What career should i do?

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Aris
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What career should i do?

Post by Aris » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:29 am

i dont realy know why im posting this, but im confused, and i like this site and the people on it.

I'm 26, im currently in the us air force, but this isnt the life for me, and i dont want to do this forever. I will have my associates degree in the next few months, and i started thinking about bachelor degree's, and then ultimately the big question "what career would i like" and "what should i do with my life".

i went to wikipedia, and looked up some information on some "computer" related degree's, and "electrical engineering" seemed to pop out. I started to think about it, and everything that really interests me involves electricity in some way. Also, i like to get my hands dirty. I dont want to have a desk job . I want to build things, or design new things, things that deal with computers preferably in some way. What i dont want, is i dont want to just be a computer repair guy that fixes old computers. I want to work for a company like IBM, or TI, or one of the miriad of computer hardware companies like asus or msi or seagate or w/e. Or mabey somthing related to computers, like computer case design, heatsink design etc etc. I also think mabey somthing involving CAD or AutoCAD would be good, but i currently know nothing about it, other than that i may need it if i want to design new computer hardware.

I like computer hardware.
I like creating and designing new things.
I like being on the leading edge of technology.
I like thinking outside the box.
I like working with my hands.

Education ive enjoyed in the past:

Math (trig, pre-calc)
Science
Physics
Chemistry

so is EE for me? and if so, what sort of work do you think i would enjoy? Ultimately thats the real kicker for me. i want a job i am passionate about.

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Re: What career should i do?

Post by qviri » Tue Mar 13, 2007 3:55 am

Aris wrote:i went to wikipedia, and looked up some information on some "computer" related degree's, and "electrical engineering" seemed to pop out. .... I also think mabey somthing involving CAD or AutoCAD would be good
Welcome to my life :)
Though to be honest it's a little more robotics-and-crazy-small-systems than real EE.

The thing is, designing cases and heatsinks is basically mechanical engineering, and doesn't have /that/ much in common with EE. But if you drop those two, what you're describing does sound a lot like EE.
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Post by Aris » Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:19 am

i guess im just a little confused as to what a EE does.

when you think of a doctor, you know what they do.
you think of a lawyer, you know what they do.

what does a EE actually DO?

like day to day. i walk into work, and i sit down, and what am i doing? i need some mental images, i have none.

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Post by JazzJackRabbit » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:49 am

EE is part of engineering and as you can guess from the name (electrical engineering) deals with circuits and electronics. The job you would do is for example design anything from circuit control board for controlling fan RPMs (very simplistic example) to motherboards/videocard PCBs, or if you are leaning industrial designing power transformers. That's just a general example what you do, there are many subparts/specializations/etc. I can't tell you anymore as I'm not an EE, I'm CS. I will tell you though that just like any engineering, this is not a fun easy job, it requires a lot of skill, patience, attention to detail, broad knowledge of area as well as knowledge of many specifics.

If you did not lie about really liking to get your hands dirty you will probably like it (at least in college, real work is different, that depends on the job you land), if you did, you'll curse the day you enrolled in Engineering, because workload is excruciating. The more I think about it, the more I realize how underpaid Engineers are, especially in CS. The abundance of software tools that ease software developing as well as common perception that computers are nothing out of the ordinary and any 8th grader can write software makes people unappreciative of one's work and therefore salaries. That said, there are a lot of government jobs out there that require security clearance, I imagine if you are in the army, it would probably easier to get security clearance, and if you complete BS degree in CS/EE or any other engineering degree it should be relatively easy for you to find job that you like and that pays good.

Of course, YMMV, life is what you make of it.

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Post by disphenoidal » Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:54 am

A fair number of EE jobs are in defense electronics, which you may have worked with in the Air Force. These jobs typically deal with designing and testing equipment like radars, radar jammers, surveillance satellites, missile electronics, and so forth. Of course, you'll still need an EE degree to get involved with those things, but if you've worked with them in the air force and want to get involved with designing them, EE might be for you.

