Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Engineering Career Decision

Engineering Career Decision

Engineering Career Decision

I am looking for a little help making an academic decision.

I am currently a non traditional student who has finished the 1st 2 years of engineering school. I hold a master electrician's license with about 25 years of commercial power distribution installation experience and 4 years of experience as a chief electrical inspector for a city of about 120k. I resigned to attend school full time.

Although I thought I would focus more on electrics, I have begun to gravitate towards the civil/environmental discipline. I have interests in working with hydrology/groundwater remediation, etc., but do not want my electrical experience to be wasted!

I would like to hear the opinion of any engineer out there about the usefulness (if any) of having electrician/inspector experience as an environmental engineer. Is it helpful? My goal is to obtain my BS and continue my studies for the MS degree. I am about to transfer from a community college to a university next semester.

I thought I had it all figured out before I came to school because I am older...NOT the case!

Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.


RE: Engineering Career Decision

I cannot really see it helping that much other than its value as a life experience and also experience at responsibility.

I must say that I hope that you are doing this because of a passion for the subject as I would think you would be financially worse off for at least the first few years after graduating.


RE: Engineering Career Decision

Totally unrelated fields- not much cross-exposure, except perhaps if you work for a small company which is building remediation equipment.

I personally left that field 15 years ago and never looked back.  It's far more romantic in concept than in reality, and what I do these days provides more benefit for the environment (at the front end of the pipe) than that work ever did.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

25 years experience?  Can you manage projects?  Can you responsibly direct other peoples' money and resources?  Can you supervise?  Consider the full spectrum of skills you carry.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

Electrical generally pays MUCH better.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

Thank you all for your posts: every one of them was helpful.

I have gone through a strange phase (no pun intended) of not wanting to stay in the electrical engineering arena. I am slowly changing my mind back to the EE track. It's not because I just didn't like it, but that I simply knew little about the facts surrounding the opportunities in the EE field. These forums help a lot.

I have sat down with several different engineers over the past two years to ask them basically "what do you do all day?". I have to admit, especially for environmental, it wasn't what I expected. There are very strong romantic notions of CEE for us in school like standing in the middle of a creek all day with a squirrel on our shoulder, doing super green things. It wasn't hard to notice the phone book size regulation reports they were having to compile to allow a proposed state road that was going to impact a wetland. Looked like months or more of paperwork for one project. Does this sound about right?

Maybe my original plan was best? To simply obtain a BS in EE and hybrid the MS in a more diverse direction when I get there (in about 3 years!)if need be.

Thanks again for everyone's time and have a good summer.


RE: Engineering Career Decision

two consultants, $10 million dollars (not counting the owner's costs) and about 5 years to do the EIS and successful regulatory application for a power plant. Only now going to EPC, that is if the active lawsuits don't slow things down too much. The report is much, much, much larger than a phone book. In fact, more like a stack of them up to the ceiling...

RE: Engineering Career Decision

I became a Civil because I hated the electrical sections of Physics and Engineering.  I now work in the Environmental Field, and I never have to do any electrical work, except for safety inspections where I note open panels or uncovered outlets.
As cvg noted, there's a ton of paperwork in environmental; I spend most of my day interpreting regs and helping clients understand how to comply.
As for standing in the creek, I have a tech to do that.  I would not be paying an engineer for most field work.  And as far as helping the environment?  Well, my job can be described as helping my clients get permits to spew as much pollutants as is legal.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

Have you thought about being a transmission tower structural engineer?  This combines electrical with structural, not that I really understand it all (I'm with greenone on that).  It seems that the energy in the transmission circuits affects the structural loads.  Pretty cool.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

Have you considered becoming as graybeach says a transmission engineer, or even an electric distribution engineer?  Transmission mission line design itself is primarily a civil position, but distribution engineering tends to use a combo of electricl/civil applications.  Something to look into if you are interested.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

Consider becoming a Commissioning Authority, lots of Commissioning work these days for data centers, testing load banks, power quality, reliability, etc...
May be even something that will combine Civil; EE; Sustainability; Commissioning - connecting wind farms and solar panels to the grid.

Ok, they say "live as if you were to die tomorrow and learn as if you were to live forever" BUT, that does not mean learn in School.

I'd see you more as a teacher than a student at your age. Go help people out there that really need your knowledge and experience (a mind is a terrible thing to waste isn't it?) - There is a lot of personal satisfaction in transferring knowledge to the new generation.

RE: Engineering Career Decision

If you live anywherer near where the exploding field of horizontal drilling + hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is occurring, then your environmental studies with ground water hydrology will be in high demand soon. Assuming new legal requirements for mitigating the effects of discharged salt + chemically loaded wastewater are published. It may be a good idea to research  what technical  means are being proposed to deal with that liquid waste.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close