Author Topic: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado  (Read 6507 times)

Angie55

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Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« on: July 30, 2014, 02:44:10 PM »
My husband got laid off in April of this year. He's a mechanical engineer with 8 years experience doing design and 3d modeling (CAD, ProE, Solidworks) in Aerospace and Defense Industry. He is morally over the industries shady tactics and working on projects that support weapons and defense. As such, he'd like to get into a different industry or career. Unfortunately, I think in engineering it is hard to start over after you've been pidgeonholed by your first job. During my unemployment I found it extremely difficult to be considered for entry level jobs in a new industries as they usually just go after college recruiting. It's rare to see a job posting for any entry level job, most "require" years of experience with specific software or design.

First off, how are you supposed to gain experience if no company is willing to train anymore? Are you expected to go back to school or take industry training classes on your own dime? If so, that's alright. I'm just trying to figure out what is standard. I realize the easiest way to get a job nowadays is to network. But we aren't in any circles with technical people or engineers.

Any advice on good companies or industries to get into in the Denver Metro area? Ideally he enjoyed the day to day work of assisting the technicians that were assembling. I really just think he is looking for more hands-on/less cubicle work. The job doesn't have to be engineering, but something that still pays fairly well.

The only other large industry I can think of is oil/gas. Most of the jobs are for Project Managers which is not his desire. He'd rather be doing something than managing schedules and invoices.Other comparable jobs in oil and gas are drafting positions but they require years of experience with software that he has never used. Is it worth it to learn the software on his own and attend training classes on the specific software? Will this have any pull with hiring managers at all or will they just turn to his actual experience?

Really any advice or avenues to pursue? Alternative careers that won't result in a huge paycut (realistically hoping for 60-70k) that may be easy to transition for an engineer? At least during my major stretch during unemployment we were willing to relocate so there were many more positions to apply to. We really love the area so right now are not willing to move which seems to really be limiting his options.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 02:47:43 PM by Angie55 »

shotgunwilly

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 02:55:10 PM »
Oil and Gas is his best bet in finding a great new opportunity.  There are hundreds of oil companies looking for drafters and designers using Solidworks, Pro/E, and AutoCAD but these positions are typically lower paying than what a mechanical engineer with years of experience would expect.  He could look to be a project engineer, mechanical engineer, or bite the bullet and look for a management role. 

Colorado is a nice place, but if he's really serious about getting into oil, there are hundreds of opportunities in Houston.

Tyler

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 03:36:06 PM »
I'm a fellow ME and have a similar background. Lots of CAD including a few years at a defense contractor. I can't speak for Denver specifically, but have some general advice.

Depending on the level of Pro/E & Solidworks experience (especially if he's good at advanced surfacing) look for consumer product companies that make lots of plastic products. They love people with top CAD skills. I also know a lot of defense guys who transferred well into medical product companies, where quality process and documentation experience typically carry a lot of weight. And I personally moved on to a small engineering consultancy, which is also fun work.

ender

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 04:28:01 PM »
So... what does he want to do?

Make 60k and "not aerospace 3D design work" are not really descriptive.

Someone with 8 years CAD design should have no problems changing industries. Especially in Denver.

Joggernot

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2014, 04:51:19 PM »
Oil and Gas is his best bet in finding a great new opportunity.  There are hundreds of oil companies looking for drafters and designers using Solidworks, Pro/E, and AutoCAD but these positions are typically lower paying than what a mechanical engineer with years of experience would expect.  He could look to be a project engineer, mechanical engineer, or bite the bullet and look for a management role. 

Colorado is a nice place, but if he's really serious about getting into oil, there are hundreds of opportunities in Houston.
And North Dakota.

mozar

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2014, 06:03:26 PM »
This may not help at all because I am in a totally different industry.
When I am looking for a job I upload my resume to monster and career builder.com. I hear from all kinds of industries that I never knew existed. Also make sure his linkedin is up to date, with a descriptive title so that recruiters can search for him.

nushagak

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2014, 06:14:57 PM »
For engineers specifically check out http://www.engineerjobs.com/ They compile all the results you'll find on sites like Indeed and have their own listings you won't find elsewhere. Looks like you can also search by location, specialty and keyword.

nushagak

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2014, 06:16:34 PM »
Also, has he considered on-site contract work? Sometimes that can be very, very lucrative if you're willing to be away from home off and on.

Angie55

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 08:29:13 AM »
Yes, I understand 3d modeling and design is not descriptive. Fact is we both dislike engineering so its very difficult to be passionate about it. But with student loans we know we are forced into it for at least 5 more years. His passions are music and brewing. Both low to no paying gigs so pretty hard to reason that he'd be able to find reasonable work in those areas.

Moving right now is not an option. Well it is an option, it always is. But its a complete last resort. I'm an engineer also, so it would really just switch who is unemployed at the time. We spent the first 5 years after college living in DC where we were completely miserable. We have created a group of friends in Denver and it feels like home. I'd rather be the sole income earner than move at this time. We'd probably consider moving in 2-3 years to try out somewhere else.

I guess to stay in engineering all the positions require x years of experience with a specific software which he has no background. For instance, oil and gas companies seem to only use Revit, AutoCad 3d, and CADworx. I know he could learn it himself on the job as he's done for other software but you'd have to get the job first. Will employers would take you more seriously if you took some classes in it? As we don't expect to stay in engineering forever I don't want to throw away money on training if it won't result in anything. Would taking classes in a specialty (likely associates level classes in pipeline/station drafting, GIS, or similar) mean anything for a person with a BS in engineering?

