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Substitute for a Mechanical Engineering Degree

  1. May 22, 2013 #1
    Hello! (I hope this is the right place for this thread.)

    I have a family member who is in need of some help, and PF has always been incredibly helpful and amazingly insightful with all of my problems, so I figured that this is worth a shot.

    So, as I said, I have a family member who is unhappy with his current lot in life. He started out working on a mechanical engineering degree in college, but through circumstances outside of his control, life got in the way; and he ended up pursuing a different path. The job that he currently has isn't challenging enough for him (his words). He would like to switch careers, but he has a family and financial obligations that don't allow him to move around freely. The thing is... he has a lot of applied knowledge and actual work experience gained through a lifetime of working in manufacturing from the ground floor up. He has the knowledge to do an engineering job, and even got an offer, but without having the official degree it has held him back.

    My personal belief is that he is very smart and could do it; but going back to college isn't a possibility right now, due to financial and time constraints. I really would like to do anything to help because it is hard to see a loved one boxed into an unfair situation--especially when he is being so valiant by holding onto an unhappy life for the well-being of others (his family).

    That is why I have come to PF. I must admit, I am very ignorant on the subject of engineering. If you do some snooping on my posts in PF, you will find out that I've only dealt with lower level high school mathematics (I also took a conceptual physics class). So, it pains me that I don't have any knowledge of how to help. That's where you come in.

    I would like to know if there is any way to take a certification class (sort of like a GED of mechanical engineering)? Are there other options? And what could they be? I am willing to do research myself, I just could use help in being pointed in the right direction. Any advice whatsoever would be greatly appreciated. I sincerely want him happy.

    Thank you for reading my sentimental post, and I look forward to your answers. :redface:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2013 #2


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    Hey velox_xox.

    One suggestion I have if school is not an option, is to consider careers where one can build up their own experience without the need for external education.

    This could be in the form of getting some experience in any area and then later taking those experiences and contacts with you to form your own small business or consulting career.

    This kind of thing happens a lot in areas like software development: once you have a good enough reputation you can go work for yourself if you choose to and gaining experience in this area doesn't require a degree, but you do have to show that you are the real deal when it comes to getting a project and finishing it.

    Any job where cumulative experience creates an advantage is going to be good and many people out there do all kinds of careers gaining cumulative experience and not simply university/college graduates.

    The reason for cumulative experience is that without this, the barriers to entry and competition for jobs will be higher since it doesn't take long to gain those skills.

    If it takes ten years to reach some minimum standard, you know that you will not have the competition as if you had for a job serving fries at McDonalds: the barriers to entry create completely different environments for applications, opportunities, and income.
  4. May 23, 2013 #3
    Thank you chiro for the quick response! You've given me some new angles to think over, and I will be sure to talk it over with him. Maybe he can look into setting off on his own. Thanks once again. :D

    Another question to you (and anyone else who wants to chime in), are there still possibilities when you don't have that full college degree? I must confess that I have subscribed to the bias that says employers don't want to hire people without the diploma these days. Are there other options?
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  5. Jun 8, 2013 #4
    Does anyone else want to weigh in here? I was hoping for more of a trail to start off on, so I can hunt and fact gather, and of course, save time. :) I'm game to go off in search of solutions myself too; I was just hoping for an idea as a starter, you know... like chain reading. But maybe this is a leap down the rabbit hole type of situation?
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