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I have been working as an engineer for 3.5 years. I have a BS and MS in structural engineering from Georgia Tech. I really don't like engineering and think that a career in finance would better suit me. I think jobs would be easier to find, and my career would be more stable in finance. My question is how do I get a job in Finance??

I have heard from alot of people that I should take the plunge and get an MBA. I am heavily considering that and that may be the route I take. Getting an MBA also raises a number of questions in itself. Should I focus on getting a MBA from the best school I can get into? Should I go full-time? Should I go part-time? Should I get an MBA online?

Financing an MBA is also a major concern. I am currently still paying for student loans for grad school. I have thought maybe the best option is to move back in with my parents while getting an MBA and try to find a part-time job. If I moved back in with my parents, I would have to get a MBA from whatever college is in the same city as they are. So the selection would not be that impressive. But I could also just do an online MBA if that would even be a good idea.

Ultimately, what I want is to be able to be self-employed to some extent. Would a finance MBA give me that option? Is there any concentration of an MBA program that would give me the option of being self-employed? Or atleast give me the option to moonlight?

My ideal finance career would be something on the side of portfolio management, market analysis, trading/investing, and the like. I have basic programming knowledge. I have used mainly Matlab and some python. I am interested in algorithmic trading and have actually created a number of trading algorithms in which I am currently backtesting and optimizing. I have partnered with a friend of mine that is better equipped at coding (he has a M. Comp. Sci.). We are currently working on our own trading platform in which we would implement the trading algo. So, I would love to be able to work on that full-time. But its not to that point yet. In getting an MBA, I hope that would be beneficial for my side venture.

In summation, I need advice on the following:
Do I definitely need to get an MBA to be able to switch from engineering to finance?
Will an MBA give me some skills that would enable me to become self-employed or be able to moonlight?
Would having an MBA be beneficial for my side venture of algorithmic trading?

I'm sorry if my post seems to be rambled and jumbled thoughts. I truely need some direction, and these decisions are not easy for me to make. I am trying to make the best decision and am hoping to get some good responses.

Thank you for your time.

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If I was about to go the quant route to whatever extent I could ... (more)

dshibb (Jul. 01, 2013 @ 3:06p) |

Background:

B.S. Mechanical Engineering. Worked as an engineer for a year and hated it. Took off a year to recalibrate ... (more)

puckah18 (Jul. 02, 2013 @ 7:58a) |

You were a lot nicer about this than most would be, I knew when posting that it probably wasn't quite along the lines of... (more)

FranksandBeans (Jul. 02, 2013 @ 10:09a) |

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As a Finance major with just BS , I have found it very difficult in landing a Finance career. I too want to know how one can obtain one with or without an
MBA.

Can you get into a Top MBA program? If not, i'm not sure if the glide path would be ideal.

I think you are overly optimistic on the finance industry job outlook... lots of unemployed people with many years of experience are struggling to find jobs.

The idea of getting a degree first and then seeing if you like the profession\job market is never a good plan.

I know many finance people in the corporate world. Many of their jobs have been outsourced to India, Mexico, etc. Many of those with jobs are stretched very thin. A career change to that could be beneficial, especially into an area you are more skilled and ideally more interested in, but don't be overly optimistic as if it will solve all your problems...

brettdoyle said:   I think you are overly optimistic on the finance industry job outlook... lots of unemployed people with many years of experience are struggling to find jobs.

The idea of getting a degree first and then seeing if you like the professionjob market is never a good plan.

Hindsight being 20/20.