He does not have his PE nor is EIT so I believe that may also be limiting the companies.

I've been brainstorming a few alternative careers for myself down the road like accounting or NDE technician. But even for that I'm at a loss of how I would even start to migrate into another field.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 08:31:47 AM by Angie55 »

shotgunwilly

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 08:34:03 AM »

I guess to stay in engineering all the positions require x years of experience with a specific software which he has no background. For instance, oil and gas companies seem to only use Revit, AutoCad 3d, and CADworx.

That's not what I've found to be true at all.  I think the majority of them are using Solidworks, then Pro/E (Now CREO) is the next most popular.

MattyP

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2014, 09:13:15 AM »
My employer is currently hiring for an engineer.  I believe it would probably be a pretty good fit for what he is looking for.

http://www.allosource.org/

Brian Fellows

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 09:28:34 AM »
Just throw his resume up on the job recruiting websites and see what you get, like someone said above.  Same with LinkedIn.  I'm an engineer that came from automotive defense and moved to aerospace, and I got plenty of energy and retail productline company offers inbetween.  My job hunting experience has been that if you are an engineer whose company kept you around for more than 2 years, you're gold to a lot of people.

And I don't mean as an entry level.  You can get hired in as an engineer at the same level you're working at now, even when you hire into a completely different product industry.

Manufacturing engineer is what it sounds like he wants to move onto.  Look for test or manufacturing engineering jobs - the definition of hands-on.

Angie55

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2014, 11:03:10 AM »
So hubby has gone on 2 interviews this week. One is a second interview. Both jobs definitely fit his experience. The only problem is they are both contract to hire jobs being hired through a recruiting firm. As neither of us have secured a job through these types of situations I'm a bit skeptical. I understand the reasoning for the companies wanting to see how someone works out before hiring them on board. But my issue is I don't want him to get strung along. For short term contract pay I would say its fine $30 an hour is better than unemployment. But, he's told me both companies are looking for long term employees. In that case, I would expect he would get hired on after 6-months because I know he is capable of the jobs. How does this work exactly? When is the appropriate timing for discussion on the benefits and prospective pay of the company?

$30 an hour for an engineer with 8 years experience is grossly underpaid. Its acceptable for short term because it is near our house and would give him additional time to job hunt. Should we expect that if they extend an offer after 6-months that it will be higher than the contract pay? If so, how much would it be 10% or whatever they pay the recruiting firm? Would it be lower because he'd be getting benefits and vacation time? I know everything now is speculation but I'm not sure when these questions should be raised.

Joggernot

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2014, 11:21:50 AM »
Does he have to fill out a 1088 form?  or does the recruiter actually hold the contract and pay him from what the company pays the recruiter?

As a direct to company contract engineer I received $120/hr and filled out the 1088 forms, etc.  I had 30 years experience at the time.
As an part time employee with a company that held the contract for work performed, I received $55/hour and had a 401k, but no other benefits.  This was for fun after I "retired".  I didn't need the money so I didn't fight for top dollar.

This is just information for you to consider.

Angie55

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2014, 11:50:07 AM »
I have been told it will be w2 work. I'm assuming company pays recruiting firm who then cuts the paycheck. But I'm not totally positive.

MayDay

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2014, 12:06:03 PM »
My H did that for a year through Aerotek.  He was paid by Aerotek, and received Aerotek benefits.  He was on a one year contract, not contract to hire.  Definitely negotiate as high an hourly rate as you can.  The recruiter is likely getting paid a set amount, and then hires for as cheaply as they can, and keeps the difference.  When my H did the contract work, he was lucky to know exactly what the recruiter pay was, as his former company used the same company to hire through.  So he knew how much they could afford to pay him. Which was quite a bit more than the advertised pay. 


Angie55

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2014, 12:23:37 PM »
My H did that for a year through Aerotek.  He was paid by Aerotek, and received Aerotek benefits.  He was on a one year contract, not contract to hire.  Definitely negotiate as high an hourly rate as you can.  The recruiter is likely getting paid a set amount, and then hires for as cheaply as they can, and keeps the difference.  When my H did the contract work, he was lucky to know exactly what the recruiter pay was, as his former company used the same company to hire through.  So he knew how much they could afford to pay him. Which was quite a bit more than the advertised pay.

Thank you this is immensely helpful. I know for one of the jobs he was told the company didn't want to pay more than xxx/hr. And the recruiter was trying to tell him not to ask for more. Maybe it was so they could get a better commission? Nice to know Aerotek may provide some benefits.

yddeyma

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2014, 05:44:52 PM »
Most places have started requiring an EIT.  I took it.  It was not that painful at all, pretty easy, actually and I was not the best student.  If he gets one of those study books and does a chapter a night he could take it this fall and be fine.

If he doesn't do that, I would recommend looking at smaller companies who are more likely to focus on you as a person vs. just black/white hiring rules.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Engineer Switching Industries / Careers- Colorado
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2014, 08:03:16 AM »
My husband works as an engineer for a company that build liquid handling devices (robots) for medical and laboratory uses.  The work is very interesting, pay is good and the company is a young start-up.  The downside is that the job requires a significant amount of travel but he is always home on weekends.  I know they are hiring in the Houston area.