Author Topic: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!  (Read 25576 times)

Eddy

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Hello fellow Mustachians!

I'm about to graduate and still haven't decided what to do exactly with my life. The only thing I know for sure is that I want FI as soon as possible. Life is just one, and I am still undecided. I've wanted to be many things, and have researched many different options. First, I wanted to be a musician (I play the cello), then decided to be a psychologist, then decided to be an engineer, but I had my doubts and decided for finance. Later I wanted to be a doctor, but decided that an engineer would be better. However, then preferred that I wanted to be a nurse and then a physician assistant, but preferred to then just become an engineer again because it was less college. Now, I'm deciding between becoming an engineer or a teacher.

First, let me tell you about my priorities. My first priority is living a fulfilling life with tons of happiness, where I am married and have two or three children in the future and I have time to enjoy with my family. The key word here is time. For me, the most valuable and most precious thing I could buy would be time. That's why I want to be FI, and it became a goal to me that I can't get out of my head. I definitely don't want to work until 65 or more. At least not working because I need to eat, but because I want to and want to invest my time on it.

Of course, I want to work in something I like doing, in something that I enjoy and that could always do no matter what - in my passion. The problem? I don't have any specific passion, so I could become everything I want to and still like it. However, I've come to realize that many of my goals are related to education. For example, I love languages and I would love to teach someone to learn a language, teach the methods and the different approaches to learn a language. I would also love to teach social sciences, but I know I would not like to teach math. One of my problems is that I never got to love math, I like it and I find it interesting but that's it. For engineers, that's fundamental.

Now, to the point: I love education, I come from a family of teachers (my parents and siblings are/were teachers) and Iíve always thought I would be a great teacher and would like to help students succeed in life, giving them the right tools to face life. I have had teachers that have changed my life and I highly appreciate what they have done for me, and I would love to do the same. I think that would be a meaningful job that I would enjoy a lot.

However, I donít feel the same for engineering. I feel itís like meh. I might say I kind of like the idea of becoming an engineer and I think it would be cool. I like the fact that with just four years of education you could get a great salary, whereas for high school teachers thatís a different matter. Teachers are known to have a poor salary, and everybody would agree that a teacher could *never* be rich. Being a teacher has its ups and downs, but I am far more interested in becoming a teacher than an engineer. Another plus side is that you could have longer vacations, and that is really appealing for me that FIRE would take more time.

Now, becoming a teacher or an engineer is sort of a backup plan because my real interest is to create a website with great educational material that people would like to buy. Thatís my goal, because it will give me passive income and at the same time it would help people. Examples like this exist everywhere, such as fluentin3months.com, scotthyoung.com, yoyochinese.com, duolingo.com or even treehouse.com. Thatís my real goal. Now, that would require a lot of effort and dedication, and perhaps some luck. Iím working towards that goal and first I would like to teach people the right approach to learn a language. There are many people already doing it, but you could always contribute more. Then, weíll see. I would try to do that when Iím in college and if I donít success I will try doing that while working as a teacher/engineer, but as you see, the main goal is to educate people and earn passive income, because those are my main interests.

As for now, I'm working at a Burger King, and I don't like it but I need to do it. I plan to keep working until August, after that I think I would have saved like 2k. Then Iíll take out a 5k loan with a very small fixed interest rate that I would have for emergency; it counts as financial aid. After August I will still need to save $1500 every year, and my parents will help with the rest. Hopefully, I donít expect to graduate with student loans. The reason why I need to work is because Iíve had a girlfriend for 3 years but she lives in Venezuela and I recently moved from there, we plan to marry once I became a citizen in 4 years. Itís tough but well worth it, the money saved will be spent on traveling to see each other and on whatever she needs to survive in Venezuela. Iím planning to still earn money by creating my own job, which would be something in the lines of being a language tutor/coach. I could already begin doing that for Spanish, but because many people here already know Spanish (I live in Miami) I could do the same for other languages (Iím conversational in French and Italian, with my method I believe I could become fluent in those languages really soon.) My goal for this summer is to become fluent in 3 languages and use that as a credential to become a language tutor/coach locally, and then expand to the Internet.

What do you think? Should I become an engineer or a teacher? Iím really sorry for the extremely long post, but I really need some advice. Thank you very much!

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 04:04:18 PM »
Whatever you choose, do it as cheaply as possible. If you are this indecisive about your future career, the last thing you will want to do is overpay for an education you don't intend to utilize for earning potential.

It sounds like you are already dead set on FI, so the career is simply a means to an end in my opinion. Right now you lack direction and passion for a career path, but hopefully that will come with time.

If I were you I would do everything I could to accelerate my FI path so when I discover my career and/or life passion I can pursue it without worrying about finances. Based on that, my answer would be the cheapest career that will give the you highest earning potential, so I would choose engineer. Obviously you can become FI on a teachers salary (see arebelspy) but you're not even sure you would be happy doing that so do what gets you the biggest paycheck and the highest probability of savings.


seattlecyclone

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2014, 04:06:38 PM »
If your top interest is in creating websites to teach people stuff, maybe you should plan to study computer science / software engineering and try to find a job with a company that already creates educational websites. Plenty of those organizations already exist, as you're well aware. With a few years of experience at an established educational website, you would be well-positioned to identify a niche that is not well-served by the current marketplace and find a team to help you start your own site.

CarDude

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 04:12:05 PM »
You're in high school, which means your interests are going to change.

Relax. Try to avoid debt. And be open to change.

genselecus

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 04:22:21 PM »
I'd go to school with an initial goal of getting an engineering degree. I think that will lead you to have plenty of options available, many of them will provide for a larger income than teaching. In choosing a school, you should look for a school that also has an education program and get a minor in teaching. If I'm reading you correctly, I would guess that you are interested in teaching older students (middle or high school) which has pretty minimal requirements for obtaining a license. I went to school for engineering, decided I didn't want to be an engineer but continued to get the degree anyways, got a teaching certificate to teach high school math, and now I'm a consultant. Having the engineering/mathematical background will allow me to go into teaching at any point in my life. And actually, when I graduated I was deciding between two jobs: one as a consultant and one as a teacher. I went with consulting so that I could earn more money and because as a young person I figured I would enjoy the excitement of consulting more than teaching. I can always go into teaching later in my life (perhaps when I retire).

Best of luck to you and welcome to the US! We need more people with your drive and thoughtfulness!

Numbers Man

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 04:29:08 PM »
If you don't like Math then Engineering is not for you. I used to live in a suburb in Chicago (DuPage County) where Teachers routinely made 6 figures with the cadillac benefit plans. Obviously, these teachers had a few years under their belt. I always hurl when I hear people say that teachers don't make bank. They do very well in Chicagoland.

mxt0133

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 04:46:38 PM »
If your top interest is in creating websites to teach people stuff, maybe you should plan to study computer science / software engineering and try to find a job with a company that already creates educational websites.

I would say that a computer science degree is overkill for creating a company that does websites.  This is coming from a person with a BA and MS in CS.  With the tools and information on the web today you don't need a 4 year degree that deals with the low level stuff needed for most web sites.  Also consider that the 4 year degree entails electives, lots of math, and other "filler" classes.  If you want to learn programming and web development take a few courses online, read books, and lots of google searches on how to do something.  The only reason for someone to get a CS degree now is so that they can get hired by companies that filter candidates by those degrees, but if you can teach yourself and developed a web site that you can showcase, that's pretty much equivalent to an actual degree.

To the OP I would follow your passion with a backup plan.  You don't have to give yourself false choices, why can't you teach and still make a lot of money to be FI.  As a teacher you have plenty of days off, summers off, ect.  You could tutor languages on the side or work on your business plan.  You plan on getting married, if she is on the same page as you are regarding finances, dual income for a few years would really accelerate your FI date.

I think going for the higher income can potentially sidetrack you and can easily fall into lifestyle inflation, marriage, house, and kids. 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 04:54:54 PM by mxt0133 »

CarDude

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 04:52:09 PM »
If you don't like Math then Engineering is not for you. I used to live in a suburb in Chicago (DuPage County) where Teachers routinely made 6 figures with the cadillac benefit plans. Obviously, these teachers had a few years under their belt. I always hurl when I hear people say that teachers don't make bank. They do very well in Chicagoland.

I'd guess they had a *lot* of years under their belts, as the average starting salary for a teacher in the US is 36k, while the average starting salary in Chicago was recently 49k. You've got to put in quite a few decades to get to 6 figures from that.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 04:54:17 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

Numbers Man

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 04:58:42 PM »
If you don't like Math then Engineering is not for you. I used to live in a suburb in Chicago (DuPage County) where Teachers routinely made 6 figures with the cadillac benefit plans. Obviously, these teachers had a few years under their belt. I always hurl when I hear people say that teachers don't make bank. They do very well in Chicagoland.

I'd guess they had a *lot* of years under their belts, as the average starting salary for a teacher in the US is 36k, while the average starting salary in Chicago was recently 49k. You've got to put in quite a few decades to get to 6 figures from that.

I think a lot of people would take a $49k starting salary. With COLA every year and bumps for attaining advanced degrees, I can see a teacher making $100k in 15 to 20 years. I believe Engineers start out around $50k to $70k.

DollarBill

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 05:03:44 PM »
I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up and I'm about to retire from the military :). Looks like you have a good head on your shoulder with a lot of ambition...I think you'll do well no matter what you choose. Follow what will make you happy! Happy journey!

warfreak2

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 05:19:06 PM »
Now, becoming a teacher or an engineer is sort of a backup plan because my real interest is to create a website with great educational material that people would like to buy. Thatís my goal, because it will give me passive income and at the same time it would help people. Examples like this exist everywhere, such as fluentin3months.com, scotthyoung.com, yoyochinese.com, duolingo.com or even treehouse.com. Thatís my real goal. Now, that would require a lot of effort and dedication, and perhaps some luck. Iím working towards that goal and first I would like to teach people the right approach to learn a language.
Your Plan A doesn't require going to university - in fact, the best time to start building your web business is right now, while you (presumably) live with your parents and have plenty of free time. That free time is a big deal, because your web business is going to take a lot of work before it's ready to provide you any income. Start doing that work now, or start learning how to do it.

The kind of web business you're talking about doesn't require a computer science degree to build or run. I teach on a relatively vocational computer science course, so our students learn how to program and how to develop websites, and about e-commerce, but most of the course would be barely relevant to you - especially if you don't like (or aren't good at) mathematics. As Numbers Man points out, that also precludes engineering.

