career advice?

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I'm 25 with a checkered academic career: good in high school, failed out of college. Going back to finish a proper degree, done properly (will work hard to get what I want, As and B's) NOW-- a big question, what in? My former attempted degree was in materials engineering, which I did enjoy: I failed out for other reasons (fairly bad depression, and perhaps some outright laziness-- not partying or drugs, but you can still fail to keep up with classes without drink or drugs). It no longer makes sense to get back into the expensive private school I had attended, I instead will be going to Iowa State University, which is inexpensive (relatively!) and, I'm happy to report, seems to have a solid engineering school overall. I can do materials engineering. They even have a 5 years masters program. I should have 2 years down-- so 3 more to graduate. I can do industrial engineering. Optimization and logistics have always been cool articles to read about in businessweek (not as good a magazine as it used to be), economist, nytimes, etc., and I think I'd enjoy it. They have a 5 year program that includes an MBA. Again, I should have 1.5-2yrs covered in transfer credits. And, since many of the happy and successful people I've personally met are in middle management in the government and at companies, I've heard good things about employment in the insurance industry and/or as an accountant. I don't think I'd be bad at it, and I don't think I'd mind. "stranger than fiction"'s protagonist did not seem so pathetic to me, as pathetic as that might sound. Those are the 3 options that are on my mind. Please advise. Or suggest other fields. The grass is always greener-- I'm told medical, all the way, and then dentists tell me that $250k in student debt is not worth a $60k starting salary at the age of 30+; nurses tell me that they make $40/hr, which would be $80k, except they're underemployed at 10hrs/week and still have $150k in student debt; while another acquaintance has been treated well in IT with his masters degree, but numerous articles state that new grads are not finding health, wealth, and happiness there. ...well, I don't have the temperament or interest for IT anyway. Mechanical engineers and physics majors are said by some to be good for being versatile, and by others to be bad for being unfocused and too general. "grass is always greener" and I get a lot of mixed messages about almost any given field. I'd like some clear wisdom. Personally, after failing out of engineering and needing a pick-me-up that was somewhat technical and more involved that working in fast food, I went and became a master mechanic. I don't regret the 3 years spent, I learned a lot about cars that I won't forget. But I never made more than $20,000/year, even at a Volvo dealership, and my more seasoned coworkers averaged probably $30-35,000. One kid bragged that he made $40k... but that was doubtful. The two most senior techs, who were 45 and 55 years old about, said that they had made $70k some years, but not recently. So, not gonna stay as a mechanic. It'll take me years longer to even hit lower middle class, and the trends I'm observing do not bode well. When I looked into being a mechanic, community college told me "$40,000, no problem." So when the department advisers at iowa state all claim excellent employment with fine starting salaries for their graduates, i feel I'm correct in at least investigating independently what prospects these fields actually hold. But where I go to next, I want it to be the right decision and the right investment. I do not need riches, but I do not envy penury. $$ will become important as I look to find a wife, buy a house, raise a family, and not do it in poverty.
 
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Engineering in Medical products. Class III Implantable or Class II Diagnostic. Great pay, great benefits and pretty good job security. How do I know? Guess.
 
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When I started college, I had a lackadaisical attitude and ended up being disqualified after 3 years. That hurt, but caused me to finally admit that I was my own problem. When I was allowed back in, I was very serious with my school work. Getting a degree helps, but quite often you might find your career in a totally opposite field. I can think of at least 20 people that I know, including myself, that has degrees that are not normally associated with their degree (I have a degree in business, but employed as a park ranger. Most people in this field have natural science or history degrees). My suggestion is while you attend school, explore other fields. You might find something you really like. A friend got a certificate in GIS and ended up doing an internship with National Geographic making maps, which ended up offering his a job.
 
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Have you looked into being a physical therapist or P/T assistant? Around here in central Virginia they make over 40 bucks an hour doing homecare, but work is hit and miss. They still make 40+K per yr.
 
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Materials Engineering or Mechanical Engineering would offer a lot of opportunities. With either I would suggest a MS degree as it will provide many more opportunities and higher pay (I am a MSME by the way). If after going back to school you find you can't maintain a good GPA in engineering, change to something else.
 
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Narrow to what interests you first. You are all over the map. Engineering whatever it is a good degree. Typically you can move disciplines within if you work hard in the beginning.
 
