Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Part time engineering jobs?

  1. Oct 24, 2012 #1
    While I often get replies from people here asking why I don't want to work as much as they do, I'd still like to know if part-time engineering jobs exist.

    I just have a different lifestyle in mind, and it isn't the typical American style of "work forever and don't enjoy anything else in life except on weekends, holidays and retirement."

    I find engineering fascinating, I'm willing to work to get there, but I want to work so that I don't have to work so much later, not work so that I can work more later. So, just tell me if I could reasonably hope to find such a thing if I built up a decent resume with a decent amount of experience such that I was somewhat in demand.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2012 #2
    Reasonably hope? No, there isn't a reasonable hope of finding part time engineering work.

    The closest thing you might find is contract work where you work full time and then take time off between contracts. So you might work full time on a 6 month or year long contract and then take 3 months off. Kind of a risky way to go about things though.
  4. Oct 24, 2012 #3
    While I don't know all that much about part time engineering jobs, which would vary vastly depending which country you are thinking of, bu I would recommend that you check out working on a Northern Sea oil-rig.


    Which should leave you a decent amount of time for hobbies and enjoying life between shifts.
  5. Oct 24, 2012 #4
    The only part-time engineering jobs that I know of are interns, co-ops, and other student-related employment.
  6. Oct 24, 2012 #5
    It's not *totally* impossible, but it's highly unlikely.

    A few years ago, I wanted to go back to school to get an MS in physics, and I was able to find a few employers who were willing to take me on part-time during that time. Not contract work... as a regular employee with benefits (when I was over 50%) and stock options. However, I was a very senior software engineer and I was hired by people I had previously worked with and knew exactly what I was capable of doing.
  7. Oct 24, 2012 #6
    who am i -

    I have done some part-time stuff during my school coarse-work. I wasn't paid like an engineer, but I was definitely doing sustaining 'engineering' work, but I had been with the company a long time as a coop student. There are many people that I work with in aerospace that work full-time, retire, and then work part-time as contract labor, but their skill sets are usually HIGHLY specified. There is one person that I work with that works a part-time with full benefits on R&D stuff, and I highly envy his position. It's rare, but it partially depends on who you know, how you've paid your dues, and what kind of arrangements can be made.

    Personally, I hope to be FI by 45 and be able to take contract work in the winters (if I want) and spend the summers with my kids who will be nearing leaving the nest at that time.

    I also do some moonlighting on the side to make other contacts in other fields (not space) so that I stay somewhat diversified if my job should cease to exist, but this kind of work is spotty. But, it gives me some hope of part-time work in the future as I strive for the same end as you.

    In short - You've pretty much got to pay your dues first, become highly-specialized in a particular field, and be one of the best (if not THE best). There aren't too many companies that are interested in taking a green engineer and investing 10 years into them to only have them know 5 years of engineering - especially with full benefits.
  8. Oct 24, 2012 #7
    Who Am I, very *many* people do want to have the same (part-time) job while retaining their full-time jobs as you do now. Even if there is one available, chances for you to get it are very low. Depending on what field people engineer in, there are still part-time like jobs available but these are not publicly announced as vacancies online, so I guess they become known via recommendations from your relatives, friends or people you know only.
  9. Oct 26, 2012 #8
    Oh, how society irritates me in a lot of ways.

    I think that Benjamin Franklin had it right with 8 hours of work, play and rest in a 24 hour day.

    The problem is, the 8 hour work day was most effective in the 50s when we had a sexist patriarchal society in which the man went to work for 8 hours a day and the wife took care of the house for around 8 hours a day.

    Now, we retain the 8 hour work day, but women are now empowered to be in the workplace. So, it's like one person has to stay home or work a low-paying part time job because the other one will always be too busy to live an adequate life if taking care of their household.

    I would be perfectly happy working 40-50 hours a week if I was going to be a single guy for my whole life and didn't have an interest in finding an educated woman who also has life and career goals. I could work for 40-50 hours a week and then make enough money to retire at age 45 because it would just be me living off of the salary of a hard working, passionate engineer, and I don't even have an interest in spending much money.

    But that's not the case. I want a family, and time to enjoy that family. How does one deal with this conflict in today's society? It's a rather common theme, it seems.
  10. Oct 27, 2012 #9
    What everyone is saying is generally a reflection of reality. "Engineering" is a team-based, collaborative, problem-solving style of work for corporate entities. Companies hire engineers because they are trained problem solvers and they want them to solve problems. Usually they are required to work as part of teams because individuals are not capable of solving all aspects of all problems in the allotted time in order for the Corporate Entity to achieve its revenue & profit goals (and to, therefore, pay your salary).

    Here are some ideas to ponder:
    • Perhaps you are pursuing the wrong field of endeavor.
    • Working "part time" during the most productive years of your career may not be a wise choice. Unless "spending time with your kids" means foraging for wild foods together because you can't afford to go to the grocery store. (that is **sort of** a joke)
    • You may have a life-changing experience that motivates you to work hard, long hours because you must. Financial responsibilities, births, deaths, sicknesses, other commitments that can only be solved by having sufficient money.
    • You may, just may, also be lucky enough to discover doing some activity that makes you wake up at 4:00AM all fired up and motivated. Gets you into the office early and makes you stay late, because you can't believe the company actually pays you to do some extremely fun, viscerally-satisfying, and financially-rewarding activity. If that ever happens, then "work" stops being "work" and starts being "playtime."

    There is no "conflict with society" and your stated goal of working less than 40 hours / week. It certainly can be done if one is creative and motivated to construct a corresponding lifestyle and standard of living. But your standard of living will be substantially less.
  11. Oct 27, 2012 #10
    I've seen older engineers work part time. They want their social security and the company values their hefty experience. So it's beneficial to both parties.

    Consultants can work part time, but again, they didn't get to be consultants without education and many years of experience.

    I've never seen a part-time position for an engineer advertised. Only temporary 3-12 month assignments.
  12. Oct 27, 2012 #11
    Yes, it is - I agree with you.

    I am from Europe, so I am not sure how my experiences match with the US job market. I feel that mainstream attitude here has actually changed a lot within the past 20 years. About 15 years ago it was not debatable that you need to put in 50+ hours working in a management position or as a highly-skilled specialist, such as an engineer. You need to be available to your colleagues the whole week etc.

    But nowadays many young people entering the work force are rather asking for flexible work options than for a classical career path. I would still not say these job options have become the default, but from the rising percentage of colleagues who work part-time (anecdotal evidence, I know) I tend to conclude that it has become more common.

    When I had worked working as an employed technical specialist some time ago, it was extremely hard to negotiate for a part-time agreement. My case was treated as a unique one, the company tried to avoid setting a new standard. Now part-time jobs are part of the familly-friendly job offering.

    But I agree to the posters who said you might be better off with contract work. I have solved the whole issue finally by starting a small business together with my husband. We do not work long-term / full-time contracts but we work with different clients. No negotations any more: I can say yes or no to any incoming client request at my own risk. I have no obligations in terms of "hous per week".

    One caveat: We did not start out like that as freshly minted graduates, but gained experience and reputation in some very specific niches of expertise while working employed full-time.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook