Author Topic: Would it be worth getting a degree?  (Read 2643 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Would it be worth getting a degree?
« on: January 12, 2014, 03:54:23 PM »
I am early into an electrical apprenticeship, Journeyman here who work 40 hours a week currently make 56,000 a year plus 8000 in a defined contribution retirement account ( as well as a good fully paid health, vision, and dental plan and some other small perks ) .    I am currently at about half of that , and will be there in around 3.5 years.  Work seems to be on the up-swing so there are some opportunities for overtime, as well as per-diem if you will travel.

I would like to have the ability to retire in less than 20 years, so I am moving out of a rental to live with my folks and max my ROTH this year.  What I am contemplating is taking online classes through a local university to knock out some of the requirements for a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering.  Then once I am through with my apprenticeship I could work part-time and go to class on campus to finish up the more difficult classes.  We receive college credits on completion of apprenticeship, and I already have a semester of basic classes at community college.

With a relatively short career I wonder if it is worth spending the money on credit hours and the missed hours on the ( decent paying ) job to get a higher ending salary.  Anyone here transition from the trades to a more white-collar job while already planning early retirement?  I generally enjoy what I do currently, and have no intention of quitting before I become licensed.


  • Bristles
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Re: Would it be worth getting a degree?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 06:38:19 AM »
The key is that you like what you do! Speak with some electrical engineers on the jobs you work at possibly and get an idea of what they are doing and see if you think you would enjoy it. Working in a trade is a lot different then drawing up plans and managing projects.

I only say that because you said you enjoy what you do, so money is not the most important thing. Get all the schooling you can, especially in your trade, you never know what opportunities could arise in the future, but don't persue a degree just to make more money in the future if your going to be miserable sitting in an office when you enjoy working with your hands.

That said, there are many different things that engineers do.

So in final, i say go for it, but don't do it only with more money in the future as your reasoning. Don't forget that you could start your own business with your license and make far more then an engineer working for someone else and still do what you love.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Would it be worth getting a degree?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 10:52:22 AM »
I've had the same thoughts myself. I'm a lineman and love what I do. Instead of college is there any specialization programs you can go into? I'm currently working on my substation tech certification with the hopes that a position will be opening up in a year or so. It's 100% paid by my employer. After I complete that there is a metering course I plan on taking. All of these courses could be used as college credit towards a construction management degree. I'm still on the fence about going through with that because I don't know how I would handle being behind a desk. There is something pretty satisfying to me about working with my hands and actually building something. I see all the headaches our managers have to deal with and for the very marginal pay increase I don't see it being worth it to me. But you do what's right by you just don't do it for just the financial aspect.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Would it be worth getting a degree?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 12:10:27 PM »
An engineer who worked here did exactly that. He's making great money, about 7 years removed from being an electrician.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Would it be worth getting a degree?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 05:41:52 PM »
You didn't give your age.  I think that plays a role in calculating the 'payback' portion after your degree.

That said, I think the best engineers are those with field experience and you are pursuing a great field as far as industry need and compensation.

Have you ran any spreadsheets that would calculate your predicted earnings?  As in current job vs job after college?  Requires a few assumptions but I would be interested to see the projections.