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Ex-engineer - what can I do next?

(33 Posts)
HnZ Fri 15-Nov-13 15:02:37

I have experience of working in manufacturing (quality/ product dev) and also have a PhD (so have experience in research and writing papers/ thesis etc).

I have 3 years before my youngest DD starts school and I'd like to make a plan - don't mind retraining at all or starting a business.

Any clever ideas?


dobedobedo Fri 15-Nov-13 15:06:01

Apply to as many local engineering type companies as possible to see what they have. They might have job roles you haven't even considered. Or contact a recruitment agency who specialises in engineering to see what they advise.

MsDeerheart Sun 17-Nov-13 22:33:17

I know ex-engineers in all kinds of roles - you may not need to retrain as skills do seem quite tranferable
do you have a university near you as working in HE - in some kind of support roles maybe might be an option . Also which I mentioned in quite a few other post but if you are in reach of london I would really recomend the courses Women like us do -there is a career mot one
or if you thought going back to research might be an option these people worth a look

HnZ Mon 18-Nov-13 11:07:17

Thanks boththanks, I'm not sure about returning to my old field, when I was working in industry it wasn't too family friendly but things may have changed. My experience is all from a long time ago too, so they probably won't want me either.

I've looked at Daphne Jackson before, thanks Mrs Deerhart. It's definitely something I'd consider as I loved research. I'll have to look at Women Like Us, I'm about 3-4hr train journey from London, so while it's far, it's possible.

I'd love to know what other ex-engineers go on to do if they don't stay in engineering and how they found their new job with a young family.

I've considered loads of things from accounting to IT to teaching, but not sure really. I've also thought about a small business, maybe something like corporate training courses.

Ahhhh, I don't know! I'd love to just have a plan ready for when my DD starts school in Sep 2016.

HeeHiles Mon 18-Nov-13 11:11:19

How about PR within engineering? There are agencies who will take on people experienced in their field and train them up in PR - good writing skills are essential.

HeeHiles Mon 18-Nov-13 11:12:24

Recruitment in to engineering?

CareersDragon Mon 18-Nov-13 11:45:40


This seems a good point to re-evaluate your career and direction, and knowing that you have 3 years to think or plan your next step is both helpful and not. You have time, but there's also a lack of urgency & I'll think about it...tomorrow, I imagine...
If you live in England, you could contact the National Careers Service You will find information about & accessing different careers on their website. You can also speak to an Adviser to talk through your options, looking at your interests & how you might like to change direction.
Alternatively, if you're prepared to pay, you could arrange to see a qualified Careers Adviser/Coach locally to you. Somebody that you could see a number of times over the next 3 years to work through the process with you. Many offer psychometric tests that might give you some alternative career ideas.
To ensure that the adviser is qualified, you could look at the Professional Register of, but as it is not a requirement to belong to this register, there are qualified advisers who, like me, haven't yet joined it (you have to pay)...

HnZ Mon 18-Nov-13 12:16:10

Thanks both. I'm in Wales Careers Dragon and do have a careers advice service in my town. I'll give them a try too, thanks. Yes, think 3 years is good to get a plan together but also enough time to dither and change my mind a multiple of times. Thanks for the info on the private advisors too.

ilovemountains Mon 18-Nov-13 12:31:08

Engineering can be family friendly! There are plenty of part timers, opportunities to work from home etc. Rather than starting again in a new field (with a learning curve, potentially lower pay initially, may not be family friendly either) why don't you return to engineering? A lot of engineering companies are recruiting at the moment, and should be in a couple of years too.

ilovemountains Mon 18-Nov-13 12:35:23

Please don't apply for support roles in.HE. Someone suggested this to me as a suitable career move. I would be earning a third of what I do now, would do the support work for someone rather than having people working for me, have limited career progression. Having children does not mean you have to lose your career.

CareersDragon Mon 18-Nov-13 12:55:17

Ahh. In Wales I'm afraid you need to be under 24 years of age (or to have just been made redundant) to see an Adviser face-to-face. They are happy to give some advice & guidance over the phone or via email though. See their website:

If you're anywhere near Gwent, I've just offered to set up a local support group for people considering returning to the workplace, via Mumsnet Local (Monmouthshire & Newport). You would be very welcome!

Quite separate from this, I have set up my own freelance business with another ex-Careers Wales colleague offering careers guidance & coaching: We roughly cover the areas of Gwent, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff & the Vale etc...

CMOTDibbler Mon 18-Nov-13 12:57:15

In my company we have lots of part time engineers and especially the quality engineers. In fact of the three software quality engineers on one of my teams 2 work pt, 1 works compressed hours, and 2 are homebased. On the complaints leadership team, 2 of 3 are homebased, the other works compressed hours.

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 13:21:40

Thank you all. Thanks Career Dragon, unfortunately I'm in West Wales otherwise would have come along.

I'm 8 years out of engineering already (I've done some freelance stuff along the way but nothing engineering related) so just feel like everything is out of date and perhaps a fresh start would be better? I doubt if anyone would want me in that field now.

CareersDragon Wed 20-Nov-13 16:04:36

Don't underestimate your value! There is a shortage of qualified engineers, so you may find that employers will snap you up & refresh your skills! Only you can decide what's right for you though.
Do you have a business idea? If so, perhaps you could start it off in a small way now, to see how it goes... I can thoroughly recommend the free business courses, funded by the Welsh Govt, that talk you through what you need to know. They also provided us with a very useful & supportive mentor. See:

ilovemountains Wed 20-Nov-13 18:35:01

Are you a member of an engineering institution? Some of those provide excellent careers advice, as well as run courses and have networks you can tap into.
We've recruited a number of engineers recently who have spent quite a few years out of the work place, some are part time, some do some work from home.

