Do You Have What It Takes for a Career in Engineering? Part 2

Spotlight: Engineering Technicians

Engineering technicians work within the broad spectrum of engineering, assisting engineers and scientists. The skill that unites engineering technicians in all fields is their ability to solve technical problems.  

 Typical Duties - May Vary with Type of Engineering Specialty 

  • Help engineers and scientists conduct research and development
  • Build or set up equipment
  • Do experiments
  • Collect data and calculate results
  • Help make a model of new equipment
  • Quality control: check products, do tests, and collect data
  • Manufacturing: design and develop products
  • Assist and find ways to produce things efficiently4

Education Required

Students who earn a 2-year Associate degree in Engineering Technology have the best chance of getting a job as an engineering technician. Some engineering technicians can earn their credentials while in the military5 or by earning, at the bare minimum, a certificate in engineering technology combined with on-the-job training.

If you are interested in becoming an engineering technician, it is advised that you take as many math courses and science courses as you can before even applying to college. A good way to immerse yourself in these types of courses, and to get a good feel for your aptitude, is through online math and science classes.

Additionally, most technicians focus on one type of engineering. The most common engineering fields in which technicians work are:

  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Industrial engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Sound engineering6  

Spotlight: Engineers

Aerospace Engineers:

Design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Must have a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems. Some aerospace engineers work on projects that are related to national defense and thus require security clearances.7

Agricultural and Biological Engineers:

Work on a variety of activities, ranging from aquaculture to land farming to forestry; from developing biofuels to improving conservation; from planning animal environments to finding better ways to process food.

Agricultural engineers must have a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Agricultural Engineering or Biological Engineering.8

Biomedical Engineers: 

Analyze and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care.

Typically need a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or get on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.9

Chemical Engineers:

Apply the principles of chemistry , biology, and physics to solve problems. These problems involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. Chemical engineers design processes and equipment for large-scale safe and sustainable manufacturing, plan and test methods of manufacturing products and treating byproducts, and supervise production.

Must have a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, now sometimes known as a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Earning a Professional Engineer license may increase chances for employment.10

Civil Engineers:

Design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Need a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, and typically need a graduate degree for promotion to managerial positions. Civil engineers who sell their own services publicly must be licensed.

Computer Engineers:

Research, design, develop, and test computer equipment such as chips, circuit boards, or routers.

Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, although a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering is generally acceptable.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers:

Design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment.

Must have a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.11

4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Engineering Technician, 2010, p.1



7 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Biomedical Engineers, 2012, p.1.

8 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural Engineers, 2012, p.1.

9 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Aerospace Engineers, 2012, p.1.

10 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Chemical Engineers, 2012, p.1.

11 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2012, p.1.