Engineering Technology vs. Engineering

Engineering is a fundamental pillar of our society, deeply influencing everything from consumer electronics to skyscrapers to medical equipment. This pervasive role is evident in every facet of our daily lives. Within this vast field lies a specific area that often causes confusion: engineering technology, also known as applied engineering. 

Prospective students sometimes grapple with discerning engineering technology from traditional engineering. In this article, we’ll explain the difference. By delving into its scope,, we aim to provide a clearer understanding of “engineering technology” in the context of the broader engineering domain.

Understanding Engineering vs Engineering Technology Degree Programs

Engineering is primarily centered on the conceptualization, design, and innovation of solutions to complex problems. Engineers often use advanced mathematics and scientific principles to develop new technologies, systems, or structures. They are typically involved in the research and development process, creating theoretical designs and solutions. Engineers might work on the broader picture, developing new products or systems, and laying out the specifications or requirements for a project.

Engineering Technology is more application-based and hands-on. Professionals in this field, known as technologists or technicians, focus on the implementation and application of existing engineering principles. They are often concerned with the practical aspects, working on the testing, production, and maintenance of engineering systems. Engineering technologists might use the designs and theories developed by engineers and ensure they are implemented correctly, making adjustments or improvements based on real-world conditions.

What Is an Engineering Degree?

The influence of engineering is seen in every corner of our lives. It influences the bridges we cross every day, as well as the electric cars we drive. With an engineering degree, you’ll have access to abundant career choices. In this section, we’ll discuss its scope and definition, career paths, course subjects, and skillset.

Definition And Scope

With an engineering degree, you’ll be equipped with academic credentials in the following competencies: essentials of engineering, including theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and practical applications within varied disciplines. An engineering degree includes several areas of study within its scope, from civil through computer engineering; these include mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc.

Job Responsibilities and Career Paths

Every area provides special chances for invention, including manufacturing physical frameworks and devices along with coding programs and renewable energy answers tailored to nature. Therefore, the degree lays the groundwork for numerous professions in investigation, creation, enhancement, assessment, and administration inside the engineering field.

Typical Course Subjects

The courses in an engineering degree can vary and the variance depends on your specialization. Some of the courses involve the following:


  • Calculus (often multiple levels)
  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra
  • Statistics for Engineers 

Basic Sciences:

  • Physics (Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Thermodynamics)
  • Chemistry
  • Biology (for certain disciplines like Biomedical Engineering)

Engineering Fundamentals:

  • Engineering Graphics or CAD (Computer-Aided Design)
  • Statics and Dynamics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Materials Science
  • Circuit Analysis

Discipline-Specific Courses: Depending on the chosen field, students will delve into more specialized subjects. For instance:

Civil Engineering: Structural Analysis, Geotechnical Engineering, Transportation Engineering

Mechanical Engineering: Machine Design, Heat Transfer, Control Systems

Electrical Engineering: Digital Systems, Electromagnetic Fields, Power Systems

Chemical Engineering: Chemical Process Principles, Transport Phenomena, Reaction Engineering

Computer Engineering: Digital Logic Design, Microprocessors, Computer Networks

Design and Laboratory Courses: These provide hands-on experience and practical application of theoretical concepts. They often culminate in a capstone design project in the final year.

General Education and Electives: Courses in humanities, social sciences, economics, and communication to ensure a well-rounded education.

Professional and Ethical Aspects: Courses that address the societal, ethical, and professional responsibilities of engineers.

Skill Set Needed

If you’re pursuing an engineering degree, it will require a diverse skillset. First and foremost, a strong aptitude for mathematics and science is essential, as these are foundational to engineering principles. Analytical thinking is crucial, enabling students to dissect complex problems and devise effective solutions. Practical problem-solving skills ensure theoretical knowledge is applied effectively in real-world scenarios. Attention to detail is also paramount, as even minor oversights can lead to significant issues in designs or systems. Communication skills, both written and verbal, are vital, as engineers often collaborate with multidisciplinary teams and must convey technical information clearly.

What Is An Engineering Technology Degree?

An engineering technology degree follows the principles of applied engineering. In this section, let’s discuss its basic scope and definition, career paths, course subjects, and skillset.

Definition And Scope

ABET defines an engineering technology degree as more application-focused compared to regular engineering degrees. It is a specialized educational program that emphasizes the practical application of engineering principles and methods, rather than their theoretical design and analysis. While traditional engineering programs might delve deeper into the underlying mathematics and conceptual design, engineering technology is more hands-on, stressing real-world application, and often involves extensive lab work, simulations, and fieldwork.

