Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Do engineers need more education to advance?

When considering the value of credentials, the best place to start is with your mid-term career goals. Are you looking to move up the ladder at your company? Join a consulting engineering firm? Or make a shift to another area like marketing or finance?
If you are thinking about more credentials, you’ll enjoy this funny video about a mid-career engineer with the same issue.
If you are interested in a career in the financial markets, the combination of your engineering background paired with a finance-based MBA can be very powerful. Not only would an MBA give you new skills, good graduate business schools have a strong employment team that can help you get the job you want. It all comes with a hefty fee, of course, so you better be really, really sure before you pull the trigger.
A similar argument holds true for a change to a marketing role. However, if you are considering a technical sales role, I would argue that those skills aren’t taught in school. Your best course of action would be to find a good mentoring sales manager and just jump in.
If you want to move toward partnership status in a consulting engineering firm, having your PE is typically a must. If you aren’t in a consulting engineering firm now, but you would like to be, the good news is that they are hiring. You won’t need to be a PE to get in the door, so you can likely defer that decision until after you decide whether the consulting life is for you.
If your goal is to move up within your current employer, then maybe a Master in Engineering would make sense. Your first questions to ask should be "Does your company reward technical skills?" and "Are they willing to split the cost with you?" Or are you looking to move to another company? In those cases, having a Masters can be helpful.

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