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Ask Slashdot: How Is Online Engineering Coursework Viewed By Employers?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-worth-the-paper-it's-printed-on dept.

Education 201

New submitter KA.7210 writes "I am an employed mechanical engineer, having worked with the same company since graduation from college 5 years ago. I am looking to increase my credentials by taking more engineering courses, potentially towards a certificate or a full master's degree. Going to school full time is not an option, and there is only one engineering school near me that offers a program that resembles what I wish to study, and also has the courses at night. Therefore, I have begun to look at online options, and it appears there are many legitimate, recognizable schools offering advanced courses in my area of interest. My question to Slashdot readers out there is: how do employers view degrees/advanced credentials obtained online, when compared to the more typical in-person education? Does anyone have specific experience with this situation? The eventual degree itself will have no indication that it was obtained online, but simple inference will show that it was not likely I maintained my employment on the east coast while attending school in-person on the west coast. I wish to invest my time wisely, and hope that some readers out there have experience with this issue!"

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201 comments

how do employers view frosty piss? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936127)

Cause I've got a frosty one!

I dunno... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936143)

I dunno...

BrilliantAnd the initiative to take a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936147)

You will have your former skills to provide a broader experience. And the initiative to take your early career in a new direction.

If an employer doesn't like it, then that shows their weakness, not yours.

Ask your boss (4, Interesting)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936157)

Let me start pointing out I write this from a European point of view.
Over here good educational institutions are certified and registered.

I know from first hand experience my boss is willing to pick up the tab for further education providing he sees the advantage of it and you stay for another two years.
It is common a new employer would pay off any remaining expenses for the course when you change job before the end of the payback period.

In short, ask your own boss what he thinks of a particular course.

Re:Ask your boss (-1, Flamebait)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936279)

I know from first hand experience my boss is willing to pick up the tab for further education providing he sees the advantage of it and you stay for another two years.

It is common a new employer would pay off any remaining expenses for the course when you change job before the end of the payback period.

In short, ask your own boss what he thinks of a particular course.

lololol, you Europeans are so naive. See, when you ask your boss if online engineering coursework is good for getting a new job, they would tell you "you're fired". And if you ask them if it will be worth it in your position to do the coursework, they will tell you "I don't care, it just better not affect your work."

To be fair, some employers do cover furthering education, but again, usually it cannot come at a cost to your already full workload.

Re:Ask your boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936323)

lololol, you Europeans are so naive.

Or maybe, in some cases, their employers just aren't idiots prone to knee-jerk reactions like the one in your example.

*WHOOSH!* (0)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936381)

lololol, you Europeans are so naive.

Or maybe, in some cases, their employers just aren't idiots prone to knee-jerk reactions like the one in your example.

The post was intended as satire.

Then **you're** naive! (4, Interesting)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936441)

I've personally been *demoted* for asking about funding continuous education!

My manager was OK with it, he even submitted the request to HR, who then submitted it to his boss for approval. His boss had an issue with it, and came to me and said, "If you think you need additional education, you're not as sharp as we need you to be." and then, since Texas is an at-will state (as in, they can fire you, at will, for any reason any time), I was summarily dismissed.

I'm sure this happens everywhere. I read your post as Insightful, not Funny. Your WHOOOSH was just disappointing.

Re:Then **you're** naive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936513)

I've found that (in the UK) companies are willing to pay for you to do courses/certifications if they think they'll gain from it, which is a rational point of view for an employer. So if you say "Do you think certification X will help me get a new job?" or "can I do certification X because it looks fun?" the answer is invariably no, but if you ask "Can I do certification X because it will make me better at my job and it makes us look better as a department/company?" they might shell out for it.

I worked at a company before where everyone had to do their J2SE certification as part of their contract because they felt it was a strong selling point.

Re:Then **you're** naive! (0)

Renraku (518261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936907)

America: Sending a bunch of people to college to get better at their jobs and make this company awesome will hurt next quarter's balance sheet, which will all be blamed on me. Fire them all and replace them with migrant workers that don't speak English! Even if the company crashes a day after the quarter is over, at least I'll look good for a few minutes!

Europe: This company is going to be around for the long haul, so might as well continue being awesome.

Re:Then **you're** naive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937371)

I work in the US, and the large company I work for funds quite a bit of education. If you show it is even slightly work related they fund 80% as long as you maintain a B average. It doesn't need to be related to your current job either. We do "Career Development Planning" and you may show that in 10 years you want job x and that this degree or certification will help you get it. Boom, funded. You do need to continue to work your normal hours, so you might be taking night / weekend courses but they will certainly pay for most of it.

Re:Then **you're** naive! (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936965)

I've personally been *demoted* for asking about funding continuous education!

My manager was OK with it, he even submitted the request to HR, who then submitted it to his boss for approval. His boss had an issue with it, and came to me and said, "If you think you need additional education, you're not as sharp as we need you to be." and then, since Texas is an at-will state (as in, they can fire you, at will, for any reason any time), I was summarily dismissed.

I'm sure this happens everywhere. I read your post as Insightful, not Funny. Your WHOOOSH was just disappointing.

Ah yes, sorry I fucked up in my explanation. The "lololol, you Europeans are so naive." part was the only part intended as funny satire.

The rest of it was sad and disappointing satire. You know, the kind where you tell the truth, like it's a joke, but it's not actually funny, because it's true, and everyone feels sadder for having realized it?

Sorry to hear about your situation. :( I honestly really hate the fuck out of the USA sometimes. So much injustice for employees.

Re:*WHOOSH!* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936443)

Obviously, satire wasn't a course where you went to college.

Re:*WHOOSH!* (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936975)

Obviously, satire wasn't a course where you went to college.

I didn't say it was GOOD satire... I mean, I whipped it up in like five seconds. So, of course it sucked really bad... just like your joke.

Re:Ask your boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936475)

I know from first hand experience my boss is willing to pick up the tab for further education providing he sees the advantage of it and you stay for another two years.

It is common a new employer would pay off any remaining expenses for the course when you change job before the end of the payback period.

In short, ask your own boss what he thinks of a particular course.

lololol, you Europeans are so naive. See, when you ask your boss if online engineering coursework is good for getting a new job, they would tell you "you're fired". And if you ask them if it will be worth it in your position to do the coursework, they will tell you "I don't care, it just better not affect your work."

