Author Topic: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad  (Read 8629 times)

StarswirlTheMustached

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Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« on: October 29, 2012, 11:05:10 AM »
Greetings, Mustachians.
I could use some career advice. Here's my history: I'm 24, male, in Ontario, Canada; I have a Bachelor of Science in Physics, a Masters of Science in Astronomy and Planetary Science, and a mini-mustache of ~$30k. Peach fuzz, really, but I'm quite proud of it since I have never held a 'real' job. I'd rather like to, though.
Trouble is, what the heck can I do? Engineering is out in this jurisdiction-- I'd need 4 years schooling to get the degree to join the guild. I can code my way out of a paper bag, barely, but I'd hate doing it and it's not in any language that would help me hold down a job (who uses R?) even if I wanted to.
What sort of careers would anyone suggest that would be a good jumping-off point to start working towards FI? I'd love to teach, but Ontario is currently massively oversupplied with new teachers, and I'm geographically constrained by my better half. The funding situation in this country makes it fairly pointless to try and continue with my PhD to teach at the university level, which used to be plan A, once-upon-a-time. Not a good path to FI, anyway. So with plans A and B shot down in flames by that dastardly reality, does anyone have any advice for me?
Thanks!

yomimono

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 11:15:22 AM »
I used to work with a lot of meteorological and climatological researchers in a graduate department at a major research university.  Most of them did a lot of programming and data model/prediction verification.  Some had PhDs, but many had stopped at a MS, usually in Physics.  Common languages were Matlab, IDL, Fortran, and C.  Domain knowledge is more important than programming knowledge in some fields.  Granted, this was in the US (Wisconsin), and the credential requirements near you may be different.

Matte

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 06:52:37 PM »
Power engineer... Most in demand career in Canada.  With your science degree and masters you would be management in no time.  Because it is a regulated field you need a ticket (year to get your lowest level) but the oil sands are drawing so many people there are great opportunities across the country.  It's been a great job for me sO far if you like technology and don't mind wearing a hard hat.  Starting pay is usually over $30/hr, alberta pays about 65 per hour.  Its typically a rotating shift 12 hour a day job so less commuting and lots of time off and or overtime.  Jobs in oil, nuclear, power, buildings, hospitals ect 

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 08:05:11 PM »
Not to mention that Power Engineer just sounds awesome!

KMMK

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 09:07:06 PM »
Interesting that you mention Power Engineering. I'm in Winnipeg and my husband just went back to school for Power Engineering. He did the two years as the 1 year doesn't get you the good paying jobs, and there are less jobs at that level as well. It was an incredibly hard and math heavy course (speaking from the perspective of smart people), but with your background you should be fine. It was a gamble but he got a hospital job, that pays well, unionized, full benefits etc. Downside is the 12 hr rotating shifts. Being mechanically inclined helps a lot with the actual job.

The name is funny - nobody knows what power engineers do. We say he "engineers power" to each other all the time. Still funny. We're geeks, what can I say.

Matte

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 09:45:31 PM »
Yup the math is tough, it seemed though that those with previous post secondary whizzed through it.  The 2 years defenetly gives a leg up, getting your 3rd.  That's what I did.  Even though now at least here in bc so many places are so desperate they will take a 4th and give paid time for 3rd class papers.  We keep loosing people to fly in fly out jobs that are offering about 160k a year plus flights and camp.  Not something my wife and I want to do voluntarily spending that much time apart.  The benefits and being unionized sure are good things in this day and age.  I happen to love the shift work, we do 3 days 3 off 3 nights, then to bring the work week down to a 38 hour work week we get 6 weeks unpaid and 4 weeks paid off to start.  Helps cut the commuting and work life balance.

okits

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2012, 10:12:28 PM »
Starswirl, you mention being in Ontario.  If you're anywhere near Ottawa or Toronto, have a look at government.  Stability, security, half-decent pay, gold-plated pension.  Ontario's general business climate doesn't seem the greatest right now (feels like we have been muddling through for years, with years more to come), but government will almost always have money to pay the bills.  There are so many government offices/departments/functions; you may be surprised what exists if you do some research into it.

