Advice needed about a non-traditional career switch to engineering

Hello everyone.
I am a 34 year old police officer in Houston, Texas (11 years) and I
want to work towards becoming an engineer. (I am interested in civil,
chemical and mechanical engineering) I have at least 3 1/2 years left
of school (school is tough when you work full time) until I graduate.
My question is: assuming I am technically proficient, would I have a
hard time trying to break into any engineering field at 38 years old?
If your answer is no, here's another scenario: what if I finish
school at 44 (retire from police department) with both a bachelor's
and master's degrees? It's not like I've been delivering pizzas and
working at a coffee shop for the past 11 years, but on the other hand,
I have done nothing related to engineering outside of school. Any
help would be greatly appreciated.
Reply to
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Hi twf,
Focus on a specialty within engineering that is "hot" in the market and you will have a pretty good chance for a good start. A good way to determine the areas in demand is to search and take note of which engineering specialties tend to show up most frequently. This strategy is very effective for finding good positions within science/engineering. Depending on the sub-area you focus your studies in, you could have a hard time finding any position, or have companies calling you day and night trying to convince you to work for them.
Reply to
Unfortunately " technically proficient " = experienced.
What you learn at school is ways to answer questions... the art of engineering is to ask the right question.
When you start out you have to be spoon fed the questions.. answering them is the easy part.
Eventually you learn from having answered the questions when they should be asked.
Assume most companies will expect a fresh graduate to reach the point the learning curve is levelling off in five years...
You can't even apply to take the PE until you have a few years experience.
I learnt a new trick today... It stopped that complacent feeling I tend to get when I think of *my* twenty years of experience...:-)
Reply to
Jonathan Barnes
I agree with this advice. I can tell you that in the current market there is a pretty high demand for structural engineers who can design light-frame buildings (houses and small commercial). This is true even in Texas ---> I just helped someone try to find an SE who could check some issues on her house in Austin.
You may find it a little difficult to get course work in light frame design. You might have to take a class or two in the architecture department. Also, if you have never built a house you might consider volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity project. You will learn a lot about framing in just a few days.
Reply to
Bob Morrison
I would caution against pursuing the "hot" field. The reason being that fields are hot because supply and demand changes with time. By the time you finish your training for the hot field the supply and demand equation may (and probably will) change and there will be too much supply and not enough demand. The hottest fields are often the most prone to booms and busts.
I would recommend staying in law enforcement so you can take advantage of the contacts you already have. I'm sure you also have valuable experience. Don't throw it away. You may be able to work as an engineer in law enforcement. Perhaps on non-lethal weapons or better as a detective. How is engineering used in law enforcement?
By the way law enforcement is "hot" right now.
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Reply to
David T. Croft, Ph.D.
Maybe go to school for the engineering degree and put both that and your law enforcement experience to work: FBI, BATF, or CIA ? I had a neighbor who went to work for FBI in forensics and explosives--said he really could have used some engineering knowlege for his job. I've also seen quite a few job postings by CIA and DoD agencies for engineers.
"David T. Croft, Ph.D." wrote in message news:hAn9d.3360$_a3.2251@fed1read05...
Reply to
I had a student several years ago facing exactly this problem, so I can empathise with what you're going through.
Two thoughts:
1) Entry-level engineering jobs have two functions - one is to get you started thinking as an engineer, the other is to get you started thinking as an employee. You already have the second part down cold.
2) With your background, you might find yourself in eventual demand as a forensic engineer. I'd suggest you find someone in the field and conduct a few information interviews to get guidance on the best way to get into the field. Besides the law enforcement sources (FBI, BATF, DEA, etc) that others have suggested, two other resources come to my mind. First, see if you can find a local Forensic Engineering firm in the area, and talk to the people there. Second, check with some major insurance companies to find out about their investigative arms. (Unless you want to spend all day re-creating traffic accidents, I'd look for major industrial insurers.)
Also, I just did a quick google on forensic engineer and got 107,000 hits. Some of them are bound to have some good information.
Rich Lemert
Reply to
Rich Lemert

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