Career Change: Forestry -> Engineering

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  • #1
Career Change: Forestry --> Engineering

I am contemplating returning to school to complete a BS in Engineering (possibly Environmental). I went to school 10 years ago planning to start an engineering program and was distracted by fighting wildland fires and ended up with a Forest Resources BS.

10 years of working for the Forest Service and I'm bored to tears. I find myself doing things like taking Calc II classes in the winter to entertain my self.

I am 28 now, debt free and I'm seriously considering applying to my local University to begin the course work I would need to complete to apply to a professional program. Environmental Engineering seems like it is in line with my first degree in terms of working outside and designing things that help/modify the environment. It also seems to have a decent job market, 31% increase in the next 5/6 years according to BLS.

The cost/benefit in terms of future salary versus current salary+tuition seems a no brainer.

Has anyone done this or something similar?

Answers and Replies

  • #2

I haven't personally, but there are tons of people who take their experience with certain industries and get the education/certification required to elevate them to higher levels in that field. It is certainly doable, and if you don't mind going back to school and can afford the tuition/are willing to work on the side, then it is a great idea. Engineering is a great field and if you look around you can generally find something that you are genuinely intrested in.
  • #3
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There are often discussions on this forum about the pros and cons of getting a second bachelor's degree. Many argue it's a better use of your time to get a master's.

In your case, your bachelor's may be sufficient to get into a master's program, provided you take classes to make up any deficiencies. Have you considered that path?
  • #4

Because of the coursework required for my forestry degree, I will have to go back and retake courses at a higher level of rigor. IE - Chem 142 vs Chem 221

Unfortunately, I am fairly certain this will prevent me from applying to a masters program in engineering. I am looking at 3-3.5 years of school before I am back in the job market.

I could finish a civil or construction engineering management degree in less time, but feel the that job prospects in civil do not warrant the debt I will likely take on.

Is it typical or advantageous to work for an engineering firm in the summer? I could continue fighting wildland fire in the summer and probably cover my costs as a student by working for 3 months.

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