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Thread: Second degree in civil engineering?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Second degree in civil engineering?

    Background:

    I have a bachelors in Environmental Sciences (hard sciences curriculum type) and worked in the environmental engineering field for several years. I recently earned a Masters in Urban Planning.

    My interest in general is planning and design. I would love to do design, environmental planning, and community development.

    Of course, I can't for the life of me find a job or even an interview right now.

    I'm thinking of going back to school for a 2nd degree in Civil Engineering. It's going to take at least 2.5 years. If I finish, it will allow me to work as an engineer and get PE certification. This is quite valuable in the environmental/civil engineering field.

    I have no planning experience, but I figure a CE degree would be great there too. After all, CEs are needed to implement the structures planners formulate, no? So, I figure with a CE degree, planning masters and environmental background, I'll have all the bases covered and be able to get a job with mostly any engineering or planning firm and eliminate any kind of ceiling (short of architecture). At least that is my thinking.

    The only problem is time and cost/benefit. I'm already over 30. So I'm leaning against going back to undergrad. But can someone in the professional field convince me why going back and getting a Civ E degree would be an outstanding idea. I've already been accepted to a few local schools.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jobaba View post
    Background:

    I have a bachelors in Environmental Sciences (hard sciences curriculum type) and worked in the environmental engineering field for several years. I recently earned a Masters in Urban Planning.

    My interest in general is planning and design. I would love to do design, environmental planning, and community development.

    Of course, I can't for the life of me find a job or even an interview right now.

    I'm thinking of going back to school for a 2nd degree in Civil Engineering. It's going to take at least 2.5 years. If I finish, it will allow me to work as an engineer and get PE certification. This is quite valuable in the environmental/civil engineering field.

    I have no planning experience, but I figure a CE degree would be great there too. After all, CEs are needed to implement the structures planners formulate, no? So, I figure with a CE degree, planning masters and environmental background, I'll have all the bases covered and be able to get a job with mostly any engineering or planning firm and eliminate any kind of ceiling (short of architecture). At least that is my thinking.

    The only problem is time and cost/benefit. I'm already over 30. So I'm leaning against going back to undergrad. But can someone in the professional field convince me why going back and getting a Civ E degree would be an outstanding idea. I've already been accepted to a few local schools.
    In my view, planning might help you in your CE career.

  3. #3
    Why will getting a CE degree be a good idea? Well, first, you have about a 10,000% better chance of being employed than as a planner. Second, you will most likely have much better job opportunities. Third, I think it would be a lot easier to find work. Fourth, there are way more out of work planners than out of work engineers. Fifth--you get the idea.

    As far as being over 30, who gives a crap? As long as you can do it without taking on too much debt, why does it matter. Two and a half years could go by in a flash and you will probably find yourself in a situation that isn't that different from where you are now if you don't change it up. Planning jobs are more scarce and will continue to be scarce because of the inflation of the housing market. There will never again (almost never) be as many planning jobs as there were in 2006.

    I wish I was in your shoes by already having a hard sciences background. My education base was in the liberal arts, so if I ever wanted to do something like engineering, I'd have at least 2 years of math, physics, and chem to look forward to before even getting into an engineering core. I've thought about environmental engineering a lot lately, since it would afford me the opportunity to be involved in much more tangible work, and at the same time my env. planning and policy background would hopefully give me an edge once out again in the work force.... If I did it, it would be at least a 4-year venture for a bachelors, which just feels weird after already earning a BS and MPP. But the draw to do real work is strong, as is my desire to go back and challenge myself all over again. So we shall see. In your case, I would heavily encourage it.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 10 Oct 2010 at 10:09 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I've thought about environmental engineering a lot lately, since it would afford me the opportunity to be involved in much more tangible work, and at the same time my env. planning and policy background would hopefully give me an edge once out again in the work force.... If I did it, it would be at least a 4-year venture for a bachelors, which just feels weird after already earning a BS and MPP. But the draw to do real work is strong, as is my desire to go back and challenge myself all over again. So we shall see. In your case, I would heavily encourage it.
    As someone who has worked in the environmental engineering industry for years, tangible work is a good way to describe it. You engineer machines and biotechnology to clean up spills. Spills go away.