To be fair, some employers do cover furthering education, but again, usually it cannot come at a cost to your already full workload.

Snowgirl, I am not sure how you got to your inference but I don't believe Teun said that people who work in the European setting tell their existing employer "can you pay for my education so I can get another job with some else". The fact that European's are more civilized with regards as to how they treat their workers when it comes to educational training, as well as vacation time (but this is another subject), should be something to aspire to rather than make fun of.

Re:Ask your boss (2)

Okind (556066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936527)

[W]hen you ask your boss if online engineering coursework is good for getting a new job, they would tell you "you're fired".

Maybe in Corporate America, where you have to slave 60 hours a week just to keep your job, and where you're expected to feel guilty for wanting to have a social life. In Europe (at least developing software in the Netherlands), this is simply not true. The reason: employers realise that a high turnover costs a huge amount of money and worse, delays projects. The latter costs time to market, which can be even more expensive and in extreme cases can kill the company.

To be fair, some employers do cover furthering education, but again, usually it cannot come at a cost to your already full workload.

This is true. It is also the reason why your education, even if paid by your employer, is done in your personal time (usually partially for mandated courses). This way both you and your employer invest, which is only fair.

Re:Ask your boss (2)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936723)

I have never heard of someone being fired for asking to take outside classes and be reembursed for them. I have heard of people not telling the company the finished a degree or not telling HR. This was in the late 80's and early 90's

Some major US companies will look at the completion of a masters degree or doctorate as not as an example of a promoteable event but as a method to restart you at the entry level pay. Any experince earned does not count for pay calculations. A made up example to make this clear:

Starting salery for BS degree 40K
BS + ten years 60K
PhD starting 50K
PhD + 10 years 75K
BS + 10 then complete PHD 50K

That said, most larger companies at the time had salery compression issues so long term that new hires fresh out out of school get higher pay than people with 10 years if you did not swap jobs.

Re:Ask your boss (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936783)

You said it, I only implied it. :)

You'll appreciate I'll continue doing my work, including in the USofA, on my European contract.

degrees only matter for your first job (2)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936165)

Once you have experience and a track record, that matters far more than what school or degree or GPA you had (the exception being ivory tower institutions where they protect their own). How those courses are looked on depends more on you than on wherever they came from.

Re:degrees only matter for your first job (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936221)

LOL.

Good luck getting that first job with an online "degree."

Re:degrees only matter for your first job (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936333)

"degree."

Why the quotes? They're all pieces of paper.

Only as valuable as the issuing institution (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936389)

"degree."

Why the quotes? They're all pieces of paper.

The degree is only as valuable as the accreditation and reputation of the issuing institution.

Re:Only as valuable as the issuing institution (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936565)

A degree is only as good as the person holding it has made it.

Re:Only as valuable as the issuing institution (2)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936815)

While I agree with you on principle, it must be said that some prestige from the issuing authority does help you get a foot in the door so that you can show off what you have done with it.

Re:Only as valuable as the issuing institution (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936863)

Not even. "simple inference will show that it was not likely I maintained my employment on the east coast while attending school in-person on the west coast" - the original poster is giving HR way too much credit.

Anything that helps stuff more keywords into your resume counts, doesn't matter where it comes from, because that's all they look at nowadays.

Exactly. What is your goal? (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936415)

1. Are you taking the additional classes to learn additional material because YOU want to?
Then it does not matter how the school is viewed. You're in it for the material.

2. Are you taking the additional classes as a "stepping stone" to an additional degree / classes that you want to take?
Again, you're in it for the material so don't worry.

3. Are you looking for something to build up your resume?
Then look for what schools have the best reputations and work around their requirements. You're in it for the school name in that case.

But don't confuse any of those items. If it HAPPENS that your choice will fit more than one category, great. But if not, then keep your focus on your primary goal.

And to reiterate the parent post, once you have your first job your work history matters far, Far, FAR more than what courses you took (are taking) or what your GPA was (is).

And since you've already stated that you have your first engineering job ...

Online is worth much less (5, Insightful)

introp (980163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936169)

At my last employer, where I was involved in the technical half of resume screening and candidate evaluations, online courses weren't worth very much in the early stages. The problem is that the quality of the programs varies so widely that it's best for the screener to just ignore them. Yes, there are diamonds in the rough, but you don't have enough time to go do the research, so you mentally block that part out and continue on. It's not particularly fair, but when you have 500 resumes to work through in a day, you have to come up with a fast system.

Now, if you make it into the later rounds and it comes down to you versus someone who hasn't demonstrated that drive to better themselves and their career? Yeah, I'd take the time to go look up the online program, any graduation statistics it published, etc.

Mod parent up. (4, Insightful)

Shandalar (1152907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936281)

Mod parent up. As an employer at a small business, if I value a four-year bachelors degree at a university at, say, a 10, then I would value a degree of the same name obtained online as about a 2, partially because of introp's observation that the quality is all over the place and is an unknown; and partially, I admit, due to personal unfamiliarity.

Re:Mod parent up. (0, Troll)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936483)

As an employer at a startup, I value no degree and 5 years working on a personal project as a 10, a degree as a -2, a Masters as a -5, and a PhD as a -10... I won't hire PhDs, ever.

I grew up coding. I have initiative to teach myself, to grow myself, and to dev in my spare time. Because I *love* it.

If someone has the time and endurance to waste tens of thousands of dollars, precious time not being productive (either for free cuz they can't find a job (think open source something) or at a job) that they took the time to get a degree, that means they're probably trapped in academia's Ivory Towers, will demand far more money, and be that much less productive.

Just look at how many companies routinely toss Masters and PhD resumes in the trash. I've worked for 3 such, you read about it on the web all the time. And are you going to start with that stack of 300 college degreed resumes, or the 5 or 6 without a degree who don't lie about it and are self-motivated enough to become craftsmen by themselves?

Hmm... More and more companies are starting at the shorter pile first. That greatly increases non-degreed people's chances.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936595)

Some of us go into degrees precisely because we grew up teaching ourselves, love it, and jump at the opportunity to spend 3 years just programming (as we have been doing for fun for years) and drinking. Yes, some people go into degrees for the wrong reasons, and plenty of people come out unable to code - but some people go into a degree because they love coding and want to do as much of it as possible, in a great environment.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936637)

Well, guess I'll never work for you.