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With a 2 year degree in Electronics from your local community college, GE Healthcare will hire you in the low $20 /hour for their Biomedical equipment repair services. They have internships that pay around $17 /hour while you are in your last semester of school. The more training you get from various manufacturers the more they pay. Lots of overtime in this field if you want to volunteer for it. I know one Biomed that I still talk to that made $30,000 just in OT last year. I did field service for 10 years on ventilators, anesthesia machines, Intra-aortic cardiac balloon pumps and perfusion equipment (heart & lung). I made very good money but I had lots of training paid by GE. Maybe the high-end imaging like CT, MRI, Cath Lab / EP lab... might interest you. Even if medical equipment does not break down, we are still required to test and calibrate it. If you are VERY good at math then a 4 year engineering degree is for you. But if you want a 2 year degree with lots of paid training and you like to travel maybe this field is for you. I got my training in the Air Force, but half of the Biomeds I met were from a community college.
 

JTK

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Chemical Engineering is another one that can be applied over a broad realm of career paths. That's the main thing IMO, don't be too specific. I always loved Materials Science/Engineering. I did well in those courses in college. IMO, 25 is a good buckle-down age. I know I didn't do my best at ~18. In your mid-late 20's or beyond you'll do better with schoolwork.
 
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I turn 40 this year and still have no idea what I WANT to do. I have always been employed but still have not found something that I am passionate about. Except for the landscaping business that I sold 7 years ago....
 
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Just get a basic mechanical or electrical engineering degree and then in your senior year decide what to pursue. Lots of avenues in both depending where you want to live and what the market is like when you finish. You are not too old to do this successfully.
 
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Originally Posted By: Barkleymut
I turn 40 this year and still have no idea what I WANT to do. I have always been employed but still have not found something that I am passionate about. Except for the landscaping business that I sold 7 years ago....
^^I`m right there with you. I turned 44 this year and feel the same way. I`ve never found anything I`m passionate about as well. I`ve been in sales most of my life,and I figure as long as I`m surviving,I`m doing ok :^)
 
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I work as an A+P mechanic. I took Aeronautical Engineering, Flight and the A+P classes at ERAU. 5.5 years at ERAU and a year at WestConn. After all is said and done, the A+P ticket is the one with value to me. For more reasons than you might expect. First, as I get older, I am more experienced. That is respected in this field. An old pilot is forced to retire. An old A+P is valuable! I've had heart issues and flying for a living would have been impossible. Engineers don't seem to be paid well in my field, are often out of work and there is not much demand, unless you work for Boeing or on a mil contract. Better for an AE to fly as a fighter pilot than to work for Piper. Take a look at the A+P ticket if you like "hands on" with some need for engineering skills. Here I am at work: Cujet
 
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I'm a BSCE, private engineering college, high dollar tuition, good grades etc etc. My only advice is this: You'll never get rich (or even close) working for someone else.
 
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I would finish your engineering degree. Which ever field you choose, make sure its in demand and has job stability. Was the dealership very slow to only made $20,000 as a mechanic ?
 
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The first question you should be asking yourself is, what do you want to do? What will make you the most happy, the most content, and the most willing to sacrifice what you need to sacrifice to get where YOU want to be in a decade. Then, go from there. Obviously income is a big factor in what you want to do, but don't jump head first into something you know is not for you just because wages for that job are higher.
 
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Originally Posted By: Silverado12
Have you looked into being a physical therapist or P/T assistant? Around here in central Virginia they make over 40 bucks an hour doing homecare, but work is hit and miss. They still make 40+K per yr.
Seriously, you want OT as well as an option. My wife is an experienced occupational therapist and easily breaks six figures a year in home health while working a 4 day week! I am surprised at the OP's statement about his earnings as a mechanic. I worked as a dealer tech for a few years and made an average of about 65k in the 1980's. But you better hustle.
 
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Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
The first question you should be asking yourself is, what do you want to do? What will make you the most happy, the most content, and the most willing to sacrifice what you need to sacrifice to get where YOU want to be in a decade. Then, go from there. Obviously income is a big factor in what you want to do, but don't jump head first into something you know is not for you just because wages for that job are higher.
Best advice here. You must develop a clear plan. Conceive, believe, achieve. If you don't play well with others start your own biz. It's far from the easiest path but it can be very rewarding.
 
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Originally Posted By: Doog
Just get a basic mechanical or electrical engineering degree and then in your senior year decide what to pursue. Lots of avenues in both depending where you want to live and what the market is like when you finish. You are not too old to do this successfully.
+1, concur. STAY AWAY from the skilled trades. You gotta trust me on this one.
 
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