A university education, plus the experience of being surrounded by people who are like you, has many benefits. However, I don't recommend doing it just because you think you're supposed to, or that you'll probably need it for a job you aren't really sure you want to do anyway. The two subjects which I think could be suitable are education, and foreign languages. Both of them would be relevant to your Plan A. I don't think you should go to university just for Plan B.

Eddy

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2014, 05:40:41 PM »
I will study in college as cheaply as possible. I think that my education won't cost much more than 20k and hopefully it will be almost covered by grants, so I don't worry about that. Most probably after I graduate I won't have any debt and if I get to have debt (very unlikely) it will be few thousands.

I don't plan to major in CS because it is not necessary, as mxt0133 said I could teach myself what I want to learn. For more complicated stuff, I can pay someone else. I can start writing a blog and sell some helpful material, that doesn't require any programming knowledge.

The great advantage of engineering is the fact that you could everything with the degree, even becoming a teacher afterwards. However, becoming an engineering would be a means to an end to get money and a backup plan if my business plan doesn't work at all. I am barely interested in math, and if I study math, it will be because I need to, not because I want to. I am good at it, but I find it boring.

I expect to marry soon, so dual income would be really helpful as we could try to live with just one income. She's studying political science.

I think teaching would be perfect to me. I just need to increase my household income just enough to save 50% of it and live comfortably. I hope that by teaching and a business that brings passive income that might be a possibility.

Warfreak, right now I'm working towards learning more about languages and the best approach to teach them. In order to do that, I first need to learn and experience foreign languages, so by the end of the summer I am able to teach about them to other people locally. After I get that experience, I'm considering starting the web business. However, the material will be created when I am tutoring others. But yeah, I'm working on that now! I am also learning a little bit of web development on Treehouse. So yeah, the most suitable subject for me would be education. I might be a social science teacher or a language teacher.

Additionally, I'll start my web business while I am in college, if it reaches success rapidly then becoming a high school teacher won't be necessary, unless I want to! I want to have that web business so bad because it will be the closest to ER.

Thank you all for your great advices!

CarDude

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2014, 06:25:39 PM »
If you don't like Math then Engineering is not for you. I used to live in a suburb in Chicago (DuPage County) where Teachers routinely made 6 figures with the cadillac benefit plans. Obviously, these teachers had a few years under their belt. I always hurl when I hear people say that teachers don't make bank. They do very well in Chicagoland.

I'd guess they had a *lot* of years under their belts, as the average starting salary for a teacher in the US is 36k, while the average starting salary in Chicago was recently 49k. You've got to put in quite a few decades to get to 6 figures from that.

I think a lot of people would take a $49k starting salary. With COLA every year and bumps for attaining advanced degrees, I can see a teacher making $100k in 15 to 20 years. I believe Engineers start out around $50k to $70k.

Yup, that looks like how long it would take: http://www.ctunet.com/for-members/text/CTU_Contract_As_Printed_2012_2015.pdf. But look at what it takes to get there, and see if you still think it's easy street.

P.171 of the contract shows that a teacher teaching right now (e.g., the 2013-14 year) would only break 100k at step 15, lane 6. That's the equivalent of teaching for 15 years with a doctoral degree. I think most engineers with PhDs would be making more than that in far less than 15 years of work.

Considering that even with these salaries, 50% of teachers leave the career within 5 years, I'd wager the pay doesn't make up for the difficulty of the work unless you're working for something more than the pay. I'm saying this to discourage the OP (or anyone else) from thinking teachers have it easy. If they were, they wouldn't be leaving the career in droves.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 06:35:31 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

gimp

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 06:33:30 PM »
This post is full of red flags to me.

1. You're in high school. Re-lax. Seriously, enjoy yourself, you're going to change your mind a dozen times most likely. Most people do.

2. You're 17-18 and you're planning on getting married soon? I know this isn't what you came to ask about, but... see point 1; you have an immense amount of personal growth ahead of you. It would be a tragedy to commit to a course of action today that you may well outgrow in a year. There's a damn good reason almost nobody's high school relationship survives to college graduation.

3. You saying that you don't need a CS degree because you can learn it all by yourself or pay someone else betrays the massive amount of ignorance you have about computer science. I say this, by the way, not as a CS major. I am not saying you can't teach yourself CS, but I'm not not saying that either. Honestly, though CS remains pretty much the last extremely well-paying field that can be entirely self taught, most people I know who are excellent in their field did indeed study at least some programming or computer science in school; there are a lot of things you can learn, but there are also a lot of formal methods you're never going to figure out yourself unless you're the 1% of people who are motivated and intelligent enough to just read books and get it all from there without further instruction. Chances are you really want to take at least a large handful of programming classes in different fields.

4. To follow up to point 3: I started out doing web dev. Honestly, web dev is barely programming when you're doing it on the small level. It may be insulting to you, but it's the truth; I will bet a dollar that you will outgrow web dev in the next couple years, either totally moving on to something else, or partially and moving on to highly specialized areas (eg: dealing directly with distributed server infrastructure, creating APIs, being a database manager, and so on.)

5. It is utterly impossible, unless you're one in ten thousand, to have a startup (web dev business) and go to school at the same time and do so successfully. I tried. Granted, I'm neither a genius nor balls-to-the-wall driven, so maybe you are and you are and you will make it. Honestly, though, you won't. You'll need to prioritize something; you need to sleep, have a social life, do well in school, and ... run a business?