Re:Mod parent up. (4, Informative)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936691)

Exactly, sounds like someone with a chip on their shoulder because they didn't have the persistence necessary to follow through with a degree.

Managers like you are the best. I love you guys! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936759)

I really appreciate the approach that you guys take when making hiring decisions. Managers like you have been nothing but beneficial for me.

You guys, having no degree or formal education yourselves, are completely intimidated by anyone with a degree. You fear hiring such people, because even a new graduate will quickly show how little you truly know. Sure, you'll spew out nonsense about people with degrees being "unmotivated" or "having money to waste" or some gibberish like that. But in reality it's because they are better than you, and you know it, but you're so damn scared to admit this.

So when it comes to building your team, you hire PHP "programmers" and Ruby "software developers" with no formal training of any sort. They'll create huge messes rife with performance problems, security flaws, poor design, and end-user inefficiency. Usually, the startup quickly goes under. In the rare case when the startup succeeds, it'll quickly become apparent that you and your team are causing more problems than you're eliminating.

Sensible upper management will then can you and your team, and bring in a consultant like me and my team, usually at a premium. Given that we are professionals with real education (yes, that means at least a bachelor's degree) and training, we know what we're doing. We clean up all the problems that you have created. Lucky for us, by the time we're done doing that, you, or one of the other anti-education/anti-competence managers like you has gone and created a new mess for us at some other company.

Your incompetence is great for me and my colleagues. We make far more money fixing your mistakes than we would if we just did the work in the first place.

Re:Managers like you are the best. I love you guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937023)

That's somewhat unfair - people who are self taught can be excellent just as people can do a degree and not be able to code anything. I think the insanity is to look at a degree and think it tells you one way or another if the person is capable. Interviews exist for a reason. Degrees are a chance to obtain knowledge, and the end result is really just so the employer can make a few assumptions - they still need to check you are capable, because it could go either way.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937009)

PhDs are definitely overrated. Unless you want to push the boundaries of technology and not just build the next widget, that is.

Re:Mod parent up. (4, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937049)

Correction: you grew up a douche.

Seriously, someone who summarily dismisses someone for going to college is worse than all the cocks who dismiss people for not going to college.

Re:Online is worth much less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936531)

B&M is worth much more than online because it shows sacrifice and serious devotion. Someone willing to give up their salary and benefits for X years, by choice, to pursue an advanced degree in their field, is someone who is doing it for the love of knowledge. Someone who seeks out a semi-reputable online program that happens to fit into their schedule is looking to pad their résumé. This is blatantly obvious to all hiring managers.

Re:Online is worth much less (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936701)

Oh please, I know people who only went back to college because they were out of work for more than a year, and some who got a degree going part time with the aid of a flexible employer. And others still who have no alternative but to use online education due to responsibilities like family and so forth.

Everyone is different, and for the GP, the quality of B&M school's classes can vary widely as well and I've seen plenty of graduates from good degree programs who are dumb as rocks, try figuring out what a person actually knows instead.

Re:Online is worth much less (2)

CoderFool (1366191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936829)

1. The piece of paper from an ABET accredited school is going to matter more than from a non-accredited school (abet.org, i think). 2. While the quality of online courses varies, so does the classroom experience. 3. After you have a couple of years of work experience under your belt, that will matter much more than a piece of paper. Your work experience, any additional activities you are engaged in, like an open source project or a java user group or something, and the type/quality of the online course will say more about the quality of your work and the kind of employee you are more than a piece of paper. I have met very competent people that had paper and that didn't have paper, and I have met people with paper that were very incompetent. The paper is more for an HR hoop to jump through and to aid hiring managers that don't know much about the position they are hiring for. 4. The paper (degree) is a minimum requirement for the HR departments of many larger companies. So it is good to have one from a reputable college (ABET, again). And the better companies offer tuition assistance. Its the smaller companies that are more likely to give you a chance if you don't have the paper but have demonstrable skills. 5. If you are interested in an online course and your boss won't pay or would give you problems for it,: Take it anyway, pay for it yourself, and don't tell him.

I will also point out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937065)

The poster could have posted this "ask slashdot" question without giving all the superfluous details about himself. It would have cut the summary text in half without sacrificing anything of value to the discussion.

I have noticed this pattern in many posts. People on slashdot LOVE to blather on about themselves.

Re:Online is worth much less (3, Informative)

fliptout (9217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937121)

I assume you are referring to online-only institutions, but highly rated schools have online engineering programs, too.

In many cases, there is no way to know if the degree was obtained online or not. For example, if you get a MS Electrical Engineering from Stanford by taking classes online, the degree says "Stanford", not "Stanford online" or somesuch.

Not how you get it that matters (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936183)

Online engineering courses aren't going to mean squat. But if you have a degree from an accredited university, it will count in the minds of employers no matter how you obtained it.

Re:Not how you get it that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936251)

Agreed with this...your basic assumption is that someone interviewing you is going to take the effort to think through and ask themselves, "How DID he get that degree?" You give your interviewer too much credit.
Reality, most people are just going to note that you have the degree, hopefully from a university that they've heard of, and move on from there.
If they take the time to put the thought into it, then they'll ask you, and you can explain how you pulled it off.

Been there done that (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936219)

Been there, done that.

how do employers view degrees/advanced credentials obtained online, when compared to the more typical in-person education? Does anyone have specific experience with this situation? The eventual degree itself will have no indication that it was obtained online, but simple inference will show that it was not likely I maintained my employment on the east coast while attending school in-person on the west coast

No one cares. If you get a job, it'll be from contacts and portfolio, more or less. HR won't care as long as the checkbox is checked off and they get a transcript.

I went to a "regional" U with multiple sub-campuses (campii?). I attended only online classes, although there was a sub-campus maybe only a half hour drive away. No, I did not commute 2 hours each way every day to the main campus. Maybe they'll get the same idea about your school?

Re:Been there done that (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936505)

HR won't care as long as the checkbox is checked off and they get a transcript.

