Career change for an engineer - any ideas? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-29-2009, 01:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have become totally disenchanted with my career, not just my job, but my career.
It's a challenge just to get through my work day. The problem is we really need me to work, I bring in 1/2 of our income and we are still paying for my degree. My job provides the benefits and has very stable and flexible hours - all great as far as work environment goes I just HATE the work.

I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree, with a concentration in Environmental engineering and I've been working as a transportation engineer/ structural engineer.

Any ideas.

Wife to DH Chris, Momma to :Caitlin Mae (4-28-07)
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:06 AM
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I come from a family of engineers here who went on to other things. I ended up going to grad school and am now working in health applications; my sister got a teaching degree and taught high school math and physics. For both of us, the background in engineering was a real plus.

Other ideas that pay well and for which you may be qualified include technical writing, science communication, and working for a regulatory agency.

Any chance you could get back into enviro? What about working for an environmental advocacy group? It's often quite helpful to have a technical background.

Do you like business? Not really my cup of tea, but lots of engineers I know went on to get an MBA or related degree. I also know some people who work in financial companies, evaluating engineering investments.

Good luck!

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Old 07-29-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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I'm an engineer too. For me what helped was to just change industries. Luckily with an engineering degree, you can pretty much do anything. Although, if you do find a job in a completely different industry, you might start on the bottom. Are you a PE? If so, that will probably give you more options too.

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Old 07-29-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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My happiest engineer friend went on after 5 years to go back to Law School and works as a lawyer on Patent/Engineering issues. Cool subspecialty.

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Old 07-30-2009, 12:06 PM
 
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Well it's in the same-ish field, but what about being an estimator? Not sure if it would provide the change you're looking for.

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Old 07-30-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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What about a going back into environmental engineering? You could work in a gov job with good benefits and great maternity leave. My sister works for her state's DEM/DEP in waterwater management and she has a flexible schedule that is close to her kids school times, but when she was pregnant, she was about to take 1 year off without losing seniority, then was able to go back PT for another year.

Other than that - technical communication is a good move as well if you like to write.

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Old 07-30-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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I don't post very often but this post caught my eye... I'm also an engineer in the aerospace industry. I've been doing this for 12 years and still enjoy it but am actually happier in the past 5 years. See, the first 7 years I was do the analysis portion of the engineering, lots of calculating, math, theory, etc. Then 5 years ago, I switched to the design aspect of it... no more number crunching... just sketching out a concept and designing it on the computer. I absolutely LOVE the design aspect of engineering. Just wish I would have switched sooner. I'm still in the same industry so I didn't really have to relearn everything. Would this type of "switch" be a possibility for you?
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Old 07-30-2009, 06:37 PM
 
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Mechanical engineer here. I too would suggest changing to a different type of job still related to your field. Heck, I know some engineers who decided to do sales. Not sure if that has any interest for you, but I know a lot of vendors enjoy having engineers as their salepeople since they can relate much better to the engineers they are trying to get to specify their products.

With the big LEED push and all the other green stuff right now, there have got to be some opportunities in something related to that, especially with your environmental background. Getting LEED certified is harder than it used to be, but what you have to learn for the test is what you need to learn to do a LEED project anyway.

If you want a total career change I know engineers that have gone back to school and are now teachers, chefs, lawyers, etc.

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Old 07-30-2009, 08:24 PM
 
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What about a going back into environmental engineering? You could work in a gov job with good benefits and great maternity leave. My sister works for her state's DEM/DEP in waterwater management and she has a flexible schedule that is close to her kids school times, but when she was pregnant, she was about to take 1 year off with losing seniority, then was able to go back PT for another year.

Other than that - technical communication is a good move as well if you like to write.


Mech Eng here. I went into a blue collar job after a long hiatus (SAHM). What do you need from your job? More outside work (environmental/field), more design, more social sphere (teaching)? What is missing? It is hard to suggest something to you otherwise.
I personally need a physically active job. I hope to go back and work as a field engineer someday when my kids are a bit older. But right now I have a job as an operator and that works out great. Again, it is govt and so benefits, easy about child care options etc.
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Old 08-01-2009, 03:52 AM
 
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I switched from engineering to financial planning. Apparently it's the #1 most common previous-career of people who career change into financial planning! But it was a serious re-train and I took a giant pay cut and it was only possible because I was still able to contract a bit "on the side" during the (long) transition. I love it even more than I thought I would though!

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Old 08-02-2009, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mech Eng here. I went into a blue collar job after a long hiatus (SAHM). What do you need from your job? More outside work (environmental/field), more design, more social sphere (teaching)? What is missing? It is hard to suggest something to you otherwise.
I personally need a physically active job. I hope to go back and work as a field engineer someday when my kids are a bit older. But right now I have a job as an operator and that works out great. Again, it is govt and so benefits, easy about child care options etc.
I'm a civil engineer and I think I realized near the end of my junior year that I wasn't happy - but I had a bad support team, adviser etc, and no clue what to do. I was afraid of changing or loosing all the time & money put into school to that point
I need a more social sphere job I think, teaching would be ideal. It was what I wanted to be before an engineer and I have always loved working with children. But when it was time to pick a college and decide my future I was a stupid teenager - and choose a career for money rather than happiness - I never knew better.
My biggest hurdle so far is taking the pay cut to go else where, I can't stop working to go back to school and with working a full time job there isn't enough time to do what needs to be done as it is.
I do not have my PE, I could go for it, but currently wonder if it's worth the effort if I don't want to continue in the career.
I am also considering paralegal - I took 1 law class during college and despite being a little dry, was enjoyable. Additionally I have recently prepare a several folders worth of legal research in regards to FMLA laws on the state level - I bit o a disagreement with my current employer. And every lawyer I have talked with was impressed with the work.
lus there just don't seem to be the job opening there once were.

Wife to DH Chris, Momma to :Caitlin Mae (4-28-07)
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:20 PM
 
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If you want to teach, see if your state has alternative certification programs. Usually those are 1-2 years and you won't need to get another bachelor's.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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Old 08-03-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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I agree with Skippy918.. look into your state's alternative certification programs. There is a push right now for technical professionals to make career changes to teach. Dunno about your state, but it could be a huge pay cut especially coming from the engineering consulting world. But, there was one in my state a while back for technical professionals that was sort of an on the job training where you had education classes in the evenings while you were already teaching in the classroom.

The other suggestions about sales and government work are excellent also. I know a couple of women who have very successfully made the switch to sales from consulting. I'm a traffic engineer (Civil PE) for the government and I really adore my job. I never really planned on doing consultant work and I don't think I would be happy doing it. It's a 40 hr a week job and the benefits are nice. I also really like having contact with the public and solving their problems when I can (if you are interested in hearing more, pm me). Sales probably wouldn't be a pay cut at all and government might not be much once you factor in the benefits and hourly rate.

My husband is a chemical engineer who is now a patent attorney. With your engineering degree you can actually become a patent agent without being an attorney. You just have to pass the patent bar. Now, what exactly can you do with that? I don't have an answer unfortunately. Engineers seem to do well in law, but I think your options are rather limited there without going back to school. And I gather that isn't really an option.

At any rate, I would suggest that if you are ready, go ahead and get that PE before you make any moves. It seems to be so much more difficult to come back and pass it once you have left the field. You have already come this far and it would give you more options in the future. If you went back to teach then it would be possible to make up for the income loss by doing some contract engineering work on the side/during the summer. But mostly it just gives you more options, which is always good.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:39 AM
 
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My happiest engineer friend went on after 5 years to go back to Law School and works as a lawyer on Patent/Engineering issues. Cool subspecialty.
This is me. My undergrad is also Env Eng, and I have a Microbiology degree too; sadly, I'm for sure second class amongst patent practitioners. It makes me so mad cuz I had circuits and statics and thermo too bah. But anyhoo...

As PP said, you don't have to go to law school - you can be a Patent Agent. I would for sure look into it. I went to law school to be an environmental attorney cuz I got sick of listening to lawyers not be able to say toluene, but I ended up finding patent law. They pay me money to learn. I'm a total dork so I kind of get off on that. In theory I totally love my job. But go into it knowing it's hard to get an "in" with the CE degree. (Which is BS. )

ETA: I hate Phase Is, but during a period of underemployment I was able to work out a pretty sweet deal doing Phase Is contract for a local firm. It helped get me through the yuck time.

