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2021 Engineering Degree Guide

The field of Engineering will allow you to explore the science behind the amazing gadgets that we use in everyday life. Engineers build bridges, program robots, create waste treatment plans, design alarm clocks, and work with basically anything that moves mechanically. This major will involve advanced classes in math and science, teaching you principles that will allow you to build and operate machines, structures and systems. Not only should you like math and science, but you should also love building and creating things. You have power to improve the world by making new advancements.

There are many majors in this field; General Engineering allows students to master general engineering principles that can be applied in a multitude of fields. Another popular major is Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering, where students learn the science of flight and spacecraft. In Civil Engineering students learn how to build large and important buildings and structures like roadways and tunnels, while Computer Engineering majors learn to create computer programs and chips. Mechanical Engineering is another popular major where students learn to build and operate mechanical systems and manufacturing equipment.

These are just a few of the most well-known areas, but there are many majors to explore in this field.

Engineering Degrees On The Rise

#6 Most Popular Major
201k Degrees Awarded
1.5% Increase in Graduates

Engineering was the 6th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 200,684 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 3,102 over the prior year, a growth of 1.5%.

Approximately 998 colleges in the U.S. offer a engineering degree of some kind. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Engineering ranking analyzes 323 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for engineering students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of engineering programs later in this article.

Engineering Degree Requirements

There are numerous majors and concentrations in the engineering field allowing for students with many different interests. However, there are certain skills that all students entering this field should have. Engineering programs will involve classes in advanced math and science, including physics and calculus. Be prepared to memorize formulas in order to apply and use them in practical situations.

This major requires a lot of dedication and long hours of study. Dedicated students are rewarded for their persistence with many "aha!" moments. You should be dedicated to the field and not get discouraged easily.

Engineers love to learn through hands-on projects. You will constantly be asked to push boundaries in order to understand and create things in your particular interest area. Many times you will be doing this with a team, so you should be good at working with people. Communication skills are essential to all types of engineers. You need to be able to explain your ideas, but also keep other viewpoints in mind.

Many colleges will require an internship or a co-op job. This will help guide you in a specific direction while allowing firsthand experience in your field. Experience will help make you stand out in order to obtain a job.

Getting Accepted Into an Engineering Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific engineering careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Engineering Degree Types

There are many different engineering degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a professional practice doctorate's in engineering to something that takes less time like a associate's. How long it takes to complete some common engineering degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to engineering, with approximately 56.8% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to engineering tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 58.4%
Master’s Degree 16.0%
Doctoral Degree 5.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 5.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.7%

Most workers in engineering have at least a bachelor's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in engineering careers have.


This of course varies depending on which engineering career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Engineering Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$64.9k Average Starting Salary
14% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

This major is vast and there are a lot of different positions available to you depending on your field. You could decide to work specifically with certain materials, such as plastics or metal, or you could work with natural elements as in Forestry Engineering or Ocean Engineering.

By the end of your first year you should decide what interests you most and then specialize in that specific area. Most job fields have plenty of openings, with certain niche areas offering more advancement than others. Work experience will set you apart when applying for a competitive position.

Solid Growth Projected for Engineering Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your engineering degree? Engineering careers are expected to grow 13.6% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Software Applications Developers 1,086,600 30.7%
Systems Software Developers 472,100 11.1%
Civil Engineers 335,700 10.6%
Mechanical Engineers 314,100 8.8%
Industrial Engineers 283,000 9.7%

How Much Money Do People With a Engineering Degree Make?

Recently graduated engineering students earned an average of $64,888 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $16,200 to as high as $143,300. As you might expect, salaries for engineering graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Engineering Majors

Salaries for engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers engineering grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Petroleum Engineers $156,370
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
Physicists $125,280
Computer Hardware Engineers $117,840

Getting Your Engineering Degree

With over 8,044 different engineering degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased engineering school rankings to help you with this.

Engineering Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406

View All Engineering Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer & Information Sciences 220,337
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 162,961
Engineering Technologies 92,549
Physical Sciences 53,556
Mathematics & Statistics 49,748

View All Engineering Related Majors >


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