But the hiring manager will count "PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Phoenix" at about the same level as "GED" even if HR just ticks the box for "advanced technical degree." I had a colleague get a BS from UoP at the same time I got a Masters in night school from a real university. We compared classes a lot, and I was disappointed by his classes, as I would have liked to improve some of my basic skills, DBA and programming are two things I skipped in becoming a networking guru. But the classes didn't teach much, they were more self-justifying (work for work's sake to prove you did something, rather than actually improving the person taking them).

And yes, an online degree from a "real" university will be treated the same as the paper one in most cases, and nobody will care if you took in-person classes from UoP (if they have any, I have no idea), it'll still be UoP.

Re:Been there done that (3, Interesting)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936541)

My advice is to attend one class and do well. Then you can truthfully say "you went to College". Then if they ask what your degree was in, say, "I majored in Computer Engineering.", which in my case is a 100% valid statement (I did study for 3 years).

99% of the time, they *assume* I have a degree. I'll never (and have never) lied about it, because it just doesnt matter much at all, really.

Maybe 3 out of 100 interviews, I've been asked, "Did you receive a degree?" and I just say "No, in 2003, I realized I could learn more and make money at the same time by doing my own contract development." THEN I get brownie points for taking the path of Gates, Bezos, Page, and Steve Jobs (who only took one semester of college).

By that point, the 3 who asked hired me very quickly thereafter.

Re:Been there done that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937177)

The OP is an engineer. You are a PHP programmer.
You'll never understand why your comments are meaningless, because your field is the development of ad-hoc solutions which have an expected MTBF of a week.
The mentality of individuals who develop safety-critical solutions which must outlive them and survive intense scrutiny prior to deployment is one you will never attain.

old college system sucks for on going education (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936223)

So there needs to be a better way for "experienced" people to pick up new skills in faster way then going back to college for 2-4 years and some times even having to retake gen edu's + filler classes. No there should be stuff like other trades where you can go to a trade school and drop into classes that will get you the newer skills.

Also there lack of courses at night in most colleges. Now is that engineering school a tech / trade school? so that is also a issues as HR takes a poor view of some tech schools even when they are more on point and have better class times then a older college. But on the other side I have heard on jobs paying there workers to take University of Phoenix classes. So this is a HR issue and a issues of trying to fit the old college system into today's tech word.

Also some colleges make you buy meal plans and some time room and board now why should some who has there own place and is working have to pay for all of that as well?

Now continuing education should not just be BA, MA, PHD, MBA, POST DOC it should be drop in classes with not makeing you retake gen edu's or have to take a load of filler classes.

Re:old college system sucks for on going education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936605)

Stop whining. There will never be a better way. Respectable engineering programs, even at the undergraduate level, require a level of work and intellectual aptitude far exceeding an average IT job. What do you expect at the graduate level? The programs are even more all-consuming.

probably viewed better if you have a good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936229)

It's probably viewed better if you have a good reason not to do it in person, such as doing a prison term. For white-collar crime of course :). Yes, I'm serious. Just list Enron Accounting before your online degree and it will all fall into place, you will get a high-level engineering job your pre-online-engineering-degree-having ass could only dream about :)

varies (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936259)

There's going to be a range of responses. Some will completely discount online learning, possibly even round-filing your resume for taking such a stupid course of action. Others will see a self-improvement motivated self-starter and salivate at the thought of hiring you.

I suggest you aim to work for the second kind.

Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (4, Informative)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936261)

Any sort of extra education is great, I encourage everyone to get smarter, but getting your PE stamp would do the best for your career, that's something that NO employer can disregard.

I'm not suggesting that it's "one or the other", I'm suggesting that you use any online or offline education to get a professional credential that's recognized by states or professional societies. For the ME, it's getting your PE stamp. Like a lawyer passing the bar or a doctor passing their boards, the PE is something that no employer can ignore.

At one equipment manufacturer that I worked for, only a couple of the engineers had their PE, and they were usually moved up to "senior engineer" or "vice-president of engineering" pretty quickly, the rest of us were kept down and encouraged not to get too uppity...

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (-1, Troll)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936587)

I disagree. I have no formal education outside my high school "diploma." No such certifications that you speak of. And yet I'm making $350,000 a year, and banging four "perfect 10s" every night in a delicious orgy I'm almost getting bored of. Almost.

Therefore your argument is bullocks.

G.E.D.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936613)

Maybe 'bollocks'. But then if you had your PE you would know that.

O

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936643)

Charlie Sheen? Is that you? WINNING!

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (1, Insightful)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936813)

Every night huh? Do you spend your 350k on anything else or just them?

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936951)

I wish there weren't so many douchebags in the world that the three people who replied to me could sense the sarcasm.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (3, Insightful)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936753)

Disclaimer: For mechanical engineers, I personally think that getting a PE often is a good move.

However since this is Slashdot, I would argue that for computer engineers this is not always true, or at least the easiest thing to do in the United States.

While completing college, I took and passed the Engineering-In-Training state exam for Electrical Engineering. I then worked for several years with various employers, some of which had PE's above or adjacent to me in the hierarchy; others of which did not.

The electrical engineering exam for PEs seems to be bending-over backwards to reverse the small percentage of licensed EE's relative to other disciplines. When I looked into this a year ago it was possible to take a purely computer-oriented exam without a lot of the power, electromagnetics, and other topics. The state certifying board where I currently live seemed more than willing to consider justification statements proving that work I did while not under the supervision of a PE could be credited as work experience.

At the time I also was a member the local NSPE/state society, attending meetings with lots of other PEs, and being flooded with offers of legal and civil engineer training courses.

But I never could get PE certification before my EIT expired. The catch was I could not find enough PEs that would be willing to sign of on me as a personal reference, largely because most felt uncomfortable with their knowledge about what I had done.

And since there are so many exclusions to when you can use the term "Engineer" without a PE in most states, I ran out of PEs to ask.

For Mechanical Engineers getting your PE often can be a good thing. But for Electrical Engineers and Computer Engineers especially it can be a chicken & egg problem.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936913)

I'm a software/electrical engineer with a PE, and I took the PE exam for computer engineering. I had the same problem as you, but I was able to find three PE references. Surely you can find three references.

