Author Topic: How old is too old to join the EE field?  (Read 13938 times)

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Offline optoisolated

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How old is too old to join the EE field?
« on: March 26, 2015, 12:27:00 pm »
So I'm a first time poster.  I've been dabbling in electronics at a hobby level since I was a teenager, and have always enjoyed the engineering processes and technologies. I've always considered a career change to electronics engineering but not sure if it's even possible. I am 33 and wanted to get the forums opinion on whether or not 33 is too old to change paths and get into the EE field professionally? Is it possible? What would some of the hurdles and pitfalls be?
 

Offline zerorisers

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2015, 12:44:08 pm »
I personally think that that is not too old to get into the field. as long as you can get your degree in a college or university then you can get into the EE field. I'm in high-school still and the company Drift America RC is having me work on a small design for them. luckily it is relatively simple and will probably take a few micro-controllers, At least with how I am doing it. If you show the knowledge you can probably get small jobs like this but working towards a bachelors degree would be much more valuable and show any company you have the know-how to do the job, and do it right.

I hope this post has been useful,
zerorisers
 

Offline coppice

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2015, 12:52:41 pm »
It would help to know where you are starting from. What is your background? If you are already in a physics or engineering discipline your prospects for changing to electronics are a lot different from those of an accountant.
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2015, 01:31:56 pm »
I made the jump from hobbyist to making a living in EE at 40. This followed mechanical engineering and manufacturing careers, among others.

I can now think of an idea, shake it down, design it, engineer the mechanics and electronics together, design and write the software (my first career), and then manufacture it without having to rely on others. Keep in mind, my goal is to 'invent' things and get them to the point of manufacture. I am not really great in any specific engineering discipline to be honest, but there is no real reason I could not focus on something to become an expert if I choose. At 33 years old, you can switch careers a few times if you wanted.

The key, is that you have to be seriously dedicated. Unless you are already wealthy, you have to make a living and get your education at the same time. You also have to build some experience beyond just a degree. As an employer, I am VERY skeptical of fresh graduates. This is from personal experience trying to hire recent grads coming from good schools. The classes will teach theory, math, some ideal circuits, analysis, etc. To be effective in the real world, someone like me would be looking at what you can actually do, not just how well you did on a test.

I could go on and on about how many useless recent grads applied when I was hiring. Very smart and very useless while also expecting to get paid a ton of money because they have a degree. Note to those in engineering school - employers make money from your performance not your degree. be prepared to show that you solve problems and you will be more likely to get hired.

Anyway, back to the topic. Go for it, dive in. Make it happen.  :box:
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Offline LabSpokane

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2015, 01:34:16 pm »
I started my EE at nearly the same age.  You have plenty of time.  I did have an advantage of already having one degree and enough engineering pre-reqs from that that I only needed 2 1/2 years to finish.  If that is what you love and want to do, by all means let nothing get in your way.  And if you want it, there IS a way. 

Go for it!

If you can tell us what your background is, we can help you with the hurdles.  A EE degree is very math intensive.  You will do matrices until you puke.  The key to doing this on exams is to know your calculator very well.  Being an old reverse Polish guy, I slogged through with my old HP48.  It was slow and a PITA, but it saved me from learning a new calculator. 

The young kids are going to beat you by knowing a lot of math identities by rote.  You will have to work extra hard on those, because forgetting those tricks is a real time-killer for both homework and exams.  $15 spent on a Schaum's ( http://www.amazon.com/Schaums-Outline-Mathematical-Handbook-Formulas/dp/0071795375/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1427337615&sr=8-13&keywords=schaums+mathematics ) will be a lifesaver. 
« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 01:41:33 pm by LabSpokane »
 

Offline coppice

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2015, 01:50:40 pm »
The young kids are going to beat you by knowing a lot of math identities by rote.  You will have to work extra hard on those, because forgetting those tricks is a real time-killer for both homework and exams.
If you were ever any good at maths that stuff should come back to you quite quickly. If you were never any good at maths, expect nothing more than a technician job in any engineering discipline.
 

Offline optoisolated

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2015, 02:15:03 pm »
Quote
It would help to know where you are starting from. What is your background?
My background, career-wise, is IT sysadmin and software development. It's been a while since the High school math days however I did do pretty well in Maths C & Physics. I remember balking at Matrices when I was 17, thinking "Pfft, I'm never going to use these things!", and now want to go back and slap that guy in the face. I am assuming the fundamentals in that regard haven't changed greatly. Apart from the mnemonics used to help learn them, perhaps.

