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Beyond a Bachelor's or Associate's Degree

Because technology is always changing, some applications and methods covered in school may not be useful or current five years later. Your education has only begun with the completion of a formal, full-time educational program. Engineering has been described as a "learning profession," and many engineers spend several hours a week in continuing education, formally or informally.

Additional education in a broad range of subjects other than engineering may be needed in order to meet professional challenges. Such studies might include economics, finance, law, management, and the sciences. Graduate study and other forms of continuing education are activities that engineers must anticipate.

A Bachelor of Science program constitutes the full-time formal education for most engineering graduates. However, many will continue studying for a Master's degree, and those whose interest is focused on research will pursue a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree.

A Masters degree program is necessary for most advanced design, development and research programs. It generally takes from one to two years of additional full-time effort. A doctoral program typically takes three to five years beyond the B.S. degree and is of primary importance to students who wish to teach or conduct research. Doctoral programs are designed to bring a student to the frontier of knowledge in a specialized discipline and extend that frontier. In a Ph.D. program, you are expected to contribute to advancing the field through a published dissertation.

Sometimes students from Bachelor's degree programs in engineering technology want to go on to graduate programs in engineering or engineering technology. You can transfer directly from a four-year program in engineering or technology into a Master's degree program in technology. However, if you wish to go on to a graduate program in engineering or computer science, you may have to take additional undergraduate courses as required by the individual college or university.

For many technicians, the Associate's degree program fulfills the need for a formal educational experience. However, career advancement and a personal desire for more education frequently draw technicians back to pursue a Bachelor's degree in engineering or engineering technology.

Technical knowledge, management skills, and professional relationships all play a role in determining how far one advances. Additionally, common sense, an ability to relate well with people, and an ability to recognize growing fields will help your career. Some of these skills may be developed by participating in professional societies.

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