In Texas, and probably in other states, you can have one reference who is not familiar with your work but can attest to your character. Plus, if people you want to use as references are not familiar with your work, take the opportunity to meet with them a few times a month for a few months to talk about what you are working on before you need them to write the reference.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936795)

I have my PE. I got a buck an hour raise after obtaining it. It's just another piece of paper showing you can fill out paperwork and take a test (well, and that you graduated from an ABET accredited institution, like I did). It's a good cred, but it's no PhD, not by a long shot.

I'm now taking online classes for a Masters' degree. The college I'm attending makes no distinction between a degree obtained online and one obtained in person (they are a B&M school that offers online degrees). Accreditation is important for any online classes. For MBA, it's AACSB. For engineering, it's ABET. No matter where you go, make sure the accreditation is there. University of Oklahoma and University of Colorado both offer online engineering Masters' degrees. I'd have done those, but they didn't fit my budget (my company's reimbursement policy is on the low end). I'm taking 3-4 classes per year, one at a time, it'll take 4 years to get my M.S.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936939)

Depends on where you live and work. Got a BS in EE, bs'ed the qualifications for PE, can stamp and sign off building plans. Dont' do any EE, didn't study architecture, but know the difference between a barn and a mistake. I don't go outside my experience much with signing off plans; not going to sign off something witha real HVAC system or real engineering in the structure, but for a barn, hell yes, that's a $300 stamp.

Re:Professional Engineer stamp is the way to go. (1)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937223)

The relevance of a PE is very highly industry dependent- I've been working as an electronics engineer for 21 years (Military R&D, Server Development, and Semiconductor Applications), and only worked with a PE once, and his PE was not necessary (or particularly relevant) for the work we were doing. It shows dedication, but doesn't really prove you can *do* anything. Look at the people in your work environment that you respect and have advanced at a reasonable pace. If they have PEs, it might be a good idea for you to invest the effort.

PE + online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937293)

That's a fair point. The PE gives you a significant amount of credibility. I often hear people say it's not worth much because there's no legal requirement in ME (unlike Civil), but I think the respect / trust / credibility it commands is underrated. Of course, that's not a short term option if you didn't take the FE or if you don't work with any PEs.

Analagously, my younger sisters were homeschooled. They had a good education, but they got a GED just in case someone was suspicious. They both went to the schools they wanted to attend, so whatever the reason, in the end it worked out like they wanted.

Don't waste your time learning more of the same (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936301)

My experience (which may have worked only for me mind you) is that employers don't give a toss about how much you know about stuff, but how flexible, adaptable and quick to learn you are.

In the 20-so years I've worked, I've held 4 positions in fields that have absolutely nothing in common. I worked as an employee, I worked self-employed, and I have my small business on the side.

Whenever I meet a potential employer, I am proud to say that I can learn anything quickly and become proficient on my own, and now I have a fat enough resume to prove it. Yes, I have an engineering degree, but the only thing it proves is that I'm patient and dog-headed enough to sit through years of boring classes, and that I'm clever enough to understand how teachers want the exam questions answered (which is not necessarily the correct answer). The rest of what I did in my life was self-taught, and employers seem to appreciate that much more than what I learned at school.

Masters might be good, MBA possibly a better idea (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936585)

I agree to a degree (no pun intended), however I have some observations.

Getting a Masters in the same field as a Bachelors may not be worth it **unless** you work or hope to work in the area you do your research. Personally I have no regrets getting a MS Comp Sci but my employer paid for everything except parking and we were located literally next door to the university.

Are you targeting a specific employer? For example if you wanted to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is Pasadena, California it may be very advantageous to work on a Masters at the neighboring university, Cal Poly Pomona. Your department may have professors affiliated or consulting with JPL, JPL interns or otherwise employs students from the university, etc.

As an undergraduate I had the conversation about getting a Masters with a fellow Comp Sci major. I was undecided. He commented an MBA would be far more useful. I laughed and couldn't imagine doing that. Many years later I did go to business school, again next door to work (the university is well ranked) and with employer support. After many years on the job focusing exclusively on engineering and technical issues I really enjoyed learning new and different thing, understanding other parts of the organization, understanding their perspective and concerns so that I could communicate more effectively with them ... but most of all I enjoyed seeing how ignorant and misinformed I had been about business perspectives and business school. For example marketing was not about snake oil and psychological cons as my inner engineer would have expected, it was about how to conduct a survey to get real rankings of customer preferences (which may differ from self identified preferences), how to construct a mathematical model of the existing market, how to introduce a new product with new features into that market and see how the market adapts, etc. In other words how to develop an educated guess at expected market share of something new, I used to believe they just pulled such numbers out of ... the air. This is just one example of many.

I'd recommend looking into an MBA. Its probably not at all what one expects and it probably is more valuable to scientists and engineers than more degrees in their existing fields. As you become more senior you need to interact, understand and effectively communicate with others outside of science and engineering. I think an MBA helps in this regard.

In the US, business doesn't care. (3)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936319)

Business (HR specifically) doesn't give a shit about your degree. They care about a) that you have the checkbox, b) who you worked for previously and are not lying about it, and c) whether it looks like you aren't a total fuckup who will cost them. It's about risk avoidance.

The actual team you interview with (if it wasn't an HR drone) cares that you look like you know your shit and can carry your weight.

Engineering and especially computer degrees are such a total crapshoot on the skills you get in a candidate, that they don't know how to weigh your degree. Even degrees from badass schools sometimes come with folks who still can't code their way out of a wet paper bag. Besides, most of that senior level theory stuff in the degree won't help you much in a real world job until the late stages of your career, and will piss off your peers who don't have the same background, and definitely piss off management, who barely understands what a linked list is.

The quality of in person versus remote will depend on your learning style, and whether you actually would make use of those in-person office hours anyway.

Re:In the US, business doesn't care. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936405)

but now all the CS jobs at good companies are requiring a masters or phd... fuck

Re:In the US, business doesn't care. (1)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936655)

If they require a master's or PhD, it's not an entry level position.

They either a) are trying to change the world with new or hard stuff and want a theory guy to guide things or b) don't know what they are doing or c) don't want to mess around with kids straight out of school who haven't figured out the corporate metagames and "git'er done" culture yet.

There's the optimal implementation on paper, given infinite time for implementation, and there's the "We have two weeks, do what you can pull off" implementation that business is usually looking for. Business values programmer time more than academia does. I know my CS degree didn't prep me for that very well.