    Pretty much the opposite of planning as I imagine it. Of course, there are planners doing tangible work, but I'm not sure how many of them have planning degrees. Seems to me like the 'real' planners are people of power. Lawyers and politicians. Robert Moses and Michael Bloomberg in NYC, George Bush in Iraq.

    How many of those guys had MCRP/MUPs?

  5. #5
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    Decision?

    jobaba,
    Have you made a decision about going back to school for engineering? I was thinking about doing the same but like chocolatechip my undergrad was in liberal arts so I'd probably be looking at another 4 years. Not very appealing considering I've only been out of grad school for 5.5 years.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jobaba View post
    Background:

    I have a bachelors in Environmental Sciences (hard sciences curriculum type) and worked in the environmental engineering field for several years. I recently earned a Masters in Urban Planning.

    My interest in general is planning and design. I would love to do design, environmental planning, and community development.

    Of course, I can't for the life of me find a job or even an interview right now.

    I'm thinking of going back to school for a 2nd degree in Civil Engineering. It's going to take at least 2.5 years. If I finish, it will allow me to work as an engineer and get PE certification. This is quite valuable in the environmental/civil engineering field.

    I have no planning experience, but I figure a CE degree would be great there too. After all, CEs are needed to implement the structures planners formulate, no? So, I figure with a CE degree, planning masters and environmental background, I'll have all the bases covered and be able to get a job with mostly any engineering or planning firm and eliminate any kind of ceiling (short of architecture). At least that is my thinking.

    The only problem is time and cost/benefit. I'm already over 30. So I'm leaning against going back to undergrad. But can someone in the professional field convince me why going back and getting a Civ E degree would be an outstanding idea. I've already been accepted to a few local schools.
    I would add that it depends on what you wish to do with your career, whether you want to be involved in the design/engineering or policy aspects of planning. There are some limits to how far you can go without a technical degree, particularly if you want to do concept and detailed design of roads, pipes, bridges, railway, buildings, and the like.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Civil engineering was hit as hard as planning and architecture during this recession, so don't count on the job market being any better in the hear term. That said, you would have a broad background that, coupled with good experience (internships?) could make you an attractive hire. You could potentially fill multiple roles - something that both public and private employers will value as they look to slowly add staff in line with increases in revenue. As for the time involves, face it, employment will not be picking up for at least a couple years anyway. If you feel motivated, then go ahead and do it.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by hipchecker6 View post
    jobaba,
    Have you made a decision about going back to school for engineering? I was thinking about doing the same but like chocolatechip my undergrad was in liberal arts so I'd probably be looking at another 4 years. Not very appealing considering I've only been out of grad school for 5.5 years.
    I am in a fortunate situation where I can complete the degree in 2 years flat and I am able to save $ for school because I now have a job.

    Of course, going back to school will mean quitting the job. I'm leaning slightly towards that, but am not committed yet.

    Ironically, the thing that is holding me back most is the thought that my last degree (MCRP) was also 2 years and really was good for nothing, at least up to this point.

    Also, it will not take you 4 years. Most schools will waive all of your liberal breadth requirements if you were a liberal arts major. You'd be looking at more like 3.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Go for it if you can. CE wasn't hit as hard as planning. Transportation, Wastewater, Water, & Parks & Rec all use CE's at the local government level. Airports and other entities use them as well. Any public vertical or horizontal construction project requires a stamp by a PE.

    Of course there are the private sector jobs too....

  10. #10
    Cyburbian rover's avatar
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    As a graduate last year with a Geography degree...let me give some advice.
    Major in Civil Engineering/Hard Physical Science as your primary degree. Have planning as a minor/secondary degree.

    In my experience, all us social science people are looked down upon as useless liberal artists who are interchangeable.
    If you're good at physical science and have a background in it, you'll be much more likely to get a job in planning, and if not planning, find gainful employment ANYWHERE.

    IMO...liberal arts/social science is a complete waste of time and money. I've got 2 degree in liberal arts and it's earning me 0$.
    Physical science is the way to go.

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