I'm a math guy myself but seriously I see a great future for structural or mechanical engineering. With 3D printers coming on-line and the ability to make 1-time custom solutions, this is like software in the early days. This has tremendous growth potential.

do178b said:   I'm a math guy myself but seriously I see a great future for structural or mechanical engineering. With 3D printers coming on-line and the ability to make 1-time custom solutions, this is like software in the early days. This has tremendous growth potential.
Plastics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSxihhBzCjk

I am a GT materials engineer now working in finance. I got an MBA at night financed through my company while doing engineering. I segued to finance after getting laid off from my big metals company employer. I moved more into finance with projects after several years. Engineering/Production was a "death of many cuts", meaning some loser could hurt themselves with a stapler and I would ultimately be blamed for their negligence. If I tried to take action against an unsafe employee the union would work a deal with the company making me a hated pawn. EPA, IMSHA and DEP threaten anyone with prison who works in manufacturing supervision in the United States. I prefer finance since there are no "emergencies" requiring me to work long hours. I do not have responsibilities for staff or working conditions. I suggest you get into finance ASAP. I am now a finance project manager. I took a pay cut, but made it back after 4 years. Took the PMP exam after a 3 day course and now have credentials to go either back into engineering or finance. I enjoy working in finance, implementing IT software solutions and making companies more profitable.

There are a few very good part time/fully employed MBA programs out there, such as Berkeley and UCLA, I would look into those, as it gets you a MBA at a top tier school while you can maintain your paycheck.

I'm a bit confused by your post. You want to get an MBA so that you can be self-employed? You want to do algorithmic trading? What kind of business are you planning on starting? A hedge fund?

If your goal is to simply be your own boss, then that will be much easier to do as Structural Engineer than an MBA. Simply open up your own contract SE firm, and charge contractors, designers, and home owners $150 an hour to draw plans and to approve change orders for kitchen remodels and the like.

ETA: In my eyes, the value of an MBA is to get you connections and to qualify you for a job at a major company. This is why people suggest only going to a top tier school, because they don't believe the connections you acquire at Bumcrap Middle State University to be worth the price of the MBA. I do not think the MBA programs actually prepare people to be business owners.

AlgoEngine said:   I I am interested in algorithmic trading and have actually created a number of trading algorithms in which I am currently backtesting and optimizing. I have partnered with a friend of mine that is better equipped at coding (he has a M. Comp. Sci.). We are currently working on our own trading platform in which we would implement the trading algo.How will your system be better than the thousands of other trading systems invented by people with the same level of knowledge of math that you have?

How can finance be more interesting than engineering? If anything, you'll have to deal with even more business types in finance than you have in engineering.

AlgoEngine said:   I think jobs would be easier to find, and my career would be more stable in finance.

You're kidding right?

I have a degree in Computer Science and I moonlight in Finance. I've been making six figures easy.

First, yes, no career in Finance is defined as stable unless with top-tier MBA degree (Harvard, Wharton, Stern, Haas, Sloan, and so on).

Second, if you really want to change your career to Finance, I'd suggest taking full time. Going MBA is all about connection. If you go to part time MBA, you will miss out many opportunities of meeting people, because you can't participate many club activities or attend meeting/lunch with upper management people from the industry. Majority of part time MBA students are those already work in finance/accounting filed, because they already have connections and MBA degree is icing on top. But you as non-finance career, you may not have a cake to put icing on, so you have to start from baking cake before putting icing on.

On the other hand, if you can get into at least second-tier MBA (Top 30, I'd say), you will be in much better position than those with finance/accounting Bachelor degree.

Don't switch, that's my advice. Engineering is in extremely high demand. Finance MBA's are a dime a dozen. AlgoEngine said:   I have been working as an engineer for 3.5 years. I have a BS and MS in structural engineering from Georgia Tech. I really don't like engineering and think that a career in finance would better suit me. I think jobs would be easier to find, and my career would be more stable in finance. My question is how do I get a job in Finance??

I have heard from alot of people that I should take the plunge and get an MBA. I am heavily considering that and that may be the route I take. Getting an MBA also raises a number of questions in itself. Should I focus on getting a MBA from the best school I can get into? Should I go full-time? Should I go part-time? Should I get an MBA online?

Financing an MBA is also a major concern. I am currently still paying for student loans for grad school. I have thought maybe the best option is to move back in with my parents while getting an MBA and try to find a part-time job. If I moved back in with my parents, I would have to get a MBA from whatever college is in the same city as they are. So the selection would not be that impressive. But I could also just do an online MBA if that would even be a good idea.

