Accreditation is essential to look for when seeking out online engineering degrees. ABET, or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ensures that your program will prepare you to be hired and work as an engineer. Education is a major investment, so it’s important to seek out a school that’s well suited to help you achieve your personal and professional goals. This guide will outline ABET-accredited online engineering schools and programs.

ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Overview

What Are ABET Accredited Programs? 

You may be wondering what exactly accreditation means. Accreditation is a label given to universities and institutions so the public knows if the education meets quality standards. The institution and the programs are reviewed thoroughly for them to become accredited. 

ABET is a non-profit accreditation board that is specific to post-secondary STEM programs. Although they don’t award universities accreditation, they acknowledge programs that are only from accredited institutions. There are four different commissions within this non-profit for each program it can accredit: applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. The people on these boards are technical professionals with industry experience to evaluate a program’s standards appropriately. The focus is on what students learn rather than what is taught.

Benefits of Earning an Accredited Engineering Degree

An ABET-accredited program provides many benefits to students. Students will know that by the time they finish their degree, they will be qualified for the workforce. They will have the skills and education that will make them engineers. Employers will also know the qualifications their future employees are expected to have if they finish an accredited ABET program. 

Students who graduate from an ABET-accredited program can go on to receive specific licensures. Licenses are not only preferred but certain ones are also mandated for some jobs. They enhance your education and make you a better worker with the skills you’ve acquired with this licensure. Although ABET programs don’t provide licensure, ABET programs prepare its students to take licensure exams throughout their education.

Overall, accreditation is required by most employers, and it is also in your best interest to seek out an institution that is recognized. Accreditation will ensure your success in your career and your future endeavors.

What Can You Do With an ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree?

With an online ABET-accredited engineering degree, you can become any kind of engineer or engineer technologist. Engineering can cover a vast array of fields. Here are the fields that you can get into with an online program:

  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electronic Systems Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Fire Protection and Safety Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Surveying Engineer

Engineering can offer extremely niche fields, so it depends on what program you are interested in pursuing. However, you can go to school to be an engineer that is not specific to those above. This list covers only a few areas. It is important to note that not all engineering fields can be completed online. Hybrid programs exist, but many require you to be on campus for the entirety of the degree program.

With an education from an ABET-accredited program, you can explore other career paths with a degree in engineering. Therefore, this education is the opposite of limiting; you’ll find various opportunities based on your studies. For example, some people enter academia with their engineering degree and pursue teaching, while others find themselves in technology-based fields. It all depends on your passions and your career goals.

ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Salary and Job Outlook

The world will always need engineers, so there will be no shortage of employment for years to come, especially if you’re looking to get into an engineering field that involves space or technology. However, if you’re looking to get into a field that takes less education, you may find your job prospects to be more limited.

For example, we will explore the job prospects of a computer hardware engineer who earned a bachelor’s degree and an electrical engineer who earned an associate’s. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the median salary of a computer hardware engineer is about $128,200. Job prospects are expected to grow by 5% in 10 years from 2021 to 2031. Now let’s compare this data to an electrical engineer with an associate’s degree. Also, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the median salary of an electrical engineer is about $63,600. Job prospects for this kind of engineer are not expected to grow; if they do, the growth will be insignificant. Contrarily, suppose you are an electrical engineer with a bachelor’s degree. In that case, the Bureau of Labour Statistics details that you could earn a mean salary of about $101,800, and the job outlook is expected to grow by 3%. 3% is greater for those who earn an associate’s in electrical engineering; however, it is still considered a slow projection. This data was also gathered in May 2021. 

Location can also dramatically affects how much you could be paid for your engineering job. We’ll see how location can affect costs using the same two fields, computer hardware, and electrical engineering. California has the highest employment level for computer hardware engineering and is the top-paying state. We’ll break it down further:

States with the highest employment level for computer hardware engineering

  1. California
  2. Oregon
  3. Colorado
  4. Texas
  5. Virginia

Top-paying states and approximate annual mean wage for computer hardware engineering

  1. California: $170,000
  2. Washington: $167,000
  3. Virginia: $139,200
  4. Oregon: $136,200
  5. Nevada: $135,900

For electrical engineers with a bachelor’s degree, California has the highest employment level and is the top-paying state, but let’s compare the rest of the data. 

