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Would You Hire an Engineer Without a Degree?

Sept. 13, 2023
Being an engineer is great, but the cost to become one continues to escalate.

According to MSN, more GenZ-ers are skipping college. Likewise, our annual Salary Survey shows that engineers like their jobs and they also recommend the career to others. The majority have one or more college degrees as well.

So, the question is: “Are people interested in becoming an engineer better off with a college degree?

Students will have to answer that for themselves, but what about everyone currently in the industry? Will this affect who and how you hire? Give your input by taking our poll (below).

The challenge is finding qualified candidates when looking for new engineers. In one sense, a college degree provides a filter that assumes the person has a minimum amount of experience related to the degree. Usually, it means that individual will have at least the basic understanding in the field of study, and they may even be familiar with tools like LabView or Rust, which could be useful in a new job.

Some may consider experience gained while in high school to be sufficient. However, the challenge is determining what that experience entails. An interview or sample work would be needed to determine if the experience was worthwhile in a new position.

Keep in mind that once someone has worked in industry for a few years, their track record is more important than which college they attended. The question tends to be different when you’re looking for more experienced engineers. In this case, you typically look for years of experience. A college degree or two can provide some useful information about a person and their background, but more recent job-related work usually is much more important.

So, please participate in our 2023 Salary and Career Survey if you have a chance, as this will provide us, and eventually you, with more information about engineering careers. And take our Quick Poll, which provides immediate feedback. Also, leave a comment if you have any further insights. Do you recommend that a budding engineer or program get a college degree, or should they try their hand at working right out of high school, or switch jobs?

About the Author

William G. Wong | Senior Content Director

I am Editor of Electronic Design focusing on embedded, software, and systems. As Senior Content Director, I also manage Microwaves & RF and I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, programmers, developers and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.>

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our template and send to me along with a signed release form. 

Check out my blog, AltEmbedded on Electronic Design, as well as his latest articles on this site that are listed below. 

You can my social media via these links:

I earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Masters in Computer Science from Rutgers University. I still do a bit of programming using everything from C and C++ to Rust and Ada/SPARK. I do a bit of PHP programming for Drupal websites. I have posted a few Drupal modules.  

I still get a hand on software and electronic hardware. Some of this can be found on our Kit Close-Up video series. You can also see me on many of our TechXchange Talk videos. I am interested in a range of projects from robotics to artificial intelligence. 

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