late 30s, what career or new degree

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james99
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late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by james99 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:49 am

Hi all,

I have a question about what career path to take, and if I should go back to college get a new degree first.

I'm in my late 30s, have two preschool kids, and did an Engineering major, (didn't like it at all). and since graduation have been working in sales, then ran a small self-employed trading business until now.

I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life.

One option is do something related to repairing computers. I spent a lot of time in front of computers in my teens (more than 10,000 hours), and I find it very easy to diagnose computer/network problems. My friends/family usually come to me to fix theirs.

Another option is I enjoy looking at statistics and using Excels drawing graphs etc, and was good at statistics while studying. So I'm thinking perhaps I should go back to college and do some kind of maths related major then get a job afterwards.

If you've read this far I really thank you for it, and I appreciate any feedback/suggestions.

Thanks.

Emerson
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by Emerson » Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:23 am

Having been in IT for decades in dozens of roles you may wish to start with a Help Desk / Support role. Your computer skills could be applied there easily. Many companies have good career paths for people in those types of positions (do you enjoy helping others solve problems via phone or remote in software tools?) so let's for a moment think long term. With the excel and math skills plus the computer skills and desire for continued education the best thing to do would be to learn and absorb as much as possible. Perhaps look at job descriptions for IT Project Management and see if that is to your liking long term. If not perhaps look at a MS in Data Analytics. I personally see that as a good growth position for the future and if I were in my 30's / 40's would give that serious consideration. Also think about complementing your skills with courses on database fundamentals and SQL. If you have solid excel skills, that would probably come naturally to you as well. Best of luck. I hope this helps.
Em

nps
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by nps » Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:43 am

If you can repair smartphones as well you might have a great business. You say you don't want to be in business though. I guess you could take a salaried IT job?

Unless I had time and money to kill I wouldn't go back to college for a math degree. Whether you enjoyed it or not an engineering degree qualifies you for many analytical jobs, not just pure engineering.

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cheese_breath
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:44 am

james99 wrote: ... I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life....
Great if you can do this without disadvantaging your family. But with a family including two small kids they come first. You might have to put your passion aside and take care of your responsibilities first. Give it some thought.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

yellowgirl
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by yellowgirl » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:56 am

Are you my husband ? My dh doesn't have a degree though. He is in sales most of his career. He wanted to go back to school to be a nurse but decided against it. If you like spreadsheet/excel then MS in data analytics is a good degree.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by tnr » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:05 am

Since you like statistics, you should check out programs with actuarial ties (Purdue is one). Most MS in statistics go into healthcare as programmers/data engineers. There is also the emerging data science field. This is a cross between CS, statistics, economics, business. Schools like Minnesota and NC State have strong data science programs.

I have a doctorate in statistics and if you are willing to devote the time for a PhD, there is a huge demand both in academia and industry for big data expertise.

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Watty
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by Watty » Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:50 pm

james99 wrote:One option is do something related to repairing computers. I spent a lot of time in front of computers in my teens (more than 10,000 hours), and I find it very easy to diagnose computer/network problems. My friends/family usually come to me to fix theirs.
If you hated the engineering so much that you dropped that career then I don't see how you would like doing this full time. I would suspect that doing something like working on the Best Buy "geek squad" is not what you had in mind with this. There are positions with doing things like repairing and servicing high end medical equipment but that would be more like a low level engineering job which you hated.

james99 wrote:I have a question about what career path to take, and if I should go back to college get a new degree first.


If you already have an engineering degree along with a business and sales background there are plenty of jobs that you could get with that.

I think looking at a wide variety of jobs that you might be able to get with your current credentials to see what turns up would be the first step.

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ladders11
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by ladders11 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:16 pm

Higher paying jobs typically require sales-type skills in communication, negotiation, problem solving and leadership. My concern with investing in a MS, PhD would be that the credentials point to high end jobs that aren't what you enjoy so the ROI from this would need a downward adjustment.

There are lots of data jobs that relate to sales tracking, incentives, and performance reporting at big companies and they certainly use Excel. These may work for you.

