2021 Best Online Associate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

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Online associate degrees in mechanical engineering can help you gain in-demand knowledge and get ready for the workforce.

Associate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

In potentially two years or less, you may earn a degree that can help you get an engineering technician position with a manufacturer, a research lab, or the government.

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A mechanical engineering associate’s degree can also help set you up for future educational success. It may be just the first step toward earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering and becoming a fully qualified engineer.

Online Associates in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineers working in a factory

Associate’s degree programs in mechanical engineering typically introduce concepts like statics, mechanics, and robotics. You’ll likely explore the different parts of a machine and examine how electronics function.

Design may be a major topic in your curriculum. You’ll probably learn how to use computer programs to assist in the design process. Engineering studies typically involve a good deal of math and science. You will likely take classes in calculus and physics, and there may be lab components.

All these courses can help prepare you to join the workforce as an engineering technician after graduation. Technicians are not full-fledged engineers, but they do engineering work and provide support and assistance to engineers by troubleshooting issues, preparing diagrams and checking for product quality.

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Engineering technician jobs are often available in manufacturing settings. Top industries for mechanical engineering technicians include transportation, machinery and computer manufacturing. You might also be involved in construction, work for the government, or engage in scientific engineering research.

Mechanical engineering shares some common foundations with other engineering disciplines, such as industrial and civil engineering. You might be able to work in those fields as well.

Good-paying jobs are available for engineering technicians, but you may want to go further with your career. An associate degree can take you halfway to a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Once you have your bachelor’s, you’ll be able to apply for engineer positions.

Mechanical Engineering Careers & Salaries

Mechanical Engineering Careers & Salaries

A mechanical engineering associate’s degree can help you develop fundamental knowledge about parts, materials, and technology. You may put that know-how to work in a variety of settings as a member of an engineering team.

Graduates with an associate degree usually work as engineering technicians or technologists. In that type of role, you may perform tasks to assist engineers in their work. You might set up equipment, evaluate plans, put together parts, run tests, or provide input about changes that need to be made.

Working as a mechanical engineering technician is a popular choice with this degree. These jobs are often found in manufacturing settings, including the automobile, computer, and machinery industries. Related lines of work to consider include electrical, civil, and industrial engineering.

With a mechanical engineer associates degree, you might also get a job in quality assurance. You may work in a manufacturing setting to evaluate whether products meet acceptable standards.

Mechanical Engineering Technician checking the equipment in a factory

Some opportunities for advancement may be available with an associate degree. For example, you might get a promotion to be the quality assurance manager.

Even still, the best opportunities for advancement in this field may come with additional education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related subject may allow you to work as an engineer, a computer-aided drafter, or a product designer.

Eventually, you might get promoted to a managerial position. Some managers oversee all of a company’s production activities, or they supervise all the engineers in a department. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineering technicians earn about $58,230 per year.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Architectural and Engineering Managers $149,530
Industrial Production Managers $108,790
Mechanical Engineers $90,160
Industrial Designers $71,640
Electro-mechanical Technicians $59,800
Mechanical Drafters $58,270
Mechanical Engineering Technicians $58,230
Industrial Engineering Technicians $57,320
Civil Engineering Technicians $54,080
Quality Control Inspectors $40,460

Keep in mind that the top-paying jobs on this list will likely require further education, whether a bachelor’s degree or beyond. Associate degrees in engineering usually lead to technician positions, but you may be able to work toward certain supervisory roles.

Choosing an Online Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering

Getting your mechanical engineering associate degree online may be a smart way to jumpstart your career, particularly if you study at a school that’s a great fit for you. You can also explore related programs such as online associate’s degree programs in civil engineering or computer engineering associate’s degree programs to compare the advantages for you.

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Here’s are some things to keep in mind as you compare colleges:

  • Accreditation: Reputable colleges whose credits will transfer elsewhere hold regional accreditation. Some engineering programs have industry accreditation from ABET as well.
  • Courses: It’s a good idea to read through curriculum lists when trying to pick out a school. Different colleges offer different classes, so select one with courses you find intriguing.
  • Online format: Lab courses are usually required for engineering programs, but some colleges use online lab simulations instead of on-campus lab sessions. You’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to take some classes on campus or if you’d prefer to complete the work 100% online.
  • Transfer options: Associate of Science degrees are designed to transfer easily into bachelor’s programs, and Associate of Applied Science degrees are designed to lead straight to the workforce. Some schools offer clear transfer paths with partner universities.

If you pick a school that lines up with your learning style, your interests, and your goals, you may graduate well on your way to a satisfying career.

Curriculum & Courses

Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering students working on their project together

Your associate degree curriculum will likely include around 20 to 30 classes. You may study math, science, and the fundamental principles of engineering, similar to industrial or electrical engineering associate degree online programs.

