2021 Best Online Engineering Associate’s Degrees [Ultimate Guide]

Home » 2021 Best Online Engineering Associate’s Degrees [Ultimate Guide]

If you like the idea of qualifying for exciting work, solid job opportunities, and good pay without a lot of college training, then an online engineering associate’s degree can be an excellent start.

Online Engineering Associate's Degrees

Popular engineering sectors include mechanical, aerospace, environmental, civil, industrial, electrical, and computer hardware and software.

With a two year associate’s degree, you may still find entry-level engineering jobs with opportunities to learn from talented professionals and accomplish meaningful and important work.

Best Online Associates in Engineering Degrees

Some engineers work in specialized companies and services. Others work on teams and contribute to complex building, industrial, aerospace, infrastructure, environmental, or architectural design projects.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Although engineers can specialize in very different subfields, most engineers share an interest in design and modeling while applying analytic thinking and mathematical calculations to problem solving.

Associate’s in Civil Engineering Online

Civil Engineers working in a construction site

An associates in civil engineering will prepare you for jobs working with infrastructure construction firms and architectural engineering firms. Civil engineers often work on large buildings or civic infrastructure projects, including initial design and feasibility studies, surveying, architectural drafting, materials management, testing, and construction.

Your degree program should give you opportunities to learn about architectural design and structural analysis. Courses may also introduce you to environmental engineering concepts, geological engineering, and hydrology.

With your associate’s degree in civil engineering, you might find entry-level jobs in construction planning, management, testing, and building systems inspection. The civil engineering field also needs technicians who can help with drafting and surveying work and environmental data gathering.

Associate’s in Computer Engineering Online

Computer Engineers working together on a project

Computer engineers may work in computer hardware design, manufacturing, and testing. Alternately, computer engineers may work in software engineering—creating software programs, software tools, data storage systems, and software security systems as well as providing web design services.

If you’re planning to work in computer hardware engineering, you’ll take classes that help you understand the electrical and material components used for operating systems and data storage. Software engineers will study coding, data security, and learn about the most popular programming languages.

Hardware engineers often work for companies in the computer manufacturing industry. Software engineers, on the other hand, may help develop new commercial software tools or work in virtually any industry, providing general IT support or web design services.

Associate’s in Electrical Engineering Online

Electrical Engineers checking the electrical substation

If you focus on electrical engineering, it’s likely you can start building a very bright future indeed (no pun intended)! While the reasons why are virtually beyond what we can list here, we’ll mention a few main ones.

Today, thanks to innovations in IOT (the internet of things) connectivity, more mechanical systems are linked to and embedded with information systems, sensing technologies, and remote monitoring applications—all electrically powered.

In addition to computer, green energy, and robotics fields, these innovations should spell growing demand for skilled electrical engineers. An online associates degree in electrical engineering is a great way to learn more about electronic equipment, circuits, motors, statics, and Computer Assisted Design (CAD).

An associates degree should qualify you for technical support jobs in electrical engineering, with both civil and industrial engineering applications. You could also work in electronic equipment design and manufacturing.

Associate’s in Mechanical Engineering Online

Mechanical Engineer working

Do you like taking things apart and putting them back together again? Or do you like taking a DIY approach to car repairs? If so, mechanical engineering might be right for you!

If you’re wondering what mechanical engineers do, think machinery and heavy equipment—the parts that go into heavy equipment as well as the engineering it takes to combine all those parts into equipment and machinery to work efficiently and reliably.

Mechanical engineers live in the world of home appliances and giant tractors, heating and cooling systems of all shapes and sizes, farm equipment, pumping and exhaust systems, and complex hardware manufacturing challenges.

To make all the things that they do, mechanical engineers will take courses in CAD, thermodynamics, fluids and hydrology, materials’ properties, and more. As more nations enter the industrial era, the global demand for skilled mechanical engineers isn’t likely to decline anytime soon.

Associate’s in Software Engineering Online

Software Engineers working in an office

Software tools and networks are expanding across virtually every economic and social sector. On top of emerging robotics and AI innovations, the world will need lots of skilled software engineers.

