Engineering technology programs prepare people to help engineers who work in various settings. Students learn to apply math and science to help solve real-life problems. They also learn to research and work in specific fields of engineering.
If you want to work in a particular branch of engineering technology, you probably should specialize. But a very small number of colleges allow you to get a degree in this field without specializing. There are a number of reasons why you may want a general degree. Perhaps you want to put off your decision until you enter the job market. Perhaps you intend to earn a higher degree later in some branch of engineering technology. Or perhaps you don't intend to work in engineering technology, but plan to go to medical school or business school.
Like the specialized programs, this one begins with science and math. Engineering is about solving practical problems using the scientific method. You need to understand how to test theories by doing experiments. That's why it's important to study chemistry, for example, even if you will not be working much with chemicals. You also learn to work with computers, since engineering depends on computers for number crunching and simulations.
With two years of full-time study beyond high school, you can earn an associate degree. You are likely to find work as an engineering technician. In this role you may participate in research by gathering data. You may also be needed to represent engineering designs graphically. For the latter reason you are likely to study computer-aided drafting (CAD). With on-the-job training you may learn to calibrate and repair equipment. Another possible role is as a surveying technician.
If you continue your education for a total of four years, you can earn a bachelor's degree. This program is likely to dig more deeply into math and science. You also study the economic forces that affect the costs of an engineering design. And you are likely to have a senior project that lets you work to solve a real problem as part of an engineering team. This is good preparation for entering the work force as an engineering technologist. In this role you work closely with engineers to implement their design concepts. You may create a simulation or model and run tests on it. If the concept looks promising, you use it to create plans, specifications, and budgets. You may supervise the technicians and crafts workers who assemble the production facilities that can turn out a finished product.