1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Associate or BS in engineering

  1. May 12, 2015 #1
    If there's anyone experienced out there who could give me some advice, I'd be very grateful. I'm trying to decide if I should get a bachelor's degree in engineering or take the cheap/short route and get an associate's in engineering technology. Also, if it helps, I'm thinking about electrical or mechanical engineering. Useful advice is much appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2015 #2
    Why would you be interested in the cheap and short route?
     
  4. May 12, 2015 #3
    Probably because he would like to get an engineering job as quickly as possible, without incurring huge amounts of debt.

    As for OP: get the BS. You will have an exceedingly hard time getting a job in engineering without an engineering bachelors or better regardless of your skillset. Don't try and learn this the hard way.
     
  5. May 12, 2015 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Engineering Technology is not Engineering. There is no shortcut/cheap route here. Someone with an engineering technology degree may be able to get a job equivalent to that of an engineer after gaining experience to compensate for lower-level degree, but that makes it a longer and more difficult path, not a shorter/easier one.
     
  6. May 13, 2015 #5
    Agreed. I was only venturing to guess what OP's thought process likely was. In end effect you absolutely need the experience of an engineer to be effective as an engineer, and preferably the requisite degree to make the application process as smooth and easy as possible.

    I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to discredit engineering in general, not my intention.
     
  7. May 13, 2015 #6

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No need to apologize. There is still an alternate spin that is similar to what you said: the career path starting with an ET degree results in earning money instead of paying it after 2 years instead of four. It would be interesting, though not easy, to estimate the relative ROI of the two options. Even if the engineering degree comes out on top in short order, financial constraints can still send one down the alternate path.

    So it is a potentially viable pat for several reasons -- just not an equivalent one.
     
  8. May 13, 2015 #7

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Do BOTH! The associate degree should mean that you are qualified to work and that you are eligible to enter a university's bachelor's degree program.
     
  9. May 14, 2015 #8

    CalcNerd

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    "Do BOTH! The associate degree should mean that you are qualified to work and that you are eligible to enter a university's bachelor's degree program."

    While this appears to be good advice (and it certainly could be, iff you pursue the BS in engineering right from the start). Many schools offer Associates in Bachelors programs so that you can get some type of paper/certifications half way through their programs. This is great for the part-time adult education student working their way through college or an individual who may only attend full time for the first two years.
    -
    For the full time student who can attend four years, you gain nothing and may even extend your education by taking the Associated in Engineering Technology by NOT taking all the prerequisites of the Engineering major. You could actually be turning a four year degree into a five year degree as the Engineering technology major is not nearly as deep in theoretical material ie advance math, engineering and science knowledge.
    -
    There are no shortcuts in life. The road up the mountain with a gentle slope is much, much longer than manning up and climbing up.
     
  10. May 14, 2015 #9

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    I can only guess at what peoples' perceptions are about the associates degrees in any subject. I say, if a person wants an associate's degree, fine! Study and earn one. Bachelors degrees are more education, better, deeper, more thorough. The associate degree may have more meaning for some fields than for other fields. Someone with an associate's degree who has some skills and experience as an employee in the field should be a good candidate for either continued employment or the next (bachelor's) degree. What really is important is, (1) what does someone understand, and (2) what does he know how to do.

    Knowing the history of the Associate's Degree might be helpful in understanding why Bachelor's degree would be preferable. Maybe one day, the Bachelor's degree could become less valued and employers will prefer people with Masters of higher.

    Most of us can look back on our education and say with our bachelor's degree or higher: "I have the equivalent of an associate's degree, but I did not stop there; I went further."
     
  11. May 14, 2015 #10

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    When employers interview you and you have only an associate's degree, they may wonder or ask, "Why did you stop there?"
     
  12. May 14, 2015 #11

    phion

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I am an engineering major at a two year college. I'll be transferring into the city in a year or so most likely. Anyway, if you're not comfortable with the physics curriculum for scientists and engineers or the general math requirements, I would seriously reconsider your choice of major. On the other hand, if you're worried about employment, I have this neat little .pdf from IEEE that might inspire you to take the hard road.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. May 15, 2015 #12

    donpacino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I work with a few engineers that have assosiate degrees.

    Most of them are essentially engineering techs. this doesnt mean they are bad engineers, in some cases quite the contrary.
    Most of them are limited in their earnings compared to engineers with a bs or ms
    a majority of them have told me they wish they got a higher degree.
    all of them have very hands on jobs, most dont really have the option of moving to a theoretical job.
     
  14. May 15, 2015 #13

    CalcNerd

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    This has been my experience as well. In fact, I was an instrumentation tech/electrician for many, many years until I graduated. I can speak from first hand experience that all large firms want a degree (I have seen an exception) especially for engineering. If you have less, you will be typically be hired as a technician. Not always, but often. And if you are considered for an engineering position, you will be grilled and barbequed to determine/prove your skills. Your interview process will be streamlined and HR will NOT screen you out for jobs you would otherwise be qualified for.

    One of the most intelligent Engineers I ever worked for (I was a Tech in R&D at the time), replied to me after I flippantly made the remark, "Gee, No wonder you make the big bucks!" "No, I make the big bucks because HR needed to bring someone on board who they thought could run this project and looked at credentials only. HR doesn't have a clue on what is really done or who knows what, just the buzz words and educational credentials, nothing more." This is the reality of the workplace, unless you can find a way to get past the HR gates of any company.
     
  15. Jun 9, 2015 #14
    Thanks everyone for their input and advice. I really do appreciate it. I think I will go ahead and pursue a bachelor's since it'll probably be better off in the end for me.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook