Considering a second bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering

I just joined CC, and this is my first time to post here! As my screen name suggests, I’m thinking about getting a second degree.

A little background on me:
I have a bachelor’s in General Business. I graduated about two and a half years ago. I initially started college as a nursing major and got accepted into nursing school. However, I quickly realized nursing was not a good fit for me and decided to drop out of nursing school and change majors. I stayed at the same university and decided to get some kind of business degree. I never ended up choosing a specific concentration and ended up just doing general business. Looking back on it, that was probably a mistake, but hind sight is always 20/20. I did take several Risk Management courses and did have some interest in that area, but never selected RMI as a concentration. I considered majoring in accounting, but didn’t enjoy Principles of Accounting 1 and 2 at all. I ended up just taking them online to get them out of the way. I also didn’t care for finance. However, I aced Business Calculus and also enjoyed business law, marketing, and a lot of my other business classes.

This brings me to my main point: I have had a very difficult time finding a decent, full time job that pays enough to live out on my own. As I’ve looked for jobs, many of the jobs that are available to someone with a general business degree are management and sales jobs. Unfortunately, neither one of those areas are where my greatest strengths lie. I have had several jobs since I graduated from college. I won’t go into all of the details here, but most of them were not good fits for me and didn’t really pay too well. I did take the Property and Casualty exam, which did open some doors for me in terms of some insurance jobs. I did land one job at a district insurance office as an admin. assistant that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, the office closed down after I’d only been there five months, because the insurance company made some major changes. I’m now working part time for an insurance agent with that company. It’s the quickest thing I could find to keep a job once I found out the district office was closing. However, I’m making a pretty low salary and only working three days a week.

I am seriously considering going back to school. After two and a half years out in the workforce, I have struggled to find a stable, decent paying job with the degree I have. I can’t get on at a major company, and no one seems interested in investing in training less experienced workers. I’ve been living at home the whole time, and have saved most of the money I’ve made, with the exception of paying some bills and personal expenses. So I do have some money that could be put toward a second degree. I also have no student loans from my first degree. My parents covered my tuition, and I lived at home. I covered other smaller costs like textbooks. If I do go back to school, I want to get a degree that is more employable; I also want to make sure I get some relevant work experience as I complete the degree. One degree I have considered is Industrial and Systems Engineering. My parents are engineers and encouraged me to look at engineering the first time, but I was scared to take the advanced math classes that were needed. I have done some research on IE, and there are some parallels with business. It looks like the most business oriented engineering major. I have a general understanding of what IEs do. I know that IEs focus on efficiency and improving processes and can work in a variety of settings. This seems interesting to me and I really need to do something to increase my job prospects and find better paying, more stable jobs. I am considering taking a Trig course this coming semester to prepare to go into Calculus in case I want to go this route. My biggest reservation is I’m already 26 and would be 29 or 30 by the time I graduated with the degree.
I’m wondering if any one has any experience in getting a second bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline? Was it worth it? What were your experiences?

Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas? I’m sorry my original post was so long!

Many colleges won’t confer 2nd bachelor’s degrees. And you probably don’t want to have to repeat all the general ed classes (Which may or may not be required). You want to concentrate on the relevant engineering classes.

What the title of the degree is isn’t as important as the classes actually taken. Find a college that offers the type of degree you want and talk to them about what you want to do. Find an advisor that will lay out a program to fit your needs and go from there.

Money could be an issue though as you may not qualify for scholarships.

You may want to check if any less selective public universities in your state of residency offer industrial engineering and admit second bachelor’s degree students. If you have such options, you may also want to consider whether taking lower level requirements at a community college can be less expensive.

Industrial engineering is math heavy. You stated or alluded to math is not a strength for you. There are many parts of business that have to do with similar principles as Industrial engineering and one reason why many industrial engineers go on to business type fields. Why not learn more about industrial but how you can apply the ideas to business and maybe go on for an MBA and/ or take business classes to get you there. I think this might be the more direct route and probably cheaper in the long-run.

You asked posters if anyone had experience getting a second degree in engineering. That’s very specific, so I suspect there aren’t too many people with that perspective.

I don’t have a second Bachelor’s but I have a Masters, and it is not in engineering. It’s in something that I like.
If you are getting a second degree in something, just to be employed, that will come through in your work and motivation.

Have you investigated IE trends? Do you know who employs them the most and where?
Sometimes, to save dollars, companies can use “temps” or cost estimators who are less expensive. They also appear to be the first to go when companies downsize.

I asked my DH, (who is an EE) after seeing your post, about IE’s at his corporation and he said they use business people with a background or coursework in an engineering discipline (ME, EE, CE).

Getting a second degree means you are not eligible for any financial aid. You finished a degree and any government funding opportunities disappear. The degree will be funded by you and your loans.
You may want to get into a masters program that combines your business degree with a marketable discipline.

Explore masters degrees in business (not all are MBAs) related to insurance or risk management. Also consider masters degrees related to health and health insurance, if that might be interesting to you.

There are these types of programs at many universities. Man, wish I could go back to school… This looks great… Lol…

Thank you all for the responses! I said that management and sales were not where my strengths lie. I also said that I didn’t care for accounting and finance. Math was not the reason that I didn’t like accounting. I actually did very well in the calculus course that I had to take. Of course I know that to study engineering much more difficult math than business calculus is required. I am still trying to weigh my options. Some people I’ve talked with suggested a masters in engineering, but I’m not sure how that would even be possible. It seems like a bachelor’s would be needed to get the foundation that is needed.
I have considered an MBA, but that is such a common masters program and with the limited work experience I currently have, I’m not sure if it would help me. I guess as some one mentioned, maybe something more specialized.

