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After school options for an Engineer

  1. Aug 16, 2011 #1
    I am coming towards the end of my BS in Electrical Engineering, and I have decided that I want to earn my PhD in Engineering when it's all said and done. I want to go to a top tier grad school program for my Masters and PhD but my family and I will not be able to really afford that. I also know I need experience to help me earn jobs and gain a career later in life. I know that almost every company offers tuition reimbursement for their employees. Knowing this fact, I have pretty much decided to attempt to earn a job after school and let the company pay for my Master's degree. At the same time, I am also planning to become a licensed Professional Engineer while working too. After earning my MS and PE, I would then quit my job and go to school full-time and try to earn my PhD. With being a PE at the same time, I am hoping I will be able to moon-light as a consultant with the hopes of just making ends meet for the time.

    The main question I want to know is: is this plan actually possible? Does anyone know of someone who has attempted to do the same thing or something similar? Any other advice for trying to earn a PhD and PE?

    Thank you for your responses, advice, and time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2011 #2
    Be cautious, especially with a statement like "... let the company pay for my Master's degree" . Just because an employer may offer financial reimbursement does NOT mean:
    (1) it covers all your tuition costs (it often does not), and
    (2) you can leave work to go to class at your leisure, and
    (3) they have any real motivation to pay for it

    In other words, sometimes the situation only caters to someone attending night classes, or an online university. I have worked at a few companies where, once hired, the employee requirements document (signature required) specifically state any schooling effort must not impact the business needs of the position/company, and must be done outside normal business hours. In addition, sometimes it states the degree being pursued must be directly related to the position and business functions of the applicable employee (in order to qualify for reimbursement). This is not every employer obviously, but this is my primary experience. Attempting to work and go to school may mean you must take part-time employment status. Also keep in mind that to qualify, often a probationary period of 6 months to 1 year must be satisfied before the employee is eligible for educational reimbursement. In addition, often the employee must work for at least 1 year after any tuition costs are reimbursed, otherwise, all funds paid in the 12 months preceding the employee's departure must be paid back to the company. When interviewing, be sure to be very specific about your inquiries regarding tuition reimbursement (how much, probationary period, etc), and work schedule. Make sure these questions can somehow reach the hiring manager, as they will likely have the greatest influence. Good luck.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  4. Aug 18, 2011 #3

    You have raised a lot of questions and concerns that I have not thought about. My plan was to pursue an online degree, as more and more universities are offering full Master's degrees online and they are the same degrees earned as if I was on campus going to the lectures myself. I have been planning to take about 4-5 years to earn my MS because I would be taking online classes and would really only have the time to take 1, 2 at max, courses a semester.

    I will take your advice with me when I go to interviews and ask the interviewers about their employee benefit programs. Your advice will help me to better choose which company will potentially be the best fit for me and my situation, and will help me achieve my life's goals.

    Thank you
  5. Aug 18, 2011 #4
    No problem. In my opinion, for me at least, I wish I would have obtained my Masters directly after my B.S. I did not have the financial means however to do that, so I went into industry. I am now pursuing my Master's, and it is difficult balancing work/life/school. Also, as you mentioned, doing things in this manner requires about 3-4 years to earn an M.S. However, with that said, there are some advantages. M.S. students that have not yet worked in industry have a, I will use the term "different", perspective than, lets say someone like myself who has been working in the field for 5-6 years. I found, as I have just started taking courses, I have a greater scope with which to apply my newly acquired academic knowledge.
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