To me, management is like sales, and statistics is like engineering. The engineering degree is close enough to statistics, you may be able to enter that field with no further degree.

awval999
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by awval999 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:40 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
james99 wrote: ... I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life....
Great if you can do this without disadvantaging your family. But with a family including two small kids they come first. You might have to put your passion aside and take care of your responsibilities first. Give it some thought.
I came in here to say this.

daveatca
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My life

Post by daveatca » Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:16 pm

Me.

Engineering degrees. BS and MS.
1. Programming. 1.5
2. Programming and project management for a non-computer hardware production. 4.0
3. Programming. 2.0
4. Computer sales. 9.1 (I was OK-good at it.)
5. Software sales. 2.0 (I got fired for not making quota.)
6. Product marketing for computer hardware and software. 6.8
7. Build websites. 19.5

With an engineering degree, you can do anything that requires analytical thinking.

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james99
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by james99 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:16 am

Hi all,

Thanks all very much for taking time to give me your feedback.

Re: MS in data science/analytics. While I can do maths, I don't like programming, is that required in data science?

Another question, after graduating from Electrical Engineering, I haven't used that skill for the last ~15 years or so (worked in sales/business instead). So I'm very rusty there. If I take MS in data science, is my foundation already weak? Should I instead do something like a bachelors degree in Statistics, and get through the basic maths again?

Cheers

csm
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by csm » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:51 am

If you are good at math and statistics, look into becoming an actuary. It has made the list for years as one of the higher-paying lower-stress jobs.

With an engineering degree already, you may be able to take some advanced statistics classes and then sit exams for the certification.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by pondering » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:01 am

What type of employer or industry do you think you would enjoy working in?

If you want want to go from sales into something more techie, maybe consider product management?
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Watty
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by Watty » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:56 am

james99 wrote:While I can do maths, I don't like programming, is that required in data science?
I know someone that did a mid-career change and did a program to get some sort of statistics degree(I don't remember the details). He is doing well but one of the main things that made him employable was learning the SAS Analytic software and learning how to do the programming to feed it data,set up the analysis, and extract the results. I was in IT so we talked some about how that works and it did require a lot of programming in special SAS environments along with the knowledge of statistics. The SAS software is widely used so it would be good to read up on that some to get a feel as to what you would be getting into.

He had to move to get his first job in statistics and he was working for a large insurance company in a large office. It sounds like you are looking for a career that you you can find some passion about but that might be hard to do as in a corporate environment.

It sound like you are thinking about going back to college full time for a few years. Between the loss of a couple of years income and the cost of college you could be looking at it costing you $200K+. By the time you graduate you will be in your early 40s so it will be hard to work long enough to make that pay off.

The numbers would be better if you could take evening and weekend classes while working.

Between hating EE and not liking programming to could be that a technical career it not the right choice for you. I have heard that some colleges allow alumni to use their career counseling center. You might check with your old college to see if you can use them to help you decide what to do next.

You mentioned,
james99 wrote:I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life.
The problem is that by the time you get another degree and start a new career you will be in your early 40's. This would mean that you might only have about have 20 years of working ahead of you. Even if you do get lucky and find the passion of your life in some job then you may be forced out because of your age and then be looking at 30 more years of retirement.

It might be better to look for your personal fulfillment outside of your work-life. Not only would that last longer but you would have a lot more control over it.

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lthenderson
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by lthenderson » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:05 am

As an engineering major, engineering is really a very broad field. I know engineers who work as engineers, salespeople, managers, tech supports, teachers, etc. If you are burnt out in your niche in sales, there are lots of jobs under the engineering umbrella that you would be qualified for. Like someone else already mentioned, you will be in your early to mid 40's by the time you get another degree and it will put you at a disadvantage to have to start over and compete with new grads. Reinventing yourself is probably the best option with a family already started.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:14 am

james99 wrote:Hi all,

I have a question about what career path to take, and if I should go back to college get a new degree first.

I'm in my late 30s, have two preschool kids, and did an Engineering major, (didn't like it at all). and since graduation have been working in sales, then ran a small self-employed trading business until now.

I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life.
james99,

What is THE PROBLEM? What do you want?

<< I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life.>>

That is fine if you are financially independent and you do not need to earn any money. In that case, you can do anything.

<<I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. >>

How do you know? What if you are selling something else?