  • Calculus: This math class covers derivatives, integration, and other advanced topics, and you may study specific ways to apply these concepts in engineering settings.
  • Computer-assisted Modeling: This class can give you opportunities to learn what AutoCAD software can do and gain practice with the program.
  • Electrical and Electronics Systems: Topics in this course may include motors, currents, circuits, electromagnetism, and batteries.
  • Introduction to Manufacturing: This course is an overview of the processes used for manufacturing and discusses how different materials require different methods.
  • Materials: A class on materials can help you familiarize yourself with the properties and uses of common materials used in manufacturing, such as polymers and ceramics.
  • Milling and Machining: This course can give you the opportunity to study specific tools used in manufacturing, such as grinding machines and lathes.
  • Physics: Studying this branch of science, which includes concepts like energy, motion, electricity, and sound, may involve a lab component.
  • Robotics in Industry: You may learn about the inner workings of robotic structures and explore various applications of robots in manufacturing processes.
  • Statics: As you learn about forces, you may create graphs, perform analyses, and solve equations to make determinations about structures.
  • Thermodynamics: This course can help you become familiar with the laws of thermodynamics as you explore the concept of heat energy.

You will probably take some general education classes in composition, communication, or economics. How rigorous the general education component is may depend on whether you’re on a transfer path to a four-year college.

Admissions Requirements

Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering student studying online

A well-crafted application may help you get into the college of your choice. Some of the components you might need are listed below.

  • Contact information: You’ll need to fill out a form with basic information about yourself and details about what degree you plan to pursue.
  • Education history: By furnishing a GED certificate or transcripts from your high school or college studies, you can demonstrate that you possess, at a minimum, the equivalent of a high school education.
  • Test scores: Although it’s not a universal requirement for associate degree programs, some colleges do ask for your SAT or ACT results.

The requirements for getting into an associate degree program can vary greatly from one college to another, so be sure to read all admissions policies carefully.

Accreditation

Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering Accreditation

The best schools typically pursue this type of accreditation because they know that it’s the most reputable and respected form of approval in higher education.

Earning your degree from an accredited college is an especially good idea if you plan to get a bachelor’s degree someday. Four-year universities are more likely to accept credits from regionally accredited schools.

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Employers typically prefer accredited degrees as well. They serve as a sign that you went to a school that thoroughly educates its students. A list of regional accreditors is available from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering students

You may need help paying for your associate degree in mechanical engineering. Financial aid is available for both on-campus and online learning.

The federal government gives grants and loans to qualifying students. You may receive similar help from your state government as well. The process of getting government assistance starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to applying for government help, you may also want to look for private funding. Scholarships are the most common form. Some schools give scholarships to a portion of their students. Scholarships are also available from businesses, charitable groups, and industry associations.

What Can You Do With an Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

Industrial Engineering Technicians monitoring equipment in a factory

Working as an engineering technician is one of the most common jobs for someone with an associate degree in engineering.

As a mechanical engineering student, you’ll probably find work as a mechanical engineering technician in a manufacturing setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job needs only an associate degree and has a median salary of $58,230 per year.

You might also consider applying for technician jobs in related fields, such as industrial or electrical engineering. Quality assurance is another job to consider with your associate degree. This job involves paying attention to the finished products that your manufacturing facility produces.

Is it Possible to Get a Mechanical Engineering Degree Online?

Mechanical Engineering Degree student studying in a cafe

Yes, there are some schools that offer online associate degrees in mechanical engineering or related fields, such as mechanical engineering technology or engineering technology.

Some schools use online lab simulations so that you can earn your degree 100% online while also gaining hands-on experience. Other schools have only certain classes online, and you’ll need to report to campus for lab sessions.

Whether you take some or all of your classes online, distance learning can be a flexible way to earn a degree without relocating or quitting your full-time job.

Can You Get an Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical Engineer working in a factory

Yes, associate degrees in mechanical engineering are fairly common. This degree may a smart way to kickstart your college studies or launch a career. Many associate degree programs cover the same material that you can learn in the first two years of an engineering bachelor’s degree program.

After graduating with your associate degree, you might be able to transfer to a four year program, or even an online engineering program, and already be halfway done with the coursework. Plus, most engineering technician jobs require only an associate degree. After just two years of study or less, you could potentially get a full-time job with decent pay.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering?

Many industries need the expertise of people who have studied mechanical engineering. Common employers include vehicle and computer manufacturers.

With an associate degree, you won’t be able to claim the title of an engineer, but you’ll still be able to pursue work in this field, typically as a technician. That’s like being an assistant to an engineer. In fact, you might be the one who gets to carry out a lot of the hands-on work that happens.

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Manufacturing facilities aren’t the only job settings for engineering technicians. You might also work for the government or in a lab facility.

Which Online Course is Best for Mechanical Engineering?

There are many good mechanical engineering programs available, and any school with regional accreditation is expected provide a solid education.

The best programs often include lab components so you can put your lessons into practice. Fully online programs often feature digital lab experiences. For students interested in a hybrid program, there may be opportunities to do in-person lab work.

If you want the option of getting a bachelor’s degree after graduation, look for a college that offers a transfer path. Some have arrangements with select four year schools so you can seamlessly move from one program to the next.

How Much Does an Online Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering Cost?

Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering student studying online

Accredited colleges often charge anywhere from $200 to $1,000 per credit hour. You’ll probably need to complete 60 to 70 credit hours. In addition to tuition, there may be other expenses that you need to factor into your calculations. These may include technology fees and textbooks.

To reduce the cost of a degree, look into state or community colleges. If you live in the school’s region, you might qualify for a reduced rate. Financial aid, such as government grants and loans, can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. Scholarships may lower your financial obligation as well.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Online?

Most associate degree programs are 60 to 70 credit hours long. If you enroll full-time in a school that divides the year into traditional semesters, you can probably complete the coursework in about four semesters. That’s about two years of study.

It’s possible to get through school more quickly though. Some colleges divide the school year into shorter terms. Each class may last around 8 weeks, and you may take them back to back throughout the year. This approach may shave several months off your studies.

Is an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Worth it?

Mechanical Engineers looking at the plan in a construction site

Yes, an associate degree in mechanical engineering is worth it for many students. Jobs in the architecture and engineering field are projected to grow at a rate of 3% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Common mechanical engineering careers in this field include mechanical engineering technician, electro-mechanical technician, industrial engineering technician, civil engineering technician, and quality control inspector.

In two years or less, you may graduate with an employable skill that pays a respectable wage. Mechanical engineering professionals are frequently hired to assist engineers in manufacturing facilities and other industrial settings.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer mechanical engineering associate’s degree online or hybrid format.

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

The Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology program at East Coast Polytechnic Institute University features a top-of-the-line faculty of industry professionals, access to industry-standard equipment, and a comprehensive curriculum packed with real-world experience.

Core areas of instruction are in electro-mechanical devices, computer-aided engineering and material science, and manufacturing processing.

  • AS in Mechanical Engineering Technology

ECPI University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Houston Community College

Houston Community College

Houston Community College offers an online Associate of Science in Engineering Science program with a concentration in mechanical engineering.

Students can take several general education courses to help prepare them for transferring to a four-year university. Additional core classes include engineering mechanics, programming for engineers, calculus, differential equations, and multiple physics courses.

  • AS in Engineering Science – Mechanical Engineering (Hybrid)

The Houston Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College’s Mechanical Design Engineering Technology Associate Degree program is designed to teach students how to design engineering drawings for products and machines.

Studies include instruction in 2D and 3D drawing and imaging software and how to analyze mechanical engineering problems. Possible careers after completion include drafter, CAD technician, and engineering technician.

  • Associate’s in Mechanical Design Engineering Technology

NTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

South Seattle College

South Seattle College

South Seattle College’s Associate of Science in Mechanical, Industrial, and Aerospace Engineering program is a pre-major pathway program specifically designed to prepare students for their junior and senior years in engineering programs at four-year institutions.

The program requires 110 credits for completion, which usually takes students eight quarters to complete.

  • AS in Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering

South Seattle College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Thomas Nelson Community College

Thomas Nelson Community College

Thomas Nelson Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology program allows students to select from two specializations to narrow their focus: marine engineering and mechanical design.

Both programs’ curricula are designed to teach students to research and develop new products, complete experiments, design mechanical systems, and specialize in quality control.

  • AAS in Mechanical Engineering Technology (Hybrid)

Thomas Nelson Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology program at University of Massachusetts – Lowell is a 24 course program that is designed to give students firm foundations in the manufacturing field. Upon program completion, students should be able to install, test, and operate basic mechanical systems, as well as design and maintain them.

  • AS in Mechanical Engineering Technology (Hybrid)

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Getting Your Mechanical Engineering Associates Degree Online

Associates Degree in Mechanical Engineering student studying in the library

An associate degree in mechanical engineering can help prepare you to work as an engineering technician. You might find a job with a company that makes cars, computers, machines, or another product.

There may even be opportunities to work for the government or contribute to research. Through online studies in engineering technology, you can earn a degree on your schedule.

In two years or less, you may be ready to enter the workforce with essential knowledge about machines, electronics, and materials. If you’re ready to take the first step, start submitting college applications to accredited programs.

Ready to start your journey?
Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.