Which pays better: engineering in industry or academia?

I'll have to make a decision between them pretty soon. I will study in U. S. for a Master's Degree in mechanical engineering if my finances allow me, but i cannot determine if i should also pursue a phd. My current advisor in industry told me that if I get a phd, i'll probably become overqulified in the eyes of American industry, so the only job line will be academia or kinds like NASA. Since American "top secret" industrial corporations won't be eager to hire a guy trying to get a green card, that question is off the table (or is it? you tell me.). I heard that engineers in industry make around $100000 a year, how much academicians make then? Is it close? I really want to work at the cutting edge of the technology, but you know, i cannot pass a paycheck of 100 grands for a year :D Any suggestion?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Engineer.

    But, Working in Industry fucking sucks so fucking hard. Thats why they get so much money.

    Just do a nice job with a Phd with a cushy lifestyle, No need to be busting your fucking balls every day in a piece of dogshit job in industry, I wish i had done better in school and not ended up in Industry :/

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What Girls Said 3

  • Industry, for sure. One does not go into academia for the money. The grants that you get are for your research, not your personal use.

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  • They work long hours. Ridiculously long hrs.

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  • Engineering, specially electrical, computer or renewable energy engineering

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What Guys Said 3

  • Forget about the money, man. I tried working in the industry for some time after graduation, it sucked the living soul out of me. A bunch of morons wearing suits and pretending to know what is going on. It is impossible to get a sense of your own contribution in the industry. You are nothing but a tool. Do this and do that. Money and success cannot be predicted on paper. I understand that given our engineering backgrounds, we tend to plan things ahead, but unfortunately life doesn't work like that. I say fuck money and fuck success, if it means becoming part of that useless machine.

    Naturally, there are exceptions to what I am saying, but they are not the rule. I still do some field work, but only as a freelancer. I enjoy working on my research a lot. Admittedly, it doesn't pay as much nor does it offer a big window for professional growth. Yet, I wouldn't trade the freedom I have for the biggest job in the industry. It all comes down to your philosophy and view of life. Many of my friends are having fun working for different companies. They don't mind the stupid bureaucracy, and they don't care about expanding their knowledge. They seem content just by getting paid and socializing.

    These are my thoughts and feelings on the matter. So, please remember that none of this is factual, just based on my humble experience. One thing I kept hearing in the business world is "choose a boss, don't choose a job". I am an excellent engineer with endless ideas and work-ethics, yet I am expected to obey some boss? I am telling you man, there is no actual science or creativity going on there. Just politics and drama and shit. If you are asking for my advice, I say pick up a guitar and start singing for a couple of dollars rather than receiving that six-figure salary while stuck in a tediously unproductive job.

    Sorry about the rant and good luck to you. : )

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    • Thanks for the opinion buddy, but my life experiences so far can never allow me to pass a six-figure paycheck :D
      Anyway, i'll keep what you said in mind.

  • Engineers have a higher career earning potential. The one thing you need to factor into your decision is quality of life and what you really enjoy doing. Academia will give you more "free time" but if you are all about the money go with engineering.

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  • Industry pays better than academia by quite a long way

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