A bachelor’s degree in engineering provides you with a wide range of career options, because an accredited engineering program requires two years of math, physics, chemistry, and introductory engineering courses as well as two years of course work in your major. In addition, you can specialize within your major. Engineering concentrations further qualify you for specific engineering positions and/or specific industries. For example, a biomedical engineer
might elect a specialization in biomechanics or in signal processing, while a mechanical engineer might specialize in micro-electro-mechanical systems machinery (MEMs) or robotics or nanotechnology.
The foreign language, humanities, social sciences, and English courses that you take, in addition to the rigorous background of math, science, and engineering, greatly strengthen your qualifications for a variety of engineering positions in a global economy. Engineering graduates sometimes decide to pursue graduate and professional degrees either before entering industry or after they have been working for several years. While some obtain master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, others pursue graduate and professional degrees in business or public administration, law, or medicine to advance their careers within industry.
Advanced degrees offer additional opportunities in the industry career path, particularly when they are combined with hands-on experience. You should investigate the industry you plan to enter to determine if there is a salary differential if you were to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree before accepting a position. In some companies, work experience is so valued that a master’s degree without industry experience does not result in a significant salary difference when compared to bachelor’s-level hires with at least one year of co-op experience or one year of full-time work experience.
Timing and finances are serious considerations when making the decision to pursue graduate or professional education. The more education you have, the more doors are open to you over the course of your career. This is increasingly true for Ph.D. level engineers with industry experience. Industry, consulting, and academia all seek these individuals. However, pursuing graduate study without a personal focus on the specialization you want to study and
why you are pursuing the degree can be frustrating. This is another career decision that should be reached using the self-assessment strategies discussed in Part One of this book.