Mechanical Technology Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

About this article
Find out what you can do with a mechanical technology degree. Read about requirements and the pros and cons of an associate's vs. bachelor's degree in mechanical technology.
View available schools

Mechanical Technology Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

If you're interested in mechanical technology, you may consider an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering technology. According to ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), engineering technology programs focus on the application and implementation of technology. Engineering technologists and technicians typically work alongside engineers, assisting them with vital tasks, like testing equipment and drawing layouts.

If you're considering becoming a mechanical engineering technician, keep in mind that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for these professionals will be just four percent from 2010-2020, which is slower than average. The decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector was expected to hamper employment growth. The BLS projections for related careers over the same time period aren't much different; for instance, electro-mechanical technicians and drafters could experience one percent and six percent growth, respectively.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Prospective engineering technicians and drafters Individuals who would rather work as technologists or in a management position
Common Career Paths (with median annual salary) - Mechanical engineering technician ($51,000)*
- Electro-mechanical technicians ($51,000)*
- Mechanical drafters ($49,000)*
- Mechanical engineering technologists ($35,000 - $80,000)**
- Product design engineer ($44,000 - $88,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None beyond the typical associate's program - Senior project
- Senior seminar
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability No No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Payscale.com (August 2012 figures, 10-90th percentile)

Mechanical Technology Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's programs emphasize both applied engineering principles and the necessary technical skills. These programs may offer you concentrations in areas like mechanical design and manufacturing. In many cases, you may complete a co-op for elective credit. The BLS indicated that graduates from these programs often work as technicians.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Learn practical skills
  • May be transferable to a 4-year mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology program
  • Few general education requirements

Cons

  • Degree may not be sufficient for advancement opportunities
  • May need to graduate from an ABET-accredited program
  • May not qualify you to work as a technologist

Courses and Requirements

Many of the courses in an associate's program include significant laboratory time. In some courses, more time may be devoted to labs than lectures. These 2-year programs include supporting coursework in physics, trigonometry and English. Common course topics may include:

  • Engineering design
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Technical communications
  • Manufacturing process
  • Manufacturing quality control

Online Degree Options

Due to the significant lab requirements and hands-on learning, online programs are not available. Some general education courses may be available in a distance-learning format.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Because mechanical engineering technicians are often concerned with quality control, you may consider earning one of several certifications through the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Some of the relevant certifications include quality technician and quality engineer. These certifications require a combination of education and experience and a passing score on an exam. While programming courses aren't always required in associate's programs, you may consider taking an elective course in a popular programming language, like Visual BASIC.

Mechanical Technology Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering technology include a broad curriculum with topics in manufacturing, computer science and mechanical technology. The supporting courses in these programs are similar to an associate's program with topics in chemistry, physics and trigonometry. Co-operative education may be built into the curricula of some programs. According to the BLS, graduates of these programs are typically referred to as technologists.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • May prepare you for management positions
  • Technical focus areas may be offered
  • May open up other career possibilities in engineering

Cons

  • Pay may not be significantly more than for a graduate of an associate's program*
  • May need to graduate from ABET-accredited program
  • May have to complete more general education courses than in an associate's program

Source: *Payscale.com (August 2012 figures)

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering technology include management courses that prepare you for managing technicians and other support staff. These curricula provide you with training in the design, production and installation of technology. Some of the courses you may take include:

  • Strength of materials
  • Industrial organization
  • Electronic fundamentals
  • Applied mechanisms

Online Degree Options

Similar to associate's programs, bachelor's programs have significant lab requirements and are not offered online. Some campus-based programs may allow you to take some courses online, such as those covering general education topics.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You may also consider ASQ certifications. The benefit to completing a bachelor's degree program is that your degree will count for more years toward the experience requirement. You may take advantage of advanced technology, like plasma cutters and hydraulic presses, that will provide you with practical experience. You may also take courses that cover Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Engineering software.

Popular Schools

Featured Schools

Excelsior College

  • BS in Nuclear Engineering Technology (Nuclear Leadership)
  • BS in Nuclear Engineering Technology (Without Concentration)
  • BS in Technology (Nuclear Technologies)

What is your highest level of education completed?