It does seem to me like most EEs don't do a whole lot with their hands. A lot of that depends on what program or company you're in, but I think most of the time it is desk work. A friend of mine is a MechE, who's into mechatronics. He does spend a lot of time in the machine shop, but also has to design basic circuits. Maybe qviri could tell you more about that.

Jazz is not lying when he says engineering is a lot of work. But I think it is also a very rewarding field to be involved in.
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Post by klankymen » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:43 pm

Interesting time for this thread, I myself am caught between Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering to study after I've graduated in June... I suppose the difference isn't enormous, however from the unis I've visited, it seems EE is more theoretical and ME is more practical, though both cover almost the same topics.
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Post by aristide1 » Tue Mar 13, 2007 4:54 pm

Computer forensics.

http://www.utica.edu

You can get a concentration in hardware or head towards forensic accounting, depending on what you like.

I've been in this program 2.5 years, and I still have a ways to go.
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Post by qviri » Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:05 pm

aristide1 wrote:Computer forensics.
Is this like on CSI where they zoom in on pictures without pixelation?
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Post by ultrachrome » Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:38 pm

Have you considered the amount of money you'll spend getting an engineering degree? My fiancee has a fresh law degree and $60k of student loans. An advanced degree does not guarantee a high starting salary and you can only defer payments for so long. [edit] GI bill?

Another consideration is do you want the things you love to do to become your job? They aren't so easy to love when someone else is setting your goals and deadlines.

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Post by Aris » Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:59 am

JazzJackRabbit wrote: I will tell you though that just like any engineering, this is not a fun easy job, it requires a lot of skill, patience, attention to detail, broad knowledge of area as well as knowledge of many specifics.
sounds like fun to me :wink:
JazzJackRabbit wrote: That said, there are a lot of government jobs out there that require security clearance, I imagine if you are in the army, it would probably easier to get security clearance, and if you complete BS degree in CS/EE or any other engineering degree it should be relatively easy for you to find job that you like and that pays good.
Air Force, not Army, and yes i already have a Top Secret security clearance.
ultrachrome wrote:Have you considered the amount of money you'll spend getting an engineering degree? My fiancee has a fresh law degree and $60k of student loans. An advanced degree does not guarantee a high starting salary and you can only defer payments for so long. [edit] GI bill?

Another consideration is do you want the things you love to do to become your job? They aren't so easy to love when someone else is setting your goals and deadlines.
Military pays 100% tuition while your in. Everything except the books. And once your out, you get around 45k from your GI Bill. Also if you want, you can use your GI Bill while your in the service to cover the cost of the books. There is no limit to how high of an education you can get for free while your in the military, and there is always plenty of time to work on your education no matter where your stationed.

Yes i want the things i love to do to become my job. If the job was truely what i loved to do, i would look forward to my boss setting goals and deadlines for me.

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Post by aristide1 » Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:28 am

qviri wrote:
aristide1 wrote:Computer forensics.
Is this like on CSI where they zoom in on pictures without pixelation?
Haha, absolutely not. This is serious stuff.
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Post by autoboy » Wed Mar 14, 2007 7:49 am

I did mechanical engineering and concentrated on Mechatronics at California Polytechnic State Unv San Luis Obispo. I was mostly on the mech side of things but I wish I had some more focus on EE as well. It is a great program, a top engineering school. Better than Berkeley. I was at Berekely before I transfered. Cal Poly SLO is great especially if you like hands on and is right on the beach and in the middle of beautiful wine country. The mechatronics option is a big program there.

Out of school I landed a job at Lockheed Martin ATC, an advanced research center where I worked on robotics (mostly designing the mechanical shape and basically designing computer cases on automous robots), optics, satelites, and many other aspects of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. I was rarely at my desk except when I was designing parts. Your security clearance and military background will be well respected there.

I started at 60K and was up to nearly 100K in two years. I was good at my job and I had fun doing it. :D

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Post by wussboy » Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:43 am

Yes, remember that getting a degree does not guarantee a job. And if you're working for someone else, you'll always have that stress of losing your job over your head.