Job Responsibilities And Career Paths

Job roles for someone with an engineering technology degree are diverse. It prepares you for a career as an engineering technologist, focusing on implementing and maintaining technologies and systems, troubleshooting issues, and optimizing processes. You might find yourself engaged in product enhancement or maintaining crucial systems. As a graduate of this degree, you’ll be equipped to bridge the gap between engineers and technicians, ensuring that engineering designs are effectively translated into tangible products or systems.

Typical Course Subjects

Course subjects for an engineering technology degree emphasize application over exploration. The curriculum encourages you to have a practical understanding of concepts instead of purely theoretical knowledge. Generally, here are some of the typical course subjects you may take with this degree:

  • Technical Mathematics
  • Applied Sciences
  • Computer Applications
  • Engineering Materials
  • Instrumentation and Measurement
  • Systems and Controls
  • Technical Electives (e.g., HVAC systems, digital electronics)
  • Laboratory and Workshop Courses
  • Design and Drafting
  • Safety and Standards
  • Project Management
  • General Education (communication, humanities, social sciences)

Skill Set Needed

An engineering technology degree requires a blend of hands-on skills and theoretical understanding. Strong technical aptitude is essential, as you will often work with tools, machinery, and software specific to your discipline. Practical problem-solving abilities are also paramount on top of good manual dexterity, which aids in practical laboratory and workshop tasks. A foundational understanding of mathematics, tailored more towards applied scenarios, is necessary.

Comparing Engineering and Engineering Technology Degrees

Whether you’re a high school graduate seeking the right college course or a professional contemplating a career change, you might consider the field of engineering. Now let’s tackle the key similarities and differences between engineering technology vs. engineering to see which one fits you most.

Key Similarities

Engineering disciplines — both the broad ‘engineering’ sector and the hands-on ‘engineering technology’ echo a parallel learning pathway. The base foundation comprises core scientific principles entwined with Mathematics.

Both sectors pose an identical version of basic engineering courses to navigate through — seeking to build your expertise in these foundations. Then comes training in problem-solving skills essential for all engineering fields. This equips you for similar employment sectors where the demand lies high for both traditional Engineers and their practical counterparts.

Key Differences

While there are similarities in curriculum structure or job prospects, studying ‘engineering technology Vs. engineering’ demarcates clear lines between theoretical knowledge against applied focus.

Traditional engineering skims the surface of practical applications existing more as a theory-entwined industry. In contrast, stands ‘engineering technology’, wherein its courses offer more depth into practical implementations of your theoretical knowledge.

Traditional engineering degrees open doors into research roles, allowing you to dive deep into science-enthralled theories, while ‘engineering Technology’ offers limited scope, primarily confining you to hands-on roles within industries.

So, as you navigate this path as an aspiring engineer, think about which domain calls to your passion: where theory marries applied principles in different proportions only differing in practice – categorized by industry into traditional ‘engineering vs. engineering technology.’

Engineering vs. Engineering Technology Salary and Job Outlook

Are you still deciding between engineering technology vs. engineering? Before diving in, let’s take a look at what this could mean for your future earnings. Engineers generally secure higher salaries. Yet, don’t count out engineering tech careers. They also command strong salaries, especially with experience under their belt. It’s not only about immediate gains but long-term satisfaction, too.

Median Engineering Salary

Engineers generally command a median salary that is competitive when compared to many other professions. However, this median figure can vary significantly across different engineering industries.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for engineers could reach $83,700 (May 2020 data). Generally, this is still considered higher than the average annual salary for other occupations, which is $46,310.

Salary Range for Engineers

Engineers have a diverse salary range, reflecting the vast array of specializations and roles within the field. This range underscores the adaptability and breadth of opportunities available in this profession. For example, a chemical engineer’s average annual pay is $106,260, whereas an aerospace engineer’s salary averages $126,880 annually. For a comprehensive list of all occupations and wages across different types of engineering, you may also visit U.S. BLS’ Architecture and Engineering Occupations. 

Factors Affecting Engineering Salaries

An engineer’s salary is shaped by several factors, including their geographical location, specific area of expertise, and accumulated experience. As engineers advance in their careers and acquire more skills, their earning potential often rises.

Median Engineering Technology Salary

Holding a degree in engineering technology also translates to competitive salaries. As with many professions, experience in the field can lead to increased earnings over time. According to U.S. BLS, an engineering technologist could range from $38,570 (10% percentile wage estimate) up to $105,120 (90% percentile wage estimate) annually.