Ultimately, what I want is to be able to be self-employed to some extent. Would a finance MBA give me that option? Is there any concentration of an MBA program that would give me the option of being self-employed? Or atleast give me the option to moonlight?

My ideal finance career would be something on the side of portfolio management, market analysis, trading/investing, and the like. I have basic programming knowledge. I have used mainly Matlab and some python. I am interested in algorithmic trading and have actually created a number of trading algorithms in which I am currently backtesting and optimizing. I have partnered with a friend of mine that is better equipped at coding (he has a M. Comp. Sci.). We are currently working on our own trading platform in which we would implement the trading algo. So, I would love to be able to work on that full-time. But its not to that point yet. In getting an MBA, I hope that would be beneficial for my side venture.

In summation, I need advice on the following:
Do I definitely need to get an MBA to be able to switch from engineering to finance?
Will an MBA give me some skills that would enable me to become self-employed or be able to moonlight?
Would having an MBA be beneficial for my side venture of algorithmic trading?

I'm sorry if my post seems to be rambled and jumbled thoughts. I truely need some direction, and these decisions are not easy for me to make. I am trying to make the best decision and am hoping to get some good responses.

Thank you for your time.

Join LinkedIn if you haven't already, and meet some Finance guys. Join a few Finance groups on LinkedIn.

Talk to people in the field. Read what their concerns are. See what you think of it all.

Right now, all you know is that you don't like Engineering. Figure out why, and make sure that any future field would not have the same issues.

AlgoEngine said:   I have been working as an engineer for 3.5 years. I have a BS and MS in structural engineering from Georgia Tech. I really don't like engineering and think that a career in finance would better suit me. I think jobs would be easier to find, and my career would be more stable in finance.

Please tell me you're not serious

misterspaghetti said:   Please tell me you're not seriousCouldn't anyone with an MS in engineering become a consultant and charge 3x as much?

I was in a similar situation as you about 18 months ago (I have a BS in Civil Engineering w/ a Structural Concentration). I found a 1 year masters program that did applied statistics in the Big Data realm. You wouldn't believe the opportunities in this field. I more than doubled my starting engineering salary and there doesn't seem to be an upper limit. Hottest job of 21st century: Data Science Shortage of Big Data analysts

Will your current employer pay for you to get an MBA? If so, do it part time on their tab.

But do not assume the grass is greener on the other side.

Lots of engineers do MBAs, I believe it's something like 1/4 of MBA students come from engineering to move into management roles. So, it isn't at all unprecedented. However, going into finance, rather than, say, operations management might be more difficult.

Something in real estate seems like a natural fit for your skill set.

Finance industry does not pay what it did before the crash. I am a chemist, got MBA, part time, work paid for it. Graduated in 2008, when lots and lots of finance people were being laid off.

I was offered a couple of jobs with the big banks, but they all were paying $45,000 - $50,000 as analyst, which would have been a huge pay cut for me.

I chose to stay in the industry I already was for 10 years. It seems to be paying off, I am just a hair shy of six figures without having to work really long hours that many financial analysts do.

I would suggest you stick with the career you already started. There are engineering jobs that pay easily over $100,000, especially in the fuel and refinery fields.

Georgia Tech is a good school and is well recognized in the technical community.

I went from MSEE-VaTech to MBA-Finance-Chicago, CPA and CFA, now run a multi-million dollar hedge fund. It can be done but it is a lot of work.

OP, it would better serve us if you define the "career in finance" you have in mind.

I made the switch in the 2004 ~ 2006 time frame with just a BS in ME (from Woodruff). I started with by figuring out what was my "dream job" in finance and then built my credentials to suit that job. Going to school blindly will do more harm than good. For example, if you simply want to peddle mutual funds to strangers, you're probably already over-qualified. On the other end, if you want to be a private equity associate post-mba at a mega fund, you might not be qualified even if you graduated top of class at HBS.

Keep working and pay off your student loans.

