What's the difference between an Engineer and a Technician?


Definition of an Engineer

An Engineer is...the team leader of an engineering team. Engineers plan, design and supervise engineering projects from concept to completion.Engineers solve problems by relying on their creative and academic skills. You should enjoy problem solving and be challenged by the effort itrequires. Engineering is one of the few professional fields in which a bachelor's degree sufficient career preparation. Many engineers, however, do go on for a master's degree in order to move into high level management positions. An engineering degree can also open doors to other professions such as medicine, business administration, law, computer development, etc.


Definition of a Technician

A Technician is...a doer and implementer, who focuses on the practical elements of a job. He or she provides technical assistance in specialized area, and performs the day-to-day tasks required in carry in out a project. Usually technicians work as part of a team that is engaged in a particular project or operation. Technology majors prepare for practical design and production work, rather than for jobs that require theoretical, scientific and mathematical knowledge of engineering.


What Should I Study?

To be an Engineer - Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree. Engineering Science Program with baccalaureate transfer options in:

††††††† Chemical Engineering

††††††† Civil Engineering

††††††† Computer Engineering

††††††† Electrical Engineering

†††††† Mechanical Engineering

††††††† Optical Engineering

††††††† Software Engineering

††††††† (all other Engineering disciplines)

Entrance requirements for the Engineering Science Program: Algebra, geometry, intermediate algebra, trigonometry, and pre-calculus or thecompletion of MTH 175 at MCC, 3 years of science including chemistry and physics.


To be a Technician - Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)

††††††† Applied Technology

††††††† Automotive Technology

††††††† Biology/Biological Technology

†† †††††Chemical Technology

††††††† Civil and Construction Technology

††††††† Computer Related Technology

††††††† Electrical/Instrumentation Technology

††††††† Mechanical/Quality Control Technology

††††††† Optical Technology

Entrance requirements for technology programs: Algebra and intermediate algebra. Physics recommended (but not required).


How Do I Choose?

Your answers to the following questions may help you choose between engineer or technician in selecting a course of study and ultimately acareer.


  • Do you want to prepare to transfer to a four-year college? (Abaccalaureate degree is ††required for engineer positions.)
  • Do you want to enter the workforce with a starting salary of $50,000 (2006)?
  • Do you have a genuine interest in science and mathematics?
  • Do you like to solve abstract problems?
  • Do you have a scientific curiosity and wonder why and what makes things happen?
  • Are you an organizer and an innovator/leader?
  • If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, consider the Engineering program.



  • Do you want to be prepared for immediate employment after completing an A.A.S. degree? (Some students transfer to bachelor's programs in Engineering Technology and become engineering technologists.)
  • Do you want to enter the workforce with a starting salary of $37,000 (2006)?
  • Do you like to work with your hands?
  • Do you like to repair things?
  • Do you like using data tables?
  • Do you like performing scientific measurements?
  • Are you able to accept and follow instructions from supervisors?
  • If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, consider a technician's degree .


Engineering versus Engineering Technology

"Graduates of Engineering programs apply scientific concepts to develop solutions to real world problems. Their job is more theoretical, involving the design of new products such as a robot that will be used in an auto manufacturing plant. Engineers require more theoretical, scientific and mathematical knowledge. At the same time, some colleges and universities offer two- and four-year Engineering Technology programs that prepare students for practical design and production work. Graduates of four-year Engineering Technology programs may get jobs similar to those obtained by graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering."


Technician vs. Engineer

The title of this page may be a little misleading. Generally, technicians and engineers are not in competition unless it is on the ball field. They often work side-by-side on projects and their job functions commonly overlap. The difference is probably most pronounced right after graduating

from school. Engineers tend to go to work applying the science and mathematics knowledge to solve problems and design processes and products. Technicians tend to start their careers performing tests, collecting data, and assisting engineers. As the technician becomes more knowledgeable about the work he or she is doing, they may take on new responsibilities that include things like designing tests, and they are often given an engineering title by their company. In the area of computer networking often community college graduates are hired as network installation or support personal. After a few years of experience and additional training they might be given the title of network engineer.


A Closer Look at Engineers

In the simplest of terms, an engineer is a problem solver. They take basic science information and use the rules of mathematics to solve problems and design new products. They generally have a desire to want to make our world a better place to live and work. Engineers invent new technologies that revolutionize the way we handle information. They design and develop tools, toys, furniture, computers, and almost every other manufactured product that we use. They improve our buildings, roads, and vehicles. They develop systems to clean our water, process our foods, make our fuels burn more efficiently, and recycle our waste. More than 1.2 million engineers work in the United States today, making engineering the nationís second largest profession. According to the US Department of Labor, the demand for qualified engineers will remain strong well into the next millennium. An engineering degree is also an excellent background for other careers. Because engineering courses enhance creativity, problem solving skills, and understanding of technology, they provide a strong foundation for further studies in medicine, law, business, dentistry, and almost any other field.


A Closer Look at Technicians

Technicians are the "doers." They are workers that are highly trained to perform specific tasks. They generally follow procedures developed by doctors or engineers. In the medical industry technicians use very sophisticated equipment and techniques to analyze body fluids and tissue at the request of the doctor. Mechanical and material testing technicians are often responsible for operating large test systems that pull, compress, or twist materials and products to learn about their performance characteristics. Automotive technicians are trained to diagnose and fix car problems. According to the US Department of Labor, there were approximately 519,000 engineering support technicians working in the US in 2000. The demand for engineering support technicians is high and will continue to remain high. In the field on nondestructive testing specifically, some industries are projecting large needs for qualified technicians.