2021 Best Online Associate Degrees in Mechanical Engineering
Online associate degrees in mechanical engineering can be a smart way to gain in-demand knowledge and get ready for the workforce.
In two years or less, you can earn a degree that may help you get an engineering technician position with a manufacturer, a research lab, or the government.
A mechanical engineering associate’s degree can also 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.
Best Online Associates in Mechanical Engineering
An associate’s degree program in mechanical engineering will introduce you to concepts like statics, mechanics, and robotics. You’ll 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 involves a good deal of math and science. You can expect to take classes in calculus and physics, and there may be lab components.
All these courses will 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.
Engineering technician jobs are often available in manufacturing settings. Top industries for mechanical engineering technicians include transportation, machinery and computer manufacturing. You could 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
With a mechanical engineering associate’s degree, you’ll have fundamental knowledge about parts, materials, and technology. You’ll also be able to 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’d 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 could also get a job in quality assurance. You’d work in a manufacturing setting to evaluate whether products meet acceptable standards.
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 will come with additional education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related subject will allow you to work as an engineer, a computer-aided drafter, or a product designer.
Eventually, you could 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 $56,980 per year.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$144,830|
|Industrial Production Managers||$105,480|
|Mechanical Engineering Technicians||$56,980|
|Industrial Engineering Technicians||$56,550|
|Civil Engineering Technicians||$53,410|
|Quality Control Inspectors||$39,140|
Keep in mind that the top-paying jobs on this list will 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 can 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 electrical engineering to compare.
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 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’ll graduate well on your way to a satisfying career.
Curriculum & Courses
Your associate degree curriculum will include around 20 to 30 classes. You’ll study math, science, and the fundamental principles of engineering, similar to industrial or electrical engineering associate degree online programs.
- Calculus: This math class will cover derivatives, integration, and other advanced topics, and you may study specific ways to apply these concepts in engineering settings.
- Computer-assisted Modeling: In this class, you’ll 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 will give you an overview of the processes used for manufacturing and discuss how different materials require different methods.
- Materials: A class on materials will introduce you to polymers, ceramics, and other materials used in manufacturing and familiarize you with their properties and uses.
- Milling and Machining: You’ll 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’ll create graphs, perform analyses, and solve equations to make determinations about structures.
- Thermodynamics: During your time in this course, you’ll explore the concept of heat energy and become familiar with the laws of thermodynamics.
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.
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.
You’ll want to choose an accredited college for your associate degree studies. 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.
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
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?
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 pays around $56,980 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. You’d pay attention to the finished products that your manufacturing facility produces.
Is it Possible to Get a Mechanical Engineering Degree Online?
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?
Yes, associate degrees in mechanical engineering are fairly common. This degree can a smart way to kickstart your college studies or launch a career. Many associate degree programs cover the same material that you’d 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 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 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.
Manufacturing facilities aren’t the only job settings for engineering technicians. You could 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 can 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?
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 can 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 can 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 will last around 8 weeks, and you’ll take them back to back throughout the year. This approach can shave several months off your studies.
Is an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering Worth it?
Yes, an associate degree in mechanical engineering is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $56,980 and 3% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), an associate degree in mechanical engineering can help you launch a career in this engineering field.
Common mechanical engineering careers include mechanical engineering technician, electro-mechanical technician, industrial engineering technician, civil engineering technician, and quality control inspector.
In two years or less, you can 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
Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer mechanical engineering associate’s degree online.
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 offers an online Associate of Science in Engineering Science program with a concentration in mechanical engineering.
Students take several general education courses to 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.
Students in Northcentral Technical College’s Mechanical Design Engineering Technology Associate Degree program will learn to design engineering drawings for products and machines.
They’ll work with 2D and 3D drawing and imaging software and learn 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’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’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 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.
The Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology program at University of Massachusetts – Lowell is a 24 course program that gives 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
An associate degree in mechanical engineering can prepare you to work as an engineering technician. You could 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 can 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.