6. Despite what other people here said, going to school as cheaply as possible is not a good strategy in my opinion. Consider the numbers. Let's say you're me or my various friends; starting salaries can range from $60k (mediocre) to over $100k in my field (EE/CE). This is similar to CS, by the way. (It does assume good grades and coop/internship experience.) Now, let's say you can graduate $20k in debt or $50k in debt. Thirty thousand dollars is a large number, but consider that if you play your cards right, you could potentially pay off your entire debt in a single year in either case (though I wouldn't recommend it). Now, let's say the extra $30k upfront gives you an extra $5k/year... yeah, that's an investment that pays off in less than ten years and then keeps on paying - it's well known that the single best predictor for how much you get paid later in life is how much you get paid early in life. So, choose the right school. Finances will play a part of that choice but they should absolutely not be the only choice.

7. The best pay for teachers in the public sector is around $60k, which incidentally is just about the worst pay I've seen any decent student from my university get in EE/CE. I guess the best pay for teachers in elite private schools is significantly better, but then again, the best pay for engineers in well-paying companies is even better than that. So if you're in it purely for the money, certainly engineering is better.

8. Do note that there are about twice as many people with a STEM education in America as there are people working in STEM fields. Engineering, despite what people love to bandy about, is not a sure ticket to money. Don't treat it as such.

CarDude

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2014, 06:41:15 PM »
7. The best pay for teachers in the public sector is around $60k, which incidentally is just about the worst pay I've seen any decent student from my university get in EE/CE. I guess the best pay for teachers in elite private schools is significantly better, but then again, the best pay for engineers in well-paying companies is even better than that. So if you're in it purely for the money, certainly engineering is better.

To add on to this point...I've got a buddy with two master's degrees who went into teaching. He's in high demand, and was able to get both of his master's degrees to count on the pay scale (that doesn't happen very often). What's his starting salary, including benefits? Around 47k a year, despite having the equivalent of a doctoral degree in graduate hours. If you think going into teaching will get you the big bucks, you're barking up the wrong tree.

warfreak2

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2014, 06:46:50 PM »
3. You saying that you don't need a CS degree because you can learn it all by yourself or pay someone else betrays the massive amount of ignorance you have about computer science.
No, he said he can learn web dev (which as you say, is "barely programming") by himself. He doesn't need a CS degree mainly because the vast majority of a typical computer science syllabus is irrelevant to his goals. You mention formal methods, for example, and I highly doubt that any of the examples of educational websites from the OP were developed using formal methods. The kind of web business he wants to build would require some technical skills, but more importantly a sound understanding of how to teach, and the languages he wants to teach - and how to run a business.

gimp

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2014, 06:54:55 PM »
I totally agree with you, warfreak2. The problem is that I disagree with the OP. I don't think this idea will be fully executed, let alone take off as a business. I don't think web dev will be interesting after two or four years of college. For that reason, I advocate learning the real deal, before deciding that web dev is the way to go.

I'm not shitting on web dev-ers, by the way; I just see many of them - even the good ones, who thought they'd be doing this forever - move on to greener pastures within several years.

warfreak2

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2014, 06:56:49 PM »
But web dev isn't his interest. It's a means to an end.

gimp

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2014, 07:05:07 PM »
That may be true. However, given what I've seen, making web dev a means to an end will significantly decrease the speed at which he can reach the end. At eighteen years old, to pick a field and career based on what allows him to retire quicker, will ensure that it's a very long time.

Studying something interesting (and well paying) and being interested in it can get you free at 30, depending on where you life. Being free by 30 using it just as a vehicle will never happen.

Throwing some numbers at it - mediocre CS folks (or whatever major, then doing web dev) can graduate and earn 40-50k. Good CS or engineering folks can earn 70 to over a hundred. Assuming fixed expenses, you can agree that that can double the years needed...

CarDude

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2014, 07:08:21 PM »
Bottom line, the OP is 17, and will likely be laughing at this thread, if he even remembers it, a decade from now. The way to retire early is to live below your means at every opportunity, not to suss out the right major as a teenager.

AMustachianMurse

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2014, 07:08:28 PM »
I would say in the interest of saving money, to graduate high school, then go to a local junior college for your first 2 years of college.  Take pre-requisites which you find are common in a lot of STEM majors, or all majors in general in the beginning until you get a feel for what direction you want to go.  E.G. Psych 101, Chem 101/102, Sociology 101, Literature 101, Pre-calc/Calc, etc. etc.  If you already have a 4-year university in mind, please do yourself a favor and MAKE SURE THE CLASSES FROM YOUR JC WILL TRANSFER CREDITS TO THE UNIVERSITY YOU WANT TO GO TO.  Otherwise everything will have been a colossal waste of time and you will have set yourself back years. 

In the meantime, work a part-time job, get Straight A's, and learn how to program during your free time.   I'm 26 and feel like im too old to learn how to start to program because I know that there are people who started when they were 16 who are already 10 years ahead of me lol.  And paying other people to program for your business is going to make the cost of pulling off your business higher than you think, and more importantly higher than you will be able to afford.  Unless you have rich family members who are cool with loaning you 5 or 6 figure sums to chase your dreams. 

