Engineering Technology Majors

I am a math tutor and have tutored students in calculus for Engineering Technology majors. As far as I can see, the difference from regular engineering majors is they do not require math passed Calculus II and maybe do not require chemistry. I guess they might be an alternative for students weak in math. They could be an option for a student who cannot continue with engineering because of the math. Obviously, as a math expert with a good academic background, I might look down on that sort of thing. However, there are probably many jobs for which the math is not needed. I was wondering what people thought of them and how they are viewed.

I’m not an engineer, but my son has been researching which direction to go in. It seems that Engineering is the big picture and engineering technology is implementing that picture. One is more theoretical and the other more hands on. And, yes, there is a difference in both requirements to enter programs as well as course work once you are in the program.

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You are correct in that the Engineering Technology degree won’t have the same math and often general science requirements that a BS degree will have. There are many good jobs that will only require the Engineering Technology degree, and it can be an easier degree to earn, which might make the difference between getting a degree and not. The Engineering Technology programs tend to focus more on the how-to, and less on the theory. This is good because students see a direct connection with practice pretty early in their studies, but also can be bad because it can limit the direction one’s career can go. Depending on the person and their goals and interests, Engineering Technology might be the way to go. No shame in doing what works for you.


Some pages on the difference:

But note that engineering technology is less common than engineering as a college major.

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Yeah, I was helping a student get through calculus, which was all the math he needed. I do not know much about engineering or civil engineering. However, I was a little surprised he was taking a course on materials costing and another with a spreadsheet making calculations about concrete. It seemed like a different approach from what you would study at MIT or wherever.

Engineering technician here (electronic). I have an Associates degree that has opened doors to a great career. I took calc 1 while getting my degree but it was not required and I haven’t had to use any calculus to do my.job. I work with a mixture of technicians and engineers, mechanical, electrical, as well as a couple other STEM degreed majors. At my particular job site there is a separation of duties but there is also some overlap. Technicians and engineers routinely work together on projects and do assist each other with their individual tasks. It works for our particular industry and I believe leads to a stronger team.

In general engineering technology is more “hands on”. Obviously there are some engineers that are also very “hands on”. In my world it takes a mixture of talent and knowledge to get the job done. Not everyone is good with their hands and not everyone is capable of advanced math. Everyone has talents that they bring to the game. I personally enjoy playing a role where I can use my knowledge and dexterity to perform my job. I like using my hands and don’t mind “getting dirty”.

Engineering technology can be a great option for a student that might not have the math ability to be an engineer but wants to work in an engineering world. It also can be a great option for someone that wants to be “hands on”. I might liken it to an RN compared to a general practitioner. Both have jobs in the same field but with a bit different tasks. Each is familiar with the others roles and sometimes they can perhaps overlap.

For those interested, engineering technology can also pay very well. In my industry, unless one moves into higher level management, the pay is pretty equivalent between engineering and technology roles. Obviously that can be vastly different in other industries or roles.


Tech degrees are invaluable for bringing in much-needed skills to the profession. In addition to what has already been mentioned, sales and marketing can be a lucrative career path for a tech major. Techs understand the technology of a product or process, and often communicate with customers better than a “math-minded” engineer can.


I don’t really have anything to add that hasn’t been said already, but I feel the need to breathe a sign of relief here. This thread is much more levelheaded than some very similar threads that were highly active in the earlier days of CC. I saw the topic and got worried briefly that this would veer off into something that needed heavy moderation, but it hasn’t.

Keep up the good work, folks!


It is an interesting prospective that people with weaker math skills might seek engineering technology… Just an anecdote, but my D22 who is outstanding in math (multivar calc class at 15 years old with straight As), however looking at a program at Purdue that is in Polytechnic, not Engineering, because she wants more hands on degree and get into action rather sooner than later with her classes. Which actually aligns with the comments in this thread!

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You can do both and she should.

I would not recommend a student with her math background be a tech unless that’s what she REALLY wants. Schools like Cal Poly, WPI, Purdue, and quite a few others do meaningful hands on stuff on day one.

I’m in no way maligning techs. They do important work. I sort of look at it like actor and director. Both jobs are important. There are actor/directors though, as there are heavy lifting, full math, hands on engineers. My son is one. PM me if you want to know more.

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I do have the some reservations about the program in Polytech. She is going for Cybersecurity and refused to even consider engineering or comp sci in the least. My only hope she picks up a minor in math.

She’ll do well wherever she lands as long as it’s of her doing.


She may have done this already but it might be good to talk with someone about the cybersecurity field and where she may go with it. I’d have her talk with someone in the field and at a university. I suspect that the field is changing very quickly and if she is talented she may find that a more comprehensive degree might serve her better as the field changes. This more food for thought than a suggestion. I could just see someone who is very bright getting bored if her talents aren’t utilized. Please understand I understand nothing about the field or the degree.