States with the highest employment level for electrical engineering

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Michigan
  4. New York
  5. Pennsylvania

Top-paying states and approximate annual mean wage for electrical engineering

  1. California: $126,600
  2. District of Columbia: $123,300
  3. Washington: $118,900
  4. Massachusetts: $118,800
  5. Maryland: $118,000

Based on the field you enter, the degree you earn, and where you’re located, there will be a difference in salary and job outlook, so it is important to research the field you’d like to enter. Regardless, with a degree from one of the online ABET-accredited engineering schools, you are assured to be prepared for employment regardless of what engineering field you choose to study. That being said, salary does not need to decide which engineering field you pursue. Following your passions and exploring a subject you excel in is also important. Money is not important to everyone, so evaluating your values is essential.

How Much Does an ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Cost?

The costs of programs can vary. There isn’t one answer to this question. Let’s look at three different universities that offer online ABET engineering degrees for a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and compare the costs.

The costs above are all based on 12-credits or full-time status.

For most state schools, the costs will vary depending on whether you’re a resident. However, like with the University of North Dakota, your residency doesn’t matter. You’ll also find that online versus on-campus tuition can be different. Sometimes attending school solely online can be more affordable than attending in person. You will use fewer school resources when you’re online, which could factor into the costs. Other schools have the same prices regardless of if the program is online or on-campus. There are still many online resources that students can utilize.

Even though an online school can be more affordable, it doesn’t mean the quality of education will differ. If an ABET-accredited engineering school offers an online program, you can expect the same caliber of academic rigor and educational outcomes. This is why looking for accreditation when researching which schools you might attend is essential.

Engineering Degree Scholarship Information

There are many scholarships for engineering students, but they require you to seek them out. The school you attend will most likely offer them, but there are also outside scholarships that can help fund your education. You can use specific websites that outline scholarships by major, like Scholarships.com. They have a web page that details scholarship opportunities just for engineering students. You can also find scholarship opportunities that are based on your financial status or specific attributes that you have. Again, doing your research will be essential here, but it will benefit you greatly as you pursue your education.

ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Requirements

All degree requirements will differ based on which school you attend and which online program you are enrolled in. However, we can review some basic degree requirements most commonly found across programs. For a degree, whether online or in-person, you will need a minimum of 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 60 credits for an associate’s degree from an accredited institution. In addition, any liberal arts university typically requires a core of general education classes, like English, humanities, and history, to name a few. Then you will have your major courses and some collegewide electives to take to reach the desired credit amount.

For the major, you will need to take courses at various levels, starting with the 100 level and progressing to more advanced coursework. The grades that you receive will also hold importance for graduating. For example, at the University of North Dakota, you need at least a C grade to pass the class. You will need to repeat the course if you receive less than that.

Common Courses in ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Programs

Here is a list of common courses that you will find across engineering programs:

  • Control systems
  • Digital logic
  • Distributed networks
  • Electronics
  • Engineering data analysis
  • Engineering secure software systems
  • Principles of database management
  • Programming

Most engineering programs will differ, but generally speaking, they will all require math, and depending on the program, science could also be involved. These programs also rely heavily on technology and computer work.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an ABET-Accredited Engineering Degree Program?

How long a degree takes can be up to you. Here we’ll review the typical tracks for various online ABET engineering degrees.

A bachelor’s degree can be completed in 4 years if you remain on track and take a full-time course load of anywhere from 12 to 18 credits. You may find yourself taking courses in the summer or winter semesters, along with the fall and spring, to graduate within a 4-year timeline. Engineering can be extremely rigorous, so remaining on track is ideal.

There are also combined bachelor’s and master’s programs. In this case, earning both degrees may take 5 or 6 years. Typically, you’ll start your master’s level courses in the final year of your bachelor’s to expedite the process. Remaining on track in this kind of program will be essential.

Associate’s degrees usually take about two years to complete. Most people who earn an associate’s in engineering decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree after, which will take another two years to complete.

The range of years above is all based on full-time status at the institution you intend. If you work or have additional responsibilities, you may find that attending school part-time is a better option. You’ll take anywhere from 6 to 11 credits as a part-time or half-time student. When pursuing your education, you must do what is best to ensure your educational success. However, it is important to note that being anything less than full-time at some universities may hinder your financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

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