Software engineering is a world apart from civil and mechanical engineering. Similar to most engineering fields, though, it requires analytic and conceptual modeling skills, an ability to learn coding, a knack for investigative trouble shooting, and a strong facility with math.

Since the computer arena is one of lightning-fast innovation, you’ll need a readiness to keep on learning, even after you complete your online degree.

Software engineering courses for an associate’s degree might include IT project management and network architecture, programming and coding, web design, computer maintenance, and computer operating systems.

Workers in every sector are now using more complex IT tools, and new tools come to market in quick succession. So, you should find high demand for your skills in many different industries, roles, and settings.

Engineering Careers & Salaries

Engineering Careers & Salaries

An online associates degree in engineering equips you for a large number of entry-level engineering jobs that pay well and may provide opportunities for further professional learning.

Working in entry-level roles can be a good way to explore the field further and help you decide if going on for a bachelor’s degree is right for you. An associate’s degree qualifies you for a range of technical support positions. It will also give you a big head start if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s later on.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate degree in engineering can qualify you for jobs that are anything but dull and pay more than $50,000 a year.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Web Developer $73,760
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician $66,020
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician $65,260
Mechanical Engineering Technician $56,980
Drafter $56,830
Industrial Engineering Technician $56,550
Civil Engineering Technician $53,410
Geological and Petroleum Technician $51,130
Environmental Engineering Technician $50,620
Environmental Science and Protection Technician $46,540

The fact that you can work in such critical support positions with an associate’s degree means you can do exciting, challenging work after only 2 years in college. You may have many opportunities for future career advancement as well.

Choosing an Online Associates Degree in Engineering

In most cases you’ll find a number of institutions offer associates degrees online. These include private schools, private and public vocational or technical schools, and public community colleges.

When choosing from this variety of institutions and programs, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Affordability: Keep in mind that community colleges may offer very affordable programs, especially with discounted tuition rates for qualifying state residents.
  • Course selection: Always take into account the kinds of course offerings and options that best align with your educational needs and the engineering concentration you’re most interested in.
  • Online services: Find out what online learning models and resources are provided for experiential learning and for possible academic support needs you may encounter.
  • Accreditation: Be sure to choose a regionally accredited school.

The good news is that, with keeping these considerations in mind, you should be able to narrow down the many options to find the programs that are the best fit for you.

Curriculum & Courses

Engineer working on a project

The courses you’ll see in associates engineering programs will vary considerably based on the school and the engineering concentrations covered. Engineering is a broad field, so most associate’s programs have limited scope in terms of upper-division technical courses.

Here are some examples of the kinds of courses you might take:

  • Foundations in Physics: You’ll get an introduction to many topics, which can include thermodynamics, structural physics, electrical principles, energy and motion dynamics.
  • Calculus: You’ll either study a general calculus course or one designed for engineering students. Learning how to apply and solve equations is useful for engineering modeling and design.
  • Linear Circuits: You’ll learn about the components and dynamics of electrical circuits, including voltage, capacitors, resistors, AC and DC currents, and more.
  • Hydrology and Fluids Engineering: This course introduces you to fluid mechanics, such as flow modeling and energy dynamics for mechanical and environmental engineering applications.
  • Drafting and Computer Assisted Design (CAD): Learn key principles and methods for manual drafting and using computer-assisted design tools (designing objects, layers, shapes, 3D design, and more).
  • Principles of Surveying: This course introduces you to the fundamentals of land measuring methods, calculations, and tools surveyors use.
  • Structures and Materials: Learn about basic principles of structures and structural modeling in relation to both soils and common materials (metal, ceramic, polymeric). You’ll also learn about key properties and limitations of materials in relation to mechanical, structural, and thermal dynamics.
  • Industrial and Environmental Processes: Learn the fundamentals of engineering processes and methods related to HVAC, climate, waste management, and mineral extraction.
  • IT Networks: Learn about digital signals, routing algorithms, network design, content flow and shaping, and network and data security.
  • Software Circuits: Learn the basics about designing, modeling, and testing reliable software systems, about software frameworks and APIs, and about client-server architecture.

