College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

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Jesse M
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by Jesse M »

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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by Carl_Healy »

A STEM degree is going to be worthwhile no matter what.

That's not to say there isn't value in skilled trades.
I feel like a lot of the field people I've run into working on drilling rigs in the oil and gas industry, particularly those with 5, 10, or even more years experience, know a hell of a lot more than half my classmates who went for an engineering degree.

But all that being said, when it comes to the oil and gas industry things are completely different country to country. I can say from experience you'll run into a roughneck on the drill floor in West Texas that doesn't have a college degree (thoug in some respects is still knowledgeable in a lot of ways), but go to an offshore rig in Norway and even the lowest of rig hands has a college degree. Same for offshore UK.
And you'll be surprised how Alberta is similar in a lot of respects to UK and Norway.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by ker0uac »

I have never met an engineer who works as an engineer. At most, I know engineers who work in their industry but in leadership/management roles. Even those in CE/CS, at some point in my experience, they quit coding and move on to mgtm roles. That's not always the case, but it's the corporate model otherwise your chances for advancement become very limited. The value of a STEM degree is that it provides you with highly transferrable skills that can propel your career into most other fields. All hiring managers know that in college you don't learn s**t that is of great use to the industry, but you learn how to learn, how to think, how to troubleshoot, how to be analytical, how to be resilient, etc. Corporations pay big bucks for that, and they know STEM degrees for the most part will develop those skills. They are not paying for what you learned in your bulls**t 101 classes.

When it comes to education and career, I don't think it pays off to be revolutionary. It's best to learn the system and play it accordingly. I am an engineer working in business and I hire and interview people constantly for entry-level business-related roles. A resume that lands on my desk with a STEM degree shines way more than any resume with some fluffy degree like "organizational management", whatever that means. Depending on the roles, I might not even care too much about previous experience. I can teach smart people, but I can't teach dumb people.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by FireOnTheMountain »

ker0uac wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:40 amI have never met an engineer who works as an engineer.
You haven't looked very hard or in the right field then.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by cedica »

ker0uac wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:40 am I have never met an engineer who works as an engineer.
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My friend told me the other day that he is the oldest engineer at the company he works for, and that was the moment I realized this is my dream too. I still have ways to go at the place I work, there are some old school dudes who know where the bodies are buried going way back to first gen of silicon that was designed in the company. Left or right coast management, no matter who currently owns the business, there is no corporate asshat ninja wannabe that can touch them. And that, my dear Jack, is the real Dharma.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by kimo »

I took a part time job as a drafter straight out of high school because my high school drafting teacher said I had skillz. My dad hated my decision, and said i would never make any money. This is the early 90s.

Turns out I had some inherent technical ability to go with my high school drafting skills so I dropped out of college and took a job as a mechanical designer three years later.

A few years after that, I was hired by another company as a "multi disciplined engineer" without a degree. I'm still with that company more than 20 years later.

I didn't go to trade school and I didn't finish college but I've had a very fulfilling career. These days I wouldn't get in the door for an interview at my company without an engineering degree. I am blocked out of management position but I'd rather stay on the technical side so no harm no foul.

Times have changed and I feel very fortunate to get my job before a degree became a non-negotiable requirement. Common sense, creativity, work ethic, attention to detail, and loyalty have contributed to my success. Oh and knowing where "the bodies are buried" from way back when doesn't hurt.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by Bombay2Boulder »

FireOnTheMountain wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 12:20 pm
ker0uac wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:40 amI have never met an engineer who works as an engineer.
You haven't looked very hard or in the right field then.
+1
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by AnnaG22 »

Bombay2Boulder wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 2:14 pm
FireOnTheMountain wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 12:20 pm
ker0uac wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:40 amI have never met an engineer who works as an engineer.
You haven't looked very hard or in the right field then.
+1
I know quite a few, and can think of several just off the top of my head who are in the 14ers community.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by ker0uac »

Those with like ~5-10yrs of experience are certainly still doing field work. And I am sure there are veteran engineers out there still in the field getting their hands dirty daily or coding non-stop. But in Corporate America, in technical fields, the people calling the shots and making the big bucks are sitting in offices, attending bulls**t meetings all day and telling the practicing engineers what to do - just not "how" to do. Surely, there are exceptions, such as small businesses and government agencies. I get some people would be much happier pursuing a technical track and want nothing to do with management. I pass no judgement but I am saying that it limits your advancement and at some point you end up being pushed out for being too expensive. You might be able to use the "I know where the bodies are buried" blah blah, but not so sure that flies everywhere. In my current company, lots of veteran coders felt safe coz our mainframes ran on Fortran and they were the only ones who knew Fortran. Well, my company invested $100M over 2yrs to upgrade all mainframes. Boom!

My point is that the career paths of a CTE and Engineering graduate might be similar in the very beginning, but they eventually diverge significantly. That's the value of that degree.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

The Venn diagram overlap between what makes a good engineer and what makes a good manager is small.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by highpilgrim »

ker0uac wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 11:40 am I have never met an engineer who works as an engineer.

I guess that’s an indicator of how narrow your life experience must be.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by Dave B »

SchralpTheGnar wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 8:17 pm The Venn diagram overlap between what makes a good engineer and what makes a good manager is small.
The Venn diagram overlap between people in general and what makes a good manager is small. Too many people get promoted to leadership positions simply based off performing non-management tasks well. Peter principle.

But, seeing as I can't let a good opportunity to rag on engineers go to waste: engineers seem to be even worse at it.
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