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Engineering Can you do advanced engineering without an advanced degree?

  1. Aug 28, 2016 #1
    Hi, I'm a student and I'm trying to decide what particular field I should study and how much time I should spend in school. I'm interested in engineering and would like to do advanced engineering that would be intellectually challenging and use advanced math and physics. However, I would rather not spend a lot of time in school. Is it feasible for an engineer to advance their carer and learn the necessary skills through job experience and/or self teaching? Or will the lack of an advanced degree, and/or a degree in the right field, limit ones carer and what type of work they can do.

    From reading some of the threads here, I get the impression that a PhD in engineering won't help someones carer prospects much more than a masters in engineering. But will a masters in engineering make a big difference in someones carer prospects compared to a bachelors?

    Also, is it difficult for someone who gets a degree in physics to go into engineering and do advanced work? Is there a way for someone who gets a degree in physics to make it more marketable to engineer employers, such as by taking engineering courses?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2016 #2


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    An advanced degree will make it easier for you to market yourself to employers. It would probably make enough salary difference that you would see more $$ over the course of your career with an advanced degree than without, considering the cost of the degree and the years in school, not working.

    It may or may not improve your effectiveness vs equivalent time on-the-job. That depends very much on who you are working with and how your own individual learning process operates. The reality in most companies is some mix of meritocracy and credentials, and the balance differs from company to company and from group to group.

    My advice is that more education is not likely to hurt, and is likely to help if you are wanting to have a satisfying career and have others look at you as highly talented / skilled.

    Anecdotally speaking, most of the people I know in highly regarded technical leadership positions do have advanced degrees.
  4. Aug 29, 2016 #3
    Then you should go to engineering school. In 4 years you can decide whether you want to continue to another more advanced degree. You certainly don't have to decide that now. You can work and then get another degree. A lot of people do that while working, and their company pays for the tuition.

    First things first. You may not even like engineering, and may discover that early in your bachelors program.
  5. Sep 5, 2016 #4


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    A master's in engineering can take only a little time (+1 to 1 1/2 years) over a bachelors and give you a lot of exposure to advanced classes and concepts that will help you in doing the kind of work you seem to be interested in and also make you more attractive to employers if they are doing relatively cutting edge work. Beyond that, I think you have to learn by doing, which can be either a Ph.D. dissertation project or on the job experience.

    Probably not, unless it has to do with manufacturing or other specific processes that were not covered in the physics curriculum.

    That could definitely help, but I would say true hands-on experience is the best resume builder.
  6. Sep 5, 2016 #5


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    You are asking the wrong question. If you know enough, somehow, and are smart enough, then it is certainly possible that you would be capable of advanced engineering. What you need to think about is how could you ever expect to GET such a job without an advanced degree? Not likely to happen.
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