The classes you’re offered for an engineer associate’s degree will vary based on your subfield concentration and professional goals, but you’ll be learning very specialized skills that you may leverage for good pay.

Admissions Requirements

Associates Degree in Engineering student studying online

You shouldn’t find too many obstacles for admission to an associate degree program in engineering. It will help if you’ve finished high school with strong marks in math and physics.

As you complete your associate’s degree coursework, you may need to invest some extra time in prerequisite math and science courses alongside other general education requirements.

For admission to an online associates degree in engineering program, it’s likely you’ll need the following:

  • High school diploma or GED records
  • High school transcripts, if required
  • SAT or ACT scores, if required
  • Any required application forms and letters of recommendation

Although admissions hurdles shouldn’t be too high, keep in mind you’ll likely be expected to remediate academic gaps as you go, including some prerequisite courses in math or science, depending on your current academic qualifications.

Accreditation

Online Engineering Associate's Degrees Accreditation

We always recommend you choose a regionally accredited school and program. If you want to transfer to another school for your bachelor’s degree later, you’ll want to make sure any prospective institution honors your past college coursework and degrees.

Accreditation means a recognized and independent organization has evaluated and verified a school’s programs and resources in terms of academic quality. An organization such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) can help you find regionally accredited schools and learn more about the accreditation process.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online Engineering Associate's Degrees financial aid

There are many forms of financial aid you may be eligible for, including federal financial aid, federal student loans, and federal work study programs.

Individual states often offer financial aid to qualifying students in the form of loans, scholarships, or grants. You should find out if your school offers any scholarships, tuition discounts, or fee waivers as well. If you happen to work in an engineering job already, you might be eligible for employer-based aid as well.

If you anticipate applying for need-based aid, we recommend you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a uniform application used to calculate financial need for many kinds of financial aid.

What Can You Do with an Associates Degree in Engineering?

Aerospace Engineer working

Your engineer associate’s degree will give you your first deep dive into foundational but specialized technical learning that you can leverage for good, entry-level engineering jobs. The engineering fields you might choose to work in include civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial, environmental, computer hardware, and aerospace.

The rise of IT tools and the urgent need for cybersecurity software development are also driving up demand for skilled computer software engineers. Clean-energy and robotics initiatives should also intensify the demand for talented electrical, mechanical, and computer software engineers.

Based on the concentration you pursue, your associates degree in engineering should qualify you for a variety of engineering technician jobs as well as jobs in drafting and CAD, surveying, and web design.

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

Associate’s in Engineering student studying online

Tuition costs for an online associates in engineering degree will vary based on the program and type of school you attend.

If you find a suitable program at a community college where you qualify for in-state tuition rates, you could find rates around $100 per credit hour. Tuition for non-residents is typically much higher. If you live in a state that offers special college access grants or workforce development subsidies, you might be able to study for even less at qualified schools.

If you attend a larger university, a private college, or a technical school, you’ll probably find tuition rates ranging between $200 and $800 per credit hour for an associate’s degree. Most associate’s degree online programs will require around 60 credits.

What Jobs Can I Get with an Associates Degree in Engineering?

Web Designer drafting on a paper

An associates degree in engineering can qualify you for entry-level jobs in surveying, drafting,  and web design. You could also be a computer support technician or choose from a range of technician jobs in many engineering subfields.

In terms of specific roles you can pursue, a lot will depend on the type of engineering concentration you focus on. With an associate degree, you’ll probably be applying for entry-level technical jobs, but you’ll also have some highly specialized knowledge that sets you apart from the pack.

Work experience alone may launch you into even better jobs down the line, or you can look into transferring your associate degree course credits and earning a bachelors as a way to grow your job options even further.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates in Engineering Degree Online?

Associates in Engineering Degree working on her project at home

If you study full-time on a traditional 16 week semester program, you should be able to finish your engineer associate’s degree in 2 years. Some online programs may offer an 8 week semester option. With continuous, year-round enrollment and an 8 week semester, you may be able to finish in even less time.

Many schools take advantage of online instruction in order to offer accelerated completion timelines. Keep this in mind as you compare schools and programs for your online associates in engineering. If you have some prerequisite classes to take along the way, it may take longer to earn your degree.

