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Should I pursue a Masters in Civil Engineering?

  1. Mar 5, 2014 #1
    I would like some feedback as to whether or not it would be worthwhile to obtain a masters degree in Civil Engineering. My current situation may (or may not) be unique.

    I graduated in 2005 with a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering. Upon graduation, I obtained my E.I.T., and after about one year later, I landed a job as a CE doing highway design for a consulting firm. I worked there just a little over one year, and then switched into Environmental. My reasons for switching to Environmental were a) I wanted to broaden my experience to what I thought was the future, and b) I was dissatisfied with the direction my company was going.

    So the last 6 years I worked for an environmental consulting company as well as an environmental engineer for the state. Last year (2013) I obtained my P.E. license in Civil/Transportation. The reason I chose to sit for the civil/transportation P.E. exam is that I realize it is truly my passion. Although I have learned a lot in the environmental realm, what truly makes me happy is doing civil/design work. I miss the creativity.

    For the last year, I have been (unsucessfully) looking to get back into Civil. I know that the job market is not the greatest, but I can't help but wonder if despite my P.E. license, I am an undesirable candidate due to the fact that most of my experience lies within environmental. I intend on keeping at the job searches/applications, but I am wondering if I need a new approach - Graduate school maybe?

    So it comes to my question: Is it worth going to grad school to obtain a masters degree in Civil Engineering? Would this "refresh" my resume and give me a 2nd chance to re-enter the CE realm? Does a masters degree even mean anything to most employers? Or would I be seen as simply overqualified?
     
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  3. Mar 5, 2014 #2

    PhanthomJay

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    The fact that you already have a BSCE and a PE is a plus, but structural design firms are not particularly interested in recent or not recent grads who focused on environmental or transportation engineering in their studies or work experience, so I understand your dilemma. Did you take structural and foundation deign courses when you were in college, beyond any basic requirements? Getting a masters won't hurt, but you could find it tough without a good background in design. A PhD might make you over qualified for a non research design position, but a masters won't and will give you likely a higher start salary. And the employer will appreciate your commitment. You are still however at a disadvantage against someone with 6 years structural experience with a PE. Masters courses in advanced structural design and analysis might be difficult without a good structural background though. Have you taken courses in foundations, steel design, and concrete design?
    EDIT: I think I mistakenly assumed you wanted to get into civil structural design but rereading your post, it seems you want to get back onto civil transportation design. If that's the case, heck, you do have the BS and the PE and a years experience in the field, so I would think you are quite marketable even without the masters , although you may not be able to command a high salary. Getting a masters will still not get you the experience, so you'd be slightly better off with it, but not greatly so. I believe there are a number of firms that specialize in both transportation and environmental engineering, so you should check those out, and keep trying.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  4. Mar 6, 2014 #3
    This seems like good advice, thank you. Do you know of any firms off the top of your head which specialize in transportation and environmental? It seems Langan has a lot of job posts like this, but so far I have not gotten any response for my resume.
     
  5. Mar 6, 2014 #4

    PhanthomJay

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    It is mostly out of my field, but CH2M HILL and AECOM are the biggies. There must be countless other smaller firms.
    Don't wait too long for a response for your resume. If you haven't heard in a couple of weeks, give them a call and inquire...Its ok to be an occasional pain in the butt sometimes...good luck.
     
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