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Engineering Split on just entering the workforce or obtaining a BME

  1. Mar 6, 2016 #1
    Hi all. I am currently in college and aiming to get a bachelors in biomedical engineering, however the thought of going into debt and not having a good paying job for a few years (not to mention working part-time) scares me.
    I have other debts I want to pay off and need a decent paying job to stay afloat while maintaining financial security. My problems here are that I think I would enjoy BME but I feel like I would also rather enter the workforce with an associates degree or something. Make money sooner and not as much debt.
    I have tried the trade school route by being an electrician apprentice, but due to asthma and allergies and lack of interest, I left it. I didn't enjoy the environment. I want a job that is stimulating to me. I like science and math although I do find it difficult at times. I'm not a natural at it, but I can do well when I apply myself and actually study.
    I have the option to go back to my old job in a factory that pays extremely well and could pay all of my debts off by August if I worked 60+ hrs a week. But I hated the job. It was boring, tedious, wore on your body. Etc.
    does anyone have any advice on what to do? I would want to get a BME, and realize the money they make would pay for debts later. However not knowing what will happen in the future, I am worried about spending all of the time working towards a job that isn't guaranteed, doesn't directly build skills/experience for employment opportunities. And the biggest stressor for me is debt. Does anyone know of any jobs that may fit? I enjoy science, math, health (probably not a prescription writing though) and just an environment that is stimulating. I'm
    Very good with hands on work, the theoretical parts are more challenging, and I know engineering is theoretical but I'm willing to work hard at whatever. Thank you for any advice
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2016 #2


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    Unfortunately there are no guarantees.

    It's reasonable to carry some student debt, but I understand your aversion to it. If you really want to avoid it and you have the option of a high-paying but lackluster job, why not consider working that for a while and saving up enough money to pay for your education ahead of time. It's usually a lot cheaper to pay for things up front than to have debt accumulating interest over time and following you around after the fact - but it's also important to study this problem carefully. There may be details about students loans where they won't accumulate interests or where you only have to pay back a certain percentage etc. that affect this decision. Talking with your school's financial aid office can help you to figure out the details.

    The next thing to realize is that you're making a decision this point on your education. If you choose a BME path, your learning about engineering with an emphasis on biomedical applications and problems. It's after you finish your education that you make a decision about a career and that's often a combination of both what your education qualifies you for and what opportunities are available at the time.

    The good news is that BME is very broad, so career-wise if you're not finding it stimulating in one position, you can always do something different.

    Another thought too, if you really prefer working with your hands, is to look into various BME technician programs. These people solve a lot of practical problems around hospitals and the equipment in them and good ones are worth their weight in gold.
  4. Mar 7, 2016 #3
    I second this. A good tech is really hard to find, which is a pity since this a very valuable role in many companies. A good place for people who like math and science, but are best at the hands on part.
  5. Mar 15, 2016 #4
    Sorry for late response, but what would be a good route to go with a technician program? My community college offers electronic tech programs (2yr). My goal for right now is to do well and make 50k or so in the next 2-3yrs. it eventually I would like to earn a biomedical engineering degree. Have people gone from
    Technician to engineers? I just don't think I can put as much time into full blown schooling and expect to do well. Im not naturally inlcined to math and science subjects so I become overwhelmed when doing a lot of course work (it's not to say I don't find the material interesting). That being said, I prefer the thought of having a job where I'm at least not struggling on a day to day basis, paycheck to paycheck, and can take the proper time to go to school part time and learn the material. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
  6. Mar 15, 2016 #5
    Community colleges can be a good route, and some technicians also have bachelors degrees. There are specialized technician programs at some colleges. You would probably need to look around and see what your options are.

    One can definitely move from technician to engineer. It is helpful if you have selected the right kind of education to help make that transition as easy as possible. For example, if the CC tech program can serve to cover college pre-reqs or is transferrable as an AA degree. This is a nice to have, rather than a need to have. What you really need to be an engineer is to successfully complete a degree in an accredited program. Internships and other work experience are very helpful. A masters degree can also be very helpful. Professional registration can also be very helpful.
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