T Nation

Engineers (or Anyone Really): A Question


#1

Do you think that it would be more beneficial to aim towards going to grad school or going into the work force after getting a bachelor's degree? And for those of you who did obtain an advanced degree, what did you do, and what did you think of the experience?

I have heard anecdotes about a bachelor's degree being worth less than before nowadays, and I know of an engineer who obtained a bachelor's from UC Berkeley who only got a job as tech support. That obviously weighs in favor of getting an advanced degree.

However, I wonder if I might learn more from simply being in the field. I, for one, enjoy getting my hands dirty and actually making things. From what I've gathered, it sounds as if graduate level engineers mostly do research and can be hired on as (expensive) consultants.

On the one hand, I truly do enjoy learning the concepts, but on the other, I'm not sure if I'd enjoy research and staying in academia.

I'm really just thinking out aloud here.. I don't think I have enough experiences to know make a decent decision, and I'm hoping those with more can give some good insights.


#2

It's up to you, really. Do you want to have the experience in the workforce now? Or would you rather wait two more years while getting more specific knowledge that you could probably get in a library for free or some pocket change? Or you can go the route of doing night classes while being the work force. I know a lot of professionals that did that. It took them a few more years to get their masters and doctorates, but they had work experience (a lot of it) by the time they graduate, had connections and they had the degree to prove their specific knowledge.


#3

I'm about in the same boat (starting my junior year as an undergrad and considering grad school). I would say that if you do go to grad school go for a masters which is geared more for those heading into industry as opposed to academia. What I kind of plan on doing is preparing myself for both options and seeing what Im still interested in and what opportunities are available when I graduate. Still listening in for advice from any of the senior engineers in the field though.


#4

It will depend on your engineering field, but If I had it to do again, I would immediately get my MBA or JD after my bachelors(CE). With this job market it might make sense to get your advanced degree now.


#5

I have a BS/M.Eng in Electrical Engineering and currently studying for my PE. I work in MEP consulting.
All of my friends have their Master of Engineering in various fields. The University I went to about 85% of people received their M.Eng (it was a 5-year program with a year of co-op mandatory) I haven't seen any problem from people whether a BS or M.Eng on getting a job depending on what they were looking for. I have friends that work for Cummins, Lockheed, Lexmark, GE, a manufacturing plant, Exxon, Stantec...etc.
The benefit for me in getting my M.Eng is it takes a year off of the experience requirement to get my PE license. Other than that for me the M.Eng was a waste of time, but who knows hiring people might look at it as a good thing.

What is your major?
What are you wanting to do?

I wouldn't get a MBA or JD straight out of college. You could get a job, work, then have that company pay for you to get your MBA and actually have more of a grasp of what is going on during class.


#6

I graduated school (with a B.S. Mechanical Eng.) at the beginning of the year, still haven't found a job. I should have gone to grad school for my masters...


#7

I graduated in 05 with a BSME. Never had much problem getting job offers. A lot depends on who you go work for. Some companies like more education and some emphasize experience more.

I personally have never felt job wise that I needed anything more than my BS. I did go to a highly ranked school though, so that could make a difference. However, I can also tell you, I would not have regretted staying in school longer.


#8

I have an AAS in Mechanical Engineering and an BS in Manufacturing Engineering, both I earned while I worked in a machine shop and manufacturing facility.

If you can get the BS and join a company that is willing to pay you to go to school for your MS, that would be great, although you'd have to take night classes. I did it for years and they cut me slack to do projects and I always had someone around to ask for help on any subject.

I'm not going for my MS degree right now, got my BS in 2006. Granted that the MS degree is between 28 and 36 credits depending on what program I choose.

BG


#9

I graduated college with a BS in Comp Sci and now work as a network engineer. I waited till I got into the workforce before I got my Masters in Information systems (8 years after I got my BS). I did it this way because:

1) I hated school by the time I graduated undergrad.
2) I had an offer before I graduated so I was eager to start working.
3) You can get your Masters part time while you work. It took me 2 years for 30ish credits. Why give up income that can be earned while you take the courses?
4) My job paid $150 a credit toward my Grad school so that is another plus.

If the job market sucked and I liked school, I probably would have considered going to grad school right after college. But looking back, I'm happy the way I went about things.


#10

I got my MEng straight after my bachalor and is now currently working as an R&D engineer. I would it really dun make a different if u are entering the workforce except for the starting salary and MAYBE a bit more knowledge in the field u are working in.

The extra knowledge from the extra one or 2 yrs from grad school sure help but ultimately experience play a much much more important role. Of course the first thing would be to get into the industry u are interested in.....where a master degree may make a small difference, but in the end I feel it really depend more on the employer preference.

But in case u are thinking of doing ur masters after a few years of working, it would be best to pursue it full time. It is extremely challanging to do a part time masters while juggling work, family and rest and a one yr course can easily stretch to 2 yrs or even more.


