What Is the Difference Between an Engineering Degree and an Engineering Technology Degree?

As you’re researching potential college degree programs, you may wonder what the difference is between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree. Both types of programs are accredited and will prepare you for careers in the field of engineering. However, there are still a number of differences between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree. Engineering and engineering technology degree programs involve different coursework have distinct focuses, and they equip graduates with skills needed for different career paths.

What to Expect from an Engineering Technology Degree Program

One difference between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree is the curriculum. Both types of programs are accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. However, an engineering technology program will focus more on practical application than on theory and design.

This narrower emphasis on implementing engineering principles into real-world projects allows students to focus on classes that deal with practical applications rather than theoretical foundations. The curriculum in an accredited engineering technology degree program often includes coursework in algebra, applied calculus and trigonometry, according to ABET.

What to Expect from an Engineering Program

Unlike an engineering technology program, an engineering degree path will involve a lot of study into engineering theory and conceptual design. Most engineering students have to take higher-level math courses, including a few calculus classes and theoretical science courses that focus heavily on calculus. While engineering students do learn how to apply those theories to practical situations, they need to understand the principles that allow a design to work so that they can create original designs to solve problems.

Because engineering programs focus heavily on advanced mathematics courses, they often have stricter admissions requirements.

Is Engineering or Engineering Technology the Right Choice for You?

Another major difference between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree is the career paths each education will prepare you to pursue. ABET acknowledges that there is often some overlap between the fields. However, only someone who graduates from an engineering degree program can attain a license and officially call themselves an engineer. They will likely work in conceptual design or in research and development. Many engineers go on to earn a graduate degree. Graduates of engineering technology programs, on the other hand, become engineering technicians if they hold an associate’s degree or engineering technologists if they hold a bachelor’s degree. They often find work in industries such as manufacturing, construction, product design, technical services, testing or even sales.

Ultimately, which program you should study depends on what you want to do with your degree. Would you like to work with concepts to design engineering projects, or work on only the practical applications used in those projects?

Understanding the difference between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree is the first step to choosing the best degree program for your strengths and career goals.

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