Posted by Chris. [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]
Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.
Posted on 10/18/2000 7:08 AM MST
In Reply to: Engineering vs. Engineering Technology posted by Matt Leese on 10/16/2000 5:24 AM MST:
As Adam mentioned below, Engineering Technology is typically a two year associates degree. When you graduate and get a job, your title will be ‘Technician’ as opposed to engineer. In terms of job responsibility (at a design facility such as TRW), the technicians generally take direction from the engineers and receive supplemental performance reviews from the engineers. Typically, the technicians build prototypes, trouble shoot malfunctioning parts, run tests, etc. In other jobs, technicians might install manufacturing equipment, fix problems, and stuff like that. Instead of designing the products, the technicians are more responsible for knowing how the product functions, how to build it, and how to fix it.
In general, the technician is much more hands-on, but also gets a lot less ‘say’ in the design and development.
In terms of compensation, technicians are typically paid hourly (plus 1.5 time for overtime and the like) and engineers get paid a salary (or a modified salary / hourly deal that is becoming standard in the automotive industry).
Another thing to consider is advancement opportunities. Generally speaking, technicians have very little chance of advancement into management (if that is your aspiration). Not to say that there is no chance, it’s just that it’s seriously reduced. Any more, a master’s degree is required for any position over a first-level manager so even a bachelor’s degree is becoming not enough.
However, since the technician position is hourly, the responsibility level is less (in terms of company obligations). I am friends with a number of technicians here and they say that they have no desire to become engineers since they will then be more obligated to cancel vacations, work late, etc. when the company needs them to. As of now, they are able to say ‘no’ and they like that freedom. As an engineer, when the company really needs you, you are pretty well obligated to them.
There is one big advantage of getting the Engineering Technology degree: most companies have tuition reimbursement programs. Therefore, if you aspire to get an engineering degree, you can become a technician and let your company pay for your bachelors. It will take longer this way and will be a lot of work, but if you don’t have a lot of money for school, this is a good way to go.
(Note: this version of Engineering Technology vs. Engineering is from my own experiences. It is most likely not the complete story.)