Updated on June 13, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for associates in engineering.

Compare Popular Online Engineering Programs

Earning an associate degree in engineering means you’re going to be more hands-on than engineers who have earned their four-year bachelor’s degrees. With an associate in engineering, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to peer within a machine or structure so you can learn how it works. You should also be able to work as a member of a team, helping to manufacture, test, and assist with the operations of an engineering firm. However, because this is a relatively low-level degree, there are online options that can help you earn your associate degree and prepare for a bachelor's online, without ever leaving home.

At your level, you’ll be tasked with problem-solving issues in the projects that will be assigned to you. Because there are many more jobs than engineers, you might be able to expect to be hired relatively quickly.

Entering college at the community college level allows you to keep costs down on what is often a very expensive undertaking. You’ll learn similar skills that students in a bachelor of engineering program do; however, you’ll get less technical and theoretical learning overall, whether you attend an online or on-campus program.


  • You’ll find out that an associate degree in engineering is highly career-focused. This kind of degree program allows you to earn a higher salary, simply because your education is all relevant to your career.
  • You’ll also benefit from the flexibility of an associate in engineering degree. You have the option of choosing face-to-face, online, or hybrid classes (hybrid programs are a combination of face-to-face and online courses).
  • Most significant of all, the cost of an associate degree is much more affordable than that of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. When you graduate, you’ll have about half the debt that an undergraduate engineering graduate has whether you attend online or on-campus.
  • You’re also less likely to have to work while you are in school, though this isn’t true of every community college student. Because you don’t have to work to earn for your tuition, with work study or trying to start paying back school loans early, you are more likely to graduate than you are to drop out of school due to expense.


  • As affordable as an online associate degree in engineering is, you still won’t have the same amount of knowledge and theory that a graduate of an online or on-campus four-year engineering degree program has. They learn how to use both analysis and modeling to find solutions to problems and create engineering designs.
  • Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs have the knowledge and skills needed to take part in designing the infrastructure of bridges, roads, and buildings if they earned a civil engineering degree: just one of the degree specializations open to them at that level. Even more significant, engineers with four-year degrees have the ability to identify new techniques, methods, and theories as they solve problems in engineering.
  • Your associate degree will focus more on getting you ready for a specific work than it will providing you with theory that could take you into a variety of positions. You’ll be able to consult on the development of electronic designs and also take part in research and design implementation, but you won’t usually be able to work without supervision or lead a team.
  • The biggest disadvantage is that you will enter an engineering firm as a technologist. If you completed a two-year degree, you are a technician. This contrasts with four-year graduates who are entry-level engineers.

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Certificate Vs. Associate's

There are plenty of differences between a two-year associate degree and a certificate that might enable you to enter the engineering world. Because each certificate is so focused, you’ll only learn one small part of a large field. On the flip side, you’ll quickly learn the skills you need now so you can begin working as a specialist. Earning certificates and listing them on your resume is also a good practice. However, you may not be able to earn most certificates without at least some preparatory education, such as an online associate degree. After all, engineering is a complicated career, requiring an in-depth educational background. Many certificates may even require that you earn a bachelor's before you can take the certification courses.

If you decide to earn an associate of applied science (AAS) degree, you will gain a much broader knowledge base. A two-year degree also makes it easier for you to return to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, which a certificate cannot prepare you for. Bachelor's are often available at least partially online, though some hands-on components cannot be completed through an online learning platform.

What Engineering Associate Degrees are Available?

  • Associate Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology:
    An associate degree in electronics engineering technology is an ideal introduction to the world of engineering. It provides students with a comprehensive foundation in basic electrical, mechanical and computer science principles. In addition to covering essential topics such as circuit analysis, signal processing and computing fundamentals, an electronics engineering technology program delivers the hands-on skills needed for entry-level employment in various fields. This type of program offers unique opportunities for professionals looking to gain knowledge and experience in both hardware and software components of electronic systems. Students who successfully complete these types of engineering technology programs will have acquired valuable technical skills such as diagnosing problems with electronic systems, developing test plans, constructing circuits and designing printed circuit boards (PCBs). They will be prepared to work with a variety of industry tools including oscilloscopes, multimeters and logic probes.
  • Associate of Applied Science Mechanical Engineering Technology:
    This applied science degree focuses more on the “science” of engineering, focusing away from general education and onto the things which will help you succeed in a position as an engineer. Future mechanical engineering technicians take courses in computer aided engineering analysis and design, computer aided drafting (CAD), computer numerical control programming (CNC), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), and engineering mechanics. However, many mechanical engineering technicians find that it may be difficult to earn an online or traditional bachelor’s degree in the future, since you will have skipped over most of the necessary general education courses you will need to complete.
  • Associate in Engineering Science:
    This program is intended to be an equal to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in engineering. This program was created for a high level of structure, emphasizing science, math, and engineering. Because the general education courses are taken in an undergraduate program, students in this program focus most on engineering courses, but will prepare you to earn a bachelor’s degree in the future. These are more theoretical and less hands-on than an applied science degree and may be easier to find online.
  • Associate of Arts in Engineering (AAE):
    This program meets lower-division general education rules for a four-year university so that you can easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree should you choose to at a later time. Associate of Arts degrees are generally easier to find online because of the lack of hands-on science courses.
  • Associate of Science in Engineering (ASE):
    Students in these programs learn about engineering design processes and the materials that are used to make equipment and other devices specific to the program. The hands-on learning is based on both scientific and technological principles. At the very least, you could be able to complete the general education components through online learning.

