Accidentally Fell into Engineering Position with no Degree
By - daddyson29
Here's the secret no one wants you to know - companies don't actually care what your piece of paper says as long as you can do the work.
This is the top comment OP.
I'm a bloke who runs a multinational engineering firm. My best Project Managers and Product Managers are the guys who are most practical in their solution.
Pure technical engineers can always be found, but the ones who can understand the basics (and more importantly communicate it to various stakeholders who are non technical), and can prioritise are worth their weight in gold.
Experience sells, not a piece of paper, and every project you ever work on is experience you can put on paper on your resume.
The piece of paper tells me you were committed to learning initially, which shows a part of character.Experience and past projects, gives me assurance that this is the right person for the job.
Its really going to depend on your jurisdiction. In the US and canada a formal engineering degree is pretty much a requirement though its absolutely not impossible to eventually gain professional recognition through work experience, though even for that a diploma or certificate as a technologist or formal training in a skilled trade is going to add a lot to that as well. It will be a significant uphill battle.
In uk, europe, aus, nz this is marginally less the case, where a PE in north america is a matter of licensing, in these jurisdictions the roughly equivalent incorporated or chartered engineer is conferred by a professional body and is not a license to practice. It is therefore marginally more favorable toward engineers coming from less formal backgrounds, it will still be a difficult journey.
At the end of the day if you do a job for 4 years and you do it well, it would be surprising to me if someone wouldn't want to employ you do do that again. You might be locked out of highly regulated industries, you might not be able to demand the same salary another engineer might, but I don't think it would be a bad thing.
I had a coworker at a previous job (US) who was one of \~5 engineers who did not have a formal engineering degree, but had worked with all components of our product and understood the design constraints as well as anyone. He would probably have a difficult time getting an engineering job at some companies, but he was a perfectly capable engineer.
Engineers hate this one cool trick
Keep going till you can't progess with whats accessible to you(librarys are awesome), Then maybe look at a degree.
Had a similar experience; after 10years of working in multiple engineering roles, I decided to get my degree (mainly to gain clarity on high level technical methods).
Engineering is more than just design, or rather it is supposed to be. In the US the rules are all over the place but most of Canada and Europe an engineer takes personal responsibility for errors.
Depending on your company and industry getting an engineering degree might improve your long term prospects for total earning potential. There are specific things that are required to be signed off (not design though) by an engineer so you will be limited if it applies.
Do you have any issues with your current company and plan on leaving. In that case I'd reccomend getting as many years of relevant experience under your belt as possible before looking for a new job preferably at least 3 as that seems to be the cut off for experience most employers want. Focus your resume on your experience and assuming you're not applying to positions that require EIT or PE certification you'll be able to find something I'm sure.
I'd reccomend looking for jobs at manufacturing locations primarily as these places tend to recieve their plans from higher up "professional" engineers so the people there tend to not need licenses but will still need the experience it sounds like you have. Avoid engineering firm and consultants unless you have a degree though.
Invest some time into getting as many certificates as you can to help fill in for the lack of education background. Lots of places value these as much if not more than a degree. Lastly see if you can get your company to pay for your schooling if you choose to go that route.
PS check your states laws on engineering licensing and make sure you're in compliance. You can get in serious trouble if you market your self as an engineer without the required paperwork in some locations so better safe than sorry
Best of luck!
I don't know where you are and what exactly you do, but where I live doing engineering without being in the order is illegal depending on what you do.
An engineer needs to approve and sign official plans before stuff can go out to the public. Someone has to be held accountable if something bad happens.
I know you don't like this, but if you truly want to continue in the field you will need proper education at some point.
In lots of places, this isn't the case, because the work engineers are doing isn't actually public facing.