1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

31 going on 32 too late for a career change?

  1. Mar 1, 2007 #1
    Hi all...

    I have a successful career going right now... but I'm finding that its just not that rewarding. I make a decent wage so it's scary to think about starting from scratch; however, I've always had a craving for understanding electronics and figuring out how things work. The thought of being a part of a team developing/creating new technologies is exciting to me.

    That said... I'm 31 going on 32... I'll need 4 years + of school, loans etc etc etc... am I nuts? I should mention that math/physics always came easy to me (in highschool... which was **ahem** 13 years ago!!).

    I'm confident that I can achieve whatever I set out to do... but I'm interested to hear what you all think about someone in the mid-thirties entering into the job market.

    Thanks All!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2007 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Heck, early 30s is still young, from my perspective. Absolutely you should consider doing new things, pretty much no matter your age, IMO.

    I'd recommend getting your feet wet with only a small investment in money and a medium investment in your time first, to see if it really turns out to be something you find very interesting and fun. I'd recommend that you buy a copy of the introductory electronics book "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill (just check it out on Amazon or at your local technical/university bookstore). Read it from cover-to-cover (that will take 6 weeks to 6 months part time, depending on how easily you pick it up), and you will have a very good basic understanding of electronics from resistors and transistors through opamps and up through some introductory computer hardware design.

    And I would also recommend that during this exploratory learning period, you build several electronics kits on your own, in order to learn about various aspects of electronics, and to apply what you are reading about in the AofE book. Your local Radio Shack store has some reasonable kits, as will your local hobby store. This website has a nice assortment of kits from basic to more advanced:


    About your 4th or 5th kit should include a microcontroller (uC), and you should use the associated free compilers and other uC tools to start incorporating uCs into your kit builds and other projects.

    After about a year or so, you will have a very good basic understanding of electronics, you will have built several practical circuits and understand how they work, and you will be starting to work with the very practical and real-world uC aspect of much of modern electronics.

    At that point you will have a good idea of whether you want to pull the trigger and get a full EE degree, and you will be in a good position to think about other related options (like getting a 2-year technician level degree instead of the 4-year EE, or working as a technician somewhere as you work part-time on your EE degree in school, etc.).

    Enjoy the ride!
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  4. Mar 1, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You can guarantee that, in this day & age, you have more than one career change ahead of you. Five is the new average.

    Welcome to the modern workforce.
  5. Mar 1, 2007 #4
    absolutely not
    last year i had a student teacher who was 70 years old.
  6. Mar 2, 2007 #5
    See, I was going to be all proud and pleased with myself for working on a career change at 45, and you've gone and ruined it! :smile:

    But back to the original poster... the local campus of the state university out here has something they call "Open University"... you can take a few courses with no particular admission or degree requirements in mind just to see if the field interests you. You might want to see if something like this is available near you.
  7. Mar 2, 2007 #6
    Thank you all for your replies! Like I said... I feel confident that I'm making the rights steps, I just needed to hear your perspectives... a little coaching goes a long way.

    Berkeman, thanks for the links... I'll certainly check out the book too.

  8. Mar 2, 2007 #7

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Changed career paths twice in my '30's......
  9. Mar 2, 2007 #8
    i think your 30's are not to late, if you look at the dropout rates for EE you get the feeling that your supposed to know or at least have an idea of what your doing before ever going to school, at least thats what i was told.
  10. Mar 2, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Age is not what is important. Do you have children? Is so, you have an obligation to provide for them and may not have the luxury of taking time off from work to go back to school.
  11. Mar 2, 2007 #10
    I would assume that the issue of children would have been explicitly stated.
  12. Mar 2, 2007 #11

    Er, you sure about that?

    Job changes... sure. But career changes?
  13. Mar 2, 2007 #12
    I don't know if this is against the rules to say, but I actually have a digital copy of that book that I got in my circuits class. We use the accompanying lab manual for our lab experiments, and it's helpful to have the book with you on a flash drive.

    If it's not wrong, then I can definitely send you that so you can read it whenever you want :smile:

    And I definitely agree with everybody else that you're still young enough to do it...better now than when you keep getting older and second guess yourself continuously. Just do it! :tongue:
  14. Mar 2, 2007 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No, that is copyrighted material, so you cannot make copies of it for distribution. You could snail mail the CDROM for him to look at and return (without him making a copy either) -- just think of copyrighted material being like a book. You can loan the book out, so only one person at a time can read it, but you cannot make copies for multiple people to be reading and using at the same time. The copyright is meant to make people buy the extra copies that will get used simultaneously.

    Good job realizing that it might not be okay to do. o:)
  15. Mar 2, 2007 #14
    I don't have children, but am recently married... we are "planning" (i "quote" because, like this post, life doesn't always go the way we plan, doesn't it? :biggrin: )... to have children, but not for at least 3-4years.

    I don't see this change as such a leap in career changes. I currently work in a technical field, though, as time goes on it has become less techincal (for me at least) and more support/operator related.. I've been a sound-tech/editor/operator for years; however, if someone came to me and needed an amp repaired I give them the deer-in-the-headlights look. :)

    Part of my motivation for the change is long-term stability in a career. I'm sure I'll get a bunch of replies saying that nothing is sacred, no matter the career. However, we've seen major changes in the entertainment biz... budgets dropping, schedules shortening, and smaller and smaller crews... etc. etc... I continually hear stories and see guys who have been in the biz for 20+ years get canned, and having nothing to fall back on.

    The Engineer path seems like a much broader market of opportunity. I'm hoping to be able to maintain my current job while attending a local community college to achieve my AS. This'll give me the chance to get my feet wet... If things work out, then I'll take the plunge and complete a BS at a stage college. The hope is that I'll segue into a new career/job at about the same time we are ready to have kids.

    Thanks again for your replies!
  16. Mar 2, 2007 #15
    I would contend that engineers are highly employable, assuming one constructs a solid academic path, integrating utility through a broad spectrum of courses, such as business, mathematics, social-sciences, etc.

    The engieering world seems much more corporate and business oriented, than the science world, however, I have NO IDEA how any of it works!
  17. Mar 2, 2007 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    when i was 32 with a wife and child, i went to grad school for a math phd. after 2 years, i felt hopeful about it and resigned my small collegte teaching job which had been held for me, stayed another year, finished and ultimately became the intellectual giant i am today!
  18. Mar 2, 2007 #17
    Some people start med school at ages older than you. Just be sure that it is something you want to do and you should be fine.

    Good luck!
  19. Mar 2, 2007 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    indeed my wife bore two children, then started med school at age 33, when the younger child was 7, and is presently a pediatrician.
  20. Mar 3, 2007 #19
    Ok, thanks for letting me know! My mistake, I'm still learning the rules around here :smile:
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook