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  • Career change - advice needed

    Discussion in 'General jobs discussion' started by Bradley87, Jun 27, 2014.

    1. Bradley87

      Bradley87 New Member

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      Hello,

      I am new to this forum. At the moment, I am facing a though decision on a slight career change, hopefully you will be able to help me with it.

      Here are some facts about me:

      - 26 years old
      - Master of Science in Architectural Engineering (Technical University)
      - Experienced pilot / flight instructor (both sailplanes & 1 engine piston air crafts)

      I was always keen on engineering - like mechanics or robotics as well as on the design which is a big part of architecture. Due to my aeronautical background, which is quite unusual for architects, I have made a decision to direct my career path into fields where I would be able to combine both skills. I am mostly interested in the design of manned space vehicles where additional ergonomic, functional or psychological knowledge taken from architecture would be advantageous.

      Obviously, I am willing to start another studies to improve my education. I know that I need to choose the next program very carefully and wisely as there is no time to make a mistake.. I live in Central Europe but I am trying to get a scholarship allowing me to study in US (preferably no more than 2 years). Since there is no guarantee that I will ever obtain this grant, I need to search for eventual possibilities in my current location as well. Here is what I am considering for now:

      - Space Architecture Master program at University of Houston (I have heard various opinions about it, to be honest I am a little afraid that it is a bit light on engineering and too visionary)

      - Aerospace Engineering Master program, USA (a few Universities in States already said that it would be possible for me to apply for their Master program without a Bachelor in related field of study. This would work if I would focus on structural area of AE and eventually take some undergraduate courses)

      - Aerospace / Aeronautical / Mechanical Engineering Bachelor program, Europe (for some reason, probably because of the differences, here nobody wants to acknowledge my engineering background and the only way for me is to start from the very beginning)

      Please let me know what do you think about my idea. I am really interested whether there is any chance to get an attractive job with my future educational mixture in this narrow industry. Maybe you are aware of more programs that would be suitable in my situation?

      Thank you very much!
       
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    3. Lochnagar

      Lochnagar Well-Known Member

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      I would approach the "problem" slightly differently - and ask yourself:-

      1) What demand is there from industry for this qualification?
      2) Are there many jobs to be had in this industry sector with this qualification?
      3) What sort of money might get in this industry?

      I fear that you may be looking through rose tinted glasses and may not have appreciated the importance of money to your future life. Money is very important to your future.

      There always will be demand for people who are at the top of their game in robotics - but the question is - are you going to be in that top percentile - or are you going to be in with the rest - just average to medium?

      I have worked in the design of remote controlled vehicles myself for more than a decade, and I have interviewed many engineers in my time, and what I have seen in the UK - is the standard of UK engineers declining, and so I have looked to mainland Europe to recruit engineers - and I have been very pleased with the candidates I have taken on from there.
      I often ask myself and discuss with colleagues - why the decline in engineering standards in the UK - and I don't know the exact answer - but I guess it may have something to do with students asking themselves - is there lots of money to be made in engineering by comparison with accountancy and legal services (no), and is engineering difficult by comparison with accountancy and legal services (yes), so if they are academically good, they possibly give engineering a miss and go into accountancy or legal services - which if this hypothesis is correct - may explain the decline in engineering standards in the UK.

      As far as salaries are concerned, I personally can't complain - however when I see the salaries that are advertised in the Professional Engineer magazine in the UK for my fellow engineers, I do wonder how they survive. Some years ago I remember seeing a job advertised in Professional Engineering for senior design engineers to work on the design of future nuclear war heads at Aldermaston (which is just outside London) - and I think they were offering about £35K - which I guess would be about £40K in today's money. Well the average house price (a flat) in London today is roughly £550K - so I don't know how you would survive on that kind of salary!!

      I don't have any particular knowledge of architecture - but I do know that people all around the world are leaving the country - to come and live in cities - and so we are seeing ever increasing amounts of buildings and construction going on in cities. So I might reasonably have concluded that there is demand for the qualification you already have. I think I would try and get a job with the qualification you currently have - rather than plunge yourself into huge amounts of debt pursuing another qualification - with possibly not a huge number of job opportunities at the end of it.

      Hope this is of help.
       
    4. Bradley87

      Bradley87 New Member

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      Lochnagar - thank you very much for your reply.

      Architects do not make that much.. Most of the people compare us to lawyers or doctors in terms of salaries but unfortunately the truth is different. I think an average architect make about £40K in UK which is quite similar to those design engineers you wrote about. I am starting to believe now that every position related to design is a bit underpaid.

      For some time I was trying to change my profession and become a commercial pilot. Unfortunately, this market looks worse than terrible. Briefly most of the guys - after spending like
      50-100K to get their licenses, another 50K for let's say B737 type rating and another 70K for line training (which is basically paying for opportunity to fly as a co-pilot for about 300 hours on type) still cannot secure a job and literally land in McDonald's. This is so called P2F (pay to fly) scheme. Personally, I have not heard about anything worse than that. Hopefully, these crazy times will change one day.

      So to stay closer to aviation - and at the same time - not completely loose my architectural background, I started to search for industries in which I could combine my skills. That is how I got to Space / Aeronautical Architecture. I am sure this is a very narrow field of study and there are not too many positions for people with this education. Since it is so unusual and uncommon it is extremely hard to tell what sort of money you might get in it..