Actual raw engineering is a bit less wild wild west than software... there are legal definitions of what a certified engineer is responsible for; i.e. if people die as a result of your engineering mistakes, it's your fault, not just some edge case bug. But the same corporate BS is still driving it, so the same stuff applies... HR is still about risk avoidance, it's just that a guy with a master's or PhD had to jump through more hoops to get to the table and thus the wheat is seperated from the chaff so to speak.

Business doesn't care about getting the best candidate, they care about getting the guy who looks like he's good enough for the money they are willing to spend on him and won't end up as a disaster. And also, some of those job postings may require a master's or PhD so they can legally justify hiring an H1-B after there is no one "qualified" to be found.

Re:In the US, business doesn't care. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937091)

I defy you to find any corporate-level management outside of Google and Facebook who can pull off fizz-buzz, let alone explain what a linked list is. Not even "barely".

but what can you do? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936331)

Ultimately, it matters more what you can do. Education, past job experience, etc, everything on a resume is nothing more than an indication of what you can do. Prospective employers will look at it and think, "can this person do the job I want done?" They don't actually care about your school (unless they wen't to a weird frat).

I looked at four resumes in the last week, and I didn't look at education for any of them. I can't even remember if they listed it. But one of them had a lot of job experience doing lots of interesting things, and another one had some mediocre job experience, developing skills we didn't need.

The point is to write your resume in a way that shows what you are capable of. At first this is a little difficult, because all you have is college experience, but as time goes by, it will become easier and easier. Because you will have used your skills more and more.

Plus and minus (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936335)

In my mind, the fact that you were able to maintain employment as an engineer AND work towards a degree at the same time more than outweighs the downside of an online education.

What are the downsides?

* Some lab-work and project-work simply cannot be done online.
* While it's critical to know how to collaborate totally online and over the phone, it's also critical to collaborate in a face-to-face situation. I want evidence any college graduate can do both well.

Since you are already working in the field, that's going to fill in many of the holes that an "online only" degree might leave.

Students fresh out of college and those transitioning from stay-at-home parenting or a totally-non-engineering career have much more to be concerned about in the "online vs. in-person degree" decision than someone like you.

In short, don't worry too much about taking most or all of your program online-only. If there is a particular class that you think would be better taken "in person," look at a local university and see if you can take that class and transfer it. Most graduate programs allow 1 or 2 classes to be taken elsewhere and transferred in.

You may also want to do the "take a class and transfer it" route if you want to get a particular local-university professor to write you a letter of recommendation.

It depends (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936347)

Stupid Companies: Will hold it against you because it challenges the obsolete Ivory Tower mindset. You don't want to work for that place anyway.

Smart Companies: Will value it/you because not only do you already have a degree, and additionally you pushed yourself to get yet another one, even though most people just rest on their laurels at that point.

Just stay out of the mind trap where you think that you should be paid more JUST because you have an additional degree. Using the knowledge acquired from that additional degree to make yourself more valuable - that's the proper mindset.

I had an employee that tried that with me, he was really shocked when I informed him that I don't put a whole lot of value on degrees, as myself have only a GED and some college. It's what you do with your innate talents that counts for me.

Speaking only for my company (1)

Tourney3p0 (772619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936359)

If we were specifically looking for someone with a master's or a particular certification, we would almost certainly go with an applicant who got their degree/cert from a brick and mortar school over the person with the online credentials (all other qualifications being the same). On the other hand, if we were looking for someone with a bachelor's and one applicant had a master's from an online degree, they would probably be in the forefront. Of course, they probably wouldn't be compensated beyond having a bachelor's given that that's all we had written out in the requirements.

depends on the credentials and job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936361)

If the credentials match the jobs you're applying for then it matters. Someone with a resume showing a degree from the University of Phoenix is definitely going in the trash. But if you're applying for a software position, have degree in philosophy and a bunch of certificates in programming then that's enough for an interview. Ultimately you're ability to perform on the interview is going to be much more telling.

Depends on what you want. (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936367)

If you want to study subject X because you are curious about X and want to learn more about X, then it will be valuable to you.

If you want another piece of paper to impress people who care about such things...may or may not be valuable.

I saw someone taking an online course... (1, Informative)

doug141 (863552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936431)

when taking the online tests, if you didn't know the answer, you could cut and paste the question into google, and the results page was full of sites that would immediately sell you the answer for about a buck.

Your online degree will not be taken seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936451)

If you're serious about furthering your education, going to a reputable school, full time, in the day, is not "not an option", it's "your only option". Otherwise you will be overshadowed by people serious enough to make the sacrifices to attend a legitimate, day time program.

Re:Your online degree will not be taken seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936609)

This is absolutely not true given the information provided in the question.

Re:Your online degree will not be taken seriously (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937169)

....because social mobility and self improvement is only for the under 25's and those with access to daddys credit card. Now get back to your toil pleb.

Purdue M.S. earned online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936459)

I will be graduating with an engineering degree this May and will most likely be starting in an entry level position soon after. I also applied as was accepted to Purdue to get my Master's. They have an online option that I would think about pursuing while working. Would this help my resume? It is a well respected institution, do you think employers would hold that degree in higher regard than other online engineering degrees?

My thoughts on the matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936471)

Some companies actively have an internal policy of helping you pay for online courses, check if your's has something like this. And, they also sometimes have a preferred institution that they like to use, probably because they're getting a discount. Just a few days ago I was sent a email from H.R. giving me the login details to purchase any course at a University of their choice. The website didn't load in Chrome, so I gave it a pass. I have a degree already and a lot of experience anyways, and getting high paying jobs hasn't been a problem for me. Worth noting, though, is that I didn't enjoy going to college and I prefer to self-teach myself. As a result, I didn't get a great G.P.A while I attended University and it has hurt me only a few times while job hunting. Specifically, there were two companies, both financial companies, that required a G.P.A. during the job interview process. I asked why it was necessary and they informed me that they weren't going to judge me based on it, but that it is company policy to require one. I gave them my score of 2.6, and they immediately turned me down. Though, to be fair, you would not want a complete idiot developing something so important. However, I feel that based on my vast experience they should have at least given me a chance to prove myself. I don't mean to beat my own drum, but anywhere I work I'm always all-star quality. Their loss I guess. I suppose I could go back to college and try, but I'd have to do the online route like you if I wanted to keep working. I'm not that hungry for the financial jobs though, because I make almost as much as they would have been willing to pay anyways already.