Me personally? I think everyone should read Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" before they decide to invest in an education. I don't have an undergrad degree and at this very second I'm sitting 10 feet from a PhD who's making exactly the same $ I am. As more and more people go to post-secondary, those degrees become less and less relevant. Think long and hard about whether your investment will be worth it.

I'm certainly not saying education is worthless, but think about whether you want to be free, or safe. They are very different things. About 1 year ago I decided I wanted to be free, not safe, and hope to achieve it in 10 years. Who knows what will happen, but every failure teaches what to do next.

Good luck to you!
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Post by nutball » Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:56 am

wussboy wrote:I don't have an undergrad degree and at this very second I'm sitting 10 feet from a PhD who's making exactly the same $ I am. As more and more people go to post-secondary, those degrees become less and less relevant. Think long and hard about whether your investment will be worth it.
The flip-side to that is that as more and more people to go post-secondary education, the more a first degree will become either a minimal requirement for a job. At the very least it'll likely be the factor which determines which CVs go in to the shredder first when the overworked HR person is faced with a hundred applications for one job. (PhD's can work the other way round, a PhD can often be a disadvantage, depending on the job).

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Post by jaganath » Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:57 am

I don't have an undergrad degree and at this very second I'm sitting 10 feet from a PhD who's making exactly the same $ I am.
What kind of job is this, if you don't mind me asking? I'm guessing it's sales-related?

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Post by disphenoidal » Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:06 pm

klankymen wrote:Interesting time for this thread, I myself am caught between Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering to study after I've graduated in June... I suppose the difference isn't enormous, however from the unis I've visited, it seems EE is more theoretical and ME is more practical, though both cover almost the same topics.
Most universities make all the engineers take the same courses at first, namely, math and science. As you go on and get a better idea of what you want to do, the courses get more specialized. There are definitely some areas where ME and EE blend, such as mechatronics or feedback systems. Others, like fluid dynamics or communications, off the top of my head, are pretty much unique to one field or another. I think at first ME can seem more practical and EE more theoretical because the "stuff" of ME is usually tangible: a gear, bearing, fluid, etc. Where as the stuff of EE is harder to visualize: imaginary numbers, RF, etc.

Back to the main subject of discussion, engineering is hard. I don't want to come off as pompous, but I don't think anyone who went to engineering school would say it was easy. I think a lot of people wouldn't do it if they weren't relatively certain that they could get good jobs and good money for it. However, I also think that you would have to be extraordinarily disciplined to become an engineer only for the money. In other words, money is a factor when deciding to do something like EE, but whether you enjoy doing it needs to be one as well.

EDIT: Being able to get Uncle Sam to pay the bill is also very good.
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Post by wussboy » Thu Mar 15, 2007 2:02 am

@ jaganath - I do admin support in the clinical research field. Sales is a good guess, though! :)

@ nutball - I agree that it can become a minimum requirement. I disagree that it will help decide which CVs go into the shredder.

I have 100 applications.
All have degrees.
50% will go into the shredder.

Therefore, 50 applicants with degrees will go into the shredder and I hire the guy who chatted with me in the elevator on the way up.

But, to me, most of this is irrelevant. I don't want a job. I don't want security. I want to be free. This requires a completely different skill set, one that is not improved (but rather diminished) by being educated. Whenever I feel like I should have finished my degree, I remember that the richest man I've ever personally met dropped out of school before finishing his Grade 12, and that I know a lot of extremely poor PhDs and post-Docs.
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Post by Aris » Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:25 am

@ autoboy: Thanks, that really sounds like the sort of work i would like to do. Since i do have a military background with security clearance, i think it would do good to work for one of the myriad of defense tech companies contracted under the us government/military. I work with these types of people in my current career field in the us air force, sometimes doing the exact same job they do, only i make mabey 1/5th what they make.

@wussboy: I understand what your saying, but for starters, i pay nothing for schooling at this point, so there is really no reason for me to pass it up. its definately not going to hurt me to bave a 4year degree. As for a PHD, i have heard from many people that having a PHD can hurt your chances of getting jobs, mostly because as you get higher and higher education in your field, they are required to pay you more for the work you do, even if you'd be doing the same work as someone with a lesser degree. So why get someone with a PHD that you have to pay more money to when you can get someone with a 4year degree that you can pay less.

@disphenoidal: i understand engineering is not an easy thing, but honestly i dont want somthing that is easy. Easy = Boring for me. I want somthing that is challenging, just i would like it to be challenging in a field that i am interested and passionate about. I enjoy studies like calculus, physics, chemistry etc etc. Sure they arnt easy class's, but i enjoy the cericulum and i excel at them because of it.

as far as money goes, honestly i would be content with a job paying 30k a year. money really is not a deciding factor for me. i would very gladly give up a few tens of thousands of dollars a year in salary if it ment i can live in an area i like, or do work i am passionate about. I dont ever want to retire. I dont plan for retirement. I enjoy working, and hope to work till the day i die. Just as long as i'm working with somthing i care about, and that i enjoy doing. "Life is a journey, not a destination". Also, ive already learned that no matter how much money you have, you will always want more. The key to happiness when it comes to money, is learning to live within your means. I dont need a 60" plasma tv, with a porche in the garage living in a mansion on the beach to be happy. All i really need is my family and my wife, and work that i enjoy. As long as i make enough to pay for basic enemities like a home ,transportation, food, entertainment, and savings, i will be content. I dont need a 6 digit salary to obtain these goals.

I dont goto school to obtain security. I goto school because i enjoy and want to learn more about the fields of study that interest me. Other than knowing someone in the buisness to take me on to mentor me along in this field, education through collage is the only way i know of to learn this type of material.

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Post by Jumper » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:27 am

A lot of engineering programs are the same for the first year or so, and some schools even offer 'Undecided Engineering' majors for people who aren't sure of which to pick.

I'm a month and a half away from a double major in Mechanical & Aeronautical, with a Math minor.

Heading to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to (continue - after two summer internships) work on Sample Acquisition/Sample Processing and Handling for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory rover. I'm in the Instrument Mechanical Engineering section. We have EEs as well who do all our circuit and controller design.

Engineering is not easy. Junior-Senior year they really pile it on. However, there is a very good reason for this - engineers design *everything* that is produced and sold to consumers in some way, and there is a good chance that people's lives/safety or the success of a very expensive project will depend on your work. It's not always the most glamorous job in the world, but engineers make the world go around ;)
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Post by wussboy » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:58 am

@Aris - Yeah, I certainly don't want you to think I'm down on education. I love it, and hope to always be an avid learner myself. In whatever happens, I of course wish you nothing but happiness. And large breasted women. Hell, why not?!

@Jumper - You're right about the engineering workload. I'm not one (duh) but one of my best friends is. He's a civil engineer and had crippling workloads when in Uni. But he designs bridges now and loves every second of it. So it certainly can be rewarding.
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Post by disphenoidal » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:29 am

Aris, I think you have the makings of an engineer. 8)
wussboy wrote:In whatever happens, I of course wish you nothing but happiness. And large breasted women. Hell, why not?!

As do I!
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Post by Beyonder » Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:13 pm

I don't have an undergrad degree and at this very second I'm sitting 10 feet from a PhD who's making exactly the same $ I am.
money isn't everything. I'd much rather be doing something I love than making a lot of money. Of course, if the two can happen together, that's great, but....
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Post by regal196 » Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:22 pm

If you do not know what specific field you want to pursue, may I suggest Engineering Physics. Engineering Physics is, from my understanding, an engineering degree with all the same school, minus the emphasis on a specific field. From looking course descriptions of various engineering degrees, they all require basically the same classes until junior year, then the emphasis start.

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Post by cmthomson » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:36 pm

The first ten years or so of most engineering careers are a blast. You design things, get them built, and watch them be deployed. Nothing is more fun than that. Getting a product out the door with your name on it is probably the most rewarding activity on the planet.

