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Thoughts about a career change

  1. Aug 18, 2013 #1
    Hi all

    I'm feeling a bit lost here, but hopefully someone might be able to lend some insight.
    I am an accountant. I've been working at a small firm for about 4 years, and in that time, I have also gained my CA (Professional qualification). But I got bored, and decided to take a year out to do some travelling and do something a bit more interesting than facing a computer and figuring out the best way save tax, day after day. A year has now past, I'm running low on savings, and I am finding it really difficult to get back into the work force.

    Its been a couple of months of looking now, but in my job search, I've often wondered about the possibility of a career change. I'm finding accounting to be really dull. The only aspect of accounting that interests me is management accounting, but I'm finding it very difficult to get into. Naturally, maths and physics had always been my strong subjects (and ones I had an interest in) in high school. I probably would have done mechanical engineering but for my father who wanted me to become an accountant (another debate for another day).

    I'm 28 now, if I try and pursue a Engineering degree, I won't be done until I'm about 33 (possibly longer if I have to do some kind of foundation course first). I suppose my question is, should I bother? And if it is something worth considering, is there any particular engineering stream that would combine well with my accounting background?

    Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2013 #2
    Some thoughts:

    • You're a great age to change careers.
    • You're nowhere near too old to go back to school (that happens in, maybe, your 60's).
    • The cost of getting another BS can be tremendous and may impact the rest of your life negatively.
    • It sounds as if you aren't married - family makes this a more complicated choice.
    • There are many engineering jobs that involve spending 40 hours a week sitting at a computer. They may still be more interesting than accounting.
    • The job opportunities in physics are generally regarded as poor, but it depends on what you concentrate in.
    • Even if you concentrate in an area of physics with good prospects today, it may not still have them by the time you're employable.
    • I would discourage you from going the physics route; if you "love" physics, then pick up some textbooks and learn it. For your work, go the engineering route.
    • Not all areas of engineering are in equal demand, either.

    Others will likely flesh that out more.

    Have you considered actuarial work? I work as an actuary and enjoy it. I find what the accountants do mind-numbingly boring, but my job is very dynamic (though also very stressful lately). Not all actuaries feel that way about their job.

    Actuarial work is not for most people, and I rarely suggest it, but it may be worth considering here. The investment to have a shot at employment is low, and employers may look highly upon your accounting experience.
  4. Aug 18, 2013 #3
    You should have all your general education which is about 45-50 hours of a bachelors in engineering, then you have about 34 hours of math and science

    Calculus 1-3 (12 hours)
    Differential Equations ( 3 hours)
    Statistics (3 hours)

    Chemistry 1-2 ( 8 hours)
    Physics 1-2 (8 hours)

    Then you have your engineering course work (42 hours)

    I can't imagine any university making you repeat social sciences and liberal art studies usually required for general education. So about 76 hours or about 2 years of school. Not really all that bad in my opinion and definitely go for an engineering degree, mechanical is the broadest. I'd also do a technical school that has the basic engineering and math and science courses, so get your physics, chemistry, and maths at a tech school and transfer to finish the rest. That approach would save you some money.
  5. Aug 18, 2013 #4
    Wow, if I could get it done in 2 years, that'll be great.
    I've went to see the university info centre (I'm in Melbourne, Australia - if that makes any difference at all). From an employment perspective, would it matter which uni I attend? From what I've been researching, the more recognised and prestigious university over here focuses more on theory, whereas the one I am looking at is a bit more of a tech/practical focus. I think there is also an opportunity for a industry based learning year.

    Enrolments are already open for the next semester which will begin in March 2014. The biggest thing holding me back is that I am very rusty with my maths and sciences. I could do it pretty well back in highschool, but that was almost 10 years ago!

    @Locrian I don't think actuary is for me. The biggest draw for me towards engineering is the fact that the end result would usually be an actual tangible product. Purely dealing and talking in numbers would bore me.

    The one thing that I've wanted out of my career is that I would have an opportunity to travel and work around the world. I've always thought that engineering would provide a sound platform to do so, but I would like confirmation of whether my ideas of what engineering can lead to is accurate. So far, I've found such opportunities in accounting to be severely limited due to the vast number of us. Is it a similar case in engineering, or would I find such opportunities fairly easily?
  6. Aug 18, 2013 #5
    I don't know if the number of engineers is as many relative to the number of opportunies as for accountants, but I can say that there are some very good engineering schools in Australia. Did you go to Monash? Or maybe U. of Victoria? Both are highly regarded in the States. As for traveling, there are some jobs that require a lot of it, and some that don't. Working for an energy services or construction company or the like will give you more travel opportunities. And don't worry about being rusty in math. You'll get it back in no time.
  7. Aug 18, 2013 #6
    @carlgrace I did my business/accounting degree at Monash. But for engineering, I am looking at RMIT. RMIT is probably not as highly regarded over there (if it is even heard of), but its not too bad over here, and tends to be a bit more practical in its teaching. I'm very much a kinesthetic learner, so I think it would be better for me to go a a more practical course than a theoretical one. But how much weight would a would-be employer put upon the reputation of the university?
  8. Aug 19, 2013 #7
    I graduated from a school which not many people know about. After I've spent years working with people around, many of them want to go to good, big known companies, others don't. I'm one of them, I prefer a company that may be near where I am living, with friendly open minded people, energetic with positive attitudes (so ideal ?). And last but not least, if only I could make a right deal of my expected salary. :-D
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