Earning an associate’s degree in engineering is a fairly simple process with a few clear-cut requirements. Associate’s degrees typically take two years of study at an accredited technical school, community college, vocational school, university or online program. For admission, some programs require only a high school diploma or equivalent that identifies coursework in algebra. Other programs require applicants to pass a placement exam. Candidates who don’t succeed in passing the exam must take remedial coursework to guarantee that they are adequately prepared; remedial preparatory classes will add time to the two years usually required to earn an associate’s degree.
There are a number of associate’s degree in engineering subtypes, including an Associate in Engineering Technology (AET), an Associate of Engineering Science (AES), an Associate in Electronics Engineering Technology (AEET), an Associate of Engineering (AE) and an Associate of Pre-Engineering (APE). An associate's degree in engineering is highly sought by many employers. Many engineering firms and surveying companies seek to hire people who have associate's degrees in engineering.
An associate’s degree in engineering is available with a number of specialties, including mechanical, civil and electrical engineering; computer network and computer software engineering; aeronautical engineering; agricultural engineering; and chemical engineering. Although these specialties cover a broad range of areas, they typically share some components. In addition to classes geared toward the area of specialization, students will complete core coursework in biology, general sciences, writing, physics and advanced level mathematics. Some schools also include classes in humanities, psychology or sociology as part of the core curriculum.
Although many graduates who have earned an associate’s degree in engineering continue on to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree, others step directly into the workforce. An associate’s degree in engineering prepares the degree holder for many types of entry-level work, dependent upon type of associate’s degree and area of specialty. Those with computer-related coursework might work on developing word processing applications, gaming or programming software; electrical engineering specialists might work on a wide range of electrical equipment; and degree holders with a background in civil engineering are likely to find work as surveyors, technicians, inspectors or computer-aided design (CAD) engineers. Although individuals holding associate’s degrees typically aren’t eligible to work at the level of full engineer, they can assist engineers working in utility or construction companies or government departments of transportation.
For some, after a few years of working in the field, a return to a four-year college or university is the next step. Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree can result in job advancement in the form of management or supervisory positions with an increase in pay, greater responsibility and greater respect. One also can move ahead through continuing education courses, seminars and workshops.