Author Topic: What is an MSEE worth?  (Read 15461 times)

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Offline kc1980Topic starter

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What is an MSEE worth?
« on: May 20, 2010, 07:23:50 pm »
Before I begin, I just want to emphasize that I'm seeking an objective response based on real personal experiences, but I still understand that there is no real "right" answer to this question.  So, in terms of career advancement, is an MSEE worth the time and cost?

First, a little about my particular situation:

I obtained my BSEE from a respected school and have a little over 5 years of engineering work experience in aerospace; however, the type of experience that I've gained is not design-oriented enough.  At my current job, I feel that emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication skills are the most important talents/skills that are necessary to succeed.  In other words, my ability to tolerate difficult personalities and play office politics is what's keeping me on the payroll.  Obviously, we ALL have to deal with some degree of this at work.

Ideally, I'd like to land a job in a niche technical field that values my analytical and technical skills as my primary asset.   I'm sure we've all come across an eccentric and/or arrogant engineering guru who is tolerated by many because his/her skills are THAT indispensable.  Well, I don't need to get to that level, but I'd sure like to be valued more for my technical abilities rather than my butt-kissing skills.  In other words, I'm not interested in climbing the corporate ladder at some mega-company.  Also, I'm a bit wary of entering a field that's likely to be off-shored in the coming decades, as tech jobs seem to be fleeing the United States in droves.  I understand that all these demands constitute a tall order, but hey -- you gotta shoot for the stars but prepare to settle for the moon.

Anyhow, so to that end, is an MSEE worth it?  Will it help me land that dream tech job?  Or, am I better off self-studying, volunteering in projects, and tinkering/hacking on my own?  In other words, what's an extra degree if I have no practical hands-on design skills?
 

Offline fsleeman

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2010, 07:49:11 pm »
That depends on what you want to get out your degree. For starters, having a MS will in most cases increase your pay. If you are not happy with your professional experience a masters can be helpful if you get in a program doing research in an area you are interested in. Even better, a lot of programs PAY YOU (including myself) to come and learn.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2010, 09:37:03 pm »
Post graduate study and the phrase "I'm not interested in climbing the corporate ladder at some mega-company" as a general rules don't go hand-in-hand!
But that's just my experience here in Australia, YMMV.

If you want to do the MSEE for personal enjoyment or fulfillment, go for it, but if it's just because you think you need it for some dream job, then I'd say you'd be doing it for all the wrong reasons.
There might be SOME technical jobs that favor (or even require) an MSEE, but I'd say there are a lot more jobs 9the vast majority) that simply care about your experience and background.

It is fairly clear that you are unhappy/unfulfilled in your current position, so in that case I'd recommend you simply get out and find another job with more technical work and less of the Dilbert world.
In reality the MS won't really help you get that more technical job, you'll still have to same problems finding a job that you like. So just keep moving until you find one that suits you.

Dave.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 12:55:31 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline tecman

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2010, 09:53:13 pm »
Generally an MS will get you a higher starting salary, but as time goes on, your skills and the ability to use your knowledge are greater factors in your career, in my experience.  I give no deference to an MS or PhD when interviewing and hiring.

MS is great in academic like settings, and in some large corps that value such stats.  Most sharp engineers are that way not because of the advanced degree, but how to apply themselves.

Paul
 

Offline A-sic Enginerd

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2010, 09:58:34 pm »
From what I've seen it translates to equiv 2 yrs experience on the job. So with 5 yrs under your belt already, you're at that threshold whether it's worth it or just a waste for the purpose of being able to put it on your resume.

However, something that was kind of danced around in other replies is: use that MS to specialize a bit more in a particular field.....meh, that might open a few more doors. You'd have to do some homework on your own to determine that.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2010, 12:50:25 am »
Generally an MS will get you a higher starting salary, but as time goes on, your skills and the ability to use your knowledge are greater factors in your career, in my experience.  I give no deference to an MS or PhD when interviewing and hiring.

Ditto. I put no value on it what so ever when hiring. It simply comes down to experience.
In fact it's an often used industry joke that the higher your academic qualifications the more useless you will be at practical work.
If I'm hiring for a practical engineering role then I can't help but think that someone with an MS might be more suited to a more academic role. It's an order of magnitude greater for a PhD!

Quote
MS is great in academic like settings, and in some large corps that value such stats.  Most sharp engineers are that way not because of the advanced degree, but how to apply themselves.

Indeed.
I see very few job ads that value higher level degrees, but there are some around. The ones that do are usually run by rather snobby and equally qualified types. Picture The Big Bang Theory where they look down on Howard because he "only" has an MS in engineering!

Dave.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 12:58:34 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline kc1980Topic starter

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2010, 02:26:21 am »
So far, I think it's safe to say that we're all on the same page.

Time and time again, I come across cool job listings -- e.g. small-to-medium sized company doing lots of design -- that only care about what the applicant will bring to the table.  I would love to work on an MS, but I simply can't invest 3 years worth of time and effort into something that may not provide such a great return.  Opportunity cost is another concern -- I could be working on obtaining a Professional Engineer license (i.e. California state license).

I know for a fact that getting an MS will not substantially help my salary.  Besides, I really don't care a whole lot about money as long as I have "enough".  I'm frugal and resourceful so I can live happily and comfortably on an average salary.  What's important is that I want to do something that interests me and provides a "reasonable" level of job security -- whatever the heck that might be.

