Is this a great career to persue?

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In summary, several individuals with experience in the engineering field discussed the nature of their careers. They mentioned that while it can be a lucrative career choice, it often requires long hours and can be stressful. Some suggested that pursuing a business major may lead to more financial success. The difficulty of engineering was also discussed, with some stating that the advanced math required can be challenging. However, others mentioned that it depends on the specific focus within engineering.
  • #1
Does anyone have any work experience in this field? Is it a savvy career choice? Does one make a lot of money? Do you work late hours?
I might be interested in this field of study, is it worthy, stressless, high paying career?
Dx :wink:
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  • #2
It was.:smile:

I got tired of it after almost 20 years. I made 'a lot' of money relative to say a typical history major but I worked killing hours, often 60 hours a week for a large company and 70 to 80 for a start up. If you try to work 40 hours a week you won't get far because most companies pay you relative to your peers who will work much more than 40.

Since jobs are scarce now, there will be fewer people going into the field for a while, getting in now might be a good time. You probably won't make it if your only motivation is a job someday with lots of money.

I loved doing design work but I got sick of running simulation after simulation on computers and I got really sick entering the completed designs into a file for manufacture. Remember the game Tetris? Imagine 'playing' it for 5 days straight 10 hours a day. If a mistake gets through you lose 2 months in the design cycle and your raise for the year vanishes. In the 'old days', the engineers did design on paper, did some rough calculations, checked it with a coworker and someone else did the drafting for manufacture. That was a lot more fun.

There used to be more jobs in manufacturing than design but now companies are transfering manufacturing overseas as fast as possible. If you like to travel that can be good. There is always more money to be made in sales engineering than in design unless you start your own company.

The dean of engineering told me on my first day that engineering school causes brain damage and that if I wanted to avoid it I should get out of the major before it starts. I didn't listen. :wink:
  • #3
You're going to be upper middle-class. You won't get rich, but you'll be financially stable and be able to support a family very well. You are much more likely to get rich as a business major.

Your hours depend on your company, but a lot of engineers are (overly) dedicated, and do work long hours. I personally do not. Sometimes I barely make my 40.

It is relatively stressful, too. My opinion: the only reason to do engineering is if you really, really enjoy engineering. Some people would be terribly bored as a salesman or businessman.

- Warren
  • #4

Can't you do other jobs like computers meaning repair or something less streesful. I guess I should have changed my major along time ago to IT, huh? Thanks! I am curently in the USAF and want to seek a commision so hopefully I can avoid those long work hours. But I do enjoy computers and design.

Thanks for the input!
Dx :wink:
  • #5
Structural engineering is basicly the same as described above.
I never work only 40 hours a week, and it is very stressful.
IT seems very unstable where I am located.
I would suggest a MBA.
  • #6
Aerospace and Electrical are neck and neck in difficulty. The math is extrordinarily hard. So if you want to do it, make sure you work hard in your math especially.
  • #7
It's not a bad career to pursue. I believe at one time, Money magazine said that electrical engineer is the career that gives the longest life expectancy. It is typically high-paying and gives one a sense of self-respect. The main difference between this branch of engineering and the others is that the projects are typically shorter. For instance, an electrical engineer may spend a few months working on a circuit design whereas a materials science engineer may spend up to ten years working on a single research project. It is my personal believe that if projects become too long, then people become bored with their jobs.

Anyway, I was an analog IC design engineer at one time. It didn't suck. The money was good (I started out at $50k per year plus benefits--such as free tuition for taking college courses part-time), the hours were okay (about 50 per week), the projects were challenging but not impossible to finish by my assigned deadlines. I'll be honest with you though, it was not my dream job. Some people, like myself, would rather do cutting-edge research than standard designs. Well, at least I will always have this option as a fall-back career if my research in nano-/quantum-electronics doesn't pay off.

  • #8
Aerospace and Electrical are neck and neck in difficulty

Off topic and just out of curiosity...

What's the ranking for various branches of engineering in terms of difficulty?

I was an aerospace engineering major for a little while. I started realizing that I was more interested in the Physics and Mathematics part than I was in the Engineering so...

The math is extrordinarily hard. So if you want to do it, make sure you work hard in your math especially.

What's the advanced mathematics that they use? (I didn't go to far into aerospace engineering before I changed my major)
  • #9
Re: Aerospace engineering

Originally posted by Sting

What's the advanced mathematics that they use? (I didn't go to far into aerospace engineering before I changed my major)

It depends on the focus, but for me (space systems) it isn't that the math is very advanced, it's that it's very complex. Doing transformations and rotations on going from coordinate system to coordinate system to coordinate system when doing satellite tracking problems doesn't sound hard when the algorithm is introduced. Doing the problem is another thing entirely.

The physics is nothing more than specialized cases of Newtons laws, most of the thermodynamics is covered in the first semester. But the problem lies in keeping track of everything at once and knowing how everything interrelates.

EDIT: Control systems is one class which blew my mind though. Not as difficult as math used in general relativity I'm sure, but you either become very comforable with Laplace space or fail.
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  • #10
The basic math courses are three semesters of calculus and then differential equations. After that, the two semesters of aerospace engineering use diffyQ extensively. The thing is, most engineering majors take the same basic math, its just that I seemed to use a lot more of it later in the aerospace than in the mechanical. Vibrations and controls were tough mathematically though.
  • #11
Vibrations and controls were tough mathematically though.

I bet. We had an introduction to vibrations and harmonics from the mathematical standpoint a few days ago in class.

It seems rather hellish if you ask me.
  • #12
The math isn't that tough

Well, it's not tough for me, and it's less tough than what you need for a fancy physics degree and way less tough than for a math degree

I think I'm probably just going to end up being a professional programmer since I'm so much better at it, but I'll be a programmer with a bachelor's in EE

I guess I could have just skipped college altogether, but Uncle Sam is paying my way through it and it's a good way not to have to grow up yet..
  • #13

This relates mostly to the "electronics" side of electrical engineering.

Right now there is a paradigm shift that is seeing a large portion of "hardware" dying to make room for more "software."

The industry is merging with computer engineering and software engineering and future growth is centered around EMBEDDED SYSTEMS (hardware/electronic circuits that use software/firmware devices).

There are new chips out in the industry where software can be used to build circuits. PLDs allow a software language to automatically build complex digital circuits. It's much like C++.

Latest developments are chips like PLDs that have analog components inside. Now you will be able to "burn" or "store" configurations of capacitors, op amps, transistors inside these chips. Once again, software is replacing hardware.

I am not saying Hardware is dying, I'm saying that less hardware people are required, and the ones who are going to stay are going to be the best and brightest (and who also know software).

The industry is changing! Beware!

[Throw all those 74 series ICs in the garbage!]
  • #14
In regards to the mathematical complexity in aerospace...

The mathematical complexity for the various engineering majors varies quite a bit from university to university, since it is a function of the rigor in your given department.

That said, at Georgia Tech they made undergrad Aerospace Engineers take both Virtual Work and Aeroelasticity (both grad level courses at most other universities)... And they were both *at least* as mathematically complex as well as theoretically complex as anything I took in theoretical mathematics.. Surely, more complex than anything in undergraduate physics.

Advanced Propulsion was a nightmare too.

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