I was once like you. I was making about 54k/yr as a "project engineer" at a small company of about 150 people. The owner was a control freak, my boss was an idiot who worked only at that company for his whole carrier. My boss had pinhole vision, not even tunnel vision. I remember one time he couldnt even answer a question about an 80ft run of 3" pipe being bent at a height of 1.5ft across the 80ft so he had to ask the VP.
I spent my time filling out a lot of paperwork....construction forms for ordering equipment, reviwing spec sheets and proposals. The project i had when i left was a municipal facility job which was laden with a giant spec. It was libraian type wirk and my boss seemed to get a thrill when i would no dot an i or cross a t on a form.
Everyone at the company had a nervous twitch, they were cowards who lacked the confidence to go find a better place to work, everyone hated it there (except my boss, the vp and the owner). They were not receptive to ideas and better ways of doing things...."as long as you work here you have to do it the owners way" there was little work to do. The project engineering dept had 4 engineers when it really needed only 2.
I was never really challenged in an engineering sense,I was getting dumber by the day, i felt that there was a timer ticking away every second and if i didnt find another job i would be stuck at that fucking place for my whole career.
5 months of looking for a job and i found one. A dirty high volume machine shop. A boss who is 3 years older than me, who had gone through 4 promotions. Based on that i knew this place would recognize my hard work. With a little bit of talking i got my pay to a 15% increase over my previous job.
There are so many problems and work that needs to be done at my current job, and THEY LOOK TO ME to help solve the problems. I put in 45+ hrs a week, and i just now got a $5k raise cause i have been helping them save a lot of money...,after only 7 mo.
Heat treating and material science
Machining and machine tooling
Testing and prototyping
Training programs being deveoped by me
Lean manufacturing principles
Real world problems
This is all on my plate, i am incredibly busy and i love it. The responsibility and accountability is huge. The freedom and sense of accomplishement and duty are there everyday. I love it.
And all it took was a job interview
So go do it, TAKE CONTROL of your carrier and your future. No one with an engineering degree deserves to be stuck at a job like your and my old job. You need to be out there helping companies solve problems, and save money. 36% of your waking life is spent at your job, it better be a place that you enjoy to some degree;
What you do
Who you do it with
How much money you do it for
You need 2/3 of the above to be happy