Should I go back to school? How do I progress from here?

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In summary, if you want to further your career in engineering, a Masters degree in engineering would be the best option. However, this decision depends on many factors, including the fact that you are expecting a child and your wife's nationality. You should aim to do some research into which Masters degree programs in engineering are available in the UK and apply to one of these programs.
  • #1
Vancouverbyte
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Hi all,

I currently work for a tech company in the UK, where I develop and help maintain quality control systems for optical devices. This generally involves a lot of image analysis, LabVIEW development, data analysis (in Python) and lab work. The position has a significant amount of pressure, but I'm satisfied with the job and want to stick around.

I have a bachelors (Hon.) degree in Physics from a Canadian University (UBC), and have significant amount of experience in Python, C#, LabVIEW as well as prototyping in Solidworks. In the future I'd like to work with similar technologies, but not necessarily in quality control. Personally, I really enjoy programming at work and as a hobby, and want to keep it as a feature in my career, but I don't know how to further develop this professionally.

Should I go back to school and get an engineering/physics masters? I've been considering this for a while and it seems like the general route many people with similar backgrounds to mine do. Question is, which degree do I go for? Finding a engineering master degree that accepts Physics bachelors seems difficult but not impossible. Or should I remain in sciences? The job opportunities in the later options concerns me.

To add to the decision, my wife is expecting our first child in a few months and I would like to stay in the UK/EU (I'm Canadian). The EU seems like it has many good masters options.

If I go for a masters degree:
What program should I aim for?
When should I plan to do a masters considering the kid on the way?
Where should I apply to? (big ask, but suggestions are appreciated)
 
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  • #2
Vancouverbyte said:
The position has a significant amount of pressure, but I'm satisfied with the job and want to stick around.
Does your current company offer tuition reimbursement for doing your Master's degree part-time? If so, that can be a good option if you like the company and want to jump-start your advancement (and can help financially, especially with the little one on the way -- congratulations!)

Using Intel as an example: https://www.intel.com/content/dam/jobs/documents/intelbenefits-infographic.pdf

1612736004597.png
 
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  • #3
I'm not sure which way to tell you to go, since it isn't clear where you're trying to get to.
 
  • #4
To the OP:

The first question you need to determine is whether a Masters degree will offer a further path for career advancement within the company you work for. If not, then I'm not sure if it will really matter all that much if you do.

If it does, then I would recommend you speak to your manager about the possibilities of pursuing a Masters degree on a part-time basis or a sabbatical from your current job and seeing if your employer can cover the costs of the said degree (many companies offer reimbursement for such programs as part of the benefits package).

In terms of which degrees to pursue, again this would largely depend on what you wish to pursue. Depending on what you are specifically interested in pursuing, a Masters degree in electrical engineering, computer science (with a focus on numerical analysis), or physics could be beneficial. I'm not too familiar with graduate programs in the UK, but I would recommend doing some investigation. Here is what a quick Google search picked up for Masters programs in physics:

https://www.mastersportal.com/study-options/268927014/physics-united-kingdom.html
 
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  • #5
Speaking only from my own experience. I suggest going for the Masters in Engineering. Admittedly, a Masters in Physics would be equally good, but the normal perception from the non-accademic work force (Engineers, HR, etc) is that Engineers are needed, mumbo jumbo physics, not so much.
 
  • #6
When I mentor students, I typically help them analyze these questions with a cost - benefit analysis. Costs include $, debt, effort, time and so on. Benefits include increased pay, job satisfaction, career path, and geographical flexibility. But good advice requires having a good idea on how the student (or potential student) weighs each factor relative to their station in life.

You have asked an overly broad question with too little info to provide good advice.
 

Related to Should I go back to school? How do I progress from here?

1. Should I go back to school?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Consider factors such as your current career path, desired career path, financial situation, and personal motivations for going back to school. It may also be helpful to research the job market in your desired field and see if a higher degree is necessary for advancement.

2. How do I decide on a program or degree?

There are several steps you can take to decide on a program or degree. First, consider your interests, strengths, and career goals. Research different programs and their curriculum, as well as the job opportunities and potential salaries for graduates. You can also speak with advisors, current students, and alumni to get a better understanding of a program's value and fit for you.

3. Can I balance going back to school with my current responsibilities?

Many individuals successfully balance going back to school with other responsibilities such as work and family. However, it is important to realistically assess your time management skills and commitments before making a decision. Consider taking online or part-time classes, or adjusting your work schedule to accommodate your studies.

4. How do I pay for school?

There are several options for funding your education, including scholarships, grants, loans, and employer tuition assistance. Research and apply for any applicable scholarships or grants, and consider speaking with a financial advisor to explore loan options. Additionally, some employers offer tuition assistance programs for their employees pursuing higher education.

5. Will going back to school guarantee career advancement?

While a higher degree may increase your qualifications for certain jobs and career paths, it does not guarantee career advancement. Other factors such as experience, skills, and networking also play a role in career growth. It is important to have realistic expectations and continue to actively pursue opportunities and develop your skills outside of your academic studies.

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