<<I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. >>

If you are single and no family to support, you can choose to starve yourself and live on passion. But, you are not.

A shift into selling different of stuff in the different industry might be better for you. Unless your spouse is fully capable of supporting the family financially and willing to let you live on passion, I do not think you can make this happen.

KlangFool

dziuniek
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by dziuniek » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:38 pm

You've gotten some tough love from a few posters.

I'm 30years old myself with a wife and 1 child. As much as I would like to try something completely different, I'm sticking to what I know. That being said, I am an accountant. You're an engineer.

Both of these fields are really really versatile. No less than nursing, for example. Probably more...

There's a variety of employers to chose from.

I think your step one is to find a different employer, a new setting, a new product.

Good Luck!

Rodc
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by Rodc » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:57 pm

Try reading What Color is Your Parachute.

See what you might like that you can do with your current degree and background. You might be surprised at how broadly they apply.

What kind of engineering degree do you have? Many are fairly mathematical so not clear that getting a not very different degree (math or stats for example) is going to be all that helpful, unless perhaps going up to an MS.

Almost all technical fields (ie heavy use of math and/or stats) will require some level of programing (if only some high level package like SASS or Matlab, etc.), so if you really don't like programing at all that is very limiting. Not that all jobs are super heavy on programing, but you may have to do some.

Unless you are really a power user, Excel is a basic entry level time skill - in and of itself it will not get you very far.

You say what you don't like. That leaves about an infinity of options. What do you think you would like more specifically?
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:22 pm

james99 wrote: Re: MS in data science/analytics. While I can do maths, I don't like programming, is that required in data science?
Programming is required in pretty much any technical/engineering/math/scientific field now. The difference between fields and jobs is in whether it's a lot of programming or a little.

You seem to know what you don't want to do, but not what you do want to do. Your job right now is to figure out the end goal. What can you see yourself doing for 30 years? Figuring that out might take some research. Like someone else, I recommend "What Color is Your Parachute?"

Once you know what you eventually want to do, you can come up with a game plan for getting there.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by ladders11 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 4:03 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
james99 wrote: Re: MS in data science/analytics. While I can do maths, I don't like programming, is that required in data science?
Programming is required in pretty much any technical/engineering/math/scientific field now. The difference between fields and jobs is in whether it's a lot of programming or a little.
Work in Finance/Accounting and programming has arrived here as well. SQL, VBA, XBRL, etc. Obviously jobs requiring lots are categorized under IT, but code is running everything you use at work.

tnr
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by tnr » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:06 pm

I agree with other posters that any MS job in data analytics or statistics will require heavy programming. That is the way the entire field of statistics/data science is tilting - more like CS and less like math.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by Meaty » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:26 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
james99 wrote: ... I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life....
Great if you can do this without disadvantaging your family. But with a family including two small kids they come first. You might have to put your passion aside and take care of your responsibilities first. Give it some thought.
Agree 100%. I don't particularly like my job but it pays quite well and I have a family to support. My goal is to save diligently so when I'm ~55 (child would be out of college by several years) I can pursue a lower paying job I enjoy more.

Until then, my work "passion" is driven by 1 thing - my family
"Discipline equals Freedom" - Jocko Willink

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:26 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (career decision).
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DoubleDraw
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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by DoubleDraw » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:52 pm

I would not go back to school for a degree, I would start building cool stuff. I don't believe a degree is nearly as valuable as evidence you can do stuff.

Your experience and interests would be a good fit for any analyst, web analytics, business intelligence or similar role. You should learn and master Excel, R, Tableau and SQL on your own time. Very minimal real coding but still get the thrill of problem solving and "developing" reports.

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Re: late 30s, what career or new degree

Post by DFWinvestor » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:54 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
james99 wrote: ... I've come to realize sales/business is not what I want to do. I can do it, but I don't have any passion for it. I want to start again and do something I can enjoy for the rest of my life....
Great if you can do this without disadvantaging your family. But with a family including two small kids they come first. You might have to put your passion aside and take care of your responsibilities first. Give it some thought.
Do we know for sure that the OP can't float his family expenses? Could already have a really nice nest egg for all we know. If not I would agree.

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