The teacher-route is definitely hard to break into as a young person.  I do believe the requirements are different, though, if you want to teach at a private school.  Check into that, as well, especially if you think you have a background that will be a bit more in demand, or are part of a community that would give you an edge (multi-lingual, part of a religious or ethnic community, or experience with special-needs.)

On the side: tutoring.  Can be good money and gives you experience related to teaching (in case professorship or teacher is still an option in the future.)  If you're a pretty recent grad, you still have an in at your alma mater, as far as reaching potential clients for this.

Good luck!

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 12:20:02 PM »
Power Engineering? Hm. At least in Ontario, I was under the impression that anything with the word "Engineering" in it was regulated by the provincial Professional Engineering association, and they require a relevant 4-year B.Eng degree for you to claim that title (plus work experience and wage-garnishing dues). Though they can give you the job the title "Power Engineering Technician" or "Technologist" and avoid the guild, I suppose. I'll look into the local college's offerings and the job market in this area-- I know that if I were a Mechanical or Mining Engineer I could write my own ticket in the present economic climate. It is almost tempting to gamble on the mining boom in this area long enough for me to get that B.Eng... but only almost. I'd hate to wipe out my mini-mustache, and I've already got 6 uninterrupted years of post-secondary (and I jumped right in after high school, too). Can I admit I've gotten a bit tired of schooling?

 Everyone working federally tells me the government isn't hiring due to the budget situation; I've been looking and haven't seen many exceptions to that save for CSIS. I have been looking into that, though it takes a year to get hired and I'd have to convince my better half to relocate to the capitol-- which is difficult, since she's in geology and we're in the middle of a mining boom up here...

Tutoring: yes. Right now, I'm tutoring whilst half-heartedly pursuing a PhD, a combination that just barely pays the bills since I am lucky enough to be paid as a teaching assistant (marking, mostly). I say half-heartedly because I don't really see this degree as much of an investment; it's another pure science degree and I am afraid it won't improve my employability, just let me coast into my 30s at the equivalent of minimum wage.

Family members hear that and say if I'm smart enough to "coast" while doing a PhD I should be able to go anywhere and do anything-- but unless I am missing something, the world doesn't work that way. Unless you have the qualifications and certifications an employer is looking for, it doesn't matter how smart you are. (Our elementary school teachers lied.)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 12:33:55 PM »
P. Eng and Power Engineer are completely different things.  Power Engineer is a trade-school type diploma, and not an actual engineering degree.

They get paid well though, very well.  Like 70,000/year plus, with the introductory level.

Togoshiman

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 12:48:15 PM »
If you combined that background with a law degree, you'd have a very well-paying top flight career ahead of you in IP law.  You get to work with cutting edge material on the science side while working with truly scary smart people on the legal side.  Paycheque can be merely awesome ($175+ in a couple of years) to nutso (some making 7 figures in Toronto).  And easy to cash out to government or small town in-house jobs which still easily pay six figures with pensions and home by 6pm.  I'm in law but not IP, but know plenty who are.  Also in Ontario if that helps.

Nudelkopf

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2012, 01:57:12 PM »
I'm in almost the same position as you! Huzzah! Except I'm only *just* about to hand in my thesis (pure maths) on Monday.

Are you sure there's an oversupply of science/physics/math teachers? Everyone here (Australia) says there's too many teachers.. But really there's too many elementary/english/middleschool-type teachers, and way not enough higher math and science.

Matte

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2012, 03:52:15 PM »
Yes you are correct, power engineer is different then p eng.   It is a technologist level position to start, typically you would have a technical diploma as well as a 3rd class ticket.  From there you could get your second or first with appropriate experience and writing papers, 1st class power engineer will typically be an upper management "chief" position and will be up there salary wise with the operations manager.

