Is a hands-on engineering job the right fit for me?

In summary, the individual is considering an interview for a maintenance technician apprenticeship as they prefer practical work over desk jobs. They question whether they should pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering or the apprenticeship, as they fear the latter may limit their career prospects. They also inquire about the possibility of working as a technician with a degree and receive advice to consider the amount of time and money required for a degree and the potential for career advancement in hands-on roles or managerial roles. The conversation also touches on the rewarding aspects of working in the field of Manufacturing Engineering.
  • #1
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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.

Thanks
 
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  • #2
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:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/non-desk-jobs-career-guidance.866961/
https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/going-back-for-mechanical-technology.867598/
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.
 
  • #3
Parsifal1 said:
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.

Thanks
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.
 
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Is it possible to work as a technician with a degree or does that require different qualifications?
 
  • #5
Parsifal1 said:
Is it possible to work as a technician with a degree or does that require different qualifications?
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.
 
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  • #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.
 

1. What are some examples of hands on engineering jobs?

Some examples of hands on engineering jobs include mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, civil engineer, chemical engineer, and aerospace engineer.

2. What skills are necessary for hands on engineering jobs?

Skills necessary for hands on engineering jobs vary depending on the specific field, but some common skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, technical knowledge, and communication skills.

3. What type of education is required for hands on engineering jobs?

Most hands on engineering jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as engineering or physics. Some jobs may also require a master's degree or specialized certifications.

4. What are the benefits of working in hands on engineering jobs?

Working in hands on engineering jobs can offer a variety of benefits, including the opportunity to work on challenging and innovative projects, a high level of job satisfaction, competitive salaries, and the ability to make a tangible impact on society.

5. What industries typically offer hands on engineering jobs?

Hands on engineering jobs can be found in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, construction, transportation, energy, aerospace, and technology. These jobs are also often available in government agencies and research institutions.

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