Author Topic: How did you decide which career path to take in EE  (Read 5926 times)

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Offline zeppelin390

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How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« on: August 17, 2012, 06:09:18 pm »
My name is Scott, and I am new here. I would be considered an electronic genius if all there was to it was plugging things into a wall socket, but seeing as if that is the extent of my electrical knowledge, I do doubt that I will be named EE of the year anytime soon.

I’m getting into EE because my girlfriends stepfather is an EE in the communications field, and was recently telling me about how his company hired him with only an Associates Degree. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of electronics and electrical things, Its just that I have never delved any deeper into it other then reading the instruction manual for how to change the blinking 12:00 time on the VCR. Now this may make me sound like a complete imbecile, and I do hope I can redeem myself by passing on that the only television I watch is the Science, Discovery, and National Geographic Channels. I LOVE seeing how things are manufactured, how long it took to manufacture, and exactly how many rivets it took to manufacture it. My interest is not only limited to the production line, but  pretty much anything scientific will make me drop the remote.
 
As my subject line suggests, I am curious as to how each of you who reads this found your way into the particular field of work in EE that your are currently involved in. Would it be a life long passion of everything electronic that brought you to where you are, or the surreal slap in the face you got one day when you realized you’re 38yrs old and in a dead-end job? And is there a correct field in EE to fit every type of person?

Going into classes that begin in 2 weeks, I am a bit intimidated by the fact that I don’t know shit about electronics. I wonder if this could be an asset or a curse. A possible asset to the teacher who likes a fresh clean slate of a mind to train, mold, and shape before any bad habits are formed, or a curse, because well, I don’t know shit about electronics. Opinions?
 

Offline KTP

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 06:27:19 pm »
Have you ever played with electronic kits or microcontrollers as a kid?

I don't want to discourage you, but it might be best to major in something you like, as long as you are not paying high tuition to major in some useless degree like women's studies or similar.

If you just want to earn a good living...then I suggest software engineering if you have any computer skills at all and have an interest in that.

Edit:  But you don't really need to know crap about electronics your first day in class.  They will start you off assuming you don't even know what the plus sign is on a battery.

Being good at math will help A LOT.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 06:29:42 pm by KTP »
 

Offline zeppelin390

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 06:40:46 pm »
Have you ever played with electronic kits or microcontrollers as a kid?

I don't want to discourage you, but it might be best to major in something you like,Being good at math will help A LOT.

Nope, never played with any electronic kits or microcontrollers.
As for majoring in something I like, well, I haven't quite figured that out yet, and I'm 38. The clock is ticking, has been ticking, and will continue to tick. I will like whatever pays the bills better and faster. I do have an interest in electronics, I just don't have the knowledge to support it.
 

Offline olsenn

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2012, 07:09:30 pm »
It's a harsh realization when you realize you are (supposedly) an adult and expected to be at your destination in life, but you don't even know who you are, where you want to be, and if you can get there. As for which field you should take up, it entirely depends on your interests and your skills. If you are very good at math (vector calculus and transforms etc) and you enjoy studying the analog behavour of nature, then I would recommend field study, antenna theory, RF work etc. However, if you enjoy basic logic (boolean and otherwise) and don't want to spend a lot of money getting yourself started, then you may prefer programming. If you enjoy the hands on work, then you may want to take basic electronics or even become a technologist.
 

Offline KTP

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 07:15:13 pm »
If I were your age (well, hey, I actually am just a tad over that age) and I didn't have any super strong motivation toward any field, I might consider looking into the oil and gas industry.  This would be especially true if you live in the USA.  The unemployment rate in the midwest is almost negative  ;D....you get a job if you can breathe, and if you have whatever in demand skills they need (I think there are some 2 and 4 year programs) we are talking 100K a year or more.
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 10:45:15 pm »
Just in regards to the above post. This is what my brother says about math. He's graduated with a degree in civil engineering.

Math is great in making your life in college easier. But once you get into "real" stuff, these days it like 90% computer simulation. If you find yourself using a calculator by some chance, you're probably just doing some algebra or playing around with an equation. The real smart cookies are going to be using a lot of math to derive these equations for you. But as far as most goes engineering these days, math is going to help you understand concepts easier, help you understand relationships and mechanics, but as far as needing to be a math genius, I don't think you have to worry about it, if you had any major concerns. Just be able to get through 3 semesters of calculus and you should be fine. And if you can do that...then you probably can handle anything else. :P
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 10:50:23 pm »
Have you ever played with electronic kits or microcontrollers as a kid?

I don't want to discourage you, but it might be best to major in something you like,Being good at math will help A LOT.

Nope, never played with any electronic kits or microcontrollers.
As for majoring in something I like, well, I haven't quite figured that out yet, and I'm 38. The clock is ticking, has been ticking, and will continue to tick. I will like whatever pays the bills better and faster. I do have an interest in electronics, I just don't have the knowledge to support it.

Unlike some other fields, electronics is considerably easy to get into without needing "real" education. There's a lot of literature out there. There's also tons of websites out there dedicated to teaching electronics. Check out: http://www.talkingelectronics.com/te_interactive_index.html.You should pick up some basic theory books. Read them. You won't understand 50% of it, I'm sure, but get some of those ideas into your head. Then try to get a project cookbook. Try putting something together. Go back to your theory books. See if you can try to absorb 10% more of that material and reabsorb all of that stuff that never sunk in. If you want to be good, try to engrave some key concepts into your brain. Then, everything else will start to actually make sense! Again, I'm no pro. I've only been doing this electronics thing for like 3 or so years. But looking back, I have learned so much! Just never give up. If you want to do something, you can do it. It's just a matter of getting committed and doing it.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2012, 02:50:55 am »
I’m getting into EE because my girlfriends stepfather is an EE in the communications field, and was recently telling me about how his company hired him with only an Associates Degree.

Getting a job based on your experience instead of your qualification is very common in this industry, but depends greatly on the country and specific company.
Some of the best guys in the industry have had no formal qualifications.

Quote
As my subject line suggests, I am curious as to how each of you who reads this found your way into the particular field of work in EE that your are currently involved in. Would it be a life long passion of everything electronic that brought you to where you are, or the surreal slap in the face you got one day when you realized you’re 38yrs old and in a dead-end job? And is there a correct field in EE to fit every type of person?

Yes, the industry is so vast there is a job for any interest under the sun.
There are even jobs for slackers who are completely clueless! (Yes, Dilbert is REAL!)

Quote
Going into classes that begin in 2 weeks, I am a bit intimidated by the fact that I don’t know shit about electronics. I wonder if this could be an asset or a curse. A possible asset to the teacher who likes a fresh clean slate of a mind to train, mold, and shape before any bad habits are formed, or a curse, because well, I don’t know shit about electronics. Opinions?

What course are you doing?
Most people there won't know Jack.
IMO it's better if you go in knowing stuff, but it's not too late, build stuff and study things on the outside, outside of your course and you'll be streets ahead of everyone else.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2012, 02:57:09 am »
Nope, never played with any electronic kits or microcontrollers.
As for majoring in something I like, well, I haven't quite figured that out yet, and I'm 38. The clock is ticking, has been ticking, and will continue to tick. I will like whatever pays the bills better and faster. I do have an interest in electronics, I just don't have the knowledge to support it.

I'm afraid that starting from scratch it will take you many years to get a decent job in the industry.
And if you are just after something to pay the bills, electronics isn't really the best, at least in the early years. It could realistically be a decade before you score decent money in the industry. It can happen sooner, but you have to be very motivated and very lucky.

KTP's suggestion is a good one if you just want the money and are free to move and travel.
The Oil/seismic industry I used to work in for example required hardly any knowledge or qualifications for a great number of jobs, and paid big bucks. 3 months on, 3 months holidays is common in the industry. Tough work though.

Dave.
 

