How to Major in Engineering
Engineering is an increasingly popular major, one that can lead to a wide range of career opportunities with high earning power. The skills and knowledge you’ll gain as an engineering student will also be highly transferable to a wide range of other industries and roles.
Majoring in engineering can put you on the path toward a wide range of roles in architecture, mechanics, automotive, aerospace, computer science, healthcare, and so much more. Bear in mind that if you wish to become a Professional Engineer (PE), you must earn a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, and amass at least four years of engineering work experience. This makes the engineering major a necessary step on your way to a career as an engineer. However, the skills and knowledge you’ll gain as an engineering student will also be highly transferable to a wide range of other industries and roles.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Engineering.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an Engineering Major.
5 Reasons to Major in Engineering
1.Engineering majors have high earning power.
Engineering skills are highly valued in the labor market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the median annual wage for architecture and engineering occupations was $81,440. This compares very favorably to the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,810.
2.Engineering majors enter into a high-growth field.
According to the BLS, the engineering sector is expected to add roughly 74,800 new jobs by 2029. Much of this growth is concentrated in areas of innovation such as infrastructure rebuilding, renewable energy, robotics, and more. Majoring in engineering could qualify you to work in one of these rapidly advancing industries.
3.Engineering majors have a lot of sub-disciplines to choose from.
The engineering major offers a uniquely expansive list of concentrations. This is because the field of engineering applies to virtually every aspect of our lives from the cars we drive and houses we inhabit to the smartphones in our hands and the appliances in our kitchens. As an engineering major, you’ll get to choose an area to apply your skills. Whether you plan to design jet engines, produce software innovations, develop self-driving cars, or help design the office building of the future, a degree in engineering is an important first step.
4.Engineering majors solve major global challenges.
As a planet, we rely on engineers to produce innovative solutions for our most pressing challenges. From the mitigation of natural disasters and the confrontation of global climate change to strategies for sustainable farming and reduced carbon emissions, majoring in engineering could put you on the front lines as we face down our generation’s greatest threats and opportunities.
5.Engineering majors are influential.
Major innovations in engineering can have a dramatic impact on the lives of millions. Technological advances are often at the root of great changes, and sometimes even great leaps forward for our civilization. Today, top influencers in engineering are breaking new ground in areas such as gene editing, artificial intelligence, global risk consulting, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Engineering today!
What Kinds of Engineering Degrees Are There?
Engineering degrees are available at every level, from associate’s degrees up to doctoral degrees. While there are many professional opportunities available to engineering students at every degree level, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum threshold if you wish to become a licensed professional engineer (PE).
- Associate’s Degree in Engineering: Your associate’s degree in engineering will provide an introductory education in foundational areas such as calculus, physics, and electrical circuitry. This two-year degree will qualify you to work as a technician, engineering assistant, or drafter. Earning an associate’s in engineering is also a great way to get an affordable head start on your way to a four-year degree.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering: Typically a four-year degree, the bachelor’s in engineering is extremely popular, largely because this is the basic threshold for ultimately earning a license to become a Professional Engineer (PE). In order to do so, you would need to earn a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, and amass at least four years of real-world engineering experience.
- Master’s Degree in Engineering: Typically a two-year program, a master’s in engineering can improve your opportunities for advancement, improved earnings, and leadership opportunities in this highly competitive field. Earning a master’s in engineering could also uniquely qualify you for work as part of a government agency, research & development team, or think tank.
- PhD in Engineering: This terminal degree may take between three and five years to complete, and provides you with the credentials to become a full professor at the postsecondary level, or lead engineering research in the field.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the Major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in engineering? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Engineering? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.
What Are Some Popular Engineering Concentrations?
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular Engineering concentrations:
- Computer Engineering
- Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Architectural Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
- Agricultural Biological Engineering and Bioengineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
- Biomedical/Medical Engineering
What Courses Will I Take as an Engineering Major?
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an engineering major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as calculus and differential equations. However, you will also have the chance to dive into a specific dimension of engineering by exploring courses within one of the engineering field’s many subdisciplines.
Common Engineering courses include:
- Engineering Principles
- Mathematical Operations
- Linear circuits
- Surveying Principles
- Differential Equations
- Industrial Systems
- Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism
What Can I Do With a Major in Engineering?
Before you can become a licensed professional engineer, you must complete your engineering undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited program. This will qualify you to sit for the licensing exam in your state. Consequently, you can begin to accumulate the four years of experience required to become a licensed PE. You can amass that experience, and consequently provide licensed service, through any of the professional avenues here below:
- Mechanical Engineers
- Industrial Engineers
- Civil Engineers
- Industrial Engineers
- Materials Engineers
- Architectural and Engineering Managers
- Chemical Engineers
- Environmental Engineers
Curious how far you could go with a major in engineering? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!
Thinking of a graduate degree in engineering? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Engineering? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Now that you know how to major in engineering, check out The Most Influential Schools in Engineering and get started on your path to an engineering degree.