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Join Date: Sep 2017
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Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/12/2017 5:11 AM

Hi all,

I'd just like to give a bit of background to my level of experience. I am a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the UK (MEng degree - this is the highest level you can reach before PhD, and is obtained after 18 years full time education. I'm not sure if it is directly equivalent to the US/Canada MS degree) and graduated with a 2.1 (roughly a 3.5 GPA equivalent). I graduated in June 2016.

I joined a very large engineering design consultancy firm upon joining, working within their energy business. Initially, the first 5/6 months were very quiet. I was involved in mainly small ad-hoc tasks such as checking structural calculations and/or reports, and creating 2D/3D CAD models. Aside from that, I was involved in some project management support work for a nuclear new build project, and carried out a series of simple ANSYS Workbench structural problems for a mechanical handling project.

For a few months after that, I was seconded to work on a nuclear plant systems commissioning project, which kept me busy. From June 2017 until now, and for the indefinite future, I will now be based working on decentralised energy projects – mainly feasibility studies for district heating networks, however some design work should come in the near future.

My main goal is to immigrate and experience working abroad –temporary or permanent. I would consider the Middle-East, however I have seriously been considering Canada for a long time now, and I know that when I hit the 2 year mark working full-time then I will have an excellent chance of gaining a skilled workers independent visa. I could obtain this before then looking for a job.

Apologies if what I am about to say is silly, but I am wondering if it is possible for engineers to switch industries after they have begun their careers? I quite like the decentralised energy line of work, however I know that it isn’t exactly a huge industry compared to nuclear/O&G, so I may find it difficult to find a job even if I obtained a Canadian visa.

Furthermore, what are the chances a large/highly paying company would take on someone switching industries? My current job pays highly for my level of experience (started 1 year ago at £30k, now at £31.5k, UK average for MEng graduates is around £27k). I know that I was a highly qualifying graduate when I left university and thus obtained a job at the top-end of the payscale, therefore I would be aiming for a job on the same end of the payscale abroad. Put it this way, I wouldn’t expect to be earning the same salary of an engineer working within the O&G industry after 2 years, but would maybe aim for say the salary of a graduate just starting in that same role.

Again, apologies if I am talking absolute nonsense, but any help is much appreciated,

Cheers!

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#1

Re: Changing industries within engineering

09/12/2017 6:04 AM

<...it is possible for engineers to switch industries after they have begun their careers?...> With today's jobs market, it is almost routine.

<...what are the chances a large/highly paying company would take on someone switching industries?...> It depends entirely upon what is being sold at interview and how it is being sold. Someone who seeks applicants for an interview has a serious business problem that will only be solved by hiring someone. Find out what the problem is. Sell the solution.

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#2

Re: Changing industries within engineering

09/12/2017 6:36 AM

Welcome to this forum.

You have been sincere in your questions and explaining your situation.

From an Australian perspective, the degree attained, while providing evidence of a specific competency is also indicative of having "learnt to learn". Employers in the categories that you seem to be targeting will understand this.

I have recently been involved with introduction of four new engineers to our organisation, a mix of mechatronic, civil and we have put exposed them to asset management, problem solving, project management support and so on. They have all performed admirably across civil, SCADA, design control and so on.

I perceive that you are prepared to "have a go" and I wish you well.

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#3

Re: Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/12/2017 11:15 AM

After over 20 years in aerospace (materials) engineering, I switched to a start-up company developing active electronic noise and vibration solutions and functioned as an engineer, then engineering manager, then director of eng. and mfg. Mind you this was a start-up company with plenty of room for growth. Then I went into the chemical process/manufacturing of large machines that process circuit boards. This company was an established company and I was promoted only once. For the last 16 years I worked for a non-profit company, and just retired after over 50 years of working steadily. So, I've changed my focus four times without any difficulties.

So, it certainly can be done. It takes self confidence and hard work and you will not succeed if you don't work very hard and keep growing/learning and developing a reputation as a hard working, intelligent person.

Good luck, go for it!

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#4

Re: Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/12/2017 3:40 PM

You might consider staying where you are, until you become Chartered, and then you'll have that much more to ''sell''...

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#5

Re: Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/12/2017 8:22 PM

Changing Field within Engineering is really no problem. Its the mental issue. If you think you can, you can.

I switch from Electronics Engineering to Biotech industry and never look back. Median salary for a Biotech Engineer is around $85K. At least in my field and of course location. (Within Silicon Valley of California) You can easily make 6 figures if you have the right talent. Never stop learning is all I can say.

Good Luck.

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#6

Re: Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/13/2017 8:39 AM

Switching industries is definitely a possibility, however I am not sure of how much in "larger" companies. My experience with "larger" companies is that they are looking for specialist in their fields to fill a vacancy available.

I look back and,,, I started in the agricultural field, switched to railway infrastructure maintenance equipment, then to structural steel-both in plant and project management and finally automotive. I think my transitions were possible due to my previous experience and was fortunate enough to find employers who recognized the possibilities - none of these were "large" companies but were not considered small either.

The more varied experience you can pick up the better off your chances. And don't limit yourself to purely engineering. You have to pick up skills in other business areas as well - HR, accounting, etc..

Good luck.

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#7

Re: Changing Industries Within Engineering

09/13/2017 11:27 AM

switching fields happens all the time. many times within an organization. you have been in school for a very long time and on the job for a relatively short time so as others have suggested, put time in the job. all jobs can be boring at time. companies usually move a new hire around a bit to see where he best fits, this sounds like it happened to you and they feel that you are a best value to the company where you are placed. the worst thing you can do is jump around from job to job after a year or so as it tells an perspective employer not to spend its time/ money on you if you are only going to leave after the training period is over unless you are moving up and usually up means management. I would suggest to be patient, learn what you can on the job as your true training is now being taught. When an appealing opening becomes available then pursue it.

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