I'll keep doing what I'm doing.  I just hope I don't find myself in a decade or two applying for a job at Walmart and getting rejected by a 18 year old punk without a high school diploma. 
 

Offline fsleeman

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2010, 01:28:43 pm »
My advice is if you don't like what you are doing, look for something else. At least you are currently employed and that gives you the time to find the right fit instead of the first thing that shows up. I went to grad school to learn stuff that interested me more than to try to make more money or get a dream job and I have never regretted it. There are some niche areas of EE that can be hard to get into as an entry level engineer but are more accessible through academic research. I got to work on a NASA grant, cool stuff.
 

Offline kc1980Topic starter

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2010, 03:58:16 pm »
I have many friends -- including my fiance! -- who went on to obtain their PhDs in engineering.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for what they have accomplished.  I would never consider their efforts a waste of time.  Personally, I don't think I could handle the intense pressure to publish.

Given the state of our global economy, I'm extremely grateful to be employed at all.  Things have slowed down at work so I elected to go part-time.  Also, I was experiencing severe career anxiety and wedding-planning stress, which was impacting my performance at work.  So, I feel that I did the right thing and it ended up being a win-win situation for my manager and me.  The anemic paychecks are painful but, again, it's better than being unemployed.

The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side.  :D

 

Offline fsleeman

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2010, 05:16:38 pm »
I passed on the PhD because it makes it a lot harder to get a job. You either get stuck forever in your specific area of research (which usually requires moving to get a job) or people don't want to hire you because they think they have to pay you a PhD salary. I also have a lot of respect for those guys and girls but it isn't my cup of tea. Who knows, maybe I'll go back later to get one. While I was in grad school somebody was getting their PhD around 50, so its never too late!
 

Offline tecman

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2010, 07:52:01 pm »
 

Picture The Big Bang Theory where they look down on Howard because he "only" has an MS in engineering!

Dave.



Wow !  You get the Big bang Theory way down under ?  I thought it took something like 10 years before you guys got that kind of stuff !

Paul
 

Offline rossmoffett

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2010, 10:04:48 pm »
You didn't mention money, but check out glassdoor.com.  There are also (very few) honest reviews of culture at some companies.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2010, 10:38:07 pm »
Wow !  You get the Big bang Theory way down under ?  I thought it took something like 10 years before you guys got that kind of stuff !

Not any more with the advent of P2P Internet downloads. The networks are now usually forced to put shows on only days after being shown in the states.

Dave.
 

Offline thinkeeng

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2010, 05:12:54 pm »
I want to kind of restir the pot on this one as I am looking for some life/career advice. I'm not a big forum user so perhaps I should have made a new post? Anyway, here goes...for those that don't want to read, skip to the last paragraph with the question in bold.

I graduated with a BSEE from a small but up-and-coming  school in 2007. My senior year in college, I was forced to decide whether to take a fast track MSEE or enter a rotational development program at a top company. I ultimately took the job, pushing the MSEE to the back of my mind.

The program was great overall, and I'm now in my post-program job as an applications engineer at the company. The job is great, by what I'll call most people's standards - there are clear paths toward either remaining deeply technical and carving out an area of expertise or moving onto the business side of things over the next few years. The job is challenging and more interesting than the jobs my EE friends from college currently have. However, I cannot say I'm completely passionate about what I'm doing and a big reason for that is that I still have the I still have that MSEE itch. The itch is about 20% about the extra money I could have been making straight out of school (which won't make a difference now if I were to quit and get a master's in 1.5-2yrs), but the bigger 80% is wanting that feeling of accomplishment of getting an MSEE. Not even to show off, but for myself. To look at myself in the mirror and know that I knew I could get an MS, and so I got one. If I had my current job but had an MSEE, I'd be golden.

Given the current economic environment, I know I'm lucky to have a job, especially this one. However, I can't shake the feeling. I'm about to try a part-time arrangement at a local university like kc1980, but the travel that my job requires will make it difficult. Going part-time also means that it'll be a brutal 2-4 years during which my job performance may be affected. I also know that my company does not offer educational leave of absence.

So with all that above, here's what I want to know - have any of you quit a 'good' job to get an MSEE full-time and regretted it?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2010, 03:03:05 am »
I have many friends -- including my fiance! -- who went on to obtain their PhDs in engineering.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for what they have accomplished.  I would never consider their efforts a waste of time.  Personally, I don't think I could handle the intense pressure to publish.

I get pressure to publish every week!  ;D
For a PhD you usually only have to publish that one all important paper after 3-5 years or so, a rather leisurely pace if you ask me!

Dave.
 

Offline johnboxall

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2010, 04:33:05 am »


Picture The Big Bang Theory where they look down on Howard because he "only" has an MS in engineering!

Dave.



Wow !  You get the Big bang Theory way down under ?  I thought it took something like 10 years before you guys got that kind of stuff !

Paul

Our networks are getting better, they have to broadcast things a lot quicker, otherwise we just stick with Rapidshare, etc.

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: What is an MSEE worth?
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2010, 08:36:40 am »
I have many friends -- including my fiance! -- who went on to obtain their PhDs in engineering.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for what they have accomplished.  I would never consider their efforts a waste of time.  Personally, I don't think I could handle the intense pressure to publish.
I think the main point is that if it takes, say 3 years to get a higher-level  qualification, for any 'real-world' job, 3 years' experience doing real projects is likely to be much more valuable, especially if those projects cover a wide range of skills.
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