1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Mechanical, Civil, or Nuclear Engineering?

  1. May 30, 2016 #1
    Hey everyone, I need some help choosing what Engineering program I should pursue. I'm in grade 12 right now and conflicted which engineering is the best in terms of job market, salary, and overall. The Engineering programs I'm considering are; Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering. I've heard equally great things about Mechanical and Civil but can't decide which would be better for my situation. I live in Ontario, Canada, by the way, so please let me know which program has the better job market. I need to know ASAP. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2016 #2
    Are you only basing your opinion on the job market? All three of them are likely good (though I bet--only guessing here--nuclear would be highly country-dependent and may not be as robust of a career as mechanical and civil). That is, I'd say it is extremely improbable that you'd end up poor with any one of those degrees. Which one seems most interesting to you and why?
  4. May 30, 2016 #3
    No, not only for the job market. Like I said; salary, and the overall quality of the job (i.e not sitting behind a desk all day). I can't decide; that's why I need help from people with personal experience in these fields to guide me.
  5. May 30, 2016 #4
    That will probably vary by job even within the three degrees you mentioned, and so can the salaries. Thus, while those factors are things you should look at (and others can probably help you there), it's ultimately important that you actually find the field you choose interesting.
  6. May 31, 2016 #5
    If you go for mechanical engineering at some stage you're going to get covered in hot dirty oil, civil you'll be out in all weathers but will only remember wet and windy, nuclear make a bad mistake and your name will go down in history in a bad way.
  7. Jun 3, 2016 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Nuclear might be a good option in 10 years, but, the field is pretty much dead right now save for some niche jobs with military contractors. Mechanical engineers are always in demand and the market remains decent. Just dont expect to need a lot of pricey suits for work, you will get dirty. Civil is a bit down because jobs tend towards public works projects.
  8. Jun 3, 2016 #7
    Huh? None of the nuclear engineers I know work for military contractors. I would say most NEs work for reactor vendors or electric power companies.
  9. Jun 3, 2016 #8
    Repeating advice given to me more than 30 years ago: "If you want to go into Engineering, but don't know which one, then go into Mechanical."

    • ME is the broadest of all Engineering fields. With an ME degree, you can branch out into other fields because you have the fundamental skills that an Engineering curriculum teaches you: "how to solve problems."
    • The first two years of most Engineering curricula is essentially the same. Two years is plenty of time to ask, learn, experiment, and then determine which direction your boat is pointed.
    "Sitting at a desk all day." that depends on what job you have. I know people who do that, pushing stacks of paper, and are seemingly at peace with the world. The thought of doing that makes me want to blow my head off. I went into the lesser-paid field of Manufacturing Engineering and have as much fun running around factories, getting dirty, doing cool stuff, as anybody. I also worked at a desk for extended periods of time. It all depends on the circumstances. But later in life, with kids at home and other life issues in full swing, I longed to simply sit at a desk sometimes.

    "...salary..." I've never recommended going into Engineering if you thought it was a path to riches. A path to a comfortable, above-average life, but not riches. Unless you become an entrepreneur, CEO, or some such. Then you use your problem-solving skills to solve other kinds of problems and you hire Engineers to solve Engineering problems.

    It is not realistic to expect a "job" to be joyful and pleasant and fun all the time. I teach at a University now and there seems to be cultural belief in the younger generation that believes a happy life is due them because they exist. I assure you that is simply not the case. There will be times when you are bored out of your mind, feeling threatened and fearful with job loss and loss of livelihood, and frustrated and angry to the point of considering homicide. But then will be are plenty of episodes when you go home with a sense of accomplishment and pride that proves that all is right in God's world.

    "Mechanical / Civil / Nuclear" A last thought, closing with an old industry joke: "ME's build weapons, CE's build targets." I worked in the nuke industry building power plants long ago. Some of it was interesting, most of it boring & paper-pushing to meet regulations to ensure we didn't create another Three Mile Island (and later, Chernobyl). Specific skills, limited opportunities, highly paid. The US Navy would love love love to talk to you if you get a BSNE.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted