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Too old to be an engineer?

  1. Jul 7, 2014 #1
    I'm 40 yrs old, and it will still be another 3yrs before I can return to school, but I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up - a civil engineer. I'm using this time to relearn Physics and calculus. A part of me doesn't care if I'm too old, the same part that shrugs off doubts about whether I am smart enough, because this is what I am passionate about and I'll continue to pursue this interest one way or another. But I would still like to know if I will face many significant challenges due to my age if I try to pursue it formally. While I do have over 100 credit hrs, those are mostly not applicable to this degree, and so it will still take me about 4yrs to finish school making me 47 yrs old when I graduate. I should probably mention that I'm female.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2014 #2
    Heya :smile:

    You know better about your life and your financial status and all that (I mean if you are comfortable in perusing it then do it!). But I will tell you one thing. My friend, who is 30 years old graduated high school 12 years ago. Then he worked at various places and fiiiinally decided to join university were he was required to study for a foundation degree at the university. Now he is a second year mechanical engineering undergraduate :smile:

    Excuse my English.
  4. Jul 7, 2014 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    It is never too late, but when entering a new field late, you will need to be prepared to answer some tough questions convincingly:

    1. Why are you entering engineering so late?
    2. Is your heart really in it?
    3. Do you intend to make a career in engineering?
    4. Are you ok with being on the same level (pay, position) as people half your age?
    5. Do you have the proper basic skillset to be productive (computer skills, for example).
    6. Do you have the intestinal fortitude needed for a high pressure, fast growth entry-level job?

    Engineering is broad, though, and different jobs will have different levels of issue with these questions.
  5. Jul 7, 2014 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Even at 47 you will still be a pup with another ~18 productive years left in you. I say go for it.
  6. Jul 8, 2014 #5
    Thanks everyone.

    russ_watters, you raise a possibility which I hadn't considered, which is that I might be questioned about this at some point. The primary reason for entering so late is that I've been educating my children. Also, civil engineering wasn't offered at my university when I attended 15 years ago and I didn't know much about it. My heart is definitely in it; I wouldn't return to school so late if it weren't. I don't care about pay; I'd still want to do it even if I made minimum wage. I feel like my computer skills are better than average, although I don't know any programming. I'll have to give your last question some thought. I'm sure I'm at least average in that area.

  7. Jul 9, 2014 #6


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    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    kstbts tells this:

    Your "heart" can be understood, but you should not be expected to take an inexcusably exploitatively low salary or wage.

    What does that mean?
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