Engineer looking for a change

Hi everyone,

I’m new here and I must say out of all the forums I’ve visited, this one has to have *the *brightest minds around! So I’ve come for a little advice on my current situation.
After high school I got accepted into Engineering knowing that I liked physics, mechanics, computers and electronics but not much else. I started off well getting decent grades, but by the end of 1st year they had slipped. After 1st year you’re supposed to apply for which type of Engineering you’d like to go to. My choices in order were Mechanical, Civil, Mining, Electrical, Materials. I ended up not having high enough grades for the first two and was placed in Mining.

So why Mining? Honestly, I never went for career counseling and chose it because I thought it would be pay well and be ‘easy’. This was a huge mistake; I should have put my lifestyle first. I was born and raised in a big city and being in the Mining Industry requires you to live in a small town for the most part (unless you become a consultant or move to upper management).

Now and I’m newly graduated as a Mining Engineer living in one of the larger mining towns with 80,000 people making very good coin but I keep thinking that I don’t want to be here for long; the industry doesn’t interest me, and if I stay in Mining it will be likely that I’ll live in this small town for awhile. There’s also the fact that the women here are not exactly the kind that I would settle down with, trust me on that!

To have a little idea about I would say that I’m the type of person that thinks before I speak, likes to follow instructions but also problem solve, likes perfection,

I need to do more research but so far my options are:

**1. **Stay for a few years (3+) to get my P.Eng then try and find work with a consulting firm in the city but these companies may prefer more years of experience and securing a good stable job will be competitive.

**2. **Try and go back to my Alma mater or another University to do another Engineering degree (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, etc. if my grades are good enough to be accepted). That would probably take 3 years. I can afford the costs ($).

**3. **Apply for a Masters in another field of Engineering (ie. Civil). I’ve heard that this is possible, but with a Mining Engineering, do not know where this would take me career wise. Does anyone have experience with this? How easy is it to get into a Masters program of a different faculty?

**4. **Stay with my current company and apply for their funded MBA program, though this would most likely require me to stay at the company a number of years.

**5. **I thought about Law School, but my GPA is not high enough and I believe I’m considering Law for the wrong reasons.

**6. **Considered being an accountant or Business Analyst but I need to do more research into this.
This is a hard decision for me because the opportunity cost lost in doing this career change is ~$500,000 and 6 years but I just want to be happy and stable with a family in the city. I’m also not sure which to choose because I feel as though I can learn to like any of them. My options are:

Civil
Electrical
Computer
Mechanical
Chemical & Biological
Materials

I would describe myself as a casual Engineer; I’m not hardcore focused on figuring out every minute detail of a gadget, but I do enjoy tinkering here and there. I enjoy playing around with computers and some software, but I don’t think this is grounds to automatically become a Computer Engineer. I only know a small amount of coding and I could be decent at it; though I’m not sure if I would handle staring at a monitor hours on end. What else could I say that would give you an idea on what I’d be good at?

Does anyone know the job situation for different Engineering fields in Vancouver Canada? I’ve heard that Electrical and Computer Engineering jobs are being outsourced to China, but it’s not a trusted source.

My current job allows me to rotate within the company and I have the opportunity to stay in the technical division or move to a more Projects oriented position which would be dealing with multi-million dollar capital funding etc.

Anyway, I’m writing this post partly to vent and put it out there but also for some advice from you guys, the counselors I never had. I feel bad about ‘wasting’ 4 years of my life and want to make a change soon. Any advice you Engineers out there could offer would be much appreciated!

Sounds to me as though you’re young enough to start fresh at school, and even choose something totally unrelated to engineering.

One of the young engineers I mentored in the past eventually left civil engineering and made a career pursing his hobby - investing in the stock market. I’ve known other engineering majors to go on to law school (as you’ve mentioned) - there are many areas of law, so it may be more suited to you than you think. I’ve heard that the engineer’s training in logical thinking is a boon to many types of lawyering.

If you like the Vancouver area I think you are on the right track, asking about what kind of engineering (or engineering-related) jobs are available there. I don’t know anything about that, but seems like working backwards will help you figure out what to do.

That’s my 2 cents anyway.

Mechanical is a dead-end profession. Something in computers or electrical engineering will always be in demand.

As a civil engineer (structural), I can give you a little information about the civil engineering profession. First of all, there are a lot of different types of civil engineer, so you would need to think about what you would want to focus on: geotechnical, mechanics, materials, structures, transportation, water resources, etc… (there are probably a few I have left out!). Not to mention environmental engineering, which is often lumped together with civil. So if you are thinking of getting a masters in civil (my guess is that a BS in mining engineering would be enough to get you into a civil masters program), you should do some research first into the different areas and decide what exactly you are interested in.

That being said, most civil engineers are closely tied to the construction industry, and when construction is down, so is civil engineering. So keep that in mind if you’re planning on a civil engineering career. Basically if the economy is good, you’re crazy busy, and if it’s bad, you’re afraid you’re going to get laid off. Oh, and civils don’t make great money for engineers. Although the geotechs seem to do pretty well.

Or water resources. As long as it rains, I’ll have a job. As Wednesday Evening points out, I’ll never get rich doing it though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Engineers who subsequently study law and become lawyers often make excellent patent lawyers, for example. And, FWIW, the top student in our law school graduating class was a former chemical engineer.

I can certainly respect your wish to explore other options within engineering, n10797, but I’m curious: what are, to you, the wrong reasons for studying law?

Disclaimer: I’ve been an Engineer for nearly 2 decades, have my PE, a graduate Engineering degree, and I’ve taught undergraduate and graduate Engineering courses at University, and I advise students and young Engineers. However, I’m not your career adviser.

A PE is valuable but it’s not gained in vacuo. A consulting firm will look very hard at what work you do and your experience, and the PE may not help as much as you think - it may change the job level you’re hired at, but not whether you get the job.

Ugh. Surely you can do that in 2 or less; there should have been a lot of common courses, no?

Yes it can be done by a motivated applicant, although there may be as much as a year or so of “make-up” courses. I know a BS-Eng Phys/MS Eng, a BS-Civil/MS-Mech, and a BS-Nuke/MS-Mech. If at all possible, do this over option 2. In my experience in the consulting engineering field, 2 BS < 1MS.

Tough to judge this one. I know very few Engineers who an MBA has helped. YMMV.

Another hard choice. A couple of classmates who went this route did not go nearly as far in their careers as I did.

No comment.

Really, now. The Labor Department may say “only” a 3-6% growth to 2018, but in the energy field, especially renewables, Mechanicals are still hot.

Several of the actuaries with whom I’ve worked were engineers in a former life.

I am not an engineer, but I work with lots of them. Have you considered the energy industry? There has been steady demand for engineers for at least 5 years, only somewhat reduced by the economic downturn, which has not hurt the business nearly as badly as many others. The jobs are mainly in operations-drilling wells, then making gas & oil flow out of them, but there are many other positions in reservoir analysis, site design, etc. There should be some overlap with the kind of things you studied and are doing now. While many people come from schools with oil & gas specific programs, not all do, and I work with quite a few people who studied civil and mining.

Most of these jobs are office-based, in larger cities like Houston, Oklahoma City, Shreveport, Denver, and recently Pittsburgh, while they may not be in the same league as New York or San Francisco (Houston’s close), they are far and away better than a small, isolated town, which sounds like something you really aren’t happy with.

Most of those jobs are not based in big cities, outside of Houston, but Calgary does have a relatively large base for petroleum engineering jobs.

I could swear I wrote the op except I’m a Pet. E and I’m a couple more years out of school. While things may be different in Canada in the U.S. the schools I’ve talked to (Cal State and UCs) do not allow you to return for a second Bachelors after you graduate. I have lots of friends that were Mining and the classes they took were vastly different then pretty much all of then engineering majors except for geologic engineering, which could be viewed as a subset of civil but I know a couple working as petroleum.