Once you have your pre-reqs all lined up, you can apply to your university of choice, and will get in because you have straight A's.  Your high school gpa and SAT scores won't mean jack shit.  Or maybe you will have become such a skilled programmer in the few years you wont need to waste your time with college at all and can go find a job in the industry.  Then save up your money save and save and save, and then put it all in your dream business and bootstrap it from the ground up. 

College can be an invaluable resource, especially with regards to starting fledgeling businesses (think of how many famous startups have been founded by college buddies: MS, FB, Google, Ben and Jerry's, etc.).  So I'm not necessarily one of those people who preaches that college isn't necessary in this day and age.  I think it is a tremendous resource for networking, gaining social skills, and to a lesser degree....getting a piece of paper with your name on it.  But with that said, it will be a very expensive endeavor and you really need to put some thought into the process so you don't torpedo a crapton of money and end up making $35k/year with debt that you can only afford to pay the interest on every year. 

gimp

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2014, 07:08:54 PM »
Bottom line, the OP is 17, and will likely be laughing at this thread, if he even remembers it, a decade from now. The way to retire early is to live below your means at every opportunity, not to suss out the right major as a teenager.

Well said. I agree 100%.

warfreak2

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2014, 07:23:34 PM »
Throwing some numbers at it - mediocre CS folks (or whatever major, then doing web dev) can graduate and earn 40-50k. Good CS or engineering folks can earn 70 to over a hundred. Assuming fixed expenses, you can agree that that can double the years needed...
Nonetheless, OP expressed no interest in computer science, it's just that a small, easier, tangentially related part of it might be relevant to something else he is interested in. I strongly recommend against anyone studying computer science only for the money.

Like, I have to know about things like the Data Protection Act, because they're relevant to my job. But that is a far cry from being interested in law, and not a reason to go through law school, even if that's "the real deal" or if lawyers are well paid.

Suit

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2014, 07:36:38 PM »
One thing that I don't believe anyone has mentioned is to consider your own personality and how it plays into your chosen career. I was a teacher for a couple years but it didn't work well with my personality because it's very draining for me to get other people to do work. Now I'm a lawyer and I love it because I'm much better suited to self-motivation (rather than motivation of others). I know some engineers and it seems like a more introverted self-motivated career field whereas teaching is inherently extroverted, constant public speaking, managing behavior and motivating others constantly (although I'm sure there are always exceptions to the rule). Figure out which personality type you are and then consider which career fits better.

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2014, 08:13:02 PM »
If you train as a teacher, you can never get a job as an engineer.  But, if you study engineering or computer science and decide you want to teach later on, your skills will be in high demand (though maybe you'd have to take a few summer courses to get certified). 

William

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2014, 08:23:22 PM »
So there I was reading a well-written post from an intelligent young man and then I read he's working at Burger King?!  WTF, man.  You're better than that.  Find something that pays better and looks better on a resume.  Explore those fields you may want to major in!  Network like hell to see what people in those fields are actually doing day-in and day-out.  Do you want to be like them?  Please, please quite the King and find a job you're interested in.  Until you actually get into those industries and have a root around, you'll never know where you truly belong.

Cool post, man.  Especially for someone so young.  :)

mm1970

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2014, 08:29:51 PM »
If you train as a teacher, you can never get a job as an engineer.  But, if you study engineering or computer science and decide you want to teach later on, your skills will be in high demand (though maybe you'd have to take a few summer courses to get certified).
I was thinking this -

Hey, I decided to major in engineering at 17.  And here I am, um, 27 (ouch) years later, still an engineer.  I also liked a lot of things - English, History, Languages, etc.

Stick to keeping your expenses low. I would say - start by majoring in engineering.  You should figure out in a year or two if you like it or not (while in school, try to get actual exposure to real engineers).

I have a friend who got burned out of engineering after working for Intel and went into teaching science "for a few years".  16 years later, she's still teaching.

mm1970

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2014, 08:30:25 PM »
So there I was reading a well-written post from an intelligent young man and then I read he's working at Burger King?!  WTF, man.  You're better than that.  Find something that pays better and looks better on a resume.  Explore those fields you may want to major in!  Network like hell to see what people in those fields are actually doing day-in and day-out.  Do you want to be like them?  Please, please quite the King and find a job you're interested in.  Until you actually get into those industries and have a root around, you'll never know where you truly belong.

Cool post, man.  Especially for someone so young.  :)
I was bagging groceries at his age.  It's all there was in my town.

arebelspy

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2014, 08:56:32 PM »
First, let me tell you about my priorities. My first priority is living a fulfilling life with tons of happiness, where I am married and have two or three children in the future and I have time to enjoy with my family. The key word here is time. For me, the most valuable and most precious thing I could buy would be time. That's why I want to be FI, and it became a goal to me that I can't get out of my head. I definitely don't want to work until 65 or more. At least not working because I need to eat, but because I want to and want to invest my time on it.

Either can get you to FIRE to get your number one priority (time).  MMM retired at 30 as an engineer (software engineer, but close enough).  The wife and I are going to retire at 30 as teachers.

Do what will make you happy.  Pretty much any professional career nowadays provides more than enough, provided you optimize your spending, and then you can save all the surplus.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

MBot

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2014, 09:06:03 PM »
If you train as a teacher, you can never get a job as an engineer.  But, if you study engineering or computer science and decide you want to teach later on, your skills will be in high demand (though maybe you'd have to take a few summer courses to get certified).

