Civil, Electric or Computer: What Type of Engineering Degree is Right for Me?

There are nearly as many forms of engineering as there are engineers; three of the more prominent types of engineering are civil, computer and electrical. Selecting which to pursue a degree in can be a challenge, but the information below may offer some help and insight into which to study for the kind of career a student wants to have.


Civil Engineering

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that civil engineering—which treats the design, construction, operation and maintenance of large infrastructure projects—is projected to see a faster-than-average increase in available jobs through 2022. The Bureau also reports that the median wage for civil engineers in 2012 was nearly $80,000. Given job growth potential and a high average wage, as well as a direct engagement with the structures that make civilized life possible, civil engineering is a good career choice, and a degree from one of the many online engineering colleges would therefore be a good one to earn.


Computer Engineering

Just as civil engineers design, build, operate and maintain the structures of civil society, computer engineers design, build, operate and maintain the information structures upon which a good life increasingly depends. While it is the case that it is software that shapes the flow of information, without the hardware that is the province of the computer engineer, no software actually functions or, indeed, matters. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational growth will be slower than average through 2022, but computer engineer wages average well over six figures annually, or more than $48/hr. Hiring odds are longer than those for civil engineers, perhaps, but the rewards are potentially greater for those who seek computer engineering degrees.


Electrical Engineering

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports two types of job under the rough heading of “electrical engineering”: electrical and electronics engineers. The former designs, develops, tests and builds such things as electric motors and power generators, while the latter designs and develops smaller-scale items such as communication devices and personal electronics. Both fields are expected to see slow job growth, and both average pay approaching $90,000 annually or over $43/hr.


One advantage that the fields have over many other engineering disciplines, though, is their affiliation with IEEE, one of the world’s preeminent bodies for the development and dissemination of knowledge and understanding. So large and diverse a professional organization as IEEE offers much in the way of career resources, its broad and unified membership providing benefits few other societies can match—and electrical and electronics engineers are optimally poised to join, during and after they earn their degrees.


Each engineering field has something to recommend it, of course, even the others not listed here. Even so, the information about civil, computer and electrical engineering listed above can serve as a guide in finding out which engineering degree is right for each student.

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