Salary Range for Engineering Technologists

Similar to engineers, the salary range for engineering technologists is also influenced by factors with variations based on industry and specialization. For example, engineering technologists in the “Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services” industry has an annual average salary of $63,310, whereas it could reach as much as $69,750 in the “Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing” industry. For a more detailed list of annual wages for engineering technologists, you may also check out the employment and wage statistics from U.S. BLS for Engineering Technologists and Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other.

Factors Influencing Technologists’ Salaries

The earnings of engineering technologists are also shaped by various factors similar to engineers. Geographical location, certification levels, and years of experience play pivotal roles. As technologists gain experience, they can typically expect a corresponding increase in their salaries.

Engineering vs. Engineering Technology Education Requirements

Between engineering and engineering technology, both fields are distinct yet both degrees also tackle similar essential parts that are intertwined in the same industry. Let’s say you want to step into the world of engineering, you might need an engineering bachelor’s degree for that. Whereas if you’re planning to pursue a career in engineering technology, an associate degree could be all you need. Understanding the difference between the requirements for engineering technology vs. engineering can help shape your academic journey.

What Degree Do I Need to Become an Engineer?

To become an engineer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline relevant to your desired field. This degree should be from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Advanced roles or specializations might require a master’s degree in engineering or even a doctoral degree. Licensure, such as the Professional Engineer (PE) credential, may also be required depending on the jurisdiction and job function.

Engineering Curriculum

Navigating the intricacies of an engineering curriculum is paramount in aligning your academic journey with your career aspirations. Especially when delving into the nuances of our overarching theme: engineering technology vs. engineering. Fundamental courses in engineering lay the groundwork, immersing you in the profound depths of design principles and theoretical analysis. Branches like civil, mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering allow for a tailored academic experience resonating with your passions. A hallmark of engineering is its emphasis on conceptual design and innovation, often culminating in capstone projects that challenge students to innovate.

What Degree Do I Need to Become an Engineering Technologist?

Choosing a degree is a critical starting point in your engineering journey. Often, you might find yourself at a crossroads when faced with the question: how do engineering technology vs. engineering differ? It’s understandable to feel somewhat puzzled. However, for clarity, think of engineering technology as almost identical to applied engineering. Often, programs offer these titles alternately. So, you can apply for an ABET-accredited program under either term. That’s a step in the right direction toward getting closer to your dream of being an engineer.

Engineering Technology Curriculum

Scanning through curriculum specifics is crucial in determining what suits you best. Core courses in engineering technology offer a solid base for learning. These formative subjects delve deep into the intricacies of systems device operation. Specialized streams like civil electrical, computer, or chemical allow you to tailor your experience based on interests. A unique aspect is the emphasis on real-world applications bringing classroom learning to life in labs. Consequently, this bridges the gap between theory and practice, making you job-ready post-graduation.

Practice Settings for Engineering & Engineering Technology

When making a decision in your education pursuit, it’s vital to comprehend the core essence between engineering technology vs engineering. On one hand, Engineering has more emphasis on scientific theories. On the other hand, engineering Technology applies these theories. If your interests lie more in practical applications than pure theory, then the former will lead towards a path of engineering technology. The latter leans toward conventional engineering.

Engineering technology vs engineering fields exist concurrently in various professional settings. You might find them in corporate work environments or engaged in fieldwork. Research labs host both as well. In choosing engineering or engineering technology as a degree, consider your comfort with these typical practice environments. Each discipline offers flexibility, but personal preference plays a key role.

Tips for Choosing Between Engineering and Engineering Technology

To better understand where your passion lies, examine what interests you most about each field when contemplating engineering technology vs. engineering. Perhaps you thrive on problem-solving using theories, hence leaning toward an engineering focus. Conversely, you may prefer practical applications, leading you to look closer at engineering technology.

Developing an understanding of long-term career goals is also crucial. Do you dream of constructing bridges or designing computer systems? Your answers to such questions will help guide your decision whether towards an engineering or an engineering technology degree.

Finally, contemplate the quality of life considerations within each field while weighing the pros of both sides: the domain of theoretical concepts or hands-on application — that is the question — when pondering the riddle of engineering technology vs. engineering as a career choice!

Choosing Between Engineering Technology vs. Engineering

While considering a degree program, always take into account your career goals. Both traditional engineering degrees like civil electrical, computer, or chemical and engineering technology degrees offer rewarding opportunities.

However, always take note: it’s about choosing what aligns best with your interests, skills and future prospects. Take the time to explore both fields thoroughly and keep in mind the various subject contexts, such as civil electrical, computer, or chemical, that potentially align with your interests.

So, whether it’s exploring complex theories with an engineering degree or applying those theories using a hands-on approach with an engineering technology degree — rest assured there’s a path out there that fits your passion.

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