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!

Physical active Engineering careers?

  1. Aug 23, 2013 #1

    I'm 22 year old and recently graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and landed a great first job which paid well with my own office. I was happy at first but then begin to realize that I didn't like what I was doing. If it were a matter of finding a different job, I wouldn't have a problem doing so, however, I begin to realize that sitting in an office (or cubicle) working mostly by myself all day (or most of the day) was boring, tedious, and left me mentally (and thus physically) drained. Moreover, I realized that the 9-5 grind was boring and that even though I make money to enjoy the weekends, live comfortably, and buy nice things, that didn't make up for it.

    Unfortunately almost all careers in electrical engineering and most engineering fields involve sitting or standing indoors(usually at a computer) all day. In that way I feel like I've wasted a lot of money and time training for something I that I don't want a job in. It's not that I dislike electrical engineering (I graduated with a high GPA having conducted research in the area) but I feel like I'm missing a sense of adventure and activity in my life.

    Thus, I've made the decision to quit my job and pursue something that interests me but I don't know what I should do so I'm looking for advice perhaps from more experienced people. I've made a list of things I like in a job and a list of things I'm willing to give up:

    Things I like:

    1. Being outdoors preferably in the wilderness (i.e. the ocean counts as wilderness whereas a construction site does not). I'm fine with being indoors for some time. I don't want to exclude jobs which may require some desk work.

    2. Having a job that allows me to be physically active and stay in shape (but not in a monotonous and repetitive way e.g. not a lumber jack).

    3. Work with other people, perhaps in a team and at least have people to keep me company. I like working together with other people to accomplish something. I have a high tolerance for being alone (ironically) but it doesn't make me happy.

    4. Being able to travel would be nice but it is not necessary. I'd preferably like to travel to different wilderness destinations (not necessarily to different cities/countries though that would be nice too). I enjoy being able to do something different every so often. That's probably the reason I was able to stick out engineering--I was able to take new classes every semester and do something different).

    I know I feel like I'm asking for the impossible job and I know that in order to find it I would need to give up something. For instance traveling a lot isn't conductive to having children. Thus, I would be willing to give up:

    1. Salary, assuming I'm able to make ends meet wherever I am. All I need is somewhere to sleep, food, and other essentials. I don't have the need to buy luxurious things. I'd far rather be happy with what I'm doing so long as it doesn't affect my health.

    2. Having children/starting a family. I don't plan on having children (for a number of reasons which I wont list) so I don't need the stability or salary that an engineering job would bring.

    3. Some/most civilized comforts. So long as I have human company and essentials, I don't mind doing without.

    4. I realize that not everything will be an adventure. I'm NOT the kind of person that needs to be entertained all the time or I become bored (how would I have ever made it through engineering). I'm perfectly content taking my time doing something or having some down time. The thought of living a long, comfortable, boring life sounds completely unappealing. I'd far rather die young doing something I like than living to an old age of boredom and monotony.

    Again, I know it feels like I'm asking for the impossible so anything that comes close to matching all of my "likes" would be great. My engineering job now fulfills none of them so anything is a step up.

    I'm looking for advice on what kinds of jobs are available that would meet most of, if not all of, my interests. Also, since I have an engineering degree, I probably have no experience in jobs that meet my interests so how would I break into the job? Also, what resources are there that might help me find what I'm looking for and break into it?

    The thought of going on say a wildlife expedition or some other kind of expedition is very appealing but I would have no idea how to start that. In addition, being a tour guide, rafting guide, surf instructor, etc sounds appeals but again I have no idea how to start in it. I'd love to do an internship in some area and find what I like, but again I don't know where to look or what to look for.

    For me this is such a major decision that ANY help would be appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    One of my rules of thumb in life is that if they have to pay you to do something, it probably isn't fun, at least not all of the time. Conversely, if something is really fun, you have to pay to do it instead of getting paid to do it.
  4. Aug 23, 2013 #3
    Sounds like you want to be a lumberjack...
  5. Aug 23, 2013 #4
    I didn't read all of your post but I saw this. One of my friends was a field service engineer (EE) and he got to travel a lot and was always doing more hands-on tasks for his job. He was rarely in the office and if he was it wasn't more than a day or two. Maybe look into that. Good luck.
  6. Aug 23, 2013 #5
    Look at oilfield service companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger. They might be what you're after.
  7. Aug 23, 2013 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Are you a US citizen? If so, I'd look at the US Navy Civil Engineering Corps.
  8. Aug 23, 2013 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    How do you feel about serving in the Peace Corps for a few years? They might be able to use engineers! There may be other organizations that you could hook up with, but I am not sure where to look. Could give you a few good years of "adventure" that might use your skills, and may help you sort out what you want to do.

    Just an idea.

  9. Aug 23, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Let me put my old beret on for moment....

    Have you thought about a career with the Armed Forces? With a degree under your belt you'd like be able to opt for a commission and become an officer. You could use your degree to enter one of the more technical specialties, or you could chose a combat trade, or as a bridge between the two you could be a combat engineer.

    For reference, my experience was with the Canadian Armed Forces, but I'm sure most of my points are transferable to any of our allies.

    Check - when you're in the field you'll literally be in the field, maybe in a tent, probably in the mud, dust, snow, etc.

    Checkaroo. Armed forces personnel are required to maintain certain levels of fitness and they're generally encouraged to do that in a variety of ways. The job certainly contains its share of hiking.

    Checkatismo. Work in the armed forces is all about team work. You will have to deal with a chain of command/hiearchy though. Some people have a hard time with that. The people yelling at you such as seen in Full Metal Jacket and other such movies is there, but it's largely confined to courses. Once you're with your unit, in my experience things were a lot more relaxed.

    Checkarooney. Now, keep in mind that signing on means that you'll be deployed to the "not so nice" places in the world... places where people will shoot at you, or where you'll be required to stand between to groups of people who are shooting at each other. But you will travel. And you will get leave and have the opportunity to see some really beautiful places.

    All of that said, the other major issue is the nature of the job. You give up certain rights when you sign on and you do have to have enough faith in your elected officials that they are making competant decisions about the application of force.
  10. Aug 23, 2013 #9
    Thanks for the replies. I will look into them and get back with responses.
  11. Aug 24, 2013 #10
    The NOAA Corps is something that caught my eye after I already had work. You get the chance to to work in a technically demanding field, and it should meet the rest of your requirements too. A small pool, but also not well known.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook