Certificates in Engineering
Can I work while studying?
Many student engineers choose to work while pursuing an engineering certificate in order to earn money and valuable job experience. Before seeking employment, it is important for you to consider the intensity of your program and your ability to commit yourself equally to your employer and to your program, as well as allowing yourself some free time.
Students earning a certificate in engineering will have already earned a bachelors degree, and will be eligible for the same jobs as other graduates. Your certificate program will likely give you a competitive edge over candidates with just a bachelors degree, and may increase your engineering salary.
Entry-level jobs in engineering will vary by discipline. A junior civil engineer may find opportunities in data collection and field inspection, and are often hired by government agencies such as the Department of Transportation or the Department of Agriculture. An environmental engineer may start by providing assistance in the design of a water treatment system and manage and evaluate data. A mechanical engineer just starting out might work for a manufacturer using computer-aided design software to draft blueprints.
While working during your certificate program is a great opportunity to earn money, gain work experience and work toward sitting for your licensure exam if you choose, taking on too many hours could infringe upon the success of your program. Students earning an engineering certificate online may benefit from the added scheduling flexibility of online courses, which can better accommodate a part-time or full-time work schedule.
Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online certificate program?
A small number of colleges and universities offer partial or hybrid online programs.
Purdue University, which is ranked 8 in faculty credentials and training by U.S. News & World Report, offers certificates to graduates with a bachelors degree who are interested in honing their expertise in a particular discipline. Programs include noise control, digital signal processing, applied heat transfer and applied statistics.
Pennsylvania State University offers an online certificate program in human factors engineering, which is the use of science and technology in product design and development. Ranked number 9 in student services and technology by U.S. News & World Report, Pennsylvania State University has a new student retention rate of 95%. This certificate program may be a great fit for those with an aerospace engineering, computer engineering, nuclear engineering or chemical engineering degree.
Lawrence Technological University offers online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs geared toward enhancing student understanding of engineering theory and practice. Programs are unique and varied, and include undergraduate certificates in biomechanics and electrical power systems.
Graduate certificate programs include defense engineering, which is a 15 credit hour program focused on military and defense acumen, and an energy engineering program that educates students about renewable and traditional energy sources, nuclear energy and energy conservation.
Lawrence Technological University is ranked number 2 by U.S. News & World Report for student engagement and number 8 for student services and technology.
What are common assumptions about students who choose to get a certificate?
A common worry among engineering students is that without licensure they will be unable to find a job. While it is true that the professional engineering license affords engineers a wider range of opportunities, entry-level jobs and apprenticeships are available.
In many engineering disciplines, including aerospace and electrical engineering, a campus-based or online engineering associates is considered the entry-level credential. In addition, earning a certificate will offer you specialized knowledge that will distinguish you from other job candidates.
Some may assume that pursuing a certificate in engineering is useful only to advance beyond a post-baccalaureate degree. However, certificate programs are also useful for engineers who are already working in the field but may benefit from a certificate in a specialized area. Engineers who graduate from a certificate program may be eligible for higher wages and increased responsibility.
It is understood that engineering has historically attracted more men than women to the profession, with estimates of female undergraduates in engineering as low as 20%. While these numbers are on the rise, it is important to note that women and men from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to pursue post-baccalaureate engineering programs.
What is the hardest part of the application to an on-campus or online program?
Admission requirements to engineering certificate programs will vary but will almost always require a significant amount of work in advance of the application process.
Your chosen certificate program will likely require you to have completed specific prerequisite courses before you are eligible for admission, which may require you to take a class before you are able to apply. This may be the most challenging and time consuming part of the application if you have not qualified yet. You will also likely be required to have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout your undergraduate engineering degree program.
It is very common for certificate programs to require students to have graduated with a bachelors of engineering degree from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. If you are just starting out in your engineering education, be sure to research the accreditation of your program so that you do not run into difficulties later. Graduation from an accredited program is also required for you to sit for your engineering licensure exam.
Many engineering certificate programs will require you to submit your application along with a letter of intent or statement of purpose. This may look similar to the letter of intent you submitted when applying to your undergraduate degree, but you may be asked to state more specifically how you intend to meet the objectives of your desired certificate program. Be sure to articulate the skills that you can bring to the program and how they may be different from those of the other candidates.