Stop at a Master's in Engineering?

<p>I'm going to finish my master's in environmental engineering next year, and my advisers both want me to continue on for a PhD. The project is already funded, and although it's not exactly something I'm fascinated by, it's important research in ecotoxicology with a heavy focus on modeling, which can be applied to a wide range of jobs.</p>

<p>I like the idea of becoming a professor, but my fiancee and I have plans in our life that aren't favorable to me spending 4-5 years post-doc, and another 4-5 years as an assistant professor only to have a small chance of getting tenure and an even smaller chance of finding work in one area that we've already settled into. </p>

<p>I'd enjoy working at the federal or state level, at say, the EPA for example but the jobs are scarce. At the EPA, I found just 3 jobs listed for environmental engineers in a recent search, all in locations that don't appeal to me. The same goes for private industry. Many of the larger companies might have more than 50 offices in the US, and more throughout the world, but only 1 or 2 R&D laboratories. With a master's degree, at least from what I understand about the job market, I could find jobs closer to my family if I work in the private industry in consulting or design. A PhD might not have any benefit, and just set me back 4 years financially. If my fiancee and I ever decide to leave the country, which we'd like to do someday, I think it might also be easier if I'm in consulting or design. </p>

<p>However, I enjoy doing research and like the idea of being an instrument of progress...doing things which no one has done before and advancing the field. It's exciting to me. It's just that, practically, if I'm not planning to become a professor, it seems like this isn't achievable. I should also mention that the PhD is at the same university at which I received my B.S. Without a job, a late application, and an offer of free tuition and a stipend, I could say no to the offer. </p>

<p>What would you do in my situation?</p>

<p>I forgot to mention that the PhD will not be an extension of my masters research. It will involve the same class of compounds, but will be an entirely different project which is why I said that it will take me 4-5 years to complete. While I'm writing a reply, I'd also like to ask, is it possible to work for awhile, then go back for a PhD later in your career?</p>

<p>Hello kylemi85,</p>

<p>After reading the first two sentences, I think you should widen your options. It is great that you have a funded PhD position locked in. However, if you are not fascinated by the research and do not see your future dream with the degree, I wouldn't go for the PhD.</p>

<p>I would first rigorously look for jobs and accept the one that you like. If the work is not for you, I would look for other jobs or pursue the PhD program.</p>

<p>I am in a similar situation, because I have been accepted to my PhD program and have a job offer with great pay, people, and work... Unfortunately, I am not too fond with the job's location but my personal belief is that you need to build towards your dream, and the only way to do that is to experiment until you find out what you really are passionate about. This is why the cr@p location didn't hinder me from taking the job. At the same time, I have postponed my admission to the PhD program in case I really can't stand the job (I guess this answers your second question). It's always good to have something to fall back on. You should take advantage that you are currently at your school. For example, I personally consulted with the department chair and requested up to 3 years of postponing.</p>

<p>Hope this helps..</p>