What Employers Think About Online Engineering Degrees

Engineers are in high demand across a variety of tech-centric fields. Here we examine the pros and cons of earning these coveted engineering degrees online versus a campus-based setting.

Online Engineering Degree Value

Engineers are flooding the tech industry, fighting tooth and nail for jobs in software, hardware, systems, electrical and other tech-related engineering fields. In an effort to secure these desirable positions faster than the competition, many would-be engineers are pursuing credentials online. Indeed, web-based engineering degree programs are usually more flexible than those on a college campus, and many can be completed in less time and at lower costs. But - what do employers think when they see an online engineering degree on a resume?

Online degrees in engineering offer many benefits, but if employers aren’t impressed by digitally earned credentials, there's no point for aspiring engineers to enroll. Here are some useful facts as well as employers’ opinions on engineering diplomas and learning formats to help you choose your ideal engineering degree program.

Accreditation?

Accreditation is perhaps the most important feature of an engineering degree because it tells employers that a program meets the skills and knowledge standards set by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Engineers should never consider enrolling in an engineering program that lacks ABET accreditation because most hiring managers will ignore their applications at first glance.

Bachelor's or Master's?

Though most engineers enter the industry after completing a four- or five-year bachelor's program, it is important to remember that there are advanced degree options for engineers. Thus, when engineers consider enrolling in an online engineering degree program, it is important to determine whether that program is at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Bachelor's degrees in engineering are vital credentials for would-be engineers as it is nearly impossible to find engineering employment - or to function successfully in the field - without one. It is possible to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering online and at most traditional universities, but because some engineering education requires much hands-on instruction, on-campus options are more likely to provide programs that produce better engineers. For example, electrical, mechanical and computer hardware engineers should have access to the physical components and machines they are studying, which might not be possible in an eLearning environment. As a result, how hiring managers react to an online engineering bachelor's degree is likely dependent on the type of engineering.

Meanwhile, master's degrees in engineering are shorter programs, typically lasting only two years of full-time study. Moreover, master's degrees often provide instruction in less hands-on material, such as engineering management training or specialization in fields like environmental engineering or petroleum engineering. As a result, an online master's degree in engineering is a credential that employers recognize as exceedingly valuable. According to many engineers in the industry, hiring managers don't care whether an engineering master's is earned over the Internet or in the classroom; they are desperate for more qualified engineers, regardless of degree program format.

Specialization?

Speaking of specializations, it is important to note that many employers won't bat an eye at an online degree when engineers fall into highly coveted job categories. As engineering grows in scope, some industries are clamoring for engineers in ways they haven't in the past. As a result, engineers who pursue degrees in certain fields are more likely to find employment, regardless of whether their education occurred online or on campus. Engineers eager to qualify for careers with superb job outlooks should research growing engineering fields before enrolling in an engineering program.

Amount of Experience?

While other factors in this article directly correlate to the engineering degree itself, this feature speaks more to the engineer’s employment history outside of education. Engineers who boast plenty of work experience have additional proof of the quality of their work besides their education; in fact, hiring managers might appreciate an uninterrupted employment record that is bolstered by an online degree earned in the same period. Working and attending school full time provides proof of a wealth of valuable skills, including commitment, time management, ambition and diligence, all of which can be put to good use in a workplace setting.

The Verdict.

Engineering students who require hands-on training should likely apply exclusively to traditional degree programs because online options simply won’t have the necessarily resources to accommodate that type of education. However, the same engineering students - and others who might not require in-person instruction - might turn to online master’s degrees later in their careers for engineer management training or job role specialization. The flexibility of online education as well as the accessibility and lower cost make eLearning ideal for most non-traditional engineering students.

For the most part, employers won’t know that an engineering degree was earned online unless they ask candidates directly about their education or do some digging themselves. As a result, would-be engineers should feel confident that most online engineering degrees will earn them access to well-paying, respectable engineering employment. To ensure this is true, engineers should research their desired degree to understand what resources are essential to thorough education and what resources online programs can provide. Most will find that eLearning options are as comprehensive as on-campus options - and employers will likely agree.

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