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Engineering Hands on engineering jobs

  1. May 7, 2016 #1
    Here is my situation:

    I have an interview on Monday for a maintenance technician apprenticeship, which I am interested in since I prefer practical work, certainly more than being on a computer. Most of my relatives have jobs where they are at a desk all day and I know that I wouldn't like that at all much as they don't. So my question is should I go to university (to do Mechanical Engineering) or should I do this apprenticeship? Obviously I haven't got it yet, but I'm confused as to whether I even want it since I imagine it is somewhat limiting in terms of prospects compared to having a degree. I've seen that you can be a 'field service technician' but can you do this with a Mech Eng degree or are there specific vocational qualifications which you'd need, from city & guild for instance.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2016 #2


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    This topic comes up fairly regularly here at PF, try the "Similar Discussions" links at the bottom of this page and maybe some further searching of the forum and google. Here's a start:
    The better your questions are the better we can respond.

    I've done an electrical apprenticeship and then gone to Uni for a Mech. Eng degree. I can say that after a long, hot, dirty, greasy, dangerous, dark and wet day of trade work a desk job seems downright utopian.
    There are plenty of engineering jobs that aren't confined to a desk.
  4. May 7, 2016 #3


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    If you prefer "hands-on" work to desk work, there are many skilled trades which provide well-paying jobs without the need for a degree. Some training may be required, but the duration is considerably shorter than what you must spend acquiring most degrees.

    Some of these trades are in such short supply that prospective employers will train you and then provide a job at the end of the training/certification period.

    You don't find many poor plumbers/electricians/welders, etc. in today's job markets.
  5. May 8, 2016 #4
    Is it possible to work as a technician with a degree or does that require different qualifications?
  6. May 8, 2016 #5


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    I would assume that as long as you have received the proper training as a technician, you could work with a degree. However, obtaining a degree does not ensure that you have received proper training as a technician. That's why programs like apprenticeships are used to train technicians.

    You want that degree, but you really don't want to do the work for which the degree is required. Obtaining a degree takes a lot of time and money. Consider that in your planning of how you want to spend your time.
  7. May 11, 2016 #6
    For strictly hands-on, Technician is the way to go. Mechanic, Electrician, Specialist...job titles & responsibilities abound. Precision Metalworking ("high-end machinist") is a branch of that thinking, and seems to be always in high demand and well paid. But keep in mind that as part of a team, you'll most likely work in a secondary role to Engineering personnel. The other thing to consider: when you're 35, feeling the onset of middle age, and your teenage kids need a guiding influence, you probably will not want to spend your nights crawling around a greasy machine. You'll probably seek out a Managerial position for more pay and....that desk.

    I hate desk jobs too. After a couple of those in my early career, I migrated to Manufacturing Engineering. I found it to be as technical, high-tech, challenging, dynamic, and thrilling as anything I could imagine. I saw the fruits of my labor, had impact on company's bottom lines, co-workers, and customers. Wasn't all peaches and cream and no job will ever be, but I would do it all again. I divided my time between my desk and the shop floor. Don't regret it a bit.
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