Could you do your job without an engineering degree?

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slickjohannes

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A forum that is dedicated to those seeking to become PE's is probably the wrong place to ask this question, but... could you do your job without an engineering degree?

A co-worker and I had a BS session this past Friday and came to the conclusion that many of the positions that have 'engineer' in the title could be succesfully fulfilled with a high school science/math background. Personally, this could be said for two positions I previously held. My university advisor told us that, generally, your responsibilities will likely require one education level less than what the job description required. Sadly, my experience confirms that statement.

Which leads to my next question- did your employer actually check to see that you do in fact have a degree? I'm with my second company and neither checked (to my knowledge). Makes me wonder what I spent all that money for...

 

YMZ PE

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As a geotechnical engineer, no. Most of the geotechs I've worked with have at least their Masters degrees; the ones who only have their Bachelors are usually relegated to drafting boring logs and other grunt work.

Regarding your second question, no, but geotech is comprised of a very small, well-connected network so it's easy to verify someone's educational background by merely chatting with academia at conferences. One guy I know of who was exposed for lying about his education, had a Masters degree on display in his office that was written entirely in German. He still gets hired at various firms because no one verifies his resume.

 

Supe

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I'll go out on a limb and say "yes", but it would likely take 15-20 years of additional experience to get there, and that would not be your average Joe.

However, the position I'm in per our quality requirements require a degree. This was verified by my employer. In fact, for non-degreed employees (entry level techs), they require you to submit a copy of your high school diploma.

 

Exception Collection

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Yeah, I can handle the work (Structural) just fine without a degree. At worst it means that I have weird small gaps here and there, like variable names. Show me a formula using greek characters, I'm fine. Tell me a variable verbally and I might not match the name to the character. Had that happen with Phi once, during a job interview. Only time I have ever been interviewed and not gotten the job.

Of course, at this point I have the extra experience Supe mentioned (I think 4-8 yrs is about right) and I don't think average or even slightly above average people could handle it.

I would never fraudulently claim an unearned honor - and to me, a false degree is flat out fraud and should be punished accordingly by both the justice system and the relevant Boards - and I hope they do check.

 

csb

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Guys doing my job without a degree have an average of 20 years experience. I think it's fair to say almost anyone could do a job without college, just let them amass enough experience. College is a boot camp of knowledge and it teaches you to critically think. So, yes, I could do my job without a degree, but not right now.

And I uniquely got my job and started it without my degree (a class didn't finish when it was supposed to finish) and I told them outright. It cost me money and benefits, but I couldn't lie about something like that.

 

snickerd3

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yes. our group is mixture of engineers, geologists and biology/science majors. We all do the same thing.

Yes they check now. They apparently fired someone after they had been working for 10+ years because they lied about the degree. if you lie on the app it will prohibit you from applying for state jobs forever.

 

Dark Knight

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Maybe and Maybe...

1) It will largely depend on the individual. But it will have to be an extraordinary individual with a self teaching gene and lots of years of experience.

2) I worked for a company that fired an individual because he lied about his education. Ahhhh...they caught him around 6 years after he was hired. Have no ways to tell if others companies I have worked for do their due diligence in this aspect. I assume they do but your guess is as good as mine.

 

csb

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Guys doing my job without a degree have an average of 20 years experience. I think it's fair to say almost anyone could do a job without college, just let them amass enough experience. College is a boot camp of knowledge and it teaches you to critically think. So, yes, I could do my job without a degree, but not right now.

And I uniquely got my job and started it without my degree (a class didn't finish when it was supposed to finish) and I told them outright. It cost me money and benefits, but I couldn't lie about something like that.


And I'd like to rant for a bit about the guys who say, "I do your job without a degree." Well super for you...but I'm doing my job with zero years of experience and three years of engineering education and you're doing my job with zero years of engineering education and 20 years of experience.

I usually try not to let it get under my skin, but something about this thread set me off.

 

goodal

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Yea, some people feel intimidated by the degree so they feel the need to put those of us with one down. GOD FORBID an engineer ever make a mistake and one of those bone heads find it. I am a consulting engineer, which requires a PE, which requires a degree.

 

engineergurl

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I am a consulting engineer, which requires a PE, which requires a degree.


untrue statement...

and I think the fact that some states do allow non-degree holders to obtain a PE kind of addresses the first few questions. With enough experience, someone CAN get a PE so therefore, with enough experience someone CAN probably preform your job tasks.

The degree gets you there faster, probably means you are going to make more money because you are a more valuable asset to an employer, and you probably have better opportunities for growth than a person without a degree.

Personally, I feel like all my education was a big waste of money.

 

Exception Collection

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I don't look down on those that have degrees; quite the opposite actually. I do get looked down on for not having a degree, though, to the point of other PEs (and Architects, and contractors, and plan reviewers, and the general public) telling me I have no business being in the field. So I grew a thicker skin and became a bit more defensive about it.

 

engineergurl

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I don't look down on those that have degrees; quite the opposite actually. I do get looked down on for not having a degree, though, to the point of other PEs (and Architects, and contractors, and plan reviewers, and the general public) telling me I have no business being in the field. So I grew a thicker skin and became a bit more defensive about it.


I just had to get to a point where I realized and understood that my self worth is not determined by someone else's opinion, be it a boss or a stranger on the internet.

 

mudpuppy

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No, I don't think so. You'd need an understanding of Calculus and diff eq that goes beyond a high-school education.

My employer did verify my transcripts and wanted me to bring my diploma in my first day of work. It also took a couple years to get HR to finally verify I have a Master's degree.

 

knight1fox3

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No, I don't think so. You'd need an understanding of Calculus and diff eq that goes beyond a high-school education.
:plusone:

My latest employer (large company) did a very thorough background check on me which included all the credentials I listed on my resume/application.

 

engineergurl

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No, I don't think so. You'd need an understanding of Calculus and diff eq that goes beyond a high-school education.
:plusone:

My latest employer (large company) did a very thorough background check on me which included all the credentials I listed on my resume/application.


Just to play devils advocate, is a degree required to have an understanding of calculus and differential equations beyond a high-school education? The lack of a degree does not always mean that there is a lack of education.

 

knight1fox3

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^ correct. And the way I interpreted MP's statement, neither he nor I was insinuating that a degree = an understanding of higher level math. But that higher level requirement is still there. No matter how it gets accomplished (i.e. college degree, tech college certificate, etc.).

 
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