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so I'm sure there has to be at least a few adults with technical engineering careers, and I'm looking for some career advice from more perspectives.
I'm currently a studying at a university for a bachelor of science engineering degree, but I am a terrible student and even if I make it through I wonder how I will compete with better preforming students in the job market, I have have enough trouble finding internships with my GPA.
my alternative is to go to a different school and get a bachelor of science technician degree, I could probably do much better in that, but I want to know how high one can be promoted with such an education background.
I don't want to be suck in a technician role my whole life, I believe I have talent in engineering (but not academics ) and my dream is it be actively involved with designing prototypes. Is that even possible without a bachelor of science and engineering degree?
I think if you make it through you could be alright. Ever heard of Cs get degrees? Apparently (maybe this doesn't apply to engineering) after your first job/internship future employers look more at your job experience than your university GPA.
I've heard of people who have gone to university to do a degree they haven't studied at high school, get a C, find a job to work for a year or two and then look for another job and get one just as good as people who have the same qualifications but a better GPA.
Not sure what the job market for engineers is like in the US, but in NZ a graduate would probably find a job in Australia or Europe without too much problem, even if they have to take a lower paying job due to their GPA or the job market.
There will be much better people on this forum to talk about this than me, just thought I'd add what I've heard.
Engineers need experiments run. They need support of technicians to do failure analysis, measurements, etc. There is nothing wrong with a technician role in an engineering field.
Without a huge student loan, the smaller paycheck can go further. The important thing is to be useful enough to be hired and retained.
The engineers do the design. I give them the measurements of the results. It is an exciting place to be. Often I see the results of an experiment before the engineer does.
I use one of these in my job along with many other tools of the trade.
I don't think there's any shame in being a technician - if hands on is your calling, go for it.
Also, never underestimate the benefit of being able to leave work at work, something technicians can probably do and engineers probably can't.
There are plenty of damn well paid technicians, and honestly, even if you become an OK paid technician there really is more to life than chasing that dollar all the time. If you earn enough to just be OK, then you are OK!
I wouldn't worry too much about GPA. As long as you earn your degree and are able to interview well enough to get an internship you're probably ok. You can work up the ranks from there. The fact that you have a degree will allow you to get the the job you want, eventually. As others have stated if you see the technician position to be "where you want to be" then I would change your focus.
Don't always chase the dollar.
My buddy just got back from a 3 month internship with an oil company. He is studying chemical engineering(3rd yr student with no experience). He made made like $30 an hr and double that every Saturday but hated the work he was doing. He got asked to come back and work again but he declined.
Get a degree in something you will enjoy everyday.
p.s I am studying chemical engineering too
Yes, it's possible, but it doesn't come quickly or easily without that degree.
Put it this way... I work with some amazingly talented techs. Some of them have been promoted to the extent that they make just as much money as I do with my high falutin' degree... But it took them 25 years to get there.
That said, if the design of prototypes is what you absolutely want to do, you'd be best served by finishing your engineering degree. But if all you want to do is be in a high tech environment and such, the technician road is perfectly valid.
Education Disclosure: BSME
Occupation Disclosure: I run Skytop.
Re: Engineering Degrees
Get some work experience, keep trying, as much as you can, summer jobs, anything that also builds up technical skills, that makes a big difference for getting the first internships and they then help in getting good jobs after that.
Haha, I've even ended up talking about building airguns (in a professionalized maner ) as some of the stuff I've done actually demonstrates more engineering skill than university projects.
All this doesn't help much when you're just applying through some form on the internet, but if it's a case of sending off a CV and then getting an interview face to face, that really changes things, they realise you aren't like most of the other uni students without a clue of practicality or lateral thinking.
Well bascially they realise this
Stick with it!
Just think - if you struggle through your engineering degree - you can still always be a technician if you'd like.
However it will not be as easy to become a full blown engineer if you've only got a technicians degree - That is unless your just naturally talented in the field... or don't mind waiting a few extra years to get there (10-20)...
