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Engineering Degree vs. Engineering Diploma Certificate: Which Should You Choose?

diploma certificate or degree certificate decisions

Diploma Courses and Diploma Programs: What Can I Do?

If you’re considering taking an engineering diploma certificate from private colleges and private universities in Singapore and comparing that against your engineering degree program options, then read this article first. Here, we will help you understand the engineering jobs in Singapore that are available to you through the various diploma courses and degree courses (aka bachelor’s degree) and what can be achieved with each.

It’s 2021 and there are many challenges around the world that are the result of COVID. Specifically for the engineering sector that we are in, COVID19 has accelerated the adoption of technology in many industries. This acceleration of technology has increased the demand for manufacturers to increase output but economies like Singapore that rely on cheap foreign labour and they suddenly were not able to come out.

Manufacturers then now need to rapidly deploy advanced manufacturing concepts and SMART technology such that their one or two existing technicians/engineers can perform the functions that used to require a suite of operators, technicians and assistant engineers.

Why is a Diploma course going to help me?

6 months ago, we would have told you that any local who was willing to work in manufacturing would be a shoe-in. This means that all you had to do was to say “I’m a Singaporean and I want to work in this industry!” and you would almost get job offers daily of $2500 to $2800 salary before overtime. Some students even reported receiving overtime up to the mid $4000 salary range during lockdowns.

However, the demand is no longer for any worker – but for skilled workers.

Upon successful completion of the diploma you will be holding a diploma certificate that can be shown to employers that you have knowledge and skills that are suitable for their industry. In addition, the subjects that you would then have taken would demonstrate a depth of knowledge.

Ideally you want to show a potential employer that you have spent a certain amount of time, either full time or part time, studying subjects in a rigorous academic environment and that after testing and assessment you have retained the knowledge and are reasonably capable of understanding the concepts as they are applied to the work place.

I have a lot of work experience. That’s better than a Diploma right?

In the hiring segment, work experience is very useful if the job roles from the previous employer and the new employer are the same (e.g. past employer needed you to push buttons, and the new employer needs you to push buttons). However, if work places are rapidly evolving and factories are advancing, it is quite likely that the new employers’ work environment would not be the same as before.

In fact, even staying in the same company may have different job requirements in the future.

Both options will require a more advanced understanding of the complexities of the process and products and operating environment. These are roles that cannot be achieved without formal training in a diploma program.

Diploma holders from our Higher Diploma in Engineering Technology and Higher Diploma in Mechanical Engineering would be ideal candidates to take up these skilled roles.

But what about the opportunities for university degree holders?

Have you heard of ‘education inflation’? From Wikipedia:

Educational inflation are any of a number of related processes involving increased demands for formal educational qualifications, and the devaluation of these qualifications. In Western society, there has been increasing reliance on formal qualifications or certification for jobs. This process has, in turn, led to credential inflation (also known as credential creep, academic inflation, or degree inflation), the process of inflation of the minimum credentials required for a given job and the simultaneous devaluation of the value of diplomas and degrees. These trends are also associated with grade inflation, a tendency to award progressively higher academic grades for work that would have received lower grades in the past.

So while there were no formal education requirements for machine operators previously, they are therefore not expected to have some formal qualification such as a diploma. You could say that they are expected to perform as associate technicians – doing slightly more complex and technical work.

Correspondingly, the jobs of technicians inflated and now incorporate elements of work that used to be for engineers. Some manufacturers believe that eventually there will be no technicians and operators with their work being taken over by autonomous machines (robots and cobots) – But that is a story for the future. We are not there yet.

If you’re a university degree holder, you will likely start in a technician role, the quickly get promoted to a thinking role with calculations, planning, forecasting, controls, oversight, and designing responsibilities. These are not skills that are learned on the job but taught in the course of higher education, or a degree programme.

At Auston, our degree programs take 24 months to complete full time and 32 months to complete part time. The best part is that you don’t have to choose between either. Our courses are built modularly.

This means that you can start with a higher diploma, and after 16 months (part time) you get a Higher Diploma award. If you like the area and you see career opportunities, then you can progress onto the degree programme and get a Bachelor’s degree after 16 months (part time).

All this would take just 2 years to complete full time or 3 years to complete part time.

What about Financial Aid? How can I afford higher education?

Contrary to popular belief, university education can be very affordable.

Option 1: Take an installment plan with Auston where you make payments every 3-4 months.

Option 2: Apply for an education loan with banks. Rates are attractive and terms are reasonable.

Option 3: Apply for scholarships. There are numerous scholarships available from community groups such as Mendaki

Option 4: Request that your employer sponsors your education – in exchange for a 3-4 year bond.

You must see it as an investment in yourself. The more you invest, the more you get in return.

Without education – you could probably secure a job that pays $2500. Over 10 years you will earn $300,000.

With a Higher Diploma – you could easily secure a higher paying role between $2800 with increments annually subject to a typical maximum of $4,100. Over 10 years you would earn $451,100 (an additional $151,100).

Our course fees are just $8,000. Would you invest $8000 to get $151,100 back? A whopping 1889% return on your investment.

With a Bachelor’s Degree – our graduates average salary in Electrical and Electronic Engineering is $3625 while Mechanical Engineering is $4700. Assuming an average figure of $4,163 over 10 years with annual increments subject to a maximum of $6100 you would make $671,018 (an additional $371,018).

Our course fees from higher diploma and bachelor’s degrees are $30,000. Would you invest $30,000 to get $371,018 back? A whopping 1237% return on investment.

This is a much better investment than 4D and TOTO.

Understanding Entry Requirements to a Diploma vs Degree programme

Simplified answer: If you’re an O Level, NITEC, or Higher NITEC holder, you will need to start at a certificate or foundation level. If you’re an A Level or certificate holder, you will need to start at the Diploma level (or the equivalent to the first year of the degree). If you’re a Polytechnic Diploma holder in a recognized subject area, you can enter the Degree programme (the second / third year of a UK degree programme).

What is a Top-Up Degree course?


A Top-up degree is equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree. These courses are aimed at students who have previously completed a related foundation level degree (or equivalent, e.g. an HND) and they provide a route for students to achieve a Bachelors degree.

Top-up degrees enable students to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of a particular topic while also receiving an internationally-recognized qualification.

Is a Top-Up degree Recognized to Join a Master’s degree?

As with most good quality masters degrees you will be expected to meet entry requirements before you are eligible to join. In the case of our university partner University of West England, Bristol you will need to achieve at least a good-honours degree – this is a Second Upper honours and above.

Also while we do not have formal articulations to other universities around the world, our undergraduate students have gone on to Master’s degree elsewhere such as National University Singapore, Macquarie University Australia, and other global universities.

So What Should I Do Now?

We recommend that you start looking for degree programmes and hopefully, you choose us.

Many people ask where do I start.  

Everyone starts in different place. Your past qualifications and work experience is critical in determining where you go and start. If you’d like to speak to a consultant about joining, please complete the form below and we can get back to you about fees, duration and more.

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