1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Too Old for engineering?

  1. Nov 29, 2011 #1
    Here is my situation. In reality I can never see myself retiring and not working, and I don't know many people my (42) age who truly believe retirement will ever be the same as it has in the past. So I am looking out at the next 25-30 years of work and I am realizing that I really should have been an engineer to begin with instead of getting a business degree.

    So now I am looking to return for an mechanical engineering degree. I know I won't have the top grades in the classes, but I don't believe I will not have a difficult time getting in or completing the degree. However, will I find positions available to me considering my age.

    I am not looking to find a job at a top firm and will most likely be working for a small to medium size business locally (S. California). I am not looking for a high salary for my first few years and I am willing to pay my dues.

    Could any of you experienced engineers give your input on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2011 #2
    Well, I am not an engineer, but how is your math? Invariably, you will have to do some math. Now, depending on the branch of engineering that you wish to pursue, the amount of math you encounter will vary slightly. A safe bet is to start from scratch and see if you can't learn some stuff on your own before even trying university.

    You'd better make sure it's what you really want to do, and that you're capable of doing it. There are many cases where people just like you make the transition, some successfully and some not. But don't despair, it's certainly possible.
  4. Nov 29, 2011 #3
    I am 48 and am an MS student of physics.
  5. Nov 29, 2011 #4


    User Avatar

    42 here and working on an MS in mathematics
    Is this turning into the geezer thread?
  6. Nov 29, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    I'm 48 and considering a master's in engineering.
  7. Dec 1, 2011 #6
    My math is fine, I enjoy math so much I have a collection of history books on math. I know there are many MS programs for engineering, but I would be returning for a BS in mechanical engineering degree.

    I don't believe my prospects would be as good with my current BS in business and an MS in engineering. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe I'll need the ABET BS to get me in the engineering door.

    To all of you getting your MS, do you have an undergraduate degree in engineering as well or what degrees do you have?
  8. Dec 1, 2011 #7


    User Avatar

    BS in physics
  9. Dec 1, 2011 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    BS physics, also.
  10. Dec 9, 2011 #9
    From what I feel, engineering is somewhat possible without mathematics most of the times. It's the academia that puts too much focus on maths. In real world, putting mathematics aside can keep your work going.
  11. Dec 10, 2011 #10
    I don't understand why a MS is unacceptable to work in engineering? Do they want their employees to be less educated on purpose? Doesn't an MS have the same knowledge as a BS and even some more??
  12. Mar 30, 2012 #11
    I'm mid-30's and doing part-time MS for systems engineering.

    Started engineering b/c my industry (finance) is getting more technical and there are many things that now need number crunching. Still have a few years left, which is the bad thing about P/T programs.

    On the plus side, you learn really new stuff (especially in PhD courses) that are sometimes useful at work. Math also seems easier with age b/c I now have the patience to sit around and figure out what all those squiggly lines actually mean.
  13. Mar 30, 2012 #12


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Y'all need to retire and move to Florida ;)

    Can't see why 30's or 40's is a barrier unless there are things like existing financial obligations to consider like mortgage, kids, lost pay and so on. Also includes anything that might upset existing relationships.
  14. Mar 30, 2012 #13
    Actually glad I'm doing this now. Much better perspective on what I want to learn. As importantly, firm's paying; would have been harder to pull that off if I was younger.

    Florida would be nice. Preferably with a warm chair in the sun, being served pudding or some other easily digestible food.
  15. Mar 31, 2012 #14
    For starters, different engineering degrees require different amounts of math. With respect to electrical engineering, your statement sounds ridiculous.
  16. Apr 9, 2012 #15
    BSC in math at 58. Was I too old?
  17. Apr 11, 2012 #16
    Well, I'm only 32 so I may be a bit young for this thread.. /ducks.
    Anyways, I'm still much older than the normal undergrad student. I worked construction for 14 years and was never happy with it, so I figured "Why keep regretting or wondering, and give it a try?". I figured the worst that could happen was that I spent a bit of time and money to realize I wasn't cut out for it. I figured I could, at the very least, put my doubts to rest.
    Well, I'm halfway through my degree (I had to re-learn college algebra/trig, etc...) but I've got most of my maths (Calc through Diffy Q's)out of the way and am getting into more engineering specific classes. I've had my rough nights here and there, but there's no doubt in my mind that I should have been doing this all along and I've overall really enjoyed it.
    Also, as far as getting older ( and I know I'm still a long ways from worrying about old age) but haven't studies shown that older people that continue actively learning retain much better cognitive ability well into advanced ages? (I hate to bring up dementia, etc.. but haven't there been studies that link it to bored/idle minds?)
  18. Apr 11, 2012 #17


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I would certainly recommend starting off with the BSME, given that the previous degree was in business. There is way too much technical background that will be missed by trying to go straight into a MS program, even if you find a school that will allow it. You would get short changed in the long run. Do it right, start at the beginning, and work it all the way through. You will be glad that you did, and you are definitely not too old. Just get started, be patient, and plug away at it. You may find that some of it is rough going, but don't let that deter you. Stay with it; it is worth the effort.
  19. Apr 18, 2012 #18

    This is very encouraging. I am 30, and I am seriously debating going back to Physics or EE on the graduate level. Still doing my research on what I want to do.

    I have a BS in Physics. I went to school right after high school, but then had to take time off and went back and finished, so I was about 27 when I graduated. So I feel that at 30, I am a little rusty but can easily brush up on my math and physics.

    I have seen older students, in their 40's, 50's and even 60's. I think it is very inspiring. And I don't think that age would be much of a problem when it comes to getting a job, especially in engineering, as most companies have a dynamic workforce and they are not looking for a young engineer to grow old with the company and they expect people to move on in a few years. That's how I see it at least.

    So go for it and never look back! Just make sure you are ready first, so your excitement is not crushed by the challenge of the subject...
  20. Apr 18, 2012 #19
    Are you worried if you go toward EE you might take courses that presuppose knowledge in a topic that 1.) You could have forgotten over time or 2.) is more EE instead of physics? Are you thinking about going into device physics for EE, which is much more physics-oriented?
  21. Apr 18, 2012 #20
    I am just unsure of what I want to do for a career, and what my interests are. I need to do more research and think about what I like. Taking 4 years of general physics doesn't expose you much. I also want to do something that would be in demand, or in decent demand. I have a lucrative career now that I don't like (IT) and I want to do something that I like but I don't have to worry about living paycheck-to-paycheck. Renewable energy has been on my mind lately, among other things. Any suggestions are appreciated!

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook