How Can You Specialize a Master’s in Engineering?

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Updated August 4, 2020

One of the best ways to advance your career is to specialize a Master's in Engineering, and this process is simply a matter of enrolling in a master's program and choosing a focus. A Master's in Engineering is a coursework-based professional degree that raises you from a professional to an expert in your field of engineering.

Choosing an Area of Focus

You can focus on the same area of engineering that you studied as an undergraduate, or you can enroll in a cross-discipline program that gives you a broader expertise in the industry. Some of the specializations you can choose include biomedical, petroleum, nuclear, robotics, chemical and mechanical engineering, and for the most part, they build upon the concepts taught in a bachelor's degree. However, some master's programs, such as management and leadership, are only available to graduate students and allow you to work in fields that only hire experts or engineers with leadership skills.

To specialize your master's degree, all you need to do is apply to a school and enroll in classes once you've been accepted. A master's degree focus is similar to an undergraduate major, and you can change your mind at any time during the program. The area of focus you choose will determine the courses you take as well as the research groups you work with, including the professors, students and subjects of study involved in the research. The Master of Engineering is considered a terminal degree in the United States, so you will be an expert in your field and not able to continue your education to a higher level. In other words, with a Master of Science degree, you can continue your education to the Ph.D level, but the Master of Engineering is the highest degree awarded to an engineer.

The State of the Job Market for Engineers

It makes sense to enroll in a master's program as an engineer, because without this level of expertise, job availability can be slim in most industries. For example, chemical, electrical, mechanical and even computer engineers have very low job growth predicted for the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Without software design skills, engineers are having trouble finding employment, so a master's degree can increase the opportunities available in the job market, especially with a focus on management and leadership. Another way to increase job availability is to specialize in software engineering or computer systems engineering, which includes training in software design.

The difference between computer engineering and computer systems engineering is that the latter focuses on the complete skill set needed to design computer systems that allow organizations to function. In contrast, computer engineers don't learn how to design the low-level code that runs on the logic circuits they build, and there is a much lower demand for computer hardware designers than for software designers. The reason is that advances in software technology are happening much more rapidly than advances in hardware, and hardware engineering skills are unfortunately not as sought-after. The one other field of engineering with high job availability is petroleum engineering because experts are needed to find new ways of extracting oil from the ground.

Related Resource: Specialize a Master's in Finance

A graduate degree in a tough, technical subject like engineering can be quite challenging, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort. If you want to improve your job availability and increase your paycheck in the process, you should look into ways to specialize a Master's in Engineering.

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