After looking at my options I’m thinking that law school is going to be my best option and I’m currently saving money so that I can pay for it out of pocket. What helped me make my decision was looking what I liked and didn’t about my job and then trying to find something that matched my likes. Since big city life appeals to you I’d look away from the geo engineering professions and more towards fields that are less field based. I’m not sure if this was helpful or just me rambling.

You really think the future doesn’t involve anything with moving parts?

A MechE degree is one of the most versatile engineering degrees you can have. It allows you to work in many different fields, even computers or electrical engineering. Mechanical engineering itself may be dead-end, but the degree is valuable.

With all due respect, and really not trying to start a fight, I disagree. There are several hundred engineers working at my employer’s headquarters in Oklahoma City, which has more than a million people in it,s metro area. Reservoir engineers and a few specialists never work outside of the office, asset managers drive out to a well maybe twice a month, and drilling engineers (after a 6 month training rotation at a field office) go into the field about one day per week. Only a tiny minority of engineers (maybe 50) live in the small towns near the field offices.

The service companies have a greater proportion of their people based out in Podunk, but even they have sizable numbers of engineers in the office. Not to mention that many of the service company guys live in the city and drive out to the sticks for logging/frac jobs,

Offshore drilling does require engineers to live onsite, which is considerably more remote than even a small oilfield town. But even the multinationals that do those kind of projects have more engineers working in office buildings than they have out at the rig.

Not that any of my nattering is necessarily material to the OP’s question, just pointing out a potential field tof interest hat may have been overlooked.

I will simply say anyone that finished college with a degree has not wasted the entire 4 years. Most (more than half) of the people I know are not working in the areas of their degrees, but all are using their education and ability to learn.

Really? My husband is a mechanical engineer. He has worked in the steel industry, the automotive industry, the packaging industry, in NASA, and he currently works for a contractor supporting several Navy projects. His resume is floating around on Monster, and he still gets calls from head hunters every month or so.

My degree is in aeronautical engineering and I’ve worked as an aerospace structural engineer and a mechanical engineer (which is what I’m doing now.) I’ve been in various engineering jobs for almost 25 years, and I haven’t hit a dead end yet. Who do you think designs the machines that build the stuff designed by electrical and computer engineers?? Watch “How It’s Made” on whatever cable network carries it. Look at all the machines that manufacture all kinds of things - who do you think comes up with those??

Mechanical engineering is far from dead-end.

I am looking for a change, too. This unemployment situation sucks.

Ohh, engineering spouses. What’s the nerdiest discussion/argument you’ve ever had, if you don’t mind me prying a bit. :slight_smile:

I went to a mining college and got a degree in chemical engineering. It was the sister program for the metallurgical engineering/material science program at the time. The mining industry did pretty serious recruiting out of the Chem E and Met E departments at the time, but I wasn’t interested in the industry. The industry had screwed my father when he worked as a surveyor, and I wasn’t interested in moving from town to town as things went boom and bust.

My goal was to work in the environmental field.

I currently work for an engineering and environmental consulting company. The diversity of backgrounds in the consulting business is amazing. I work for a toxicologist. Moving up the org chart, there’s a biologist then a civil engineer. What I’ve found is that environmental work is primarily about learning applications of general science and engineering rather than having a specific set of training like might be expected in mining or petroleum.

My background was perfect for the air group because geologists have a tough time with that Ideal Gas Law stuff and can’t understand that 1 part per million by volume does not mean one part per million by mass in air. Naturally, they’re better at that hydraulic conductivity stuff; in my college classes, water always flowed through pipes.

Perhaps a multifaceted consulting company may be of interest to the OP. It uses my engineering background, I get to live in a good sized city, and it’s relatively stable (within the context of the economy as a whole).

You might look into a masters in construction management. Project Management Professionals are usually in high demand.

Have you thought about working for the Government?