Is an Engineering Associate’s Degree Worth it?

mechanical engineers working in a factory

Yes, an associate’s degree in engineering is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $57,000 and 3% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), an associates degree in engineering can help you launch a career in this exciting field.

Common careers include civil and mechanical engineering technician, environmental science technician, aerospace engineering technician, industrial and electro-mechanical engineering technician, drafter, and web developer.

Some sectors, like civil and environmental engineering, may offer more outdoor or hands-on building and problem-solving jobs. The engineering field is broad, so you’ll need to pick a sector to focus on aligned with your career interests.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s in Engineering Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer engineering associate’s degree online.

#1  Bucks County Community College

Bucks County Community College

The Associate of Science in Engineering program at Bucks County Community College is offered through the school’s STEM department.

Students should learn to analyze engineering problems and make sound judgments about them, apply fundamental principles of STEM to these problems, and use engineering and technical skills to create innovative solutions.

  • AAS in Engineering Technology
  • AS in Engineering

Bucks County Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#2  Central Texas College

Central Texas College

Students enrolled in Central Texas College’s Associate of Science in Engineering degree program can potentially finish the 60 credit program in less than 2 years. In addition to several general education requirements that must be met, students will also take courses like calculus, engineering mechanics, and mechanics of materials.

  • AS in Engineering

Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#3  Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offers a computer programming and database management program with a software engineering technology major.

Graduates of the program will have earned their Associate of Applied Science degree and will be prepared to become a part of the technological workforce. There are also transfer options available.

  • AAS in Computer Programming and Database Management – Software Engineering Technology

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University offers different associates degree programs in two separate engineering fields: mechanical engineering and electronics engineering technology.

Both programs feature hands-on, practical approaches to education, flexible schedules, and financial aid opportunities for qualifying students. Plus, there are accelerated courses that take only 5 weeks to complete.

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

#5  Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Eastern Iowa Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology program teaches students to use existing technology to better the world and create more innovative technology to shape the future. There are different award options within the main program, and the degree can lead to jobs in multiple fields.

  • AAS in Engineering Technology (Hybrid)

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Eastern New Mexico University

Eastern New Mexico University

The Associate of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology degree program at Eastern New Mexico University utilizes live and recorded lectures to connect students with professors.

They also use Blackboard and Mediasite to encourage online class participation. Coursework due dates are flexible, and the school also offers bachelors degrees in closely related fields.

  • AS in Electronics Engineering Technology

Eastern New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#7  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Associate of Science in Engineering Fundamentals program is geared towards providing a flexible, affordable education that is high-quality and top-of-the-line.

It’s primarily a transfer degree, but since students gain a firm understanding of the fundamentals of engineering, heading straight into the workforce may be an option as well.

  • AS in Engineering Fundamentals

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#8  Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech

Students interested in engineering at Indiana Tech have many different degree options, spanning from the associates level to the masters level.

The school offers associates degrees in mechanical engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and electrical engineering technology. Courses include engineering fundamentals, various higher math classes, and other relevant courses.

Indiana Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#9  Lone Star College

Lone Star College

Lone Star College offers a number of different engineering-related associates degrees. The school offers Associate of Science degrees in seven different fields, five of which are engineering fields. These include civil, biomedical, industrial, mechanical, and electrical engineering. Courses are determined based on each student’s chosen engineering path.

  • AS in Biomedical Engineering
  • AS in Civil Engineering
  • AS in Electrical Engineering
  • AS in Industrial Engineering
  • AS in Mechanical Engineering

Lone Star College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#10  Manchester Community College

Manchester Community College

The Associate of Science in Computer Engineering Technology program at Manchester Community College can be undertaken full-time or part-time.

The curriculum contains several math and technical courses as part of the required 64 credits. Most notable among these are networking theory and application, technical writing, microprocessor assembly language, and C++.

  • AS in Computer Engineering Technology (Hybrid)

Manchester Community College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

#11  Nashua Community College

Nashua Community College

Students in the computer engineering technology associate program at Nashua Community College will learn a lot about STEM and advanced manufacturing.

