CET vs CE Degree?

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New member
Feb 19, 2019
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What can I expect for my future if I continue my degree in Civil Engineering Technology?

I am 3 years away from graduating with my BS in CET, the college I am attenting (Old Dominion U) is ABET Accredited.  My main goals are to be apart of designing/planning of buildings and other infrastructures.

Are the pay differences really that huge these days? should I be switching majors now to get my CE degree instead?

Thank you for your time.


RBHeadge PE

EB Supporter
Dec 9, 2014
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Engineering Technology degrees are generally thought to be engineering-lite. They aren't as technical as engineering degrees and have a less strenuous curricula. The way it was explained to me, was that engineering technology degrees are for people who only wanted to go into the corporate, policy, or legal side of things; or who only wanted to only do technician work. Although other on this board may have different thoughts.

Many states do not consider an engineering technology degree to be an engineering degree for the purposes of getting licensed.

I have no idea what the salary difference is, but engineering degrees are much more marketable. It's probably more than worth it in the long run to take the few extra classes to just get the engineering degree.



Dec 4, 2018
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Prior to graduating in CE years ago, I worked for a private engineering firm for a few years to gain expierence in the field.  At the time there were both CE and CET people working for the company and it was generally accepted that the CET was the easier route/less respected.  That’s not to say that they were treated differently or were seen as less capable,  it was just kind of an unwritten/unspoken rule that they had it eaiser so to speak.  I can’t attest to the salary aspect but at the time it was assumed that the CETs got paid less. I think RBHeadge said it best when he said the degree was considered engineering-lite.  

As far as licensing is concerned for this particular state, the CETs could become licensed but they had different requirements they had to meet.  From what I remember they were unable to sit for the PE exam until they had 8 years of expienece under a PE, essentially double that of a CE.  There were some other minor things but that seemed to be the big one.  

My concern, assuming your final goal is to become a registered PE,  is that you will be left ill-equipped to pass the exam because your degree was engineering-lite.  

Before doing anything, I would understand how your state viewed the degree.  Degrees are expensive and you don’t want to spend a fortune on something that won’t allow you to accomplish your main goal, whatever that may be.  

Personally, I would switch to CE. 



May 8, 2017
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I agree with above. I did 2 internships and hired on with a big contractor out of College (Civil Eng) in 2007. I ended up in a conversation with one of the high up guys in the division/company and he said they will hire CE's and CET/Construction Management Tech (CMT) when needed (this division hired ~25+ new out of college Field Engineers per year at the time). He said what it boiled down to was a CET/CMT will usually be a harder worker and had a higher propensity to not complain about the hours, schedule, working hours, etc. These guys typically came from a construction/farming/industrial family background. They did the job very well, but were limited for at least the first year or three. He said the CE's were way more apt to picking up or creating a new process, figuring something new out quicker or getting way into the details of whatever was being built. Obviously this was his opinion as a Heavy Civil builder that graduated from the same school as me (30 years earlier, I think as a CMT) and had been part of the hiring of 100's of graduates. Both got paid the same starting out of school, and I would say both ascended at the same rate. It really mattered if you were good at what you did, but in general the CET/CMT went the Superintendent role more often while the CE's ended up as Project Engineers/Project Managers. That was probably because they liked what they were doing more than anything.

If you want to do design/planning, go CE. If you want to build stuff do either.


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