Metal Trades - to Welding Inspector - to Field Engineer - Advice



   I dropped out of a private art school after 1 year back in 2001, as this was my initial grounding and only left due to the financial burden and grim job prospects - in conjunction with school debt.

After my departure, I pursued the metal trades, worked 9 years and made a fairly reasonable living as a pressure piping welder. I then secured my welding inspector certification, which increased my salary and decreased my physical role considerably. Lastly and more recently, I was promoted to a field engineering position.

  The money is there and frankly, outstanding. However, you have to live on the road....a lot, and putting in 100+ hour weeks is commonplace. (It's destroyed interpersonal relationships as well). I want to hire on with the client directly for better balance, but I have no degree, just an overwhelming amount of practical experience, drive to find answers, eye for detail, and an overwhelming amount of common sense.

  In short, I want to blend my technical, with my art/design background. I have to figure out what I want to do with the next 30 years of my life. I see some pretty negative reports on these forums about avoiding architecture altogether, and makes me question a few things. I just enrolled in community college to get a feel for school again and have been eyeing up some Architectural Engineering programs around my state.

   Wondering if this is the right move....from my understanding, you can have a degree in architectural engineering and dovetail into various engineering realms; you don't necessarily need to be a licensed architect to find a career path that actually pays a decent salary. With my welding and inspection certifications, surely I would think I could be an attractive prospect for SOMETHING out there that doesn't have an imbalanced life-work schedule.

   Any advice would be appreciated. Put yourselves in my shoes.   


Aug 10, 17 7:06 pm

If you want to explore your artistic side, why not offer design-build services for custom metal fabrications?

Aug 10, 17 7:25 pm

some of these guys studied architecture and some are metal metaphysicians

Aug 10, 17 9:21 pm

I've left architecture to take up a field engineering position so don't get offending when I say a field position is an intern position for someone with a degree and a promotion to a laborer. I also understand the long work hours and always away from home (which I enjoy for the moment).

If you want to slow down and have a better work life  balance I would suggest getting a degree an engineering or project management degree. Don't do architecture. And also I've known some field engineers that eventually moved up to project engineers and hate being in the office and dealing with the politics. Just my 2 cents 

Aug 11, 17 2:41 pm
You'll be starting almost from zero in arch. There is almost no artistic element in architecture unless you are rich and can immediately do your own thing or are willing to work for peanuts for upwards of a decade. If you enjoy your salary don't go into debt for an arch degree thinking you'll come out making anything more than 60k and that's with all your current experience, less if you didn't have it.

Sounds like you'd be better suited for construction management or engineering, the payoff is better for both, prestige (read cost) of degrees less important, and your existing experience will count for a lot more. Get your 40-50 hour/week desk job as a PM and spend your extra time painting or whatever to scratch the creative itch. You'll be much happier than drafting toilet details for 20/hr for a half decade.

Architectural engineering is often engineering light, less architecture usually with little to no 'art' studio time. Research the programs thoroughly to understand the pedagogy and what credentials/licenses you'll be eligible for upon graduating to ensure it meets your goals and that you won't have to pay for an additional degree later.
Aug 13, 17 1:55 pm

What about naval architecture?

Aug 15, 17 4:18 am

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