In addition to multiple STEM classes — such as algebra, calculus, and physics — students will also take courses in digital circuits, circuit analysis, microcontrollers, networking basics, and C++ object-oriented programming.

  • AS in Computer Engineering Technology

Nashua Community College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#12  Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College

Northcentral Technical College offers three engineering-related associates degrees and three engineering-related technical diplomas.

The associates degrees are in safety engineering technology, mechanical design engineering technology, and manufacturing engineering technology. All three degrees share some similarities in general education courses, but the elective courses are largely determined by the specific field.

  • Associate’s in Manufacturing Technology
  • Associate’s in Mechanical Design Engineering Technology
  • Associate’s in Safety Engineering Technology

NTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#13  Pittsburgh Technical College

Pittsburgh Technical College

Pittsburgh Technical College’s Associate of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology program can be taken as-is or with the Industrial Instrumentation concentration.

Students who complete either program should be able to identify color codes, read schematics, program microcontrollers and robotic controls, troubleshoot and problem-solve, and construct and test electronic systems.

  • AS in Electronics Engineering Technology

Pittsburgh Technical College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#14  South College

South College

Students in South College’s Associate of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology program will learn from the school’s esteemed faculty, who collectively have decades of hands-on experience and knowledge.

Students should learn the fundamentals of engineering and how to apply electrical engineering principles to real-world scenarios. Financial aid is also available to students who qualify.

  • AS in Electrical Engineering Technology

South College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#15  South Seattle College

South Seattle College

The Associate of Science in Mechanical, Industrial, and Aerospace Engineering program at South Seattle College is an intense, comprehensive program requiring 110 credits for completion. It’s really a pre-major pathway designed for students hoping to transfer to bachelors programs in the same field. Most courses are highly centered on STEM.

  • AS in Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering

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

#16  Stark State College

Stark State College

Stark State College’s computer science and engineering technology associates degree program teaches students to communicate effectively, develop software using the most popular software development languages, and design, describe, and use state-of-the-art computer systems.

Courses include java programming, .net development, structured query language, regular and advanced C++ programming, and database design.

  • AAS in Computer Science and Engineering

Stark State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

#17  Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University

For students looking for engineering associate programs at Thomas Edison State University, there are two paths: electronics engineering technology and nuclear engineering technology.

The school also offers bachelors degrees in these fields, so after earning their associates degrees, students can enter the workforce or continue their education.

  • AS in Electronics Engineering Technology
  • AS in Nuclear Engineering Technology

Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#18  University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell is a 24 course program that can also lead to a certificate program in manufacturing technology. The curriculum consists of an equal blend of coursework and hands-on experience in engineering, graphic design, and applied fluid mechanics.

  • AS in Mechanical Engineering Technology

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

#19  University of the Virgin Islands

University of the Virgin Islands

The University of the Virgin Islands offers an Associate of Science in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology and an Associate of Arts in Engineering Management Technology.

Both programs feature courses in electronic circuitry, analog and digital electronics, computer programming, and circuit theory. The AA degree also includes a business component.

  • AA in Engineering Management Technology
  • AS in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology

The University of the Virgin Islands is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education.

#20  University of Wisconsin – Platteville

University of Wisconsin Platteville

At University of Wisconsin – Platteville, students can enroll in the Associate of Science in Pre-Engineering program if they are unsure of what specific discipline they want to pursue. The courses included in this program are easily transferable into a number of different engineering fields, including mechanical, industrial, electrical, civil, and environmental.

  • AS in Pre-Engineering

UW-Platteville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Engineering Associate’s Online

Engineering Associate’s Degree student studying on her laptop

Studying engineering requires some interest and aptitudes in math and science but offers lots of job opportunities.

Are you ready to learn but want to pace yourself? If so, then starting with a two year associates degree in engineering might be a good decision. In today’s technological and industrial economies, trained engineers are needed in virtually all sectors.

With some on-the-job experience, if you decide to get a bachelor’s degree down the road, you should be able to significantly boost your job prospects. And, best of all, an associate engineering degree from an accredited institution is already enough to get you into a number of challenging, well-paying jobs!

Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and Master's in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in innovation, policy, and education leadership.