To add to all the others promoting about experience - this is absolutely one of the most important things you can do to accelerate your career. I currently attend Drexel university in Philadelphia - and we have a program called 'Co-op' which is a mandatory 6 month paid internship that occurs 3 times throughout your 5 year study to get your BS degree. With the 5 years it also gives you time to pursue research on campus - and pick up another degree if your interested like I have. I'm going to be getting my BSME with a nearly complete EE degree as well when I'm finished.
It didn't come easy to me as well - and you might be in the same situation I was a few years ago... When I was doing poorly in school it wasn't because I wasn't intelligent, it was more the result of poor academic technique - i.e. study study study, attend EVERY class, be active in the class, and occasionally visit the teacher or T.A. for help in the class if your struggling. Also make sure you network with your peers and form study groups as well as pursue group projects (as this is really what engineering will be in the future for you anyways!) and enjoy everything knowing that you have the opportunity to even participate in an advanced degree while most people settle for less or can't even afford to attend secondary education!
Good luck man - use them internships up!
In disclosure, getting some kind of recognized certification is a must. I am an engineering tech.
My credentials are High School Diploma
US Navy ET School and Crypto school. I challenged the first ET classes as self taught and moved directly into advanced training.
I took some consumer electronics classes to keep current. Learned VCR's, Laserdisk, Camcorders, CD players etc. while they were brand new tech.
I took the ISCET exam and passed the Apprentice and Journeyman level exams. Scores are in the top 5%.
Worked in broadcast including repair of a lightning struck AM radio transmitter.
Worked in 2 Way radio shop including paging equipment and trunked radio systems.
With those credentials, I was able to move into R&D with no student loans, no bouts with unemployment, etc. I will have my 2nd sabbatical with my current employer next summer. Two months off with pay.
Starting engineers get less pay than I do. That would be a hard way to start out buying a home, paying student loans etc. Senior engineers do make more than I do, but they are on call 24/7. I am not on call. I value that.
Note that the above can vary greatly with employer.
I'm a senior engineer, but I have a tech who makes as much as I do (and he's worth every penny). He's also on call with me, however.
In the same breath, most of our engineers/technicians are not on call. We (the other tech and I) just happen to be involved with a certain project that requires such.
In fairness the last job I had with the radio station, I was on call 24/7 due to the requirements for quick response when the transmitter went off the air for any reason.
I wouldn't worry too much about your GPA. As long as it is good enough to graduate.
There's an old joke:
What do a you call the guy that graduated at the bottom of his class in Medical School?
If you are interested, post-grad students in most engineering and scientific areas are paying jobs. You won't be making much but there won't be any tuition at the graduate level. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding a graduate school that'll pay your tuition + a monthly stipend to live on. A graduate degree basically wipes out a mediocre undergrad GPA.
And one from a slightly different perspective....
I was a Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) undergraduate in the early eighties. I found the course tough going even though I had top marks in high school in Math/Chem/Physics. I dropped the course after a year and went the technician route, finishing up in IT strangely enough.
Now almost thirty years later I am one unit away from finishing my degree having been forced back to tertiary studies if I wanted to compete in the job market. My Christmas present to me and the family will be a a nice shiny graduation ceremony. The weird thing is that my tutor has commented several times that I know as much as he does in the subject and could be teaching the course
Take it from me, if you have even the slightest chance of passing the degree now, do it. Night school and job juggles are no fun and as others have said, no employer really cares whether you got honors, distinction or just passed after the first one and at least in Oz usually not even then.
Resume check: Degree, yes, move on.
If not you will find a lot of doors closed and the only way to open them is the degree qualification on a lot harder road.
Cheers and good luck
thanks for all the input guys, I sorry I didn't check back with you guys sooner. As always you guys have provided some very helpful input, I really needed to know more about technician routes, my father is and extremely successful engineer with some very prestigious degrees and I don't know any engineering technicians. It's tough to find information about technician degrees that's not just from college recruiters, I really needed to hear people from both sides compare us and them. I've become less scared of switching routes, but for now I'll keep trying to get my BSE.
thank you so much for the advice guys, you've given me more reason to love this forum
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