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Engineering Where in the world are engineers treated best?

  1. Nov 11, 2017 #1
    Does anyone know where in the world engineers are treated best? Best pay, nice place to live, iron clad job secuirty, flexable working hours, etc. The USA is NOT it, at least not in my experience, engineers are just as subject to lay offs and forced moves as the rest of the population and are not treated very well considering the education, training and expereince required.

    I am thinking it might be Germany but I am not certian. My wife does not want to move to a foreign nation and we have alot of family support where we are now but if I outlive my wife I most certianly wont want to stay in the USA unless we have some sort of cultural revolution or something.

    Learning a forign language is not a cake walk (and the pimsleur software is not cheap) so I am hoping others can fire up their soothsayer crystal balls and see what they can see.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2017 #2


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    To the OP:

    Your question is based on the premise that somehow engineers are somehow distinct from other workers. The countries where engineers are treated "the best" would be countries that treat workers in general the best. These are countries that have among the following (this list is by no means exhaustive): (1) strong enough economic growth that leads to strong employment picture, (2) strong demand for people of various skills, (3) strong social safety net, (4) strong labour protections enshrined in the law.

    The US may have some of these, but certainly not all, and other countries (including Germany) may have a different mix of these.
  4. Nov 12, 2017 #3
    I stated engineering as i am an engineer and this is a physics forum, but yes it would boil down to skilled workers (code welders, mill wrights, etc) rights. I mean why shouldnt people seek out places where they will be treated the best? Rather than being treated like a slave till your 50 ... then f you I hope you saved ALOT because now your old ... even though you cant collect SS for 13 more years.
  5. Nov 12, 2017 #4
    Why till 50?
  6. Nov 12, 2017 #5
    To: OP. What makes engineers so sacrosanct? Unless you're willing to live in a country in which the government dictates your future (and that government holds engineers to be sacrosanct), engineers are subject to the whims of supply-and-demand, just like any other workers. I once led an international development team, with members from the US, several European countries, India, and China. Yes, some countries have stricter labor laws than the US concerning work hours and layoffs. But we're all competing in a global economy; and local labor laws by themselves, no matter how strict, cannot ensure that a business will succeed or prevent a business from going under. And esteem or prestige afforded your profession won't save you if the business collapses.
  7. Nov 12, 2017 #6
    Well OP, to exchange notes on engineering job security, all I would say is, probably not Canada:


    Granted, a lot of our highest paid engineers are in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, however the job security there may not be all one could wish for after boom and bust cycles inherent in that industry.

    I would say, getting hired in a government service (electricity, water safety etc) or as engineering support in a national lab/regional lab is best for job security, though private industries may offer more competitive pay or exciting innovative opportunities.
    I guess it is a global market nowadays. I know some engineering grads who have headed to urbanizing Middle East areas, like Dubai. Some expats in Singapore, some in Japan. You can look into those countries if you are discontent? But I am uncertain if they integrate expats into such societies. At the same time engineers possibly have it better than most of the population.

    A lot of grads I've heard about head to Silicon Valley. But I don't think that is a place for job security until you are in 50s/60s, they value youthfulness very much.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2017
  8. Nov 12, 2017 #7
    The difficulty of the degree, training, testing and specialization. As an engineer I am finding its not so easy to just go out and find a new job unless you move all over the nation (so thus buying a house or starting a family is out unless you want to be constantly uprooting). Engineers build and maintain and inovate a society so I do believe they should be sacrosanct along with other highly skilled craft labor. Also there is a BIG difference between a company going under and a company conducting mass lay offs, typically mass lay offs come WELL before a company goes under so if every engineer was afforded that many more years to save and plan before turning off the lights that is a FAR different thing from just being cut loose right then and there while the company goes on (unless the society had some form of basic income indefinitly with some requriement that you are looking for COMPERABLE work).

    From my understanding Germany has far greater worker protections and you dont see rampant company closures and bankruptcys ....
  9. Nov 12, 2017 #8
    Depends how long I am out of work lol. Govt dictating my future or companies ..... is there really much of a difference?