Admission Requirements to Enter an Associates Program

Students who are in high school and want to enter a 2-year associate degree program in engineering must complete the mandatory high school subjects as required by their state. When they are ready, they can apply for admission to each school in which they are interested. Most schools need to receive all official high school diploma, GED, or home school transcripts or certificates before they will make admission decisions. For the same reasons, you should also submit ACT or SAT entrance exam scores to each community college you are considering.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate Degree in Engineering?

This will vary depending on the community college and degree type you choose. You are required to complete all required courses in your major. If your engineering degree program requires you to take some general education courses along with your core courses, then your time in school will likely last longer.

These programs usually consist of at least 60 credit hours. An AS in engineering or engineering technology may take as few as 18 months or as many as 24 months. If you are an adult student with a job, you may be enrolled in a flexible program that takes up to three years to complete. Also, online and on-campus students will need to provide the same documents in order to apply for admission to any college program.

Potential Careers in Engineering with an Associate Degree

  • Production Technician:
    In this position, you would work directly with items being produced. Your specific job role would be to ensure they are ready for additional production and assembly. You may exercise quality control, run machines, follow safety regulations, and use basic manual manufacturing and math abilities.
    Average Salary: $45,200
  • Quality Control (QC) Technician:
    A major part of your employment involves acting as a final quality check before products are sent to be shipped to customers. Your main role is to alert supervisors of any quality issues that you notice and make sure they are corrected before an entire batch of products are completed and sent to customers.
    Average Salary: $45,200
  • Field Service Technician:
    In this position, you will work out in the field, providing support at customers’ locations. These services include set up and troubleshoot systems/equipment installation. You should have excellent people skills because you will be the face of your employer every day of the week. Along with good product knowledge, you should be able to come up with solutions that don’t come from the user manual.
    Average Salary: $50,500
  • Computer Aided Design (CAD) Drafter:
    You use CAD systems to make drawings that will be used in product creation or building construction. You’ll fill in design drawings with the correct codes and specifications for the product’s design. You can expect to work directly with clients who need designs and must also be able to work well with others and take directions so you create a design of the highest quality.
    Average Salary: $46,900
  • Manufacturing Technician:
    In this position you’ll run the operation equipment and put together components. Being able to follow guidelines and blueprints is mandatory. You will work directly with clients, putting into place process improvements to bring costs down and improve the quality of the products your employer manufactures.
    Median annual salary: $50,300

Salary by Occupation

Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Civil Engineer $58,200 $75,000 $98,200
CAD Technician $40,500 $48,500 $58,300
Marine Engineer $60,500 $83,200 $95,900
Water Resources Engineer $60,000 $75,000 $105,500
Electrical Engineer $76,000 $84,600 $110,400
Construction Manager $77,900 $76,400 $91,700
Aerospace Engineer $69,600 $93,900 $133,900
Mechanical Engineer $63,000 $80,000 $101,300

Options to Advance

If you hope to advance in your engineering career after having earned an associate degree, the best option is to gain more education. Certificates can gain you greater specialization and you may eventually have enough experience to earn the right to lead a team of your own within whatever industry you gained said experience. However, that won’t let you move into management or transfer into other, perhaps more interesting, sectors.

Your best bet is to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s if you have the time and inclination. Because engineering is so specialized, moving into any of the higher levels, and past the position of technician, will require you to learn more about the field in general. Gaining experience and expertise will mean spending the time to learn more and then gaining the experience to back your knowledge up.

Find Your Engineering Online College

Best Associate of Science in Engineering Programs

  • Glendale Community College
    Glendale, Arizona

    GCC’s engineering program gives students the opportunity to complete the first two years toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Classes in GCC’s engineering program prepare students to transfer into mechanical, electrical, computer systems, biomedical, aerospace, civil, chemical, industrial, materials science, or environmental engineering.