Unfortunately, after about 15 years, it usually turns into a Dilbert cartoon.
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Post by MikeC » Sun Mar 18, 2007 8:13 pm

cmthomson wrote:Unfortunately, after about 15 years, it usually turns into a Dilbert cartoon.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

IMO, most corporate careers have the same fate. I came to the conclusion some years ago that I am utterly unemployable in the corporate context.
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Post by autoboy » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:09 pm

My job with the defense contractor turned into a dilbert comic in a year and a half so I left. I was a great job and I had fun but I need to think for myself and do my own thing. Many people are happy there but the sad faces of many of the old engineers made me realize I didn't want their fate.

Also, because it was a research facility, I was the only engineer in my group without an advanced degree. It is very highly praised and people bugged me to get one. I could care less about an advanced engineering degree. It will not be able to teach me anything new. I learn fine on my own. I don't need a professor to tell me gears turn and fluid flows.

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Post by gomme » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:27 pm

MikeC wrote:IMO, most corporate careers have the same fate. I came to the conclusion some years ago that I am utterly unemployable in the corporate context.
ditto :wink:

Wish I had realized that before getting a BSEE.

In reply to Aris, I was similar WRT things you liked and education.

I worked in a huge computer corporation for few years before bailing out. Haven't figured out what to do for a while.

It was all circuit verification work(CHECKING THINGS, NOT DESIGNING NEW THINGS) in front of workstation(DESK JOB) with breaks for few meetings, reporting to boss. It was computer circuit repair work, fixing circuits in an old computer architecture. It wasn't IBM, or TI(but close). No CAD or AutoCAD, but schematic editor(Cadence Opus, drag and drop triangles and boxes - strictly 2D).

I don't know if I was passionate in school, but definitely NOT passionate now.

I suspect things are better in smaller companies(someone has to make new stuff), but as most are corporate(milk same brand for most buck) so maybe not as much.

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Post by Beyonder » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:32 am

MikeC wrote:
cmthomson wrote:Unfortunately, after about 15 years, it usually turns into a Dilbert cartoon.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

IMO, most corporate careers have the same fate. I came to the conclusion some years ago that I am utterly unemployable in the corporate context.
academia??? :lol:
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Post by JazzJackRabbit » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:12 am

gomme wrote:I worked in a huge computer corporation for few years before bailing out. Haven't figured out what to do for a while.

It was all circuit verification work(CHECKING THINGS, NOT DESIGNING NEW THINGS) in front of workstation(DESK JOB) with breaks for few meetings, reporting to boss. It was computer circuit repair work, fixing circuits in an old computer architecture. It wasn't IBM, or TI(but close). No CAD or AutoCAD, but schematic editor(Cadence Opus, drag and drop triangles and boxes - strictly 2D).

I don't know if I was passionate in school, but definitely NOT passionate now.

I suspect things are better in smaller companies(someone has to make new stuff), but as most are corporate(milk same brand for most buck) so maybe not as much.
You probably just aren't in the right position. Someone has to design the circuits that you have to test, and they get all the fun doing it while you are stuck testing. There are only two solutions, either advance within you current company to position where you can actually design things, or if that's not possible (for whatever reason) change job.


Beyonder wrote:
MikeC wrote:
cmthomson wrote:Unfortunately, after about 15 years, it usually turns into a Dilbert cartoon.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

IMO, most corporate careers have the same fate. I came to the conclusion some years ago that I am utterly unemployable in the corporate context.
academia??? :lol:
Ahahaha, I got a good laugh out of it... :D

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Post by Devonavar » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:12 pm

JazzJackRabbit wrote:You probably just aren't in the right position. Someone has to design the circuits that you have to test, and they get all the fun doing it while you are stuck testing. There are only two solutions, either advance within you current company to position where you can actually design things, or if that's not possible (for whatever reason) change job.
Big companies don't often hire major positions by advancement. They have no interest in nurturing talent when they can just buy it. If you want interesting work, find a small company and accept the pay cut. The idea is to build a reputation for yourself. Then you have two options. If you're cut out for it, start a company for yourself and design what you're really interested in. Or, if you want money, this is the time to go after the large companies, since they'll hire you on the basis of your resume. You'll still have to deal with the political crap, but at least this time you're higher up the pecking order.

Or, if you're happy with the status quo, you can always just stick with the small company until it folds...

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