    I have been trying to get a federal job but it is BRUTAL, I have been applying since 2015. I have also been applying for utility jobs but everyone wants those jobs precisely because they are MUCH more secure so for every opening there is an abundance of displaced engineers clamoring for the job (confirmed by an email I got from the utility). The problem is without protection for the profession itself its just a bunch of engineers trying to compete for scant positions and hope you get one before you run out of savings and unemployment, that sort of a dynamic is not really in my best interest.
  10. Nov 12, 2017 #9
    You are not entitled to a job because you trained as an engineer. If you don't want to be at the mercy of an employer (government or corporate), start your own company or firm. I spent many years of hard work to earn my PhD in physics; I've gone through many layoffs. I didn't want to disrupt my family by moving around, so I switched careers multiple times to jobs that were in local demand. That's your personal choice. Some of my German colleagues have told me in the past that there is clamor to relax some of the labor laws there because it reduces their global competitiveness. You should take a look at France. When layoffs hit my international team, layoffs proceeded in order of US, UK, Germany, and France, depending on who was easiest (in terms of labor laws) and cheapest (in terms of mandated severance costs) to layoff. In France, some got up to five years severance. In Germany, you were laid off in priority of social points, awarded on the basis of your personal circumstances (if you were young, single, had no children or parents to support, you were the first to go; if you were old, married, lots of dependent kids, taking care of elderly parents in poor health, you were last to go). Of course, if you have expertise in intercontinental ballistic missiles or compact nuclear warheads, you'll have steady work in North Korea ... as long as you don't complain about the government.
  11. Nov 12, 2017 #10


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    Thread closed for Moderation...
  12. Nov 13, 2017 #11


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    Thread re-opened for now. It is difficult to discuss "the best" when that can have so many different meanings to different people. We'll see how the thread goes... Thanks.
  13. Nov 13, 2017 #12
    What did you do to re-invent yourself, did you have to take on another massive student loan? I have been very curious how people do this, even people on my own facebook page keep this stuff close to the vest (probably need to pare down my friends list on facebook).

    So I have a BS in chemical enigneering (which took everything I had to get and JUST paid off the student loans off in 2015), which these days is like barely graduating from high school 20 years ago. I also have a PE license. I have been taking advanced math and EE classes at my local university since 2009 and I amapproved to sit for the EE PE exam which I am studying for. Although I am not certian how valuable having the EE PE will be without the second degree or without a masters in a likefield (EE, math, physics)?

    However, my local university does not offer a masters and definitly not a PhD in physics, EE, math etc. I would love to get a masters in one of these. I could do it online, but because I am out of state the tuition for these programs is around 30 grand for the masters.

    I mean when you get laid off the pay checks stop, did you just have 100 grand saved up to keep the family going while you went back to school for a different degree? Do you worksome menial job until you can cross train? Imean people can say retrain to something else but that is easier said than done, it could take years to get a different degree and even thenyou most likely wont have the specific experience.

    I have a good job prospect now, final interview this week but we will have to move. We are very fortunate that my wife will be able to transfer to this new location otherwise we would loose almost 100 grand a year from her income.

    Also I thought the comment about "jobentitlement" was a little rude. Not all nations are pure capitalism like the USA is and it is that nations RIGHT to formulate their own employment laws. It is also my right to study a forign language and move somewhere else ifthey will have me. So in a round about way I am looking for job entitlement but I realize Idont have that right in the USA.
  14. Nov 13, 2017 #13
    Since you consider my matter-of-fact statement "You are not entitled to a job because you trained as an engineer" to be rude, it's apparent we have substantially different philosophical outlooks, and further insights that I offer will likely serve no value to you.

    And since we have a moderator who's already skittish that this thread might devolve into a state of exponential decay, I'll simply wish you good luck on your future endeavors and refrain from further input.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  15. Nov 13, 2017 #14


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    @CrysPhys, while I admit that the OP was being a little testy, he did ask the following legitimate questions: what did you personally do so that you were able to switch careers that were in demand, particularly when you were laid off? What strategies did you do to survive while you were unemployed? How were you able to retrain yourself to the new careers.

    The OP states that he finished his BS in chemical engineering, was laid off, and is now trying to retrain himself as an electrical engineer, but doesn't want to take on a large amount of student loan debt (especially as he is/was unemployed). So he is seeking our guidance on how he could do this without strapping himself any more financially. Given your experiences, you should be able to provide some concrete suggestions.