      This risk convinced me to start another studies only if I would obtain a full scholarship covering all of the costs. Apparently there is a big chance of that in case of studies and living in Houston. So I think it will be wiser to treat it rather as a hobby now and see where it leads while developing own architectural business that would pay the bills.

      Thank you again.
       
    5. Lochnagar

      Lochnagar Well-Known Member

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      Hi Bradley,

      My only other suggestion for you was to pursue a career as a commercial pilot - where in the UK - the rates of pay I think vary between £80K to £110K depending on type of aircraft and the routes you have to fly (domestic or international). However, I am amazed at the costs you have detailed above - that you have to pay to learn to fly. I don't know if you have explored these options:-

      http://www.ctcwings.com/

      http://careers.easyjet.com/careers-in-the-air/pilot-careers/

      I guess another way round this - might be either to become a military (fixed or rotary wing pilot) - and then transfer to becoming a commercial pilot - but you probably would have to commit to a 10 year period with the military - before you could make a move to be a commercial pilot. Alternatively, have you considered being a helicopter pilot? In Aberdeen in the UK - we have the biggest helicopter airport in Europe - servicing the oil rigs in the North Sea - and I understand the money is good for these pilots. Also there are an increasing number of police helicopters, air ambulances and search and rescue helicopters in the UK - which might be another possibility - but I have no idea what the salaries are for these jobs.

      I did watch a documentary recently on a fatal commercial air accident in New York - and I was in somewhat disbelief at the living conditions that the flight crew had to endure (which was a major factor in the accident because they were tired and fell asleep at the controls - and then when they woke up - they "instinctively" pulled the joy stick back - and "stalled" the plane - instant crash) - where they were put up in a hostel with bunk beads!! Also the salaries for these America pilots was unbelievably poor - comparable to a bus drivers salary in the UK - but that might have been because they were young. So I was not convinced that America is the same country that Hollywood might like to portray America - as there is a very high rate of unemployment amongst the young there at present, and when you see middle class Americans queuing up to get food parcels - and war veterans begging on the streets of Los Angeles - you do wonder if the "American model" - is as good as some of the news channels would try and make you believe.

      Coming back to architecture again - the only other thought would be to try and get noticed by the big names in the business - and here in the UK we have:-

      http://www.fosterandpartners.com/

      http://www.rsh-p.com/rshp_home

      Hope this is of some help.
       
    6. Bradley87

      Bradley87 New Member

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      Hi Lochngar,

      Thank you for your reply and archi - links.

      That is not only paying to learn to fly but also paying for a possibility to work.. and you get it only if you are lucky. I have heard so many tragic stories of people taking huge debts to get their licences and ending up with not even a shadow of a chance for hiring. To make it more dramatic I can add that if you do not fly you need to keep your licenses, ratings etc current - which means pay. One year without a job (or something around it)? Your type rating is outdated, buy another one for another 50K :) That is why I decided to stop at Sailplane Pilot License and Private Pilot License level as the risk nowadays is terribly big. Of course, there are some attractive and very rare opportunities organised by some airlines in the form of fully or semi sponsored cadet schemes with guaranteed job in the end. I took part in something like that last year - it was called Future Pilot Program led by British Airways. As you may imagine there were thousands of applicants. I made it to second stage of selection which was in Oxford but then I was rejected. The funny thing is that a month later I got an email saying that my results were enough to be accepted to their Aviation Academy. But I would have to cover all of the costs by myself.. and there will be no guarantee of a job. They wanted me to pay £80K just for the training what obviously was a bit too much for me. As far as I remember, the starting salary at BA was around £40K at that time.

      I actually did not consider being a helicopter pilot. Although this market looks a little better the costs of training are around 3x higher than for fixed wings. But I was considering joining military - though I am not a big fan of army world, this is still an option.

      You are right about the pilot salaries in US. Regional airlines offer their 1st officers around $20-25 a year what sounds insane.. especially if you compare it to the costs of training, type ratings etc. Probably KFC pays more. Naturally, guys with experience sitting on the left seat get quite a lot.. But to reach this level you need to be enormously lucky - in these times it is nearly mission impossible.

      All the best.
       
    7. Lochnagar

      Lochnagar Well-Known Member

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      Hi Bradley,

      I am amazed at these costs you have listed to learn to fly - it is incredibly expensive - which makes me wonder how anyone can afford it - other than the sons and daughters of rich people?
      I did have a search and rescue pilot who lived nearby a few years back - and he was operating up in Shetland - it sounded a varied and interesting job - and I think he was working for Bond Helicopters - and he sounded as if he was on good money - but that is the private sector search and rescue.

      However, doing search and rescue work for the RAF will not make you rich - but certainly interesting and challenging in winter plucking mountaineers of the mountains!!

      http://www.bristowgroup.com/about-bristow/jobs/

      http://www.bondaviationgroup.com/careers

      All I would say - is that you are young at present - and the key thing I look for when I interview young engineers - is good experience on their CV. So I would say there is no harm in accepting "low pay" for a few years - so long as you get good experience - because with good experience you can use that as a spring board for better things - and better pay.

      By contrast - I see the CV's of well paid engineers - with a terrible CV - because they have not acquired any good experience - and in the long term they are probably not going to go very far - since no experience equals no value.

      I hope my thoughts and suggestions might in some small way provoke some different ideas and thoughts in you, that help you achieve some job satisfaction and success going forward. Good luck.
       

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