Starting wages are typically in the range of great to insane. I made 95k when I was 20 just out of school.  I took all the overtime I could, double time, worked stats ect.  It is a real bone of contention with professional engineers as we start with half the education yet start at double the wage in the same company.  It is really a great time as there is a shortage, only a few schools that offer the program, it is regulated... You need the positions filled by law, and it is typically union.  With all these factors besides the inherent risk of operating high pressure boilers, process equipment and other high danger stuff it's great.  Although you have to deal with the fact that the management contains engineers that made less then the power engineers the first 20 years of there career, dealt with more student loans, doesn't take their vacation entitlement and works unpaid overtime, they really transfer their envy to hate. 

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2012, 07:03:39 PM »
Matte, they might have made less for the last 20 years than you do now, but if you'd been working for the past 20 years, you would have also been making less than you do now.

I have a degree, and I work with lots of people that make as much or more than me, and they don't have university degrees.  It doesn't bother me one bit.
:)

Matte

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2012, 08:18:15 AM »
That's good, I guess the point I was trying to make that the wages are stupid good right now.   They are about 1.5x that in Alberta.   That is good that you don't let that bug you, we seem to have lots who really let it get to them.  Now we are starting to see jr engineers and draftspeople getting their power engineer ticket and giving up there desk and becoming field operators. 

simonsez

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2012, 08:53:11 AM »
R is up and coming in statistical fields.  I work at a statistical federal agency in the U.S. and while SAS dominates, R is preferred by many niche groups.  Lot of R&D going on with how to save money/become more efficient and R is used many times in those presentations.

Jarvis

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2012, 12:15:01 PM »
Dislaimer: I'm in the USA, not Canadian

I've got an undergraduate degree in physics, and, after graduating, I stumbled into the field of health physics.  I work for a company doing environmental radiation cleanups, and the money and job security is pretty good.  Health physics covers many other areas, including industrial settings, hospital settings, and research settings.  People are afraid of radiation, so they need health physicists to protect them!

Health Physics Society website: http://www.hps.org/

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2012, 09:15:53 AM »
That's good, I guess the point I was trying to make that the wages are stupid good right now.   They are about 1.5x that in Alberta.   That is good that you don't let that bug you, we seem to have lots who really let it get to them.  Now we are starting to see jr engineers and draftspeople getting their power engineer ticket and giving up there desk and becoming field operators.

People who 'ride a desk' all day in an office, and get to go home to their families every night are always going to get paid less than people who work in the field, and/or work crazy shifts.  It's the inconvenience pay required to keep people in those positions.

Peter

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2012, 09:52:49 AM »
If you're willing to pack up and leave I'm sure you can have a great career starting now. But if you insist on being "geographically constrained by your better half" you may need some more schooling or specialized training to get yourself a good job in the market that you are constraining yourself to.

Consider the sacrifice that you are asking of yourself, and how you will feel about it if your girlfriend decides to leave you 4 years from now and you've just ruined your career for her.

Not to be a downer or anything!.... Just trying to be pragmatic. :)

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2012, 12:12:17 PM »
If you're willing to pack up and leave I'm sure you can have a great career starting now. But if you insist on being "geographically constrained by your better half" you may need some more schooling or specialized training to get yourself a good job in the market that you are constraining yourself to.

Consider the sacrifice that you are asking of yourself, and how you will feel about it if your girlfriend decides to leave you 4 years from now and you've just ruined your career for her.

Not to be a downer or anything!.... Just trying to be pragmatic. :)

I'd probably give the same advice to someone I did not know. Pragmatism is good.
That said, I'm going to toss it out the window into a wood chipper, feed the fragments to a pig, and shoot the pig. ;)
I'm not leaving my wife. As far as we're concerned, "to have and to hold" someone you have to actually be around them.

Dislaimer: I'm in the USA, not Canadian

I've got an undergraduate degree in physics, and, after graduating, I stumbled into the field of health physics.  I work for a company doing environmental radiation cleanups, and the money and job security is pretty good.  Health physics covers many other areas, including industrial settings, hospital settings, and research settings.  People are afraid of radiation, so they need health physicists to protect them!

Health Physics Society website: http://www.hps.org/

In Canada, we have plenty of degree-granting programs in health physics, and so the impression I get from my department (which, admittedly, does do a medical physics degree) is that employers won't look at you without that qualification unless you've quite a bit of previous experience.
 
I'm in almost the same position as you! Huzzah! Except I'm only *just* about to hand in my thesis (pure maths) on Monday.
Are you sure there's an oversupply of science/physics/math teachers? Everyone here (Australia) says there's too many teachers.. But really there's too many elementary/english/middleschool-type teachers, and way not enough higher math and science.

Do you still have to defend? Best of luck!
Here the oversupply seems to be across the board; it's worse for the young'uns and humanities, but unfortunately does seem to apply to the higher maths and sciences as well.

I thank you all for your advice.
I've switched my allegiance to a PhD supervisor who is cross-appointed in computer science-- we're going to be doing computer simulations of nanomaterials. That should be saleable in four years. If nothing else, I'm getting paid to learn C++. I've heard that a PhD on simulations of any sort is worth ~100k/yr when you get out-- and if not, well. Hey. Six figures always seemed an absolutely absurd income to me anyway.

Jarvis

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2012, 12:19:03 PM »
I've switched my allegiance to a PhD supervisor who is cross-appointed in computer science-- we're going to be doing computer simulations of nanomaterials. That should be saleable in four years. If nothing else, I'm getting paid to learn C++. I've heard that a PhD on simulations of any sort is worth ~100k/yr when you get out-- and if not, well. Hey. Six figures always seemed an absolutely absurd income to me anyway.

Sounds like an interesting field with good prospects - good luck!

cdngb

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2012, 04:45:55 PM »
Let me get this straight.  You have two impressive degrees and you do not know what jobs are available to you.

What jobs did you have in University?

What jobs or career path did your professors suggest?

What jobs did your Master's classmates get?

What jobs did your university job placement office suggest?

What employers came on campus to recruit you and your classmates?

Yes there is a glut of teachers in Ontario but there is always a need for science teachers.  If you have no other alternatives, go to teacher's college and supply teach.  If there are no full time jobs do this and find another part-time job in your field.  If you ever need to follow your significant other to an other city your skills are portable and you will be able to get another supply teaching position or perhaps something else in your field.

If nothing is available go to your local College and find out what programs that interest you have high employment ratios for their graduates.  All statistics are readily available from the College.
Some programs are one year in length and most are two.  They will give you many credits for your university couses so that you will have a lot of time for a part time job.  You can tutor at the college or high school level.  College tuition is a quarter of what you would pay for a doctorate.

A note to every student.  Find out what the job possibilities in your field of interest before you enroll so that you can work towards full time employment while you are still at school.  This is done by taking electives or minors in subjects that will make you more employable to the employers in your field.  If possible find summer jobs or volunteer positions that will give you experience in your field.  Consider the Co-op. program at your school.  This will give you much needed experience and you may even learn that you are not interested in working in your field.  This will save you a lot of time and money.  Remember that employers are interested in hiring full rounded graduates so get involved in things other than their major.  Volunteer, join recreation sports leagues or get involved with clubs.  Make finding a full time job a priority from your first term at school.  Be aware of what is on your social websites as employers research you.

Good luck.

dragoncar

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 05:05:01 PM »
How's your programming?  I know physics grad students usually have serious programming chops, which is probably the best ROI in terms of education cost to income.

I also agree that IP law can be good, but the opportunity cost and tuition for law schools means you have to spend a longer time working before you break even.  If it turns out you don't like the work, then you're way behind the curve.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 06:38:44 PM »
What jobs did you have in University?
I worked as a research assistant at the university at which I was studying.

What jobs or career path did your professors suggest?
Mostly, academics. One exception suggested financial modeling, since that was a draw when he was coming out with his PhD, but that now has its own certifications.

What jobs did your Master's classmates get?
They all continued their education in one way or another.

