Engineers are important to every industry and their work impacts every part of daily life, from bridges to software and lightbulbs. If you are considering an engineering degree online to jump start job opportunities or even change careers entirely, you are in the right place.
Since we know you have lots of questions about going back to school online, we have written this quick, easy-to-read "Mini-Guide to an Engineering Degree Online" to help give you all the facts that you need to make the right choice for you.
1. What is engineering about?
"Engineering is the practical application of science and math to solve problems, and it is everywhere in the world around you. From the start to the end of each day, engineering technologies improve the ways that we communicate, work, travel, stay healthy, and entertain ourselves." 
2. Is an online engineering degree right for me?
Think about an online engineering degree if:
- You are able to convey your thoughts both verbally and in writing, so that others can readily understand you.
- You are able to easily grasp mathematical concepts and apply your knowledge to solve mathematical problems.
- You are naturally inquisitive, always figuring things out, thanks to good problem-solving skills.
- You are organized and determined, and are successful with long-term projects.
- You can usually understand the relationship of the various parts of a machine as it functions with the whole.
- You enjoy learning how things work, such as airplanes, suspension bridges, or telephones.
- You consider yourself to be innovative, practical, with good foresight.
- You enjoy working with your hands, either building things or taking them apart.
- You have good spatial cognition, i.e. you can look at three dimensional objects, mentally manipulate them, and be able to accurately put them in perspective.
- You like working within a team and collaborating with others and are able to recognize the value of others' work.
3. What other degrees besides engineering should I consider?
If you're not quite certain an online engineering degree is for you, you may want to consider other fields of study that are closely related to engineering.
Gain a thorough understanding of the aviation industry; learn about aerospace development and its role in society. Develop applicable leadership and management skills to advance in the field of aviation.
Focus on the scientific and conceptual aspects of computing, through the study of programming languages, algorithms, compilers, and operating systems.
Pair the fields of electrical and electronics engineering and computer science, focusing on the integration of hardware and software, and the design and implementation of computer systems for use in other systems.
Learn and apply the scientific process and build a knowledge base to provide solutions to a variety of problems; practice various research methods and develop the understanding of how to best utilize methods to ensure the precision of the results.
Learn how to design, develop, construct, and test complex software systems in order to provide solutions to meet specific needs.
4. What concentrations exist for an engineering degree?
Most schools of engineering will allow you to choose a specialization — a focused area of study within the engineering degree.
Develop advanced knowledge in the fundamentals of mathematics and science in order to apply those skills to plan and design public and private structures and facilities, while understanding the impact of those structures on the greater community and society.
Learn about developing new innovations and improving existing technology to better meet both organizational and societal needs concerning communications, computer hardware, etc.
Energy Utility Technology
Focus on being able to apply scientific knowledge specifically to the energy utility industry, including the planning, construction and maintenance of operations distributing many important resources such as natural gas, electricity, water, and telecommunications.
Understand the core fundamentals of electrical and electronics systems in order to effectively research, design, develop and maintain them.
Develop expertise in business-related subjects in order to strengthen skills for use in a managerial or executive position within all fields of engineering. Learn how to motivate others and facilitate communication clearly and effectively between engineers and non-engineering personnel.
Focus your studies on sustainability, the environment, and the use of our natural resources. Master the management of the effective use of resources, understand the vulnerability and nature of ecosystems and how engineering is used to negotiate the needs of nature and humankind.
Fire Protection Engineering
Learn the fundamentals of fire and about the technology and research utilized to maintain, control, and protect individuals from the fire and fire-related incidents. From the architecture design of fire escape plans to the development of flame-retardant materials, gain the skills to advance in the field of fire protection engineering.
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Study the concepts related to the research, design, and construction of the vehicles and living spaces used in space or for travel through planetary atmospheres.
5. What are typical courses in an online engineering degree?
While the exact curriculum requirements will vary among schools, here is a partial list of some of the courses you might take in an online engineering degree:
- Applied Computational Aerodynamics
- Chemical Process Design
- Civil Engineering Materials
- Dynamics and Vibrations
- Electrical Circuits and Signals
- Electromagnetic Fields and Waves
- Energy Systems
- Engineering Management
- Environmental Process Engineering
- Fluid Mechanics
- Instrumentation and Sensor Technology
- Introduction to Algorithms and Data Structures
- Introduction to Engineering
- Mechanics and Science of Materials
- Multivariate Calculus
- Robotics and Intelligent Systems
- Semiconductors and Semiconductor Electronics
- Statistical Methods for Data Analysis and Uncertainty Modeling
- System Architecture and Design
- Thermal Analysis and Heat Transfer
- Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment
6. What skills will I learn in engineering degree online?
When you have completed your engineering degree, you will likely have gained many of the following skills and competencies:
- Ability to balance issues of costs, benefits, safety, and quality using one's professional judgement
- Ability to maintain a sound theoretical approach in enabling the introduction of new technologies
- Able to be both creative during the design process and analytical in the formulation of solutions to problems
- Strong analytical aptitude
- Careful attention to detail and willingness to think "outside the box"
- Excellent problem solving and pattern intelligence skills
- Familiarity with industry-specific technology, used with discerning judgment
- Ingenuity and persistence
- Skilled in oral speaking and presentation, as well as formulating persuasive arguments, especially when communicating technical information to non-engineers
- Understanding of the economic, social, and environmental aspects of or impact upon a problem
- Understanding of the impact of engineering solutions upon one's community and society as a whole
- Willing to consistently use a systematic, iterative, approach to problem solving
7. What kind of employers hire engineering degree holders?
As a career-oriented major focusing upon the application of mathematics and science to develop new and improve existing technologies and services, engineering majors are needed in a variety of industries, such as:
- Automotive manufacturers
- Colleges and universities
- Computer and I.T. vendors
- Consulting engineering firms
- Defense manufacturers
- Electric and gas utility companies
- Federal government agencies including:
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- Department of Defense, Veteran's Administration
- Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Military branches
- Hardware and software manufacturers
- High-tech companies
- Hospitals and healthcare facilities
- Manufacturing plants
- Power plants, power stations
- Research institutions and laboratories
- Software vendors
- Telecommunications companies
- Transportation service companies, such as airlines and railroads
8. What careers will I qualify for with an engineering degree online?
Here is a sampling of jobs you for which you may be qualified with a degree in engineering. Use this for inspiration, remembering that this may represents some, but certainly not all, of the careers you can consider.
Possible Job Titles for Associate's or Bachelor's Engineering Degree Holders/Entry Level Job Titles
- Assembly Engineer
- Associate Mechanical Engineer
- Biomedical Engineering Intern
- Cost Engineer
- Design Engineer
- Development Engineer
- Integration Engineer
- Junior Packaging Engineer
- Process Engineering Specialist
- Product Development Design Engineer
- Telecommunications Field Engineer
- Test Engineer
- Quality Control Engineer
- Water Test Process Engineer
Possible Job Titles for Advanced Degree Holders
Additional experience is typically required for the positions in this list.
- Chief Engineer
- Director of Design Engineering
- Electronics Design Engineer
- Engineer Division Head
- Engineering Project Manager
- Full Professor of Engineering
- Head Reliability Engineer
- Machine Design Engineer
- Operations Supervisor
- Senior Hardware Systems Engineer
- Senior Health and Safety Engineer
- Software Design Engineer
- Senior Nuclear Technical Training Instructor
- Structural Design Engineer