I too would like a job I enjoy, work for myself, part time/moonlight hours and make $250k a year.

I too am an Engineer (Geotech/Civil) and also made a non-civil engineering career change into IT about 2yrs ago. My only recommendation is to definitely obtain your PE License - just in case you work 3.5yrs in Finance and don't like it either! I keep up with my yearly PDHs via the multiple online PDH course outlets. Also, I'm able to easily scrape together about $3k/yr of Engineering consulting work.

Most MBA's from decent schools start at around 100K+ for past-time/evening programs. EMBA's are even more expensive.

As mentioned earlier, these programs are for connections and to get you an interview for your desired position. A lot of what is taught can also be picked-up on the web from places like khanacademy or coursera. If you are going to start something on your own then you are better off saving that 100K+ and spending time online learning a similar curriculum for free, focusing on applying the content of those classes to your real life venture.

If you are thinking finance I would take a look at the statistics out of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. MBA's are the largest group of advancced degrees in prison. I have defended top tier MBA grads who were put in impossible positions by management wanting to cut corners. If you don't cut them they will find someone who will. We still have 2 years and 3 months to run on the 2008 crash where people can be taken in. It wasn't until 1992-3 that the indictments came down from 1986. So I would also question whether or not you can stand the stress.

It sounds like a change of employer or area of work are more in line for you. There are more crummy jobs in finance than there are in engineering. Have you passed your EIT and how close are you to your PE? A PE makes you stand out in any group of MBA's for employment. My PE with my JD made all the difference in the world in working in the oil patch 40 years ago. It gives you a lot more options on job applications and it makes you stand out from the rest.

Thank you for all of the responses. Sorry that I'm just now responding. I have been away this last couple of days. Please see my responses to yours below.

@qcumber98
Did you go back and get an MBA in finance? I have also been considering getting a masters in Comp Sci. Can you give me a broad summary of the field in terms of job demand and stability?

@jakejames6
I agree some fields of engineering are in high demand. But structural engineering isn't one of them.

@JamesPolk
I have not considered a masters in applied statistics. This does sound very interesting. Can you elaberate any?

@hfzeus
My current employer does offer a max of $3k per year on tuition reimbursement. Not a full-ride.

@nsdp
I do have an EIT and can sit for the PE next spring. Its interesting that you mentioned that you have a JD. I had planned on going to law school but thought that a structural engineer with a JD would be an odd combination. I didn't get into any top tier law schools so I didn't think that it was a good decision. What are your thoughts?

If you already have two degrees from Tech, they offer a PhD program geared toward quantitative finance.

It would be a shift from structural engineering to a more in-depth understanding of controls theory, neural-networks, etc, but having an engineering background is probably a requirement to hack it.

AlgoEngine said:   

@nsdp
I do have an EIT and can sit for the PE next spring. Its interesting that you mentioned that you have a JD. I had planned on going to law school but thought that a structural engineer with a JD would be an odd combination. I didn't get into any top tier law schools so I didn't think that it was a good decision. What are your thoughts?


When you say "structural engineer" is your degree in ME, CE, or AE? If ME or AE, getting the JD and becoming a patent attorney is a pretty logical progression. I don't know of any civil engineers doing that, though.

Here are schools that have degrees in "Big Data Analytics": Infomation Week Article

I went to a 1 year program. Recruiting was unbelievable. I had 20+ first time interviews and 4 offers prior to graduation.

I'm really shocked that after all of this time the conversation hasn't shifted from MBA to quant degree(masters in financial engineering, masters in computational finance, masters in quantitative finance, etc.)

The OP is an engineer that likes to program for crying out loud and wants to get into finance. There is absolutely no reason why he should pick an MBA program over a top quant program.

An MBA will have him maybe as some associate level sell side I-banker and will probably hate that type of work almost as soon as he got in.

If he graduates at a top quant school 3 years of a hard work post grad and $300k salaries are common. Plus he would be doing more programming and financial engineering type work.

