it may be possible to qualify for certain engineering technician
jobs without formal training, most employers prefer to hire someone
with at least a 2-year associate degree in engineering technology.
Training is available at technical institutes, community colleges,
extension divisions of colleges and universities, and public and
private vocational-technical schools, and in the Armed Forces.
Persons with college courses in science, engineering, and
mathematics may qualify for some positions but may need additional
specialized training and experience. Although employers usually do
not require engineering technologists to be certified, such
certification may provide jobseekers a competitive advantage.
engineering technologists should take as many high school science and
math courses as possible to prepare for postsecondary programs in
engineering technology. Most 2-year associate degree programs require, at a minimum, college algebra and trigonometry, and
one or two basic science courses. Depending on the specialty, more math
or science may be required.
The type of technical courses required also depends on the
specialty. For example, prospective mechanical engineering
technologists may take courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and
mechanical design; electrical engineering technologists may need
classes in electric circuits, microprocessors, and digital
electronics; and those preparing to work in environmental
engineering technology need courses in environmental regulations and
safe handling of hazardous materials.
institutes offer intensive technical training through application and
practice, but they provide less theory and general education than do
community colleges. Many technical institutes offer 2-year associate
degree programs and are similar to or part of a community college or
State university system. Other technical institutes are run by private
organizations, with programs that vary considerably in length and types
of courses offered.
Community colleges offer curriculums that are similar to those in
technical institutes, but that may include more theory and liberal
arts. There may be little or no difference between programs at
technical institutes and community colleges, as both offer associate
degrees. After completing the 2-year program, some graduates get
jobs as engineering technologists, while others continue their
education at 4-year colleges. However, there is a difference between
an associate degree in pre-engineering and one in engineering
technology. Students who enroll in a 2-year pre-engineering program
may find it very difficult to find work as an engineering technician
should they decide not to enter a 4-year engineering program,
because pre-engineering programs usually focus less on hands-on
applications and more on academic preparatory work. Conversely,
graduates of 2-year engineering technology programs may not receive
credit for some of the courses they have taken if they choose to
transfer to a 4-year engineering program. Colleges with these 4-year
programs usually do not offer engineering technician training, but
college courses in science, engineering, and mathematics are useful
for obtaining a job as an engineering technician. Many 4-year
colleges offer bachelor's degrees in engineering technology, but
graduates of these programs often are hired to work as technologists
or applied engineers, not technicians.
interested in a career in mechanical engineering technology should
consider reviewing engineering technology programs that are accredited
by ABET, Inc. However, there are many ET programs not yet accredited by
ABET, so check with your local community college or university for more
information. If you choose to attend a program that is not ABET
accredited, you should be sure that the university is regionally accredited. The following links
go to detail pages on the fields of engineering technology:
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.