This.

Also, where do you live, and where do you want to live? Where I am, there's a shortage of engineers, and a massive oversupply of teachers. It's very easy to get an engineering job in this province. It's next to impossible to get a full-time teaching job.


Since you are wondering what career to do, I would suggest doing as many questionnaires, self-assessments, etc. as you can.

I like doing personality tests as part of my coaching work with students. It can be a good place to start when looking at careers. Myers-Briggs is a good one to begin with.

Here's a shorter online test that's good to start with: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
Here's a page that has descriptions taken from one of the original books on it: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html


jmechanical

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #30 on: May 22, 2014, 09:15:44 PM »
I second what BarkingSquirrel said.

An engineering degree is almost like a wildcard degree. It is much more common to go from engineering to something else than the reverse.

I would major in one of the more traditional disciplines though; electrical, chemical, mechanical, etc., but I am obviously biased. I just feel like it is better to get a broader foundation than a narrow focus. I feel like the traditional disciplines give you more options.

In my opinion a biomedical engineering graduate is probably going to be stuck looking at medical companies for engineering jobs, whereas an electrical engineering graduate can look at a medical company, an aerospace company, a power plant, an automotive company, etc. and find an engineering job.

Eddy

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #31 on: May 22, 2014, 09:26:44 PM »
I think I need to clarify some things.

I'm actually 19 years old. I lost a year from moving to Venezuela and I'm going to college next fall, that's why I am worried about that even though there are still chances of changing. For Gimp, I don't like the idea of marrying so young, but I've been with my girlfriend 3 years and have been planning to marry for more than a year, since I'm 18. The reason why I need to marry so early is because that's the only way she can come to live to the US. Also, learning programming is actually not very important unless I want to make something like Treehouse, which isn't the plan. I mentioned learning web dev because it would help me, but I am not going to put a lot of effort to it. I mostly talk about a pretty blog that sells something related to language learning (besides other possibly things) that would give me some passive income. I think that's very possible, and it won't require an extreme amount of time, even in college. Now, to the extent of covering all my expenses, well that's not so possible and that's the goal I have. Before that I expect to have a job.

Regarding my personality, I am actually more of an introverted person which may disagree with the fact of becoming a teacher and favors more engineering. However, I am still more interested in becoming a teacher. That's a problem, and I am now thinking that I just need to relax. Perhaps the problem is that math discourages me to become an engineer, and I'm afraid that I won't succeed. There are many things I'm really interested in relation to engineering, but math is not one of them. But I think is the best choice according to everything I've read so far here and in other pal. It'd be better to study engineering and then use my free time with my business plan. Also, you are extremely right when saying that I can be a teacher after I become an engineer but not the other way around, thank you for that perspective.

Oh William, I'm working at working because I need to, but I'll quit in the fall. So don't worry, I won't stick in that job, but that's what I have.

I forgot to mention, I was planning to be an electrical engineer! Thank you all very much for your great advice.

MBot

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #32 on: May 22, 2014, 09:33:58 PM »
My husband and I married when I was 20 and he was 22. No kids yet, been married 8 years, and it's the best choice we ever made. (EDIT to clarify: we were also on the same page financially before we married.  Pretty dang important!)

Now there ARE a ton of reasons why early marriage can be stupid. It can financially ruin you. It can come from thinking you "have to," having a rosy picture of the other person, etc.

That said, age and maturity are different. I know a lot of 30-year olds who still aren't "ready" for marraige. And early marriage has been a great thing for my husband and I. There's something to be said for navigating through the school/loan/starting out crap together.

Life now seems amazingly easy in comparison, and I'm glad we learned to manage our money together when there wasn't much to go around.

It's not easy, and I would definitely encourage premarital counseling (including on the topic of money). But it can be a great thing too, and don't let cultural opposition scare you off.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 09:37:32 PM by MBot »

bikebum

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #33 on: May 22, 2014, 09:57:25 PM »
Have you ever job shadowed an engineer? I'm a civil engineer, and it is a lot different than the impression I got from school. I like it.

I'd rather work a lower paying job that I like than a higher paying job that I don't like though.

If you end up doing something besides teaching or engineering, an engineering degree will probably be more valuable.

There's some contradicting ideas there, because I just wanted to mention some things to think about rather than give advice.

nikki

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #34 on: May 22, 2014, 10:16:33 PM »
I second the suggestion to do your prerequisites and core classes at university first--even better at a community college that will transfer. A lot of students change their majors after they've had some of the introductory classes, and it ends up costing them time and money. I didn't even declare a major until I was in my second year, and I graduated in 2.5 years.

Personally, I wouldn't pick a major and career that doesn't interest me. It sounds like you'd rather look at teaching right now, so just go for it. But I am biased: I have a BA and MA in English and teach overseas.

bikebum

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #35 on: May 22, 2014, 10:27:02 PM »
I second the suggestion to do your prerequisites and core classes at university first--even better at a community college that will transfer.

Good idea. Something to keep in mind is engineers don't have to take all of the general ed that most majors do. Also, engineers have to take more advanced math and physics in the first two years than some other majors. So if you do your first two years planning to be a teacher, and then switch to engineering, some of your classes may not be needed and you'll have to take the math and physics that the engineers already did. A college counselor should be able to help you with this, but they sometimes give bad advice so watch out.