The state I live in has a well known state university that has an extensive engineering program. I have already talked with them, and they will accept a second bachelor’s.

A proper IE program contains all of the math and basic sciences, as well as the general and discipline-specific engineering courses and labs. Any ABET accredited IE program is going to much more intensive in math and science than a general business program. Did you take calculus (that is, a proof-based calculus course not “business calculus”, which doesn’t usually have much theory or proofs, and is more of a “plug and chug” course), calculus based physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, etc.? If not, you will have to take them as part of your second undergraduate coursework in IE. While IE applies business, economics, and operations research subjects, it is still an engineering degree and as such includes all the foundation theoretical and applied science and math coursework that is common to all engineering disciplines.

As an example, the IE curriculum at Stevens Institute of Technology includes the following courses:

General Chemistry
General Chemistry Laboratory
Engineering Laboratory
Engineering Graphics
Introduction to Programming
Writing And Communications Colloquium
Differential Calculus
Integral Calculus
Multivariable Calculus
Differential Equations
Solid Mechanics
Electronic Circuits and Systems
Humanities/Liberal Arts (Each semester)
Engineering Design Laboratory (Each semester, with a capstone design project)
Physics (Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Modern Physics)
Software Development
Computer Science - Data Structures
Materials Processing/Strength of Materials
Probability and Statistics
Modeling and Simulation
Operations Research
Economics - Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Engineering Economics
Systems Engineering
Analysis of Networks
Data Mining and Machine Learning
Discipline-specific IE courses (normally 6)

Many schools (including Stevens) will not grant transfer credits four courses already credited towards an awarded degree, so you are effectively starting anew as others have stated. I suspect that the time and expense of earning a second undergraduate degree in IE will be high compared to the potential rewards. You might consider instead earning an MBA or a graduate degree more closely related to your undergraduate studies.

Engineer80, thanks for reaching out! Yes, I only had business calculus, which I know won’t count in engineering. I know I would have to take Calculus I-III and even math courses beyond that for an engineering degree.

One point you brought up that I hadn’t considered yet is the credit transfers from the first degree. So you are saying that general studies courses, such as English and History from the first degree will probably not satisfy the requirements for a second bachelor’s in engineering from a different university? I will definitely need to check on that!

@2ndDegree - It likely isn’t the case in all colleges, but, I do know many won’t give transfer credit for a course that already was used towards a previously awarded degree (i.e., they consider the course “good” only once for that purpose). I taught in two universities both of which had that policy for example, but, again that is up to the individual school so you need to ask these questions so there is no misunderstanding.

What I meant was that the overlap between your previous degree and a future second bachelor’s degree in IE is likely to be mostly in the general studies and possibly some of the business coursework, not that they wouldn’t necessarily satisfy the corresponding requirements at your new school. Any policy the new school may have regarding transferring credits previously used to earn a degree would apply to all subjects, not just GE/humanities or business.

BTW, in my original post I meant to say “for courses already credited” (not “four”), typo.

Engineering80- Ok. What are your thoughts on a math degree vs. an industrial engineering degree in terms of career opportunities available career paths? I’ve also considered a math degree, particularly applied math.

It’s easier to get a first job with an IE (or any engineering) degree than a math degree, but math still has good opportunities. The Wall St. investment banks and the financial industry hire math majors to do financial analysis for example, also engineering companies who do significant R&D have mathematicians on their staff.

All good advice above.

Also look into an “Operations Management” degree. It’s usually offered in the college of business.

Areas of interest for OM students include process analysis and improvement, quality control, production planning, inventory management, manufacturing, supply chain management, logistics, transportation, and procurement. There is some overlap between OM’s and IE’s. With your BS in Business, getting a Masters in OM may be an option.

Gator88NE, thanks for reaching out! I took an undergrad course in Operations Management. I will look into a masters program in that! I’m not sure how many school offer a masters in OM. Are you saying that a masters in OM may be a better option for me than a bachelor’s in IE?

Common IE math, statistics, and math-like course requirements: calculus 1, 2, 3, linear algebra, differential equations, probability theory, statistics, operations research, linear programming. IE is like applying math and statistics to solving design problems (often in processes rather than products).

This is very much based on policies specific to each school that would admit you as a second bachelor’s degree student.

If your areas of interest matches an OM degree, then getting a Master’s in OM (and building on your current business BS), may be the best path. Of course, a Master’s in OM would need to be available at one of the schools you’re looking at.

The University of Alabama offers a BS and MS in OM, it’s a good example of what these programs are like.

You can also find these programs being offered online (UA does, for example). However, if you can, I would recommend taking the classes on campus. It’s easer to work with the career resource center, apply for internships/jobs, attend job fairs and network.

Gator88NE- Alabama is the state I’m in! I looked at the links you provided for the University of Alabama’s OM programs. The masters option definitely looks interesting! I believe OM has some parallel there with IE, just at a less technical level. I also took a Supply Chain Management class during undergrad at Troy University. I found that to be an interesting class; I had a really good teacher for it, so I’m sure that made a difference too. The school I would be going to for an IE degree would be Auburn University, which is also in Alabama. Auburn has a big school of engineering and would accept a second bachelor’s student.

I haven’t really looked at much of what University of Alabama offers. However, I feel the OM masters is definitely worth considering for me. I noticed that the OM masters does require Calculus. I may just go ahead and take Trig and Cal. I before making any big decisions.