Engineering is a competitive field that is ever growing and evolving. Consequently, the professionals who work in these careers are expected to have an academic background that prepares them appropriately to keep up with the latest advancements in the field. While engineering is a very hands-on profession where much can be learned from the workplace, pursuing a higher education is a valuable way to advance a career in this industry.
Whether you have recently finished your bachelor’s in engineering and already know that you want to continue your education, or you have been working in the field for years and are interested in taking your career in a new direction, consider enrolling in an online engineering program to expand your knowledge and expertise. A master’s in engineering will not only open opportunities for professional advancement in the workplace, but increase your earning potential in this competitive marketplace.
Why earn a master’s in engineering
As an engineer, you likely already spent four or more years of late nights and long hours earning your bachelor’s degree. Consequently, making the decision to go back to school to earn a master’s can be a big decision, especially if you are not in a place to take a year off from work to pursue your education. However, the ability to earn a degree online is making it easier than ever to complete a higher degree as an engineer no matter where you are in your career.
Pursuing an additional degree is an opportunity to stay up-to-date with the latest emerging technology, gain knowledge of the financial implications of your work, take a deeper dive into a particular area of interest and build on your undergraduate education and workplace experience to improve the quality of your work. It will not only help you to be the best you can be in your field, but show employers that you are ready to take on a leadership role within your organization.
While these programs can deepen your knowledge of the facet of engineering that you already work in, completing a higher degree can also be a smart decision if you are interested in taking your career in a new direction. A second degree can be your opportunity to specialize in a different area than what you studied in your undergraduate career, or a nuanced specialty of your current field. For example, if you are working as an electrical engineer and want to pursue a position specifically in nanotechnology, a master’s in engineering with an emphasis in materials at the nanoscale could be the next step. A master’s can be especially helpful if you do not have the opportunity to gain the precise experience you need in your current position.
When it comes to pursuing a higher degree, you have the option to choose either a master’s or a doctorate in engineering. A master’s, the more common of the two, will prepare you for most industry positions that do not involve research. It allows you to specialize in a particular topic and take on more responsibility in the workplace. Instead of handling much of the day-to-day tasks on the job, you may work behind the scenes in design or production, or take on a role as a project manager organizing other staff members. Depending on whether you are enrolled full or part time, a master’s degree will typically take one to three years to complete.
If you are looking to grow your research skills rather than your professional skills, a Ph.D. could be the answer. A doctorate is a larger time commitment – programs often take anywhere from five to seven years – but will give you a background in engineering theory and investigation that will be valuable if you wish to teach or work in cutting edge research and development. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., you may want to consider completing a research-based master’s in engineering degree first, and then decide if you wish to pursue a doctorate as well.
Ultimately, the choice to pursue a master’s degree is largely dependent on where you want to take your career. For the majority of engineers, the MS offers not only the right academic background to specialize in the field of their choice, but appealing salary benefits as well. By making an investment of both your time and finances to pursue a higher degree, you can advance both your professional career and your wages.
Salary benefits with an MS
While there are a number of reasons to choose to continue your education as an engineer, one of the major advantages of completing a master’s degree in engineering is the positive impact it can have on your earning potential in the workplace. Though engineering positions in general are already among some of the highest paid in the U.S., earning a second degree can help you to attain an even more competitive salary in a variety of positions.
According to the popular employment website Monster, the median salary for a master’s degree in engineering and technology is $110,000. Degrees in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering were all on the company’s list of best paying master’s degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics further reported that mechanical engineers, civil engineers and architectural and engineering managers with master’s degrees all had median salaries that were 9 to 13 percent higher than the median wages of their counterparts with a bachelor’s alone.
With a master’s, you will also set yourself apart from the competition when applying for most positions with higher salaries, as the majority of engineers do not have higher degrees. For example, the BLS reported that only about 25 percent of civil engineers have master’s degrees. Earning a higher degree gives you the opportunity to increase your specialized knowledge of a certain area, giving you additional expertise on your resume on top of what you have learned experientially in the workplace.
Additional opportunities in the workplace
While a master’s can lead to a salary increase in the position that you hold today, it can also open doors for new roles, either in your current workplace or within a new organization. And with a higher education combined with your experience in the field, these new positions that you qualify for will likely carry not only additional responsibilities and opportunities, but a higher annual salary as well.
According to Monster, top jobs that you can land with a master’s in electrical engineering include senior systems engineer (median annual salary of $124,000), software developer (median annual salary $112,000) and senior electrical engineer (median annual salary of $108,000). If you earn a master’s in chemical engineering, considering pursuing a position as a process engineering manager (median annual salary of $148,000), senior chemical engineer (median annual salary of $124,000) or chemical process engineer (median annual salary of $102,000). Master’s in mechanical engineering grads should consider becoming a senior mechanical engineer (median annual salary of $100,000), project engineer (median annual salary of $88,300) and mechanical engineer (median annual salary of $86,800). With a master’s in civil engineering, construction project manager (median annual salary of $97,100), structural engineer (median annual salary of $86,600) and civil engineer (median annual salary of $84,800) are all lucrative options for a career that is both professionally and financially rewarding.
A master’s will also set you apart when you apply for more general positions. With a growing number of engineers entering the field, the job market can be competitive when you seek a new position or promotion. If you are happy in your workplace but want to demonstrate your potential for advancement, pursuing a master’s degree could be the right next step for your career.
The cost savings of the online master’s program
For many professionals, the decision to pursue a master’s degree is appealing, but it may be hard to imagine taking enough time off to complete a degree. If this is your dilemma, consider enrolling in an online master’s in engineering program. By pursuing your degree remotely, you will be able to continue in your current engineering position if you so choose, working full or part time. The flexibility of the program will allow you to do your coursework and listen to lectures at the time and place of your choosing, tailoring your education around your responsibilities in the workplace.
In addition to being a convenient option, pursuing your master’s degree online while working simultaneously shows employers that you are able to effectively multitask and prioritize important, time-sensitive projects simultaneously. Those are valuable skills for an engineer to not only master, but to communicate in the workplace.
An online program also eliminates a number of other extra expenses associated with attending school at a physical location. You save on costs associated with commuting, such as gas, parking passes and eating out, and will have more time to focus on your studies since you will not need to travel to get to class. You additionally eliminate the lost wages you would have experienced if you took time off from work to pursue your degree.
For these reasons and more, online engineering degrees are becoming increasingly popular options for professionals working in the industry. If you are ready to advance your career in engineering by pursuing a master’s, consider enrolling in an online program today. Not only will you enjoy the career and salary benefits that accompany a higher degree, but you will be able to do so with the additional savings and convenience offered by remote learning.