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Old 08-08-2009, 01:18 AM
 
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... My sister works for her state's DEM/DEP in waterwater management and she has a flexible schedule that is close to her kids school times, but when she was pregnant, she was about to take 1 year off without losing seniority, then was able to go back PT for another year.

...
What state does she work for ?!?
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Old 09-10-2009, 04:55 AM
 
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I'm a civil engineer and I think I realized near the end of my junior year that I wasn't happy - but I had a bad support team, adviser etc, and no clue what to do. I was afraid of changing or loosing all the time & money put into school to that point
I need a more social sphere job I think, teaching would be ideal. It was what I wanted to be before an engineer and I have always loved working with children. But when it was time to pick a college and decide my future I was a stupid teenager - and choose a career for money rather than happiness - I never knew better.
I went from engineering to teaching and I just want to say that you should be *very* sure before you make that switch. I thought I was choosing to "follow my bliss" etc. by going into teaching, but didn't realize how HARD and draining the job is. Maybe you have a natural affinity for it and won't have the same experience. But I definitely don't enjoy being a teacher. (Note: I do enjoy teaching a child something, but all the other things like managing 20-30 kids at once, etc. - just not enjoyable to me). I switched right out of college, so have no experience as an engineer. Now that it has been 10 years since my degree, I don't think I could get back in to engineering. I don't know what to do now, but it stinks to have a career you dislike AND get paid little to do. I'm not working right now, but I don't know what I'm going to do when my younger starts Kinder and I will need to work again. I'm having difficulty finding another area to transition into. It seems like once you are a teacher, you are pegged as a teacher for good!
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:30 PM
 
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Hi Ubelle,

 

I'm in the the same position you were in 3 years ago. I just wanted to know have you managed to do something about changing your career. I'm a civil engineer and have worked for 7 years now but somehow I seem to be not interested in it anymore. Please reply..

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Old 06-21-2012, 12:48 PM
 
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I have become totally disenchanted with my career, not just my job, but my career.
It's a challenge just to get through my work day. The problem is we really need me to work, I bring in 1/2 of our income and we are still paying for my degree. My job provides the benefits and has very stable and flexible hours - all great as far as work environment goes I just HATE the work.

I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree, with a concentration in Environmental engineering and I've been working as a transportation engineer/ structural engineer.

Any ideas.

I went to law school with several engineers...not sure if that's something you'd consider or not.  I can tell you, where I live an engineer with a law degree would make a KILLING (and many are!)  Here, it wouldn't be patent-type work (well, it could be) but likely something related to resource development (specifically oil and gas, since I'm in Alberta, Canada).  Maybe there is something similar in your area?  Or you could move to Calgary along with half of the rest of the world. eyesroll.gif


N, wife to my goofball K partners.gif and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013).  Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.

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Old 03-13-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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Just curious if Ubelle did a career change from civ engineering to something else. I am in a similar situation and did a search and this popped up.
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I did eventually change careers. It may not be much help since I finally became a SAHM. it was something we wanted for a long time and took the right circumstances. I stayed at the old job for 4 years (all the time looking for something new.) in that time my husband lost his job and was unemployed fora year, but he found a great new job. During the 4 years I looked at environmental jobs (applied & interviewed) that would use the education I had & my experience too.

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Old 03-14-2013, 02:54 PM
 
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That's great! Any thoughts for what you will do later once the kids go back to school? I am considering a program administered in the local community college where you can become a teacher. Requires a bachelor's degree, 5 years work experience, and passing grades on 2 tests to be allowed to the program. Then an intense 16 week schooling that meets on Saturdays (so you can keep working) then a year teamed up with a mentor. During that year you receive the same salaries and benefits as other teachers. If all goes well then a 5 year contract can then be signed.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:13 AM
 
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How is everything Ubelle? I am civil engineering, also.  I graduated 4 years ago with honors. Unfortunatelly at that time my 2 months year old baby started with a series of surgeries and treatments that required my complete atention. Her last surgery was 2 moths ago, she is in therapy, but she does not require more treatements. I was not able to work until now, but it is difficult to find a job, without experience or any further education. I am in my late, late 30s :). I am considering a master degree (but it is costly,2 or 3 years and it is not sure to find a job) or to change career in a medical field (the other field that I like). I do not like business or finances (I worked on that fields). Any sugestions !!!

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