OP should look at quant degrees from:
1) Carnegie Mellon
2) Stanford
3) U of Chicago
4) Berkeley
5) NYU
6) MIT
7) Princeton

Finish up one of those programs and you're set. Some of them are only a year long. Starting salary out would be in excess of $120k plus bonus. You're on the fast track to the hedge fund sector if you want it. 3 years out of college $300k+ easily for a hard worker is not bad at all.

@arch8angel
I have considered a quantitative finance degree, but it is such a narrow field. I am worried that I might be in the same situation as I am now with structural engineering. Structural engineering field being so narrow is one of the reasons I don't like it. I will say that quatitative finance does peak my interest.
I have a MSCE with structural concentration. I have considered the patent attorney option. I did not think of it in respect to ME or AE. Since I am CE, would that limit me considerably?

@JamesPolk
Thanks for making that aware to me. I did look at the website, and the program looks remarkable. And its only 10 months! I will have to keep this in mind as I try to figure out what I should do in the near future.

@dshibb
I have considered the quant degree route. GT has a program which is ranked 14th. Is that not a good enough ranking?
Can you provide some resources for the salary information that you posted? I have done a few searches but haven't been able to see the high numbers that you stated.
As I shared above, my concern with a quant degree is that the field is very narrow, and I would be very limited in that respect. Should I be concerned about working in such a narrow field? My career as a structural engineer has me concerned about working in a narrow field that is in poor shape. Please share your thoughts.

Thanks to everyone responding!

If self employment is a desire, the math behind an MBA is tough to justify. Even if you find a school where a 2 year program is $50k/year for all expenses, then you're out of $100k plus the opportunity cost of whatever you would have enjoyed. It could easily wind up being a $200k impact when you factor in everything like the foregone salary for 2 years.

I've run through the math a few times behind an MBA, and so my next step is to see what it would take for me to justify it. With that $200k, I can go out and buy rental properties that get me much closer to an independent self-employed lifestyle. A few different rental properties alone can go a long way. They'll allow you to pursue whatever you want, like algorithmic trading, because you'll have time on your side - you won't need a day job to pay for things.

My biggest interest in investing and so I'm happy being given all day to sit around reading annual reports and pouring over financial figures. In order to get there, I realize that an MBA that helps me get into a top tier investment fund is 1 route, and another route is building up passive income so I don't have to rely on a day job after a while. And maybe the right solution will be something in the middle, but the point is that the cost of an MBA is pretty high and so I do question it at times and weigh it against alternatives.

AlgoEngine said:   @arch8angel
I have considered a quantitative finance degree, but it is such a narrow field. I am worried that I might be in the same situation as I am now with structural engineering. Structural engineering field being so narrow is one of the reasons I don't like it. I will say that quatitative finance does peak my interest.
I have a MSCE with structural concentration. I have considered the patent attorney option. I did not think of it in respect to ME or AE. Since I am CE, would that limit me considerably?


For the patent attorney option, I have gathered from friends that if you can hack law school, an ME from GT makes it nearly a sure-thing. With a degree in CE, you'd want to do your research first, but I think the perception would be that you had less exposure to the mechanical design side of things, whether it's actually the case, or not.


As for the GT quant program, people I know that are doing it (as of a year, or two ago) were getting $90k internships while they were still in the program, and were heavily recruited, with $250k+ being the expected compensation in a place like NYC. Things may have changed in the last year, or two, with regards to availability, but I was left with the impression that the program at GT was serving these people just fine, with regards to job prospects and professional respect.

Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.

Sure a narrow field is a factor you should concern yourself with, but let's be honest here a non top 20 MBA isn't really worth that much. The only reason why it would be worth more to you in particular is that you don't have a business credential since your secondary education has been engineering.

Let's say Joe Blow here graduates top 10% of his class from Carnegie Mellon's quant program and after doing some financial engineering work doesn't like it and wants to do something else. Do you really think that Joe Blow will have any trouble finding work in a whole host of industries? I mean doing that certainly proved that Joe Blow has a math mind that is in a tiny percentage of the world. His financial knowledge likely exceeds most 10 year veterans of the sell side and his programming skills likely exceed most people with a bachelors in computer science.