Disclaimer: This is how it worked for me. I graduated in 2010 from a California State University.

Vilgan

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #36 on: May 22, 2014, 10:36:26 PM »
A few thoughts: lots of family members who are teachers. They love it, but they work a lot. And they make ass for money. The only one who makes a decent salary at it is my mom and she's been a teacher for 30 years (and I make more after 4 years w/ a CS degree). On the flipside, lots of people who thought they would love teaching (like my Aunt) went down that route for a bit and then discovered doing it as a job isn't nearly as great as they expected.

I'm a big fan of an engineering degree and CS in particular. You sound like you bounce around a lot in what interests you and CS is great for that. You never stop learning. You can take what you know and apply it to a bazillion different career fields. If I switch career fields, the fact that I can do the new one AND bring a develop skillset with that adds value instead of being essentially useless.

But yeah.. go to college, see what clicks, and keep an open mind. If FI is important to you though, it is a lot easier when cranking out a solid salary than living on a teacher's salary especially if your future wife wants to be a SAHM or something.

hokiegb

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2014, 08:36:24 AM »
I'll probably echo some comments already made, but here goes:

I am a civil engineer. I work for a major construction company. I make good money, but I also work a lot of hours and am expected to move to wherever the next job is.

My wife is a teacher. She loves her job, but she also works a lot of hours. For every hour she spends in school teaching, she spends at least another hour writing up lesson plans, grading papers, etc.

As to feeling meh about engineering, I have had several new hire engineers (fresh out of college) that felt that way about what they were doing. The way they felt was extremely evident in their work, and they generally quit or were let go within a year or so of hiring on. Most of the high paying engineering jobs are going to ask for a lot of you. If you feel "meh" then you will likely not last long.

Since you're just going into college, you should probably major in something that allows as many options as possible. Or if you really don't know, why spend the money on tuition? Get a job, work for a year or two, and see what interests you. If you don't know what you want to do, you might as well be earning money rather than spending it while you figure it out.

shotgunwilly

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2014, 09:07:52 AM »
If I were you, I'd start out as engineering as your major, and for the first couple of years take as many courses as possible that would transfer between multiple majors.  All the while, educating yourself on engineering careers, teaching careers, or anything else you may have interest in.

When I was in your same position in high school I had a tough time deciding between engineering and wildlife science (I love the outdoors.)  I ultimately thought "I'm not going to worry about my salary, I'm going to do what makes me happy."  I was in the top 5% of my class so I got automatically accepted to any in state public university I chose, and any major.  I chose Wildlife Science at one of the states best universities.  I quickly discovered that the coursework and future careers (what little there were) did not interest me as I thought they would, but I took as many courses as I could that would carry over to other majors.  Because of my lack of interest, and having little motivation due to not knowing what i wanted to do in life, my grades suffered.  I never failed a class, but never excelled.  When I finally decided to switch to engineering, it was difficult to get in many of the majors, (ie. aerospace, civil, mechanical).  I BARELY squeezed in to my university's college of engineering and to Engineering Technology.  I am so grateful that i made that switch and I went on to graduate and now work in that field.   

My point is, if you are not clear on two majors (and there's a good chance you will change alot and may not even choose one or the other), then I would look at which is more difficult to get into, and I would start there.  I would also look at the fact that you could possibly still teach with an engineering degree, but could you really be an engineer if you would have majored in education?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 01:32:37 PM by shotgunwilly »

skunkfunk

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #39 on: May 23, 2014, 09:36:57 AM »
As a recently graduated (3 years) electrical engineer in training, I can tell you that if you aren't great at math some of the coursework is going to be rough. Good luck passing electrodynamics without a good understanding of diff eq, complex variables, linear algebra, etc. for instance. Now that I'm in the field, however, all of my truly tough math is done by EasyPower.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #40 on: May 23, 2014, 09:54:20 AM »
No matter what you choose to do, there will opportunities to teach. It won't necessarily be HS or elementary school teaching. There will be opportunities to teach in university. There will be opportunities to teach at your workplace. In fact, if you have the personality that makes you a good teacher, then you will be in demand for training/presenting/recruitment/consulting.

Scandium

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #41 on: May 23, 2014, 10:12:06 AM »
As a recently graduated (3 years) electrical engineer in training, I can tell you that if you aren't great at math some of the coursework is going to be rough. Good luck passing electrodynamics without a good understanding of diff eq, complex variables, linear algebra, etc. for instance. Now that I'm in the field, however, all of my truly tough math is done by EasyPower.

Yeah, this. If you're "meh" about engineering now I'd think twice, or at least look at the course requirements real hard. There's a lot of work and tons of math, no matter which field you go into.

If you want easy math, little work, partying, and high pay: get an MBA :P
*ducks

Cpa Cat

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #42 on: May 23, 2014, 10:16:37 AM »
If you want easy math, little work, partying, and high pay: get an MBA :P
*ducks

You can't go straight from high school to an MBA. ;)

However, the general point is correct about going to business school - except "little work" - the hours worked in exchange for that high pay can sometimes be very long. It is, however, a tried and true route to ER.

