How to Become a Technical Engineer

Technical engineers specialize in such areas as aerospace.
Technical engineers specialize in such areas as aerospace. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

If you dream of building bridges, developing a new electronic application or maintaining aircraft for the safety of pilots and astronauts, the field of technical engineering is ideal. Before enrolling in a program, zero in on an area of technical engineering that interests you to find the right fit. Once you complete your studies, you will be ready to embark on an exciting career in technical engineering and receive on-the-job training.

Take courses in math and science on the high school level in preparation for admission to a technical engineering training program.

Investigate training programs at technical schools, community colleges, vocational-technical schools, in the Armed Forces and at the extension division of a university or college. While some employers in the field may not require formal instruction and instead offer on the job training, most prefer a candidate with a two-year associate degree or other post-secondary education in engineering technology.

Choose a technical engineering program to prepare you for the specialty you will go into. ABET, the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, accredits most two-year associate degree programs in around 700 specialties. Technical engineers generally specialize in fields like aerospace, civil engineering, electronic engineering or electrical engineering. Technical institutes provide programs with hands-on training and less theory than community colleges as well as two-year associate degree programs similar to a college program.

Take a range of technical engineering courses. An aspiring technical engineer would be required to take courses like construction estimation, steel design, water resources technology and construction surveying along with math and science courses liek physics, geometry and calculus.

Tips & Warnings

  • Research the technical engineering program carefully. The courses offered in each program depend on the specialty the program is preparing students to enter. Some programs provide more training in such areas as mechanical design and thermodynamics for mechanical engineering, while others provide coursework in electrical circuits and microprocessors for electrical engineering. Other programs prepare students for the specialty of environmental engineering with courses in hazardous materials and environmental regulations.
  • Be aware that obtaining an associate degree in pre-engineering is not the same as obtaining an associate degree in engineering technology. The pre-engineering program is more academic and provides less hands-on experience, and graduates may find it difficult to compete in the job market.
  • Military technical training programs, while held in high esteem by employers, may be narrowly focused, and those who complete the program may need additional training for a civilian job.
  • Students who complete an associate degree in technical engineering may not receive credit for all of their coursework if they decide to transfer to a four-year engineering program.

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