On-line, other education and courses - advise (5, Insightful)

ciurana (2603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936481)

Howdy.

I'm a VP of technology for several companies, and have been in a position to hire software, network, and system engineers since at least 1997. In all honesty, neither I, nor any of the people who've reported to me, ever paid much attention about where someone went to school, what their actual degree was, or whether they had earned some honor -- as long as the guy could deliver. From certs to prestigious schools, we never really bothered. Eventually I found out that I had a couple of MIT grads and at least one Stanford kid. I also had a pile of people whose degrees were awarded by foreign universities (including my own) and really... nobody really cares.

If you have the skills and you have the work experience, then you should be fine.

Right now I sit on the tech board for a couple of companies in Europe and the US, and I'm driving the technology at a very large social network with dev operations in the UK and Russia. I do notice that Europeans pay more attention to "schooling" and "degrees" and "titles" than US companies do, but not by much. My former employers and clients include some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley, rest of the US, Europe, Japan, and Mexico. The only occasions when I had to produce some kind of official proof of education were:

* When getting my US labor certification (1991... long time ago...), and when getting my Russian labor certification (last year) -- bureaucrats just love the fsck-ng paperwork
* When applying for a US federal job -- even then, they clarified that all they care about is whether I completed the degree or whether it was accredited, the date, and some accreditation equivalence since my degrees are from foreign institutions

Pro Tip: see if your employer will pitch in for part or whole course. Tech departments have educational budgets ranging from a couple of hundred dollars/year for books per employee, to full scholarships. I've auth'd books, on-line courses, conferences, PIM, and university courses for my peeps many times in the past. Check that out with your supervisor or with HR. A lot of people don't realize the option might be there -- and, if others in your group aren't taking advantage of it, your manager may be amiable to extend your budget a bit more (since money she doesn't spend is money she may have to cut next year).

So -- get your education wherever you can as long as they are legit, kick some butt, take names, and good luck in your career advancement!

Cheers!

From my experience... (3, Informative)

gnalre (323830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936485)

I can only talk from what I have seen and done, but in the UK we have a online university called the Open university which is generally well regarded. That is not to say that all employers will provide the same respect as say a MSc from Oxford or Cambridge(Actually a side point, a MSc from Oxford or Cambridge is generally worthless since they will award you one for just staying alive after your BSc), but a lot of managers I know got their MBA's from the Open University so they know its value.

Generally most qualifications especially technical ones really show nothing about once you left university Any attempt to continue your education and extend your skills and knowledge should be valued by your present and future employer. If not you are working for the wrong company.

Re:From my experience... (1)

fartrader (323244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936903)

The ou is extremely well regarded. In computer science research for example they are considered at least as equals with traditional brick and mortar institutions. ...and no, I have no affiliation with them :)

Re:Oxford and Cambridge MA's and MSc's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936911)

The comment about an Oxbridge M.Sc. is not accurate. Oxford and Cambridge will typically award an M.A. to someone with a Bachelor's degree for "staying alive" a few years. (It's a practice left-over from the days when gentlemen were expected to continue their studies on their own after completing a first degree, and is continued today because ... well, the British like traditions.)

But an M.Sc. is a research degree, typically two years, but sometimes awarded as a consolation for someone who fails a Ph. D. (which happened to a good friend of mine.) Oxford and Cambridge are two of the few universities for which the MA and MSc differ greatly in intensity, and not particularly in subject area like "arts" or "sciences."

Re:From my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936919)

Cambridge give an Honorary MA about 3 years after graduating. They have been doing this since before most other universities were founded so it is a traditional thing. It should not be misrepresented as a standard MA, if you do this then you are lying to your employer. An MSc from Cambridge means you spent a year studying for the masters course so is not worthless.

It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936529)

If it's a "do you have your ticket punched" situation, it depends on who's looking at the ticket. Some places (the job equivalent of "highly selective colleges") want to see that Masters or PhD from a "name" school. Others, where there's some functionary just checking the box, it probably doesn't matter.

If it's a "I want to show that I can execute a course of study and do a thesis" AND the person asking about it will actually be looking at the thesis, it matters more what you do than where you do it. This is "educational institution serving as stand-in for work experience" sort of thing: the "first job" scenario... once you have actual meaningful project level work experience, that will usually be as useful, if not moreso, than the thesis and coursework.

Online vs inclass - there's also a variation in on-line.. some are classic "distance learning" like back in the days of analog microwave links and such, where there's actually interaction between class members and the professor in real time. Others are basically "correspondence courses". I think there is potential value in the "in-class interaction" in two ways: one is that you get to discuss/argue with class mates, which improves your presentation and interaction skills. The other is that the instructor becomes a potential reference/writer of recommendation letters that is independent of your employer (and typically, in academia, professors are MUCH more candid than the HR department at your employer, who might have a "dates of employment and title only" policy)

Evening classes are actually great (my wife went through a MBA program that way).. because you are typically interacting with about half the class who are "fresh out of bachelors" and the rest who have been out in the workforce for 10 or more years. That diversity of experience is very, very valuable, to say nothing of the "networking" opportunities that arise. If you are in a daytime, fulltime program, your classmates will all be just graduated and never actually worked in the real world types. So the evening class is great... the old hands get to see what the new people coming out are like and vice versa. As far as "value to an employer" goes, that kind of experience is very useful although tricky to convey in a check off the boxes resume form.

If the online thing is basically a single person in their basement filling out workbooks kind of thing.. nah, that's not worth a lot.

Certificates, in general, are worthless. Most employers have been burned enough over the past 10 years by the proliferation of certification organizations, be they corporate (Novell, Microsoft, Cisco) or industry organization (PMI) and the certifications they grant. THey're ok if you've never had a job before and you need to demonstrate that you actually might have some competency, but no employer will trust just that. They'd rather you have 2 years practical experience (even unpaid, but meaningful, with credible, non contrived references) than some cert.