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 18:36:55

Thank you CareersDragon for your kind wordsthanks.

I do have a business idea too, something that would build on my transferable skills that I've gained in the past but I think I would need to do some short courses/ gain qualifications to 'prove' my skills to a client iyswim. It's something I can research, prepare and plan for in the next couple of years and then go for it when my DD starts school. I am drawn to this idea as I think it would give me the freedom to set my own hours and holidays and possibly make more money in a shorter period of time (or not!!!).

I'm also going to apply for a new freelance opportunity soon, which will use some of my old skills and engineering knowledge. I'd love to get that position in the meantime and keep it until I'm ready to go. Just a bit nervous of messing it up as I don't think there's anything else like it around.

Thanks for the link, will have a look now. Good luck with your new Careers business too!

BikeRunSki Wed 20-Nov-13 18:39:10

Engineering journalism
Academic publishing
Work for one of the organisations that promotes STEM subjects

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 18:39:13

Thanksthanks I love mountains, I was a member when I was working/ studying. I'll have a look! That's good news about your company recruiting people without recent experience, really encouraging.

mrsseed Wed 20-Nov-13 18:49:34

I'm an ex-civil engineer. I gave it up partly as I wanted to be able to live in once place all the time and not just weekends. (you have to travel to where the next construction site is, and often end up in a caravan during the week far away from home-something even after school clubs cant cater for!). I noticed that the health and safety advisors had a 'patch' to look after and visited the sites in their patch as neccesary.
I retrained to become a chartered health and safety manager, specialising in construction. I get home every night now! My previous career is still relevant as I understand the business and so can give good advice.
Maybe there is a related job role you can do. Bear in mind that doing another degree + professional qualifications can take years.

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 19:58:39

Thank you Bikerunski thanks. Teaching is one thing I'm drawn to (I was thinking of that today and how I would go about it. I think I would do the teaching assistant course PT and volunteer to get experience at the school whilst my DD is still a toddler, then apply for a PGCE to start when she starts school - not sure though as teaching jobs are like gold dust here.)

I'm looking at the freelance writing/publishing/editing type thing at the moment as something I can do at home with the baby in tow. It's something I'm mustering up the courage to apply for.

Unfortunately, I think they stopped the funding in Wales for the STEM promotion etc.

Mrsseedthanks, can I ask you how long it took to train as a health and safety manager and how you went about it? Sounds interesting and I guess you can go on to do consulting from that if you wanted to? It's something that can be applied to a lot of industries too, not just engineering and most industries will need at least one H&S person per company/ organisation.

BikeRunSki Wed 20-Nov-13 20:53:59

Hnz, friend of mine is an ex-civil eng turned teaching assistant. It took her two years to retrai because she has no experience with young children (apart from her own) but because she has a degree, she could have done a PGCE more quickly! So if you are only looking at TA as a stepping stone to teaching, it may actually work out quicker to miss it out altogether.

< feeling quite chuffed that I am a part time engineer with an ok salary who gets to come home every night>

Ilanthe Wed 20-Nov-13 21:04:02

My DH is a safety case manager. He has a background (and indeed a PhD in) Physics, but many of his colleagues are engineers. No retraining was required, he learnt it on the job.

He works as a self-employed contractor and therefore sets his own hours. He chooses to work full time but there is no reason he has to other than the guaranteed income. If you are a contractor you can work as much or as little as you like.

mrsseed Wed 20-Nov-13 21:13:23

To get to chartered status took a while, (10 years) but I took my time. You could do it in 5-6 if you really wanted. There are several different routes either NEBOSH professional qualifications which can be quite expensive or NVQ or degree. The main institute is IOSH, so you join that, once you have the exams Once you have those you enroll on their chartership scheme which can be completed in 2 years if you put in a lot of effort. It's not easy, there is a lot of law to learn, as well as the practical application. The practical application should come reasonably to you as an engineer. It's not just the 'common sense' and 'elf and safety' that the media can be quick to pick up on.
It can be hard to get an entry level post and people are often recommended to get involved in h&s in their existing business them using that experience. It is transferable across different industries although the higher up the food chain you go the more you tend to specialise. And yes you can end up being a consultant.... A lot of us do grin.
Look at their membership guys are helpful, there's a lot on there website and if interested and want more info, send me a message!

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 21:15:41

Thanks Bikerunski,

was only thinking of the teaching assistant route as I could dedicate the time to do the course and volunteer whilst DD is still small, but couldn't dedicate the time to do the PGCE until she's in school. I was just thinking of getting the experience to prove I was keen for the PGCE application, as you are supposed to show that you have recent school experience, rather than becoming a TA full stop iyswim. Plus, it may show me that I am suited to teaching or not early on, before committing and paying out for the PGCE.

PT engineer, good salary, home every night sounds like the ideal!!

HnZ Wed 20-Nov-13 21:42:02

Thanks Ilanthe and mrsseed! H&S sounds interesting! Think this is the sort of thing I was interested in when I started the thread - a job where the engineering/science background would be useful, even if your in depth knowledge is a bit faded - possibly with a chance to go it alone as a consultant etc.

What job did your DH take to start training in H&S with Ilanthe? The contracting sounds fab.

Wow, such a lot of dedication to do it for 10 years mrsseed, but bet it's worth it now! Will look at the iosh site, thanks, haven't heard that for a long time, used to hear the terms all the time when working.

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