What jobs did your university job placement office suggest?
At both universities, I got blank stares. They had _NO_ idea what to do with me, and suggested I talk to my professors. Who like to pretend there is no world outside the ivory tower.

What employers came on campus to recruit you and your classmates?
None. They came to recruit engineering students, not astrophysicsts. At campus job fairs (I've gone every year) whenever they asked my major I would be met with a "WTF are you talking to me for?" look and they'd quickly end the conversation. The only exceptions were the Canadian Forces before the post-Afganistan drawdown (I'd have qualified for combat engineer or naval weapons officer), and the national intelligence agency.

Yes there is a glut of teachers in Ontario but there is always a need for science teachers.  If you have no other alternatives, go to teacher's college and supply teach.  If there are no full time jobs do this and find another part-time job in your field.  If you ever need to follow your significant other to an other city your skills are portable and you will be able to get another supply teaching position or perhaps something else in your field.
School boards now are starting to create wait lists for supply and occasional teaching, according to relatives I have in the profession (all of whom are unanimous in their advice to stay the hell away-- only non-teachers seem to think it's a good option).

If nothing is available go to your local College and find out what programs that interest you have high employment
ratios for their graduates.  All statistics are readily available from the College.
A Physics BSc has a very high employment ratio; that fooled me. It turns out they can and do count grad school as employment. McDonalds, too.

College tuition is a quarter of what you would pay for a doctorate.
In Canada universities are required to provide some level of minimum funding (usually ~20k) for full-time doctoral students, mostly through teaching assistantships; I am not paying for my doctorate, except opportunity costs.

My note to every student: They will lie to you. Your teachers and guidance councilors will lie out of ignorance, because they think an impressive-sounding major is sure to be in demand, and because they're dumb enough to trust university recruitment materials. Universities and colleges willfully distort the truth to increase enrollment-- if they don't flat out lie. Professional associations will lie to get new dues-paying members. Trust nothing but what you see in demand on Monster.com and pray the economy is similar when you finish. Never take a major that doesn't offer a co-op program-- if they don't have co-op, it's because they can't find jobs to run it. And for the love of all things that grow bushy on the upper lip, don't go into debt for beer money.
(At least that last one doesn't come from personal experience.)

Russ

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 07:09:54 PM »
Here in the States you'd be plenty qualified for a job as a business analyst. Job postings from financial institutions and consulting firms come up pretty often on my school's College of Engineering career services website. All they're looking for is someone who's good with numbers (e.g. engineers, physicists, mathematicians) and can analyze and optimize systems. it doesn't matter what your degree is in; it's like doing word problems. You can analyze financial systems and you can analyze physics systems. The words might be different but the underlying math is the same. Apparently that's not something they teach in business school though, so they turn to the more science-y kids. Starting salaries from what I gather are above $50k.

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2012, 07:36:04 PM »
Interesting. The want adds coming out of Toronto that I've seen all demand a postgrad course or equivalent experience.
It sounds like the US must be much less degree/credential obsessed and more results oriented than we are up here.

cdngb

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2012, 09:56:17 PM »
It looks like you did the right things and your schools let you down.

I would suggest that you talk to your local teacher's college, school board and/or union to confirm that the information that your relatives gave is correct.  I agree that generally it is tough to find a teaching position but there seems to be a need for science and french teachers.

Does the Community College route interest you?

Good luck.

jrhampt

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2012, 07:06:54 AM »
I work in the insurance industry, and there's a guy here with an advanced degree in physics who works as an analyst.  We do use SAS mostly, but some R as well.  I second the suggestion to maybe look in informatics/analytics/data science.

grantmeaname

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Re: Career Advice for wannabe Mustachian grad
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2012, 09:07:18 AM »
Apparently that's not something they teach in business school though, so they turn to the more science-y kids. Starting salaries from what I gather are above $50k.
They usually post those positions to both business and engineering sites. You can either teach new hires corporate finance or teach them to think, and I'm sure you can guess which is easier. I agree that it's a good fit for OP (OPony?) though.