If you're talking certification in the sense of professional licensure (e.g. Professional Engineer, or EIT).. that's worth something, *in the correct industry*. I don't think my having a PE license would carry a huge amount of weight if I were applying for a database architect job.

It depends on what you mean by "online" (5, Insightful)

Falrick (528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936589)

There are online courses, such as MIT's open courseware, and then there are online courses, such as UIUC's master of computer science [uillinois.edu]. For courses that you take via Open Courseware, Kahn Academy or similar programs, I doubt your current or future employer will think much of it. For courses that you took towards a masters degree from an accredited brick-and-mortar university, on the other hand, should carry the same weight as if you attended them in person. Why? Because you are watching the same lecture that students physically present are watching.

I've been working towards my masters of science in computer science degree since 2007 (one class at a time takes forever). I started taking classes remotely at a remote television site at my employer. I later left that employer and got a job somewhere that didn't have access to those remote television sites, so I started taking the classes online. Since I started, I'm now at my third company, and all three have been more than willing to pay for my courses. In fact, that's probably the most telling point for whether anyone is going to take your courses seriously: is your company willing to pay for the classes. My advice is only take classes from a public or private university with a real physical campus, and only universities you would consider attending in person if you lived nearby.

Now, having taken courses remotely for several years, let me forewarn you about online learning:
  • -- Online classes are harder than in-person classes. "But you said it's the same class that other students are taking in person!" Yup, it is. But those students have the ability to ask a question in lecture. They get to be in the room as it's happening and can look at all the boards the prof is using. When you watch it online, you watch what the video-taper thought was most important. I can't tell you the number of times I've been staring at a slide when the prof says something like "I'm pointing at the most important aspect of this class. If you don't understand this, you won't do well. Now this other thing, don't worry about that." "Wait!" I scream at my monitor. "What are you pointing at!"
  • -- You get less attention than on-campus students. In the nine classes I've taken, I've had maybe 6 homeworks/exams returned to me. Most of those were from the same class. A guy I worked with got his MSEE from a California state school taking all courses online, and he always got his exams back, so it probably just depends on the university you attend.
  • -- Some classes will still insist on group projects. Yup, group projects suck, but they suck even more when you have no way of meeting the other students in your class. Online students are also typically students that have other lives, which is why they are taking classes online! Coordinating your schedule with theirs is challenging, as is the process of vetting a good project partner.
  • -- You may be required to physically show up to present a project. When I first started I had to take a prerequisite class that had a lab; a lab I had to drive 1 1/2 hours to attend in person, which wasn't so bad, but it would be three hours from where I live now. Take prerequisites from somewhere else if this isn't an option. My co-worker had to fly to California to take an exam. Both of these are the exception, not the rule, but be prepared for that possibility

Now going online also puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to choosing your institution. You get to pick from many more universities than are likely to be proximate to where you live. You can watch lectures multiple times, rewind to the part where the prof started speaking gibberish and watch it until you understand what the heck he's talking about. You can also choose a university where the courses are taught by professors and not TAs. I've had all of my classes taught by the professor. If you choose to pursue a degree either in person or online, good luck!

Distance learning (via Internet) masters here (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936649)

Although I do my academic work in my personal life, rather than my employed life, so far, it seems to be well received by my employer's senior management (FTSE 100 company)— a couple regularly ask me for the papers I have written, and ask questions which indicate that they have at least skimmed the contents. They have been very supportive indeed, even to the extent of helping me revise my role, to enable me to work four days a week, so I can spend a day doing my own academic work.

That being said, I am doing it to increase my knowledge, and because I enjoy studying, rather than for the value of the end certification in itself, though — I am not sure how much value there is in being seen to hold a masters. That would be a bonus.

A side effect, however, might be an ability to demonstrate clearly your time management skills, as studying alongside a job may not be an easy task — if you do go for it, make sure you factor the time commitment into your life. In this regard, studying part time and once you have some experience under your belt may well be considered more of an achievement than taking another year straight after the undergraduate degree — the subject matter might be less relevant.

If you enjoy studying, and will stand to learn more by doing it, it's hard to argue against doing it, though, even if, in itself, it does not help you advance.

Depends (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936687)

Did you do your online studies from India/The Philippines/Russia/China/anywhere other rhan the U.S.?
Great! You can start as soon as your H1B paperwork is processed.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936713)

Join ASME and take advantage of their course offerings in your specialization (or in a field that interests you). That impresses me more than someone just wanting to put more letters after their name.

Unless you are teaching or consulting... (2)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936767)

...the name of the school on the diploma doesn't really matter for technical positions. It's much more about the contacts you can make from the interaction with other students at the school or what contacts the instructors have because they also do consulting work on the side.

Actually, I say screw the master's degree in Engineering. If you want to get somewhere, get an MBA. It will be completely useless piece of paper, but it's how you show employers that an Engineer can also be a Manager.

You assume a lot... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936851)

...about the intelligence of the average HR department:

...simple inference will show that it was not likely I maintained my employment on the east coast while attending school in-person on the west coast.

Go for it, regardless. (1)

Doofus (43075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936997)

I encourage you to pursue the online coursework, whether or not you seek a certificate or a degree, if you enjoy the coursework.

I spent five calendar years taking online courses for an MS in a technology field, because I was unwilling to sacrifice time at work for in-person classes. My team at work - colleagues and supervisory staff - respected the discipline required to attend and successfully complete online courses (4.0), and my salary bump after the degree was granted was significant.

As long as the parent institution is accredited by an appropriate higher education accreditation authority, your hard work will pay off.

Good luck -

Personally.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937035)

I'm doing a BEng with the open university (in the UK) they have a very good academic reputation, and my boss is very supportive (possibly because he thinks he's getting post grad work for 'unskilled' rates) I get to take time off at short notice if I've got something due and my time management fails and generally it's working out very well for everyone concerned.

Depends on the Online University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937117)

I don't know about Engineering specifically, but most online Universities are laughed at by HR departments. There are a few exception though, such as WGU's MBA program which is considered among the top 10 to 15 MBA programs in the country even including non-online university programs. Really you just have to study each Online program and people who came out of it to see which ones have name recognition that matters.

PE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937365)

dude i work as an ME as well. a masters is worthless for the most part. just stop stalling and get your PE.

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