national
Skip to content Skip to Live Chat
Close Nav

Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

Engineering at WGU

Are You Looking to Get an Engineering Degree?

Nearly everywhere you look, you can see engineering at work. From the bridges we drive on to the technology we use, many of today’s products and services involve some element of engineering. Because of this, jobs related to engineering are in high demand across almost every industry. Across the country, people have taken notice. In fact the number of engineering students in the U.S. increased by 63% between 2006 and 2015, to about 610,000 according to governmental figures. This trend continued in the last few years, with the latest figures reporting 681,848 students enrolled in engineering programs around the country.

While WGU doesn’t currently offer an engineering program, much of the knowledge and skills learned in other online bachelor’s degree programs can help prepare you for a full-time job in a similar profession. For example, both a software development and computer science bachelor's degree at WGU are great alternatives to a engineering degree program and can equip you with training and credentials that will help you succeed.

If you’re thinking about enrolling in one of the plethora of available engineering programs, whether in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or another similar program, or if you're interested in the field of engineering in general, this guide will explore your education and career options.

Pathways to a Career in Engineering

Whether you're already an engineering student considering if that's really the best choice for you, or any tech-savvy, creative thinker skilled in math, problem-solving, and science, mechanical engineering is a great career choice—but it’s not your only option. In fact, these skills can be applied to a diverse range of full-time engineering-related jobs in software and computing.

LinkedIn shows more than 342,000 engineering job postings that specifically require IT skills—all of which you’ll learn in a software development or computer science degree program. So, while an engineering program can be a good move for some, you may be able to broaden your career options by completing other degree programs.

Here are two WGU online degree programs to consider if you’re thinking about a career related to engineering.

Bachelor of Science in Software Development

If you have an interest in engineering programs but also enjoy technology and coding, an online bachelor degree in software development could be right up your alley. In this online program, you’ll gain a solid foundation in computer programming, software engineering, web development, and application development. Your coursework will teach you how to use specific programming languages and project management methods to design, code, and test techniques used in software development.   

Software developers are the professionals behind the computer programs most of us use every day. They apply computer engineering concepts to design software that addresses a specific need. These technology professionals approach problems with sound logic to develop creative solutions.

In addition to preparing you for a career as a software developer, this online bachelor program can help you build a future as a creator of cutting-edge technology and software. In fact, hardware engineers, network architects, and security analysts are just some of the jobs available to you with a software development degree.   

WGU’s software development degree program provides a solid foundation in computer programming and application development, skills that are needed in many engineering-related roles. Some of the courses at WGU that can prepare you for a career in software engineering include:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms I
  • Advanced Data Management
  • Data Management – Foundations
  • Data Management – Applications
  • Organizational Behavior and Leadership
  • Introduction to IT
  • IT Foundations
  • IT Applications
  • Scripting and Programming - Foundations

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Nearly every industry, especially engineering, relies on computer science experts to contribute to their technology needs. Additionally, many of the skills and knowledge you’ll get in an online program for computer science can be applied to a career in computer engineering or other engineering fields. Courses will help you develop and learn about architecture and systems, data structures, AI and robotics, algorithms, and computer theory. You’ll also study computer systems, design software, and solve problems using computing technologies.

The computer science program at WGU focuses heavily on mathematics and information systems-thinking components, which show up in the calculus, discrete math, data structures, computer architecture, and artificial intelligence courses. Some of the specific courses at WGU that can prepare you for an engineering-related career include:

  • IT Leadership Foundations
  • Business of IT - Project Management
  • Business of IT – Applications
  • Introduction to IT
  • Web Development Foundations
  • Scripting and Programming – Foundations
  • Natural Science Lab
  • Computer Architecture
  • Data Structures and Algorithms I
  • Data Structures and Algorithms II
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Plus, you don’t just graduate with your online bachelor’s degree in computer science. You’ll also get top industry certifications that are crucial to your computer science career success, and skills that you can build on if you want to pursue a computer engineering career.

$119,560

is the national average salary for computer hardware engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Careers in Engineering

With a multitude of jobs open in almost every industry, and many crossovers between different types of engineering, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering, engineering students can explore a variety of career choices. Of course, some engineering jobs will require an engineering degree; however, a large number of tech-focused engineering roles are available to those with an IT degree, like the online degree programs offered at WGU. 

Based on your skills and interests, an online bachelor degree in computer science or software development could be a better fit and give you a broader skill set to work with. To help you better understand your options, here are some jobs you can potentially land with an engineering degree or the degree programs mentioned above.

What Does an Engineer Do?

Engineers combine science, math, and creativity to build and maintain complex systems and structures. They can work with everything from massive architectural constructions and microchips to prosthetics and life-saving drugs. Engineers are constantly innovating to help improve the way we work, communicate, travel, and entertain.

The day-to-day duties of an engineer can vary depending on their specific field, but most do a fair amount of communicating, problem solving, analyzing, and planning.

Engineers can work in a variety of environments depending on their specific field. Some may work in an office setting, while others may work in the field overseeing their projects. There are many crossovers between different types of engineering, such as mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.

What Does a Mechanical Engineer Do?

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields. Mechanical engineering professionals focuses on design and oversee the creation of many products, ranging from medical devices to new batteries. They can also design both power-producing and power-using machines such as electric generators, refrigerators, steam and gas turbines, heating systems, and more.

Similar to other engineers, mechanical engineers utilize computers and computer technology in much of what they do. This helps them create and analyze designs, test machines, and generate specifications for parts.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers are typically responsible for:

-Analyzing problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might solve a particular problem

-Designing or redesigning mechanical and thermal devices or subsystems

-Investigating equipment failures or difficulties 

-Developing and testing prototypes of devices they design

-Analyzing the test results and changing the design or system as needed

-Overseeing the manufacturing process for devices

What Does an Electrical Engineer Do?

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as GPS devices, broadcast and communication systems, power generators, and more. These professionals typically work in industries including manufacturing, telecommunications, and government.

Some of the job duties you can expect as an electrical engineer include:

-Directing the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment

-Investigating complaints or problems and recommending solutions

-Performing detailed calculations to create manufacturing standards and specifications

-Developing testing procedures for electronic equipment

-Inspecting electronic equipment to make sure it’s safe

3%

growth is expected in engineering from now until 2029, according to the BLS.

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers plan and create computer programs and test them to ensure quality. They apply engineering concepts to design software that help solve a problem or meet a need or requirement. Software engineers also work closely with programmers to write software code. A typical work day for a software engineer may include: 

-Analyzing users’ needs and designing software to meet those needs

-Recommending software upgrades for existing programs and systems

-Designing applications or systems and planning how the pieces will work together

-Creating models and diagrams that show programmers the software code needed for an application

-Ensuring that programs function normally through software maintenance and testing

-Documenting applications or systems as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades

What Does a Hardware Engineer Do?

To put it simply, hardware engineers create the physical components that make computers run. But that’s just the start. They also research, develop, and test computer systems such as networks, processors, memory devices, etc. Another important element of a hardware engineer’s job is to identify problems in computer hardware, come up with possible solutions, and explore the best way to implement new changes.

Many of these engineers work for computer companies and component manufacturers, and some work with the government or research companies. Below are some of the responsibilities you would expect as a hardware engineer:

-Designing computer hardware

-Overseeing manufacturing process

-Testing computer products

-Modifying designs

-Guiding installation

-Making updates to existing computer equipment

-Creating blueprints

What Does a Computer Engineer Do?

Computer engineers design, construct, implement, test, and maintain computers and computer hardware systems. They make sure all hardware and software components operate smoothly. Computer engineering professionals can specialize in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile apps, robotics, virtual reality (VR), and more.

Some of the day-to-day activities of a computer engineer might look like:

-Performing hardware analysis of computers and software using technology and testing tools

-Designing and testing computer hardware components such as memory -devices or processors

-Overseeing their organization’s cloud storage to make sure they’re protected and secure

-Developing and installing software systems

-Designing and testing robots

-Testing networks

-Ensuring existing computer systems are up-to-date

Why choose WGU?

Why should you choose a WGU online computer science or software development degree over an engineering program somewhere else? For starters, we’re dedicated to helping you achieve your educational goals by providing flexible online degree programs that fit your lifestyle. But that’s just the beginning. There are several more reasons WGU’s online degree programs are a great fit for students:

It’s affordable.

Tuition is charged per six-month term—not per credit hour—which means you can complete more courses in one term without paying more money. 

It’s at your pace.

Competency-based education means you can use your knowledge to your advantage. Move through courses at your own pace to accelerate your online program and graduate faster. 

It’s accessible.

We offer scholarships and financial aid to help with our already-affordable tuition, making college education accessible for even more students.

It’s career-focused.

The coursework in our online programs is directly applicable to your career and provides you with a portfolio of relevant work before you even graduate, which can make you even more marketable to future employers. 

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Software Development – B.S.

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: several CIW and CompTIA included in this program.

Certified Internet Web certification included:

  • CIW User Interface Designer

CompTIA certifications included:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Project +

Software development is the second-highest rated specialty within IT. Secure your future with a degree and additional certifications.

Computer Science – B.S.

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task: ...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your...

Problem solvers and math lovers needed! Your task:

Lay the groundwork for the computing breakthroughs that will enable tomorrow's technologies. 

  • Time: 70% of graduates in similar programs finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Transfer: Your previous college coursework and existing certifications may waive course requirements, helping you finish even faster.

You'll have the opportunity to earn these certifications:

  • CompTIA Project+
  • Axelos ITIL Foundation

Professionals who need the skills a computer science degree provides include computer systems analysts, computer programmers, artificial intelligence specialists, software engineers, machine learning engineers, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions about Engineering Careers

Engineering can be divided into six major categories, including mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, management, and geotechnical, with hundreds of different subcategories of engineering under each.

An engineering degree can prepare you for a variety of jobs including:

  • Civil engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Electrical engineer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Mining engineer
  • Marine engineer
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Materials engineer
  • Petroleum engineer
  • Computer engineer

Keep in mind that an IT-related degree can also give you the education necessary to become a computer engineer or software engineer.  

The average salary for an engineer in the United States is $70,510, but that number can vary widely depending education, certifications, additional skills, and experience.

According to Indeed, the highest paying jobs in engineering are related to technology and healthcare, specifically those who handle large amounts of data for companies. For example, the national average salary for a data engineer is $127,455 and $86,086 for a computer engineer—both much higher than other engineering salaries.

It depends on what kind of engineering job you want to pursue. For example, if you want to be an industrial engineer, an engineering degree is the right choice. But if you seek a more specialized role, such as a computer engineer, a computer science or IT-related degree can provide the specific skills and education you need to succeed.