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Online Masters in Engineering: Employability?

Wirth's Law

Member
Hello all,

By now, I'm sure many of you are aware of the increasing number of online graduate programs in Europe and the Americas. Personally, it was always my intention to pursue a masters in engineering after getting a solid foothold in industry for a few years. And seeing that these programs are in abundance, I feel now is the time to start exploring them.

Moreover, because of the nature of my work, I relocate often (let's say roughly every 2 years), which makes the traditional brick-and-mortar school option less palatable.

So my question is this: is the online approach effective for future job-seeking? Is it an effective way to boost a resume and get hired?

To simplify things, let's maybe assume the institution is at least an accredited one, and is also not a diploma mill--but a trusted one you've already heard of. I'd like to get everyone's opinion on this, but I'm especially hoping to hear from any one who has been in a interviewing or hiring position themselves.
 

Aston88

New Member
That's nice to have some degree on your list. I also had the same thought and thinking. But not getting a reliable place.
 

ronsimpson

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I'd like to get everyone's opinion
I think each "hiring person" has a different opinion. You can not do exactly what the next person wants.
Each country and each company has different ideas.
I have seen companies where school = money. Very simple.
The groups I have put together, or kept working, there was a very distinct lack of degrees. My most creative engineers do not have degrees.
At 25 years old a degree is very important. Late in life they don't even ask.

I think; a 4 year degree is worth some amount. A 4 year degree plus "working on a 6" is worth as much as 6. Maybe even more because it indicate a life long learner. I took the classes I needed to do the job I had. I did not take classes for a degree. I think many managers have a soft spot for a person with one foot in school. (even only one class at a time) A person "bettering then self" is worth more that a person sitting in one spot.
 
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dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I think each "hiring person" has a different opinion. You can not do exactly what the next person wants.
Each country and each company has different ideas.
I have seen companies where school = money. Very simple.
I've seen employers who claim that if someone got a Masters that their pay would increase, only to have the employer afterward go "ehhhh, your job doesn't really require a Masters so we aren't going to pay you more". And this was a company where your pay was supposed to be determined by an annual checklist to minimize the opinions of management and the degree was relevant and from a prominent brick-and-mortar institution.

Needless to say, the guy no longer works there, but then again, neither do most of the other people there since they laid everyone almost everyone off not soon after. They kept all the people who in sales who brought in contracts and laid off most of the people who actually got the work done keeping only the minimum.
 
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jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I've seen employers who claim that if someone got a Masters that their pay would increase, only to have the employer afterward go "ehhhh, your job doesn't really require a Masters so we aren't going to pay you more".
Not surprised. Basically, that is the law in the US and probably at many other places as well. Employment law today is complex. Simplistically, if you have two, non-exempt employees doing the same job, they must have the same base salary -- even if one has a Ph.D. and the other only H.S. equivalency.

If one pays the employees different amounts, then the job duties must be different. That is over simplified, but it is something every employer of "non-exempt" employees must keep in mind. "Non-exempt" in this context generally applies to an employee who gets overtime, paid vacations, etc. and is "at will" or covered by a union contract. However, they do not necessarily have to be at will, depending on the employer's policies.

An "exempt" employee is typically one with an annual salary, a contract, and administrative/supervisory duties. An advanced degree may be required.

None of the above means you cannot encourage, even subsidize employees to get advanced degrees and certifications. When an opportunity for promotion presents, those employees who have undertaken self improvement or have advanced degrees/certifications can be given preference. One can also redefine the requirements for a job to include relevant certifications or advanced degrees, but transition to those new requirements must be done carefully and usually with "grandfathering." None of this is intended to disagree with Ron's comments above.
 

ronsimpson

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Where my wife did work, they require you to take one class every year. There is insensitive to get a masters. (which comes with more pay)
Then they replace you with a younger cheaper version.
She saw how the company works and chose to get a string of 4-year degrees and avoid the 6-year. Math, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Education.

Not intended to agree or disagree with any other comment. Just pointing out that if the job does not require a PHD then you should not have one.

You must do what needs done and more. Better your self when you can. Some time you will get rewarded and some times you will get stepped on, but mostly ignored.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Not surprised. Basically, that is the law in the US and probably at many other places as well. Employment law today is complex. Simplistically, if you have two, non-exempt employees doing the same job, they must have the same base salary -- even if one has a Ph.D. and the other only H.S. equivalency.
That makes sense if the job is rigid, but where I worked we were contractors so while we all technically had the same job and title, we were assigned to various projects, sometimes different and sometimes the same, and all got paid a bit differently based on our experience and so that point doesn't apply here. Also, we were in Canada.
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
That makes sense if the job is rigid, but where I worked we were contractors so while we all technically had the same job and title, we were assigned to various projects, sometimes different and sometimes the same, and all got paid a bit differently based on our experience and so that point doesn't apply here. Also, we were in Canada.
If you were independent contractors, you were not "employees" strictly speaking (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation ). There is a difference. My comments applied to employees, specifically exempt and nonexempt.

I also specifically referenced the United States. The TS hasn't said whether he is asking about Canada, US, or Mexico, but he did seem to be asking about being an employee.
 

Wirth's Law

Member
Right, mainly I had the U.S. with regular (W-2) employment in mind. But this isn't set in stone.

The part I'm trying to figure out is whether these online masters programs have gained traction with employers in general. From what I can gather, the "education premium" where median salary tends to increase with the degree still exists, although it has decelerated. But I can't find a lot of data that involves online degrees, and it's entirely possible these programs are too new to evaluate.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I was talking to a retired guy the other year, he had a degree in Chemistry, then added a degree in Business Studies, as he moved into the business side of the Chemical company he worked for. One of his jobs was the initial evaluations of job applicants - and he explained his method.

In common with many jobs these days he received huge numbers of applicants, so his first 'filter' was simply checking where their degree had come from, any he didn't recognise were immediately rejected.

Rather harsh perhaps, but a simple way to thin the numbers - and fairly accurate as well, as the better known Universities have higher standards for entry, so essentially he was using the University systems own evaluation process.
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
From what I can gather, the "education premium" where median salary tends to increase with the degree still exists, although it has decelerated.
As an economics professor would say, you need to separate macro from micro. The median of an industry is macro. You are micro.

As stated before with respect to the US, if you are employed and get a degree but stay in the same job, it is unlikely getting a degree per se, whether it is online or not will not have an immediate effect on your salary. Now, if the degree qualifies you for some certification such that your job changes, e.g., you can sign off on work done by others who do not have degrees, then you should expect a bump. Of course, your job is now different. A degree may also qualify you for a more serious advancement.

I also agree in large part with Nigel's comment. Where you get your degree matters. That may not show up in the official records nor in government jobs, but it clearly matters in the employment process in private industry. It is very difficult to evaluate the academic rigor of foreign universities and online courses. Diplomas per se mean very little. I have come across individuals who graduated "first" in their class of hundreds. What the translation into English didn't reveal was that "first" was roughly equivalent to having completed the requirements to graduate. In America, we might say they were "Seniors." There are also places where graduating "first" means being in the top half of the class.

Let me also add that the sequence of degrees can make a difference. In Nigel's example, a successful chemist who gets an online degree in business might be worth considerably more than an MBA who gets an online degree in chemistry. It is quite common in the US for successful people in disciplines such as science (e.g., chemists), physicians, lawyers, and teachers to get an abbreviated degree in business when being groomed for management positions. For example, there are 3-day (or a series of weekends) courses that lead to "Executive" MBA's. I have never heard of the reverse being done.
 

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