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Looking to change careers, from mech engineering to IT

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Heres my story

Been working in energy efficiency doing shit like commissioning, energy modeling etc for ~7 years. Its OK, it pays alright, but I am in NYC where the industry is basically subsidized by law and stupid high energy rates. W/natural gas getting to be so cheap I am seeing the writing on the wall.

Heres where things get... interesting? Im moving down to NC with my wife. Im doing some freelance work for $$$ off this NYC stuff, but I am seeing this as a potential opportunity.

How do I break in? Let me clarify. How do I break in, making more than $40K/year? I am thinking maybe to take an engineering job, and do some help desk stuff part time (like 2-3 times a month) just so I can say I have 1-2 yrs experience. I'll get some certs and then hopefully move up to network technician. From there I don't know. I like the idea of working with databases but I don't think I can learn SQL without school. I would be OK with just working up to being a system administrator and figuring out what I want to specialize in when I'm actually in it.

Any insights? Are there already threads about this
post #2 of 38

seven years experience as an engineer and u dont realize most jobs are the same except for what ur actually working on?

 

ur taking a leap downwards going from engineering to IT. people wont understand and they will never pay you what u are making now or close to what u think u should be making.

 

u dont like energy anymore? fine, just work on something else, it will be the same bull.

 

u want to do something a bit more different? go back to school and get a masters in something like systems engineering or robotics.

post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perkynipman View Post

seven years experience as an engineer and u dont realize most jobs are the same except for what ur actually working on?

ur taking a leap downwards going from engineering to IT. people wont understand and they will never pay you what u are making now or close to what u think u should be making.

u dont like energy anymore? fine, just work on something else, it will be the same bull.

u want to do something a bit more different? go back to school and get a masters in something like systems engineering or robotics.
Im def not gonna go back to school for mech engineering. IT is a way more secure field with more opportunity for growth. I am making decent dough as an engineer but w/this huge drop in living expenses I could take a temporary pay cut knowing I would bounce back and more within a couple of years. Plus I like energy engineering, but the cities where it is big are also very expensive and not in line w/the quality of life I want. W/robotics or systems engineering, I would have to take a pay cut AND go back to school for a masters. And both of those fields seem very dependent on the strength of the economy.
post #4 of 38

Dude, I don't know. There is a great diversity in MechE work; I loved it. Do you really feel that IT is getting more secure? So much of it seems to be going offshore, or the smaller companies that used to have in house IT are farming out to Google/Microsoft who likely then in turn farm it out; cutting their staffs and keeping to top end people in place to manage/liason (apart from the helpdesk folks). I saw some BLS data from major cities citing the highest pay fields, below surgeon/financier was petroleum engineering -- if you are already in energy, aren't any of those skills transferrable? I was seeing salaries in the 140k range, which is intense. I switched from MechE to patent law, and I am not expecting 140k out of school (close, but not quite).

 

Anyway, the hard part for me about leaving Engineering was going from a creative position (we made and built stuff) to a service position where performance is far less about how awesomely you do your job, and more about how much you help other people do their job awesomely.

 

~ H
 

post #5 of 38
Thread Starter 
I am in energy, but energy like energy efficiency, not energy like utilities. That might be the move I have to make, and is def something I am looking into with this move. I started in utilities but made some dumb decisions and got out of it early in my career.

There is a lot of outsourcing in IT, but a lot of that is coming back. The quality of the service from abroad sucks, and combined with lost productivity doesn't really save anything. Lot of companies try outsourcing IT and bring it back. Plus even w/outsourcing there is still a lot of opportunity here. They can't outsource stuff that needs physical people at facilities.
post #6 of 38
Quote:
 Do you really feel that IT is getting more secure? So much of it seems to be going offshore, or the smaller companies that used to have in house IT are farming out to Google/Microsoft who likely then in turn farm it out; cutting their staffs and keeping to top end people in place to manage/liason (apart from the helpdesk folks)

 

This sounds suspect to me, and I would take it with a grain of salt.

 

It's hard for me to give any specific advice, except learn as much as you can on your own until you get an opportunity to do it professionally (or go to school). Do you know any SQL? I had absolutely no experience, and used this tutorial to get off the ground:

 

http://sql.learncodethehardway.org/book/

 

Another resource you might check out is Stack Exchange. They have a site dedicated to DBA, not to mention Programmers and their flagship Stack Overflow. On the other hand, Stack Exchange probably won't allow open ended questions like this... (e.g. how do I change careers). I have found Quora.com to be a little more tolerant of such questions, but that doesn't necessarily make a good resource.

post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cool The Kid View Post

I am in energy, but energy like energy efficiency, not energy like utilities. That might be the move I have to make, and is def something I am looking into with this move. I started in utilities but made some dumb decisions and got out of it early in my career.