Offline zeppelin390

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2012, 11:43:00 pm »
I do appreciate the optimism from the few replies here, and can equally understand the pessimism from the others as to why I should even get into a career that I have no passion for or history with. At this point in my life, if I have not figured out what it is I want to do when I grow up, then I fear I will be 76 when the time comes around that I have another surreal moment and try to get my shit together yet again.
 As my subject line for this topic implies, I am looking for what brought each of you to your chosen career field in EE. I am not wondering if EE is a career path I should go down because that choice has already been made. If the Oil and gas industry was something I was interested in, then I would be on their forum asking the same questions. There is a multitude of careers in EE, and I am just simply curious as to how each of you got there. Were you taking a particular class and noticed it was something you excelled in? Do you just have a natural talent for what it is that you do? Was money a motivator? Does your particular field have EE groupies that hang out in the parking lot waiting for you to get off work so they can throw their bra and panties at you?
Any information you could pass along to me on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 08:45:27 pm »
IMO it's better if you go in knowing stuff, but it's not too late, build stuff and study things on the outside, outside of your course and you'll be streets ahead of everyone else.
This is definitely one of the best bits of advice I think you'll get.

Electronics isn't the same as accountancy, or bricklaying, or working in a call centre selling insurance. It's something a lot of people do not just because it pays the bills, but because it's something they find genuinely interesting, and have been doing for fun as a hobby long before they ever looked to make a career out of it.

That means the people you're competing with for jobs will have plenty of first hand experience from outside of any academic course. When I started my degree I'd already built several computer peripherals and other projects, I could program fluently in two different assembly languages, I could solder, and I could identify different components purely from their burning smell. Given that I already did this stuff for fun, the realisation that it also paid quite well made going into engineering a no-brainer.

Beyond that, I was fortunate enough to get a job as a junior engineer on graduation, with a small telecommunications company who wanted someone to make tea, do production testing, then lay out PCBs, then go on from there to designing whole products from start to finish. That was a great foot in the door - probably as much down to sheer dumb luck as it was down to hard work and a good degree.

If you're keen, don't wait for a class. Get yourself a book or two, open an account with Farnell (or some other supplier local to you), buy yourself a few decent, good quality tools, and start making something. Practice applying Ohm's law in every way it can be written, until you can relate voltage, current and resistance without even thinking. Download LTSpice from Linear Tech and play with all the standard components that way - it's quicker than stuffing bits into a breadboard and you can see what should really happen, not just what does happen because you've got a part installed backwards or a bad contact. Then build the circuit anyway. Learn to identify parts from how they smell when they're overloaded.

If that sounds like a fun adventure, then EE could well be for you. Only you can decide.

Offline EEVblog

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 11:22:41 pm »


I think you'll find that most people on forums like this have the passion, and that passion for hobby electronics is what lead them into electronics as a career.
Very few would have thought about the money.
Those who did think about the money generally aren't in design any more, and almost certainly not on a forum like this!
There is a large section of EE's who got into it simply because they got the marks and shrugged their shoulders and went "I have to do something at Uni, and engineering sounds respectable enough". Or their parents pushed them into it (i.e. "go do something real at uni, like engineering or medicine, we are not paying for that arts crap!". or that's what their friends chose so they just followed like sheep.

IME, most of the students had no real clue why they were there, they certainly didn't have any passion for it. For them it was simply a course they somehow ended up in and they had to pass.

Dave.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2012, 11:49:39 pm »
\
I think you'll find that most people on forums like this have the passion, and that passion for hobby electronics is what lead them into electronics as a career.

bingo.. if the 'spark' ain't there you'll end up mediocre at best...
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline zeppelin390

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2012, 11:50:24 pm »


I think you'll find that most people on forums like this have the passion, and that passion for hobby electronics is what lead them into electronics as a career.
Very few would have thought about the money.

I wish I could say that I have a passion towards something that I want to make a career out of, as would 80% of the rest of the population. How's the saying go? "Do something you love, and you never have to work another day in your life" Well, I'm doomed to work the rest of my life, but as I have done with every other job I have had, I will give EE 100%. If I have no passion or previous experience with electronics, it does not automatically mean that I will do poorly in it compared to my passionate counterpart. I have amazing work ethic, and I will be successful in my EE career.
 

Offline zeppelin390

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Re: How did you decide which career path to take in EE
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2012, 11:55:49 pm »
\

bingo.. if the 'spark' ain't there you'll end up mediocre at best...

I will respectfully have to disagree with your comment. A spark can be created at any time, whether it be something you’re born with, or created on the last day of class on the way walking out the door. Even if there is no spark, a person with enough work ethic, and respect for what they do, can still do wonderful things.
 


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