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Thread: Career Advice and Questions

  1. #1
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    Career Advice and Questions

    Hello All,
    I have a few questions about career paths and hopefully the sages of the board can give me some advice.

    I am considering making a career change into Transportation Engineering and/or Planning. What are the differences between the two?

    I have Bachelor degrees in both Computer Engineering and Economics. In my local area (NYC), they are a few MS Transportation Engineering/Planning programs that allow you into the program with "qualitative skills". Would I be overmatched in Transportation Engineering program not having been a CE as an undergraduate? In addition, would my current knowledge base mesh well with the field? Or would it have been a waste so to speak? I currently work as a Software Engineer.

    My main interests in the field are mass transit and traffic systems. Are these jobs in demand and available around the country right now.

    Finally, how are salaries in the field right now? Are they competitive with other professional jobs? Could I make in the 55-60K range within a few years of leaving grad school.

    A little about me, I have always been in love with art of moving people, roads, subways, etc. The only reason I never pursued this originally as undergraduate was the fact the jobs do not pay as well as in other Engineering fields. People around me at the time convinced me that computers were the way to go because the jobs would be plentiful and high paying. This was 10 years ago during the Dot.com bubble, and no one had heard of the bubble bursting or outsourcing to India/China yet. Now we are under constant pressure to produce more and I see little bits of my company’s operation headed towards outsourcing. In retrospect, I am beginning to think I made bad choice, although I do enjoy Software Engineering on many level and reap a good living. I am doing some soul searching right now, while I am still young enough to make drastic changes and my family consists of just my wife and I, no children to support yet.

    Your help and wisdom are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cal_Planner's avatar
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    My undergrad was in environmental economics. I went straight into my master's program which was a dual master's in city planning and transportation enginerring (UC Berkeley).

    Not having a BS in CE made it difficult to get through the engineering. I really struggled with the classes and in the end decided I didn't want a career in transportation engineering. I've walked away with an understanding of those concepts but I couldn't explain queing theory off the top of my head if you asked me. It just didn't stick - and I didn't have the interest. Go to the university library and check out a book on transportation engineering fundamentals. take a look and see if it looks interesting. Really look at the math. Have you taken classes in Physics? advanced calculus? advanced statistics? (I'm assuming you definitely took the latter two given your background). You will need those core classes to survive the basic engineering classes.

    you could easily make 55-60k here in California at a Transportation engineering consulting firm - entry level right out of the program. I'm sure the same would go for NY.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Cal Planner. I'll definately take your suggestion about getting a transportation engineering book and seeing if it fits. I took a year of Physics, a year and half of Calc and a statistics as part of the requirements of getting the Comp E. degree. I worry more about the mechanics and materials part of CE causing me grief if I go down this road.

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