwork. These skills are essential, since you will be called upon to create designs, work with other engineers and co-workers, and communicate verbally and in writing.

An associate's degree is typically the minimum education requirement in order to work in the engineering technology field. Those who graduate usually start out as an engineering technician. Those with a bachelor's degree or higher often start out as an applied engineer or technologist. Technologists can perform many roles, such as design, development, testing, quality control, technical operations and systems engineering.

Those in the engineering technology field often assist scientists and engineers. They may perform research or quality control, inspect products, collect data or conduct tests. Those who work in the manufacturing field may design, develop or create products. Many also use computer-aided design to create prototypes or help out with design work. Other duties will vary, depending on the type of engineering the engineering technician focuses on. As they gain more experience and learn to work independently, engineering technicians may be given more challenging duties and may even become supervisors.

Most of those in the engineering technology field work in the electrical industry. There are nearly 500,000 engineering technicians in the United States, with one-third of them working as electronic or electrical technicians. Nearly 92,000 work as civil engineering technicians and almost 73,000 work in the industrial engineering field. Out of all engineering technicians, most work in the manufacturing industry. About 25 percent work for engineering companies that do contract work for the government.

Salaries in the engineering technology field vary by specialty. On average, those in aerospace engineering make the most, at $55,000 annually. Electrical or electronic engineering technicians earn around $53,000. Mechanical engineering technicians earn around $48,000. Of all the different specialties, environmental engineer technicians earn the least, at around $41,000.

Employment in the engineering technology is expected to increase by 5 percent overall, which is lower than average. This is expected to be due to automated procedures and many jobs relocating overseas. However, this will vary by location and specialization, similar to engineers. Those with the most education and skills will be given the best opportunities. Those who keep abreast of the latest technology and require very little additional training will be in high demand.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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