    Speaking for myself, I have been laid off or have been unemployed a number of times. I didn't so much retrain myself as expanded my skillset by studying on my own using resources available from the Internet (but without seeking a formal degree program -- think of sites like Coursera or edX).
  16. Nov 13, 2017 #15


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    So, given that your personal values determine what sort of country would be suitable for you, I don't think the question posed in the thread title can have a general answer (for engineers or anyone else).
  17. Nov 13, 2017 #16

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    Buggy whip makers probably felt the same way.
  18. Nov 13, 2017 #17
    I love sites like Khan Academy, i lecture online, MIT open course ware, etc. I have been taking formal classes in EE since 2009 but not every semester (got divorced, got married, etc) but I have done well in the weed out courses but am still a ways away from a second BS in EE. Though I am approved to sit for the EE PE, however, I am not sure how leveraging that really is (having the PE without the full degree, or without a masters degree). I get the 6th sense that it is kind of the minimum (the PE without the degree in kind) to break into another disapline and when the market is saturated I need to be really smart about how I do this.

    Yes my philisopical/political views would not have people dancing like jesters to make a living which is why I am entertaining the idea of leaving the USA (if everything went to pot, basicly if my wife died before me or divorced me), I dont have much of a safety net on my side of the family and thats a real issue. I was trying to avoid getting into the politics of this and the whole "you are not entitled to a job", "are you a communist", etc, etc. I do think it is worth while for people to know where in the world their values might match up so that if they are serious about it they can target the language that makes sense for them to learn. I am not suggesting that Crys move to Germany and seek citizenship there, everyone has to do what is right for them. While my motivations for considering a second language may rub people the wrong way I think I am entitled to a different political view point.

    I would absolutly love to get a multi disapline masters that is math heavy with some physics and advanced EE (ie a really math intensive MS in EE with general relativity and red shift). I was accepted to Purdue which has a great program (though they dont have the general relativity class online) but the price tag of 3 grand a class was steep. My local uni does not have a masters program in EE or math though they have a strong under grad program, the reasons for not having a masters is political. I know some that were doing it at my old job just in case, however, if getting the masters leaves you cash strapped then it BETTER pay off (hence my political leanings) otherwise you are screwed, I mean how many degrees and licenses can most people get before they are just broke. This scenario may sound absurd but say you start off the game ... oh man oil is big demand, so you go to school for it, oh shoot 4-5 years later oil is bust, but rocket science is in, another 2-3 more years maybe a professional license or two sprinkled in, ops again, civil is envoug again, I dont see how people dont see this as a problem. Then you have basicly nomadic families and I am not certian if that is really good for kids and if you are leaving due to a job loss your probably not selling in an up market so you take a loss there too, how many times can families do this before they start voting in their own best interests.

    So now I am looking at just trying to invest all my money into a combination of paying down the house recasting and then investing in either real real estate or REIT's so that I can self sustain without having to jump around like a monkey for a job, however to accomplish this would require a half million bucks and thats just to meet VERY basic bills with passive income (in order to avoid taking on undue risk). Struggling to see the out.

    I really would like to find a mentor or like minds to bouce ideas and trouble shoot how to thrive in modern crony capitalism as it does not seem like most people are going to start voting in their best interests anytime soon. I am really liking the guys converting old busses to really nice tiny homes with solar panel roofs etc, would never fly with my wife though, there would have to be a way to set up a nice engineering science office in the back of the buss without impeding on the rest ....

    Hopefully someone is on the same wave length ...
  19. Nov 13, 2017 #18
    Not talking about a specific product here but rather an entire disapline of engineering, now it is possible that an entire disapline of engineering can become sort of like the buggy whip. I wonder if chemical engineering is that disapline?
  20. Nov 13, 2017 #19
    I think it does, it is very objective question. where in the world are laws in place (strict law enshrined in constitutions) where employers cant just crap can you just because (ie not at-will).
  21. Nov 13, 2017 #20


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    Well, that's a different or at least much more limited/pointed question, but as worded still isn't specific enough. You'll need to define "crap on you"....unless job security is the one and only thing you care about. Is that what you are saying?

    ...and perhaps after that, you should maybe put some thought into the actual pros and cons of "at-will" employment and "iron clad job security". Hint: "iron clad job security" punishes good performance and rewards bad performance. That's good if you are a bad performer, but will hold you back if you are a good performer.

    What you are suggesting is coming off as very naive/immature -- and yes, entitled.
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