What difference in education occurs between two graduates, one with an Engineering Technology degree (be it Civil, Mechanical, Electrical...) and the other with the equivalent Engineering degree "proper?"

Assuming both degrees are 4 year degrees and both are able to become PEs, how do potential employers feel about the different degrees? Is there a difference in pay?

What options does the graduate with an ET degree have to advance his/her education? For example, can one earn a masters with an ET degree?

I'm looking for advantages/disadvantages of either degree in terms of employability and career progress, from the point of view of an engineer who has hired people with these backgrounds.


4 Answers 4


One is training to be an engineer and one is training to be an engineering tecnologist.

The best way to see the differences are to look at the course curriculum for each:

both are able to become PEs

This depends on your local rules for becoming a PE. Also note that being a PE isn't required for a lot of ME & EE engineering jobs in the USA because they fall under industrial exemption. Canada and other countries where Engineer is a protected title have different rules (in Canada Engineering Technologists with a BTech degree can apply to get PEng license which gives them the engineer title mentioned above).

I was hoping to get answers from the point of view from an engineer who has hired people with these backgrounds.

I haven't directly hired both but I've interviewed both and personally the question comes down to what is needed. To me it's like asking if you should go to a Dentist (DDS) or a Medical Doctor (MD), they both share the word "doctor" but they are different jobs with different training.

If I need a technician I wouldn't hire an engineer. If I needed an engineer I wouldn't hire a technician.

Like all jobs and majors the longer you are out the less it matters as knowledge learned on the job overshadows schooling. So 5-10 years down the road both could have the potential to end up in the same spot.

Anecdotally engineers make more than technicians but it still comes down to company and location.

Edit: I want to point out that I'm using technician/technologist interchangeably here. I've heard it both ways but I know some areas may be separate jobs. The wiki on technologist is pretty good.

And don't pick your answer based on which one makes more. It's irrelevant since I know a lot of people that have tried to force their way through one way or the other and ended up hating their education/jobs because of it. I would explore both and see which one you like better.

  • $\begingroup$ Course titles are misleading. When I was working on my BSME, I helped my friend who was working on a BSMET. His course titles were similar to mine but the technology programs were MAJORLY watered down. When I see somebody with a technology degree, I know they did not get anything like what the engineering curriculum requires. Five or ten years down the road, things level out a bit but the degree will always read the same. Anybody that went through the rigor of an engineering program will see that and know, possibly in the back of their mind, that this person is not a "real" engineer. $\endgroup$ Jun 15, 2018 at 4:13

IMHO Engineering Technology degrees focus on Application engineering whereas engineering degrees are very scientific based. A review of the web links from @JedF support this fact

A quick compare of the above two curriculum's indicate the inclusion of course like Product and Program Management in EET curriculum and an absence of such courses in its counterpart. Based on my interaction with peers following EET programs it was quite evident the EET curriculum focuses more on laboratory base hands on study approach whereas the contemporary EE programs were more scientific base curriculums.

These support the claim that EET programs are aligned with application engineering where as the contemporary EE programs are aligned with industries requiring deep technical analysis. Both programs add value to the engineering discipline.

From an employability stand point for the most part EET degree candidates excel in hand on base work environment where as contemporary EE degree candidates excel in research oriented work environments. Good example would be that EET degree based would perform a required resistance calculation to an accuracy of 2 decimal places and use a 10% tolerance resistor where as a EE degree based engineer would do a same calculation to 10 decimal places and use a 1% tolerance resistor. Both get the job done but slightly different approaches.

From an education standpoint there are many Masters in Electrical Engineering Technology programs. One such is the Masters in Electrical Engineering Technology Program at Purdue University.

Unfortunately, contemporary EE degree candidates attain a slightly higher starting salary but there are many EET degree engineers who have obtain MBA’s and have gone on to hold executive leadership positions in reputable organizations.

At the end of the day what matters most is not the letter after your name, but what you do with those skills. There are many with and without letter after the name that has made a significant impact to the engineering discipline as well as society. Some of them are

I don’t own any apple products, but when I learnt the passing away of Steve Jobs it gave me goosebumps. People left flowers in front of Apple stores. To me that was a confirmation of the impact Steve Jobs had made in the society.

Besides obtaining an engineering degree it is also important to

  • Develop soft skills
  • Develop Leadership skills
  • Develop Communication skills
  • Have the ability to work in a team
  • Be respectful and considerate toward others

The above skills will have a significant impact on your career after you obtain your educational credentials.

If you can spare 75 minutes, I suggest watching this youtube video Last Lecture by Professor Randy Pausch.


Engineering technology is worthless compared to a real engineering degree. My son has the technology degree, I have a real engineering degree.


This is kind of a follow up on what @blacksmith37 wrote:

When I was in engineering school (BSME 1981), I worked in the lab for both ME and MET classes and helped my friend with his BSMET homework. My observation was, many of classes had the same name but no where near the same content. In the mechanical engineering curriculum, we learned the how and why while the technology "equivalent" got magic formulas and cookbook methods. The technology classes were majorly watered down.

When you walk out the door with your newly minted engineering degree, you can expect a job doing engineering. When you have a new technology degree, you can expect to be a technician, doing the bidding of the engineer. With a technology degree, you may have an easier time getting jobs but part of that is because of the lower salary.

Something I have observed is "Little Brother Syndrome." If you were ever a technician, you will always be thought of as a technician. My friend got a masters in engineering and had to change to a different company to be taken seriously.

You can get a PE license with an engineering technology degree? News to me. A PE is vital if you are a civil engineer. If you are a mechanical, it's kind of nice but mostly ignored. One PE I know says the only time his seal is out of the case is when he is giving somebody a recommendation for a PE license.

This is not to say the Engineering Technology degrees are without value. The BS Engineering Technology people I have worked with have been super-technicians. Anybody that has ever plugged in a cable or changed the oil in a car can be called a technician. The Engineering Technology graduates are worthy of the title.

As an example, Years ago, I worked in R&D for a big plastics company. In my group, the "engineers" (most of whom had PhDs in Mechanical Engineering (I think one was a PE)) would come up with an idea for a new way to do something. He'd calculate out what's involved and satisfy himself that it would work and go to the MET to make a prototype. The MET would draw it up, checking with the ME along the way and send it to the shop to be made. Once it was ready, the two of them worked in the lab to get it working and once it was on the air, the ME would say, "I'd like to see what the results are for a 24 hour test, checking the temperature every ten minutes." Then either the MET or a generic technician would actually run the test. Maybe the MET would set up the data logger and the technician would babysit it along the way.

They are different disciplines with a lot of cross over. Some of the engineers could do everything from one end to the other. (One of the engineers I worked with would go to the model shop and make his own prototypes.) Others would avoid getting their hands dirty.

  • $\begingroup$ What do you know? I commented on this in 2018. I think I said it better then but this is more complete. "Take two, they're small." $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2022 at 20:12

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