There is a lot of outsourcing in IT, but a lot of that is coming back. The quality of the service from abroad sucks, and combined with lost productivity doesn't really save anything. Lot of companies try outsourcing IT and bring it back. Plus even w/outsourcing there is still a lot of opportunity here. They can't outsource stuff that needs physical people at facilities.

This is true. A significant chunk of off-shored work is coming back since companies realized they get what they pay for, if that.

IT is a good field. If you find a nice niche and become very good at it, you can have a secure, lucrative career. I know many people making north of $60 an hour with their specialized skill set. BUT constant learning is a fact of life in IT; there's no way around it. But you are well-rewarded if you are willing to apply yourself.

Anything to do with databases is great. Data is an organization's intellectual capital and all that is stored in databases.
post #8 of 38
Thread Starter 
A buddy of mine is in VoIP and says its a good field to go into.

I am OK w/constant learning, I got 3 engineering certifications in the last 6 months smile.gif I pick up a new hobby every year. Last year it was 3D modeling. Best moments in my career have been when I mastered something new. So to that end I think IT would be fun. There are so many avenues though. Virtualization, VoIP, security, databases... its almost overwhelming. But I have to get in at the ground level before I can specialize.
post #9 of 38

My background started in IT/Engineering in the Raleigh/Durham, NC area.  I think IT is a great field and is constantly changing.  There's also several technologies that easily demand 6-figure incomes.  Storage/Virtualization and Data Center tech is huge now, there's VoIP, wireless networking, etc.  Good luck on your career change.
 

post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ExhibitA View Post

My background started in IT/Engineering in the Raleigh/Durham, NC area.  I think IT is a great field and is constantly changing.  There's also several technologies that easily demand 6-figure incomes.  Storage/Virtualization and Data Center tech is huge now, there's VoIP, wireless networking, etc.  Good luck on your career change.

 

Also, IT doesn't follow any traditional career path like the accounting and legal professions do. If you're good at something, you can bypass the corporate ladder and move up in your career quite fast, either working for someone or out on your own.
post #11 of 38
My background is in computer engineering: embedded system design... at least that is what I went to school for. I wound up getting an offer for an IT type position (more IT than engineering) in a large datacenter environment. The pay sucked compared to what some of my friends were making out of the gate with the same degree, but I didn't want to sit around and wait for something better.

I hated it at first. I had the opportunity to leave and go to a job in my field shortly after starting, but I had made a couple good connections and I felt some loyalty because the company took a chance with me. Since then, I've been promoted and out of the datacenter.

If you want to do it, go for it man. There are a lot of different things you can learn, and as a poster said it is not as hierarchical because there are so many cross-functional teams. If you are smart and like learning you will do fine. You can move around to other teams and learn a broad set of skills, or you can gain a lot of depth in a few skills, and if you want to get into management, you can probably do that fairly easily (a lot of IT people don't so anecdotaly it seems less competitive).

For learning, I would say do one of those MIT massively online classes on programming or something. Python is quickly becoming a hugely popular language.
post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
Moving around and cross training is definitely something I want to do, and have done at other jobs to the benefit of my career. If I can get in with an organization large enough that I can move around in I think I will get off on the right foot. It looks like there are a ton of jobs too.
post #13 of 38
"IT" is insanely broad. What do you mean by "IT"? Do you want to write code?

If you have any sort of managerial experience in engineering projects, I'd imagine you'd be able to lateral in IT project management. You could also push towards your PMP and then use that to springboard into IT project management.

If you want to write code or do other in-the-trenches type work, you're going to have to get some experience in it, which will mean starting over at or near the bottom.
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post

"IT" is insanely broad. What do you mean by "IT"? Do you want to write code?

If you have any sort of managerial experience in engineering projects, I'd imagine you'd be able to lateral in IT project management. You could also push towards your PMP and then use that to springboard into IT project management.

If you want to write code or do other in-the-trenches type work, you're going to have to get some experience in it, which will mean starting over at or near the bottom.

I can't move laterally without the technical base. If IT project management is anything like engineering project management, you can't go anywhere w/o the technical fundamentals. So I have to put my time in, learn the game and prove myself technically. I think I need to really do my research on available paths and set up a kind of heirarchy of idealistic vs realistic career paths. Most likely I will prob just be a general system administrator. I would really love to do database stuff but I feel like CS degree holders will get the nod on the entry level jobs before me. I'm just trying to figure it all out.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cool The Kid View Post

I can't move laterally without the technical base. If IT project management is anything like engineering project management, you can't go anywhere w/o the technical fundamentals. So I have to put my time in, learn the game and prove myself technically. I think I need to really do my research on available paths and set up a kind of heirarchy of idealistic vs realistic career paths. Most likely I will prob just be a general system administrator. I would really love to do database stuff but I feel like CS degree holders will get the nod on the entry level jobs before me. I'm just trying to figure it all out.

Good call. In the long run, managers without technical expertise are not respected by their technical staff and, as such, are unable to build effective and productive teams.
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