    Degrees Offered:

    • CAD/CADD Drafting and/or Design Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician – Associate Degree
  • Johnston Community College
    Smithfield, North Carolina

    The engineering department at JCC offers a degree in engineering. Students are required to complete a planned program of study that includes 60 semester credits. The program includes general education courses in oral communication, reading, writing, fundamental math skills, and basic computer use.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Pre-Engineering – Associate Degree
    • Electromechanical and Instrumentation and Maintenance Technologies/Technicians - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Engineering Technology - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Manufacturing Engineering Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
  • Washington State Community College
    Marietta, Ohio

    WSCC’s engineering technology program is actually made up of three discrete programs: Auto/Diesel, Engineering, and Industrial. This program is designed to give you hands-on experience in the classroom as well as real-world learning situations. You’ll be doing much more than class lectures.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Engineering, General – Associate Degree
    • Drafting and Design Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Drafting/Design Engineering Technician/Technologies – Associate Degree
    • Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians – 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Industrial Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Instrumentation Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Technology/Technician – Associate Degree
    • Petroleum Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
  • Quinsigamond Community College
    Worcester, Massachusetts

    The engineering program at QCC places a strong emphasis on math and sciences. Students will be ready to transfer to a four-year college or university, where they can continue their engineering, sciences or life sciences degrees.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Pre-Engineering – Associate Degree
    • Computer Engineering Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Electromechanical Technology/Electromechanical Engineering Technology - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Energy Management and Systems Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Laser and Optical Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Manufacturing Engineering Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Telecommunications Technology/Technician – Associate Degree
  • Tulsa Community College
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    TCC’s engineering program focuses only on mechanical engineering and makes up the first two years of classwork leading to a professional degree at a four-year university. This program helps to set the foundation for a student to become a successful engineer.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Pre-Engineering – Associate Degree
    • Aeronautics/Aerospace Engineering Technician/Technology – Associate Degree
    • Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician - <1 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
    • Engineering-Related Technologies – Associate Degree
    • Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians – 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree

Colleges that Offer Online Associate Degrees in Engineering

  • ECPI University
    Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas

    The mechanical engineering technology major at ECPI was created for people who want to work with their hands. This major allows them to learn how to determine how various machines work so they can recreate or even make new machines.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Penn Foster College
    Scottsdale, Arizona

    Penn Foster offers several features that make attending school online even more convenient. The learning platform is mobile-friendly. You can attend class when you have the time rather than on a set schedule. Keep track of your goals so you can customize schedules as needed. This program is all-inclusive, enabling you to contact professors and teaching assistants.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science in Engineering Technology (A.S.-ET)
  • University of Massachusetts at Lowell
    Lowell, Massachusetts

    Students who enter the mechanical engineering technology program at UMass-Lowell receive a broad-based education that offers both technical skills and engineering technology learning. Students prepare to work in the design, testing, and manufacturing of devices, products, and systems.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associates in Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Grantham University
    Lenexa, Kansas

    Grantham University’s engineering management technology department has one goal: to provide each student with both the skills and knowledge to begin working as technicians. Each student must complete mandatory classes, which establish a foundation in business, circuit theory, and analog electronics.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science, Engineering Management Technology
  • California University of Pennsylvania
    California, Pennsylvania

    The online technical studies associate degree gives students the opportunity to earn a degree so they can enter into a quickly growing and evolving technical field. The program itself is flexible, meaning students can customize courses and credits, allowing them to create a skill set that concentrates on technical skills of the student’s choice.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Science Technical Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I get out of an associate degree in engineering?

This is a reasonable question. After all, engineering is a field in which everyone knows you need plenty of education to succeed. So, what does earning an associate degree earn you? The answer isn’t that difficult – you’ll gain the chance to earn experience. With nothing but an associate degree in engineering, you could find work as a mechanical technician or a research assistant. This can look great on an application to graduate school or on a resume. There’s nothing like already having a work history when you do finally graduate from you bachelor’s or master’s program.

What is the engineering fundamentals program?

The engineering fundamentals program is a comprehensive course designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge they need to pursue a degree in engineering. The program covers a broad range of topics such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, and materials science. Each of these subject areas are taught with an eye towards preparing students for their future studies in engineering.

The program is divided into two parts: an introductory section and an advanced section. During the introductory portion, students learn about basic engineering principles and gain skills that will serve them well throughout their studies. They also explore how different fields like applied mathematics can be used to solve practical problems. In the advanced section of the program, students delve deeper into specific topics such as thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. This allows them to develop a greater understanding of how these core concepts are related to one another and how they can be applied in real-world scenarios.

How do I get financial aid for school?

For many students, attending college is a dream that can quickly become an intimidating reality when the inevitable question of how to pay for it comes up. With the cost of tuition continuing to rise, many are unaware of the available avenues for financial aid. Whether you’re a high school student looking ahead or already in college and needing help paying your bills, there are resources that can provide assistance with college costs.

The first step in getting started on your path to securing financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will determine whether or not you qualify for federal grants and loans along with other forms of aid such as work-study programs and scholarships. After submitting your application, you can monitor its status online and receive information about any awards you may be eligible for.

How much can you make with various associate engineering degrees?

As with any degree, what you can earn depends on the role you fill, the company you work for, where you live, and more. However, for those who are planning to earn an associate degree in engineering, you may be able to find some slightly more specific information on what you might earn depending on the specific engineering degree you earn. These numbers are based on information gathered from all over the country by Payscale.com.

  • Associate of Science, Engineering Science: $54,000/year
  • Associate of Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering Technology: $56,000/year
  • Associate of Arts, Engineering: $64,000/year
  • Associate of Applied Science, Electronic Engineering Technology: $65,000/year
  • Associate of Science, Engineering: $69,000/year

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