#11

I agree with this for the most part especially working in the private sector. But in my particular situation (NJ State worker), the Masters did help me justify a higher pay increase when I was put up for promotion. Whenever you ask for more money then is scheduled, it gets reviewed it Trenton. I think I spent about 25K getting the degree and I expect it to pay itself off in about 4-5 years via the higher salary I negotiated.


#12

FWIW, I have a BSME and Chem degree from MIT --- and went to work immediately for the Israeli Army figuring how how to efficiently locate and destroy reinforced or underground structures (e.g., tunnels with explosives).

Post military, I looked around and was unimpressed with job prospects and got my JD/MBA.

I suspect the US Army or Airforce is still hiring good engineers. Blowing up stuff is fun, too.


#13

MIT huh? Now I think I understand you better and like you less. I probably paid about a 5th what you did and got as good an education. AHAHAHA!

To Hell with Georgia
(to the tune of Glory, Glory Hallelujah) [Bold mine]

Don't send my boy to MIT
The dying mother said,

Don't send my boy to Emory
I'd rather see him dead,
But send my boy to Georgia Tech
'Tis better than Cornell.
And as for the University of Georgia
I'd rather see him in hell!

chorus
To Hell, to Hell, to Hell with Georgia,
To Hell, to Hell, to Hell with Georgia,
To Hell, to Hell, to Hell with Georgia,
The cesspool of the South!

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the stomping of the Dogs
We will teach the poor dumb farmboys
They should stick to sloppin' hogs
When the Jackets are triumphant
There will be a mighty cheer
We'll do the same next year!

On the Field between the hedges
There arose a mighty stench,
In the Dogs' machine the engineers
Had thrown a monkey wrench.
When the Jackets are triumphant
We will raise a mighty yell,
Them Dogs can GO TO HELL!!

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the N.C. Double-A
They're investigating GA players
To see how much they're paid
After counting all the cars
And the loans Alumni made,
They out pay F.S.U.


#14

Oh sorry, I'm currently a mechanical engineering student.. probably going to be taking third year classes come fall. I am also taking some computer science classes on the side for shit and giggles.

Personally, I would like to get into robotics, but I haven't had much exposure to any specific field yet, so I have no idea how much I would enjoy it.

Thanks for all the replies so far!


#15

You'll probably know what's right for you by the time you hit your senior year (or your victory lap, haha).

Personally (BS CE, 2008), I was so tired of school by the time I graduated that I couldn't imagine going on to grad school anywhere. I had a decent job offer so I took it.

Now that I've been working as a design engineer/project manager for a private consulting firm for a little over a year and a half, I can tell you that if your job is anything like mine, you'll be wishing you'd stayed in school a little while longer.

The job market is absolutely horrible right now. The days of every engineering graduate having their pick of multiple, high paying, high status jobs are over. Unless you're some sort of student prodigy (in which case, you'll have no problems getting into grad school), your job outlook may be somewhat "blah" compared to what it would have been 10, even 5 years ago.

Personally, I would take a hard look at the military. If you're not ROTC right now, start looking at OCS programs. With your ME degree, you'll have plenty of job options in the military, plus you'll get unique experiences and training that will give you an edge in the civilian job market.


#16

I'm currently about to start my last year as a ChE and have absolutely no plans on graduate school for engineering. I have been co-oping at a Fortune 100 pharma company with a job offer after I graduate, and from what I can tell, a masters would do me absolutely no good.

It may be unique to my situation, but my company, and prob pharma in general is looking to mold engineers right out of college or else hire PhDs. I sure as hell don't want a PhD in engineering and I actually like where I work, so I can't complain.

I will say that in a few years I do plan on going back to get an MBA, as I'm preparing for the GMAT right now. That seems like a solid route for me to go.


#17

Someone with a quality engineering bachelors is pretty hirable right now. One bit of advice: Take at least the FE portion of the PE exam right away! I'm prepping for it now, 11 years out of school, and it is a real bitch to re-learn a bunch of stuff that you haven't even thought about in ages.


#18

Probably so, but kosher dorms are scarce outside of Boston/NYC, and Bibi Netanyahu (my hero) went to MIT, so it's the only school to which I applied.

I did make a hell of a lot of money on the blackjack teams, though.

AND I learned that Harvard girls are an easy lay.


#19

But yalls football team is terrible.


#20

I graduated in Civil Eng. in 2000. The work experience I got before graduating helped me more than anything. The MS is not going to practically change much for you now in knowledge but is another tick in the box. An MS will come in handy for higher positions later on but it sounds like you may not have that desire anyway.

I took the PE exam after my 4 years. The license does establish a lot of credibility up front that an MS does not. And MS just means that you were good at school to a lot of people. The license just carries weight and has a voice. For ME though, it is a little different. The license was a goal of mine since I was in 8th grade and I consider it my biggest academic accomplishment.

Later,

Ed