So after that(if you hate quant work):
-You want to become an actuary? You're probably hired
-You want to get into IT? You're probably hired
-How about buy side research? Hired!
-Trader? Hired!
-Venture Capital? Hired!
-Math professor? Hired!
-Finance professor? Hired!

I mean what do you want? You want to go be a consultant or a sell side I-Banker fetching coffee and laundry for your first year while they hand you 90 hours of b!tch work while you figure out what you want to do? Or do you actually want to be very useful to someone right out of a grad program?

If you're unsure maybe you can call up some quant firms in maybe NY/NJ/CT and just mention that you're seriously considering a quant program and that you want to make sure you'll like the work after you graduate before making such a big commitment and then fly up there for a quick trip. I would bet that if you call enough of them they would gladly let you shadow around their firm a little bit to see what kind of work you would be doing and then slip you their card to have you give them a call when you're about to graduate.


Also, there are dollar amounts that will make anybody willing to accept a few negative things about a career. It just so happens that with a quant degree you stand a better chance of getting a dollar amount that will actually matter in that thought process than other degree programs.

at least you're a hell of an engineer.

TO HELL WITH UGA!

dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


GT is a top-25 business school based largely on its quant programs, and tuition is minuscule compared to CM, as GT is a public institution with one of the lowest tuition rates in the country.

Skipping 40 Messages...
dshibb said:   FranksandBeans said:   Any chance you could move more towards the account/sales side of things within engineering and be happy? So long as there is a product, most companies have some sort of technical sales type position usually under the guise of applications or sales engineer, possibly account manager. Bit of a stretch from finance but closer and still in demand, lots of jobs to move around to.

If you are bored with straight engineering but have a good understanding of your field, it is usually not too hard to move into jobs where you are dealing more with numbers and people and less with engineering, if that is your preference and you have the personality/charisma/talking skills to do so. Two completely different skill sets and there is always a demand for such people. Engineer with people skills and sales guy with engineering skills are both hard guys to find.

Apply your finance enthusiasm to your own finances. As a sales guy you'll have plenty of time to do so.


Franksandbeans, I presume by his interest in financial engineering and algorithmic trading that he isn't wanting to get into finance to be a salesman.

Instead it would be my guess that finance(or particularly that side of finance) appeals to him because of a love for analysis and complex puzzles; I don't see how becoming a sales oriented account manager in the engineering space is going to give him that.


You were a lot nicer about this than most would be, I knew when posting that it probably wasn't quite along the lines of what the OP was thinking in terms of a Finance career.

However, I'm a mechanical engineer working in what many call the worst field, automotive, and I've seen a lot of new engineers start work and hate the job. Most of them seem to assume that engineering is going to be really exciting and they will start working on interesting sandbox or R&D type projects with lots of flexibility to design and do what they want. Those folks are quickly demoralized by things like too many meetings or their first project being a bolt or bracket or some other mundane work. Put simply, engineering can suck, and it's more likely to suck when you first start out.

I've seen a lot of those people say F-it and quit only to chase around other careers they think are more interesting, or more secure, or pay better. You pick. Most engineers aren't rich, but if you are at all competent you should be able to find a job just about anywhere, and the pay should be liveable to arguably good. Far as the interesting/satisfying part of things go, that can be tough but you've got to move towards where you want to be over time. I have friends like this that have dumped engineering, taken another 2-6 years of schooling, only to end up in another mundane job they dislike making similar or less money. Long story short the main risk is just repeating the same mistake cycle that got you an engineering degree (and costs of it) in the first place by starting over to chase something else that sounds interesting.

I've seen a lot of others (like myself) that come to terms with what they like and dislike about engineering and get on a path to move towards what they want to do, which in most engineering fields would include options geared towards management, sales, or R&D after putting in at least a few years of grunt work. OP seems to be just about at that point, so there might be a move to consider giving a shot before ejecting.

Just wanted to point that out to the OP.



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