Career crossroads.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Shad, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. Shad

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Hello to all from a newbie to the board. Found my way here due to the wonderful
    E-book 'Lessons in Electric Circuits' that I have had in my posession for a little while.
    Basically I am using it as refresh learning.

    Having already collected my HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
    in the UK quite some time ago, I find that I don't use it very much at all
    and therefore I need periodic reminding. One reason is that when you go
    to an interview sometimes, suddenly everyone is an electronics expert
    and can hit you with even basic stuff that will have you stumbling.

    Anyway, having made my way down the Gold Brick road to California, I am
    now finding like many that the semiconductor industry is fast deserting
    it's motherland of Silicon Valley. If I want to stay here, retraining or
    stepping into similar industry may be necessary. Just wanted to start
    some dialogue with folks out there, and maybe ask some questions.

    Firstly, the 'Lessons in Electric Circuits' book pretty much encompasses
    up to the point that I left college, save some now redundant programming
    languages (Pascal, Turbo C) and fluffy stuff like how to make presentations.
    Apparently my education is similar to Associates degree in the USA,
    what would a Bachelor's over here mean as far as coursework?
    What does a University degree in Britain go into that's not covered?
    I may go back to school, and as I already went through so much it would
    be silly not to get a Bachelor's here as I may be able to 'test' out of
    some levels, etc. Can anyone from the UK tell me if I can take a
    course with a British institution from the USA online to get my degree?

    Secondly, I've been researching alternative career paths such as IT
    (probably like a Network Technician?), medical equipment, etc.
    What's got the biggest 'future' buzz right now? And what will give me
    the kind of financial compensation I have gotten used to, but with
    more long term security? Can I shift to the magic title of Engineer,
    without getting a degree?

    I don't mind working in the semiconductor industry (except for the nasty
    chemicals and 'bunny' suit I have to wear), but I would like to get away
    from that manufacturing environment although that's where the money is.
    Just not the jobs anymore...

    Great board here, I will definitely get some use out of it. Cheers!
  2. nanovate

    Distinguished Member

    May 7, 2007
    The term "Engineer" is used rather loosely here especially when working for a company -- they have titles like Equipment Engineer, Network Engineer, Sales Engineer etc... that have no legal definition and do not require a 4-yr degree. Although when the job market is tight you might need one to compete. But you usually need to be licensed to use the title in certain cases and engineering fields. For example "Professional Engineer" or PE is almost always restricted.

    I recommend that unless you have a "hot" skill that keeps you well paid and away from school, get your degree. Just as an aside, management and business make more money. Engineers may start off making more but the business grad catch-up in 5 years. I am comparing people that I think could have gone either way tech vs business NOT those folks who could barely get their bus degree. Also people who went into mgmt from engineering also have salary growth. This of course doesn't address job satisfaction or security.

  3. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    Welcome to AAC!

    The obvious example would be the Open University, although I am not sure of the issues relating to residency. You might be advised checking their website, however if you are still a UK passport holder then I see no problem. The big question you must ask yourself is: Is the (distance learning) course you take going to be accredited by the professional instituition you wish to join (ref. you later point about engineers)? This is something you will need to address with your potential university.

    As for coursework, this will be highly dependant on both instituition and course. Typically, the leading engineering departments in UK universities focus on practical, often industry focused, (mini-)projects.

    The medical game is in a period of bloom at the moment in light of new and developing technologies and the creativity afforded by the developments in computational capabilities.

    As for the magical title of engineer, sadly in many countries it is 'dumbed-down' to the level where any tradesman can call himself an engineer in the same way an experienced design engineer responsible for managing large engineering projects can. In the UK only Chartered and Incorporated are protected and you would need a degree to be able to use these (with a few very exception circumstances). Before anyone gets on my case, I full respect and admire the work of tradesmen, I am merely making a point regarding professional terminology - you wouldn't call a school nurse a physician, even though the work they do is invaluable.