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Engineering or Engineering Technology?

Which career pathway are you drawn to: engineering or engineering technology? What is the difference between the two and how does the education differ? It's important for students to understand the difference between these two pathways as they begin to plan their education. Although there is overlap in the work done by people in these two areas, the education is very different.

In general, engineers spend more of their time analyzing and planning solutions to problems and applying engineering theories. Engineers devise the best solution to meet the constraints of a project or situation. Engineering students learn and apply calculus in their classes and must earn a bachelor degree to become a professional engineer. If this is your interest, STLCC has an Engineering Science Associate of Science degree that encompasses the first two years of an Engineering Bachelor of Science degree. STLCC students transfer to engineering schools at a variety of universities and then focus on an engineering specialty like mechanical, chemical, aerospace, electrical, civil, etc. More information on the Engineering Science program can be found here.

Engineering technology programs prepare students to apply the solutions designed by engineers to solve engineering problems. Engineering technologists and technicians apply algebra and trigonometry to implement solutions.They will often work alongside engineers in a research lab or may work in the field or a production facility. Since engineering technology courses are not based on calculus, most courses will not transfer to an engineering science program. However, some students, knowing that not all the credits will transfer, choose to begin by earning a technology degree either for the practical and industry based hands-on experience or to be able to work at a challenging well paid technical job while they attend engineering school part-time. Most engineering technology students simply prefer "doing" to "analyzing and planning." STLCC has Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates in several engineering technology fields: mechanical, design or manufacturing; electrical, electronic or biomedical electronics; and civil or construction. Learn more about technology degrees and certificates by choosing the "Industrial and Engineering Technology" tab on this page.

One of the great things about this career area is that employees can continue to advance their careers through the years.This ability to interweave your education pathway and career pathway is very useful.  Consider these descriptions below.  Where do you want to begin your career and where do you want to end up?

  • Craftsperson - A user of hand, power or machine tools to build, operate, maintain or service machines and products useful to the technological team as well as society.
  • Technician - Assistant to the engineer or scientist who carries out the details of the technical work.
  • Technologist - Applies principles of engineering and/or science in a specific area of technology.
  • Engineer - Cost-conscious, practical innovator, designer, problem recognizer and solver.
  • Scientist - Seeks basic new knowledge of nature and its laws through research and investigation.


View a handout of these different career levels

View a summary of the differences between engineering and engineering technology.

View a graphic showing the overlap of duties for engineering and engineering technology.