TomTX

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #43 on: May 23, 2014, 08:15:58 PM »

I think a lot of people would take a $49k starting salary. With COLA every year and bumps for attaining advanced degrees, I can see a teacher making $100k in 15 to 20 years. I believe Engineers start out around $50k to $70k.

I know a young Engineer who graduated from the University of Texas last year for a starting salary over $90,000. She was above average. However, apparently that's about average (or a bit low) for a starting geologist this spring - if they go into the oil patch.

SU

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #44 on: May 23, 2014, 09:32:18 PM »
For questions like this, I highly recommend the Study Hacks blog, especially the series a couple of years ago when he was writing more directly about undergraduate studies. I'd start with http://calnewport.com/blog/category/features-rethinking-passion/ (why 'find your passion' is the wrong advice) and http://calnewport.com/blog/category/patterns-of-success-for-students/ (Patterns of success for students).

The blog author has studied successful high school and university students and his advice is basically: to succeed, you have to do what you do very well; expect to fall out of love with your major at some point, when things get difficult - the key to success is to master the hard stuff, and as you become proficient in the hard stuff you will deepen your understanding of the topic and then you will find more in it that interests you. In your case, I would say that if you are good at math but don't enjoy it, BUT you stick with it, you may start to enjoy it more as you get deeper into the subject and become more proficient, and that is what will really open up your career options. This post has interesting things to say on that topic: http://calnewport.com/blog/2009/04/22/what-if-my-dream-major-turns-into-a-nightmare/

El Limon

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2014, 09:43:22 PM »
Here's the easy answer. Become an engineer. Teachers max out at 80K and are called "puto" on a weekly basis. You will start out at 80K and no one will call you a "puto" while you're trying to do your job.

AMustachianMurse

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #46 on: May 24, 2014, 08:12:28 AM »
Here's the easy answer. Become an engineer. Teachers max out at 80K and are called "puto" on a weekly basis. You will start out at 80K and no one will call you a "puto" while you're trying to do your job.

You must have taught at my school....or at least in California somewhere.

Haha yup, just say your location.

MrsPete

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #47 on: May 24, 2014, 07:29:55 PM »
The smartest thing you can do is search out opportunities to shadow people in these careers.  See if you can find a way to volunteer, intern, whatever to see what these folks really do all day.  (You might be thinking, "Yeah, I should do that for engineering, but I know what teachers do 'cause I'm in school all day -- no, you don't.  The job looks different from the other side of the desk.) 

Second, ask yourself honestly what personality you have.  You cannot teach unless you have "teacher personality" -- you might go to school and get the job, but if you don't have the right personality for the job, you won't last.  Over the years I've seen OODLES of people come and go -- and many of them were women who thought teaching is an easy little part-time job with a great mom-schedule; it IS a great schedule, but you can't do it for that reason.  It's not a matter of being a good person or a smart person -- it's just being the right person.  I can tell you that I was already a teacher when I was a little kid.  I LOVED playing school.  I'd force my younger siblings (or a bunch of dolls) to be my class.  I never thought anything of it until I saw my oldest child "playing doctor or nurse" in the same way.  I never realized that NONE of my siblings liked "playing teacher", and neither of my children ever "played teacher".  The point:  If you are a teacher, you are one, and you can't fight it.  I think this is true of teachers, nurses, and preachers -- those are callings, jobs for which you are either suited, or you're not. 

As for money, with a few isolated pockets here and there across the country, teachers don't make much; and in states like mine, we're six years into a pay freeze, and legislators are trying to figure out a way to make merit pay work -- which it won't, given that the only real way to measure is with test scores, and that means measuring based upon someone else's effort, not the teacher's.  If you're seriously interested, do some research on the changes coming up in teacher pay.  Also, do some research on how classrooms are changing.  A person your age will NEVER see a 30-year career in what we today call public school -- it isn't going to continue to exist.  The legislature wants to see traditional public school disappear, and they want to replace it with a couple less expensive options:  Online learning, charter schools, blending learning, and a few other things.  These things will help some students (smart, self-motivated students) but will hurt many others.  Do not go into teaching without investigating these things thoroughly. 

Ironically, every guy I ever dated was an engineering major -- and I married an engineer.  Engineers also have a distinct personality, though I don't think it's as easily defined as that of the teachers.  Loving math is one of the first, most obvious things; my husband says he LOVES math because it's easy and like solving problems.  He says he feels a sense of satisfaction upon solving a difficult problem, and he likes that math always has "a right answer".  Engineers also tend towards nerdy, introverted, fair-minded, and logical.  Ask yourself honestly if that's you or not. 







Roland of Gilead

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2014, 08:53:58 PM »
If you don't do something you enjoy, you will end up being miserable.  If you are just doing engineering for the money, you will most likely be a so so engineer with average pay.

If you do enjoy engineering and also want gobs of money, go into software engineering.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Help! Should I become a teacher or an engineer? HS Senior!
« Reply #49 on: May 24, 2014, 09:10:25 PM »
Oh I just read your specific engineering interest, electrical engineering.

Understanding the response of a simple RLC circuit is going to require a decent amount of calculus.  Slogging through Maxwell's equations is not the easiest of things if you have a weak math background.

Sure there are software programs to do many of the calculations but with the picosecond/nanosecond rise times on today's fast logic, even digital requires a good understanding of RF which requires fairly heavy math.