Quote
The key, is that you have to be seriously dedicated.
I'd totally agree with this; it's something I'd been mulling over for quite some time. I've done pretty well in the IT world and thing I am ready for another challenge. Because it's something I've always been passionate about, I am pretty confident I have the drive to do the hard yards.. #TooManyCatchphrases

 

Offline beauty2003tt

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2015, 02:22:49 pm »
 ???
First of all, I'm a really beginner here.
Should I ask where can I post here?
I did not find the button of "Post"...
Really need your help :palm:
 

Online IanB

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2015, 02:23:47 pm »
The young kids are going to beat you by knowing a lot of math identities by rote.

I'm not sure this is important. Knowing some basic things, sure, but mathematics is more about analytical skills and conceptual understanding and less about remembering formulas or identities. Engineering is above all a creative field and knowing things by rote is only of the most elementary use. It would be like knowing how to mix paints and hold a paint brush rather than knowing how to paint. Sure, artists know how to hold a brush, but that is not what makes them good painters.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2015, 02:58:16 pm »
I personally think that that is not too old to get into the field. as long as you can get your degree in a college or university then you can get into the EE field.

You don't need a degree to get into the EE field. Just show what you can do.
 

Offline f5r5e5d

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2015, 03:51:30 pm »
Analog electronics really depends on math assuming Calculus, Differential Equations and some Linear Algebra to get through Linear Systems/Circuit Theory, Signals and Systems, and Feedback Control undergraduate course material
RF E&M requires more Vector Calculus, Calculus of Complex Variables if you need to get into Antennas and Waves - but only a minority of EE go there

while there's lots of material on the subjects, even course material for free today - it is the very rare individual who can learn that totally on their own - classes, face-to-face interaction with instructors, tutors, peers still seems to be the better fit to most people's effective learning
 

Offline mtdoc

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2015, 03:58:55 pm »
I am 33 and wanted to get the forums opinion on whether or not 33 is too old to change paths and get into the EE field professionally? Is it possible? What would some of the hurdles and pitfalls be?

I'm not an EE but I don't think 33 is too old at all. i was 34 when I started med school - it was a second career for me. I'm 52 now and have no regrets - despite the fact that I'm still paying student loans off! I say go for it!
 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2015, 04:32:14 pm »
5962 ..... Did I get it right? What do I win?
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2015, 05:43:13 pm »
You don't need a degree to get into the EE field. Just show what you can do.
How common is this now though?  :-//

I ask, as it seems HR at most places have a "degree only" policy these days.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2015, 08:45:50 pm »
If you have any other science or engineering degree, then HRs won't give you any trouble, providing you have enough knowledge in EE.

Many of my friends are EE, but work as CS or CE. Also, some MechE or CE end up as EE.
 

Offline KJDS

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2015, 09:08:18 pm »
42

Offline blackbird

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2015, 09:09:33 pm »
You are never to old. In my childhood I played around with some electronics, influenced by my father who was a HAM at the time. At the time I played a lot with the Philips 6000 electronic kits (http://ee.old.no/abc/). Later I was employed in the mechanical field (aircraft maintenance and test engineer specialized in turboprops). Now I'm 40 years old and last year I started a bachelor study in embedded system engineering and electronics.

So, never to old to start  ^-^
 

Offline coppice

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2015, 09:11:27 pm »
You don't need a degree to get into the EE field. Just show what you can do.
How common is this now though?  :-//

I ask, as it seems HR at most places have a "degree only" policy these days.
These days a degree of some sort seems to be an HR gating point for even simple jobs. It doesn't necessarily have to be a relevant degree. If you have a degree with some relevance you should be a long way to satisfying basic educational HR gating conditions. A lot of EEs, especially microwave ones, have physics degrees, which is a relevant degree if not bang on target. I know people with maths degrees who work as EEs, mostly in comms and other signal processing.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2015, 09:35:38 pm »
If you have any other science or engineering degree, then HRs won't give you any trouble, providing you have enough knowledge in EE.

Many of my friends are EE, but work as CS or CE. Also, some MechE or CE end up as EE.
These days a degree of some sort seems to be an HR gating point for even simple jobs. It doesn't necessarily have to be a relevant degree. If you have a degree with some relevance you should be a long way to satisfying basic educational HR gating conditions. A lot of EEs, especially microwave ones, have physics degrees, which is a relevant degree if not bang on target. I know people with maths degrees who work as EEs, mostly in comms and other signal processing.
Of course. But they still have degree's.

I'm talking about those that may not have finished, fully self-taught, ... that = no degree but still know what they're doing and would more than be capable of doing the job being hired for (they may be rare, but they do exist; Jim Williams for example immediately comes to mind).
 

Offline Wilksey

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2015, 10:44:33 pm »
You need a degree to work in Mcdonalds these days, doesn't mean it makes you a better burger flipper!

You could do some kind of apprenticeship perhaps?

I must admit i've never been too hot on the degrees (pardon the pun) some of the smaller companies do not seem to mind too much if you don't have one, and they tend to be the ones (in the UK anyway) that have the most interesting and challenging work, larger companies are a bit monotonous in their work, too many cooks and all that!

To answer your question, no you are not too old, as long as you have a passion for what you want to do, believe in yourself and build confidence in your chosen field.

The good thing about being able to do software, general IT (including networking) and electronics is that you can pretty much get a career anywhere if you can find the right job, but worst case, go back to what you were doing and stick to hobby electronics if it doesn't work out.
 

Offline zerorisers

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2015, 01:03:28 am »
I personally think that that is not too old to get into the field. as long as you can get your degree in a college or university then you can get into the EE field.

You don't need a degree to get into the EE field. Just show what you can do.
My post is more based on what some companies requirements may be, But yes; As long as you can show what you can do and prove you can do it well a company may consider you more than a fresh graduate. I am personally going for me degree so that I can have a professional education. I know you aren't into the research portion of things when it comes to using physics for it. At least according to what you have said on the amp hour. I want to learn those physics and figure out how everything works on that deep of a level but also learn how newer electronics work. I still have piss poor understanding of how you can pull a particular frequency and convert it in a way to show on an LCD. Hoping To Go to Collin County College to get a few core classes done and then go to UTD to finish up my electronics engineering. While I am doing so I am also messing with micro-controllers and making a product for Drift America RC. So yes, Some companies do not require a degree, So yes; You are correct in this.
 

Offline katzohki

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2015, 02:29:28 am »
I've seen that repeatedly. HR won't even read your resume if you don't have a degree. It just goes straight into the circular file. Many companies are like that, especially when there is a lot of competition for the job. My company is like that sometimes.

The best entry into engineering without a degree is through the technician route. Test technician, electronics tech, engineering tech etc. Eventually you prove your knowledge and what you are worth.
 

Online IanB

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2015, 03:20:21 am »
I've seen that repeatedly. HR won't even read your resume if you don't have a degree. It just goes straight into the circular file. Many companies are like that, especially when there is a lot of competition for the job. My company is like that sometimes.

The best way to avoid HR filters is to find direct connections to hiring managers inside a company, which really depends on networking and industry contacts. Hiring decisions are ultimately made by budget holders and their departmental staff and if they find the right candidate they will make every effort to make it happen.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline Seekonk

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2015, 04:00:55 am »
I think it is a SERIOUS issue being that old.  This may be a regional thing, maybe not down under. When I was about 50 looking for a new job a head hunter told me he has a desk full of well qualified applicants and he couldn't get an interview for any of them because they were over 50.  HR gets 100's of applicants and has to sort them down to ten.  It is not their job to find the best, only to get that number down to ten.  That means wrong type format, feel of the paper, anything can get you eliminated.  Why it took you so long to find yourself, can you work with a boss that is half your age,  are you up on the latest trends, and will you expect more money than a kid.  Can you really make the money back this late in the game and can you take that potential layoff in a few years.  This is life, not a B movie where a plow horse wins the Kentucky Derby. 
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: How old is too old to join the EE field?
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2015, 04:53:13 am »
I thought it was said the OP is 33yrs.

Anyway, if HR has an unwritten rule book that only allows consideration for applicants under a certain age, it would be hard to get around that. Only an insider would know. I think it has more to do with attitude and actual demonstrated capability. The degree requirement is only the way to have your resume read. Getting the job is about what you can do for the company. If you are a jaded curmudgeon that is stuck in the 80's and knows little about current trends - you are doomed. In my case, I am the newcomer to the field but much older than most of the same experience. The difference is that I am a VERY aggressive problem solver with a wide range of actual experience that results in getting things done much faster and better than the younger, less experienced people. EE's that know nothing of software and software engineers that know nothing of hardware are not nearly as interesting as someone that knows both (to me anyway). There was a company that was trying to hire me recently because I have shown that I know things they want to know. I have designed things they do not know how to design. They didn't even know how to approach the problem. They have about 10 or so engineers on staff that have failed to solve a problem in a year so they wanted me since I know how to do it. Not a single mention of my academic pedigree and an offer was on the table.

Sell yourself.

If I was applying for a job right now, I would be focused on what I have done in the last year alone and would likely outshine the young players. The right company would see the benefit of my offering. The wrong company would say I am too old and hire 3 others to get the work done and I would not care. Clever interview questions and tests only reveal those that are good in academics. A real engineer can design and create the tests that define and solve the problems and make money.

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