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University Options: Becoming an Engineer

Engineers are logical, efficient, organized, and smart ― and they have an honourable sense of duty to society. Engineers devote their intelligence and training to improving everyone’s quality of life by enhancing technologies, from everyday devices like computers and phones to specialized machines like MRI scanners and spacecraft. Because engineers are highly skilled, they are rewarded generously for their work; depending on the engineering field, an engineer can earn a sizable salary. However, it takes years to become an engineer ― and plenty of university training. 

If you are considering a career in engineering, you must be prepared to go to university. The program you choose will significantly impact your future career path, so it is important to understand your options and choose wisely.

Which Specialty

As with comparably traditional professions, like solicitors and doctors, engineers tend to vary wildly in what they do. Engineering is a vast field, which means most engineers specialize in certain types of engineering early in their career ― as early as their undergraduate educations. After you determine that engineering is for you, you must decide which engineering specialty to study, such as:

* Computer engineering. Also called computer hardware engineering, this field concerns the physical aspects of technological devices.
* Software engineering. Software engineers are often called programmers or coders; they write the programs that computers and similar devices run.
* Electrical engineering. This specialty allows engineers to work with electrical equipment and energy systems.
* Mechanical engineering. The application of motion, energy, and force, mechanical engineering is perhaps the broadest of all engineering fields.
* Chemical engineering. Often, chemical engineers manipulate chemical reactions to create new products, such as new materials or solutions.
* Biomedical engineering. Working alongside healthcare professionals, biomedical engineers design and service medical equipment, including diagnostic tools and treatments.
* Civil engineering. This field concerns the infrastructure of civilization, like roads, bridges, and buildings.

While engineering degrees do express your speciality, you likely don’t need to decide upon your specialty before you enrol in university. During your first year or two, you can explore your options to ascertain where your engineering interests lie, so you can be certain in your career choice.

Traditional vs. Online

Because engineering programs are incredibly rigorous ― especially for complex specialties like chemical or mechanical engineering ― most bachelor programs must be completed through traditional, on-campus courses. Such university experiences allow students to receive hands-on training in certain practices and gain access to materials and equipment they would not otherwise be able to interact with. The traditional university experience is constructive in developing knowledge and skills as well as growing as a person.

However, some engineering students have another university option: online education. Online programs are available for less detailed and restricted specialties, such as computer and software engineering. Additionally, there are online engineering master’s programs to qualify engineers for better positions, such as management or executive jobs.  

For these bachelor and masters programs, students tend to have the materials they need ― i.e. computers ― so online courses are sufficient to guide their learning. Online courses offer a handful of benefits, including schedule flexibility, which is especially useful for those seeking advanced degrees, and convenience, which is valuable for students who have less mobility including those with families or disabilities.
Both traditional and online programs are educational, but which option you choose will depend on your academic, physical, and scheduling needs.

Studying Abroad

One final consideration is whether you want to take your engineering education overseas. The content in engineering educations should vary little from country to country, but other areas might have objectively superior engineering programs. Additionally, living and learning in another place might give you enhanced career opportunities after you graduate since becoming proficient in a foreign language or understanding a foreign culture is vital to securing a job in that region.

However, if you have plans to become certified as a professional engineer, you should realize that those licenses are rarely transferrable across national borders, which means you might need to take new exams if you hope to relocate during your career.

Engineering is an endlessly rewarding profession for those who think logically and wish to impact the world. Because the engineering field is so vast and diverse, you will undoubtedly find something to interest and challenge in you in your studies and career.

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