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UK Engineer in the USA

UK Engineer in the USA

Old Jul 2nd 2010, 10:44 am
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Default UK Engineer in the USA

Hi folks,

In the shadow of my last thread comes this one! Without repeating too much; currently me moving to the USA is the course of action being pursued by my USC wife and I.

My reason for starting this thread is simply to find out what I need to know about getting an engineering job in the USA - ie how does my bachelors qualification and experience transfer, and will I be required to have in place any further US qualifications/certification etc before I am employable? If there are any expat engineers out there I would love to hear from you!

Cheers!
Tibbsey

Ok, some background: I have a bachelors in Electrical and Electronic engineering and have (or will have in the expected time for my visa to be processed) 3-3.5 years work experience as an electrical engineer in the nuclear power industry. My main area of work is in the design, development and installation of electrical modifications and improvements. My involvement varies depending on the work, but being site based I am most often concerned with the installation aspects of projects - looking at the interface between new and old plant, updating drawings, writing installation and commissioning procedures, drawing up bills of materials and then overseeing the final installation. I do very much enjoy the technical side of my job and will be sad to leave it... but unfortunately family comes first and I have one to start!!!
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 11:38 am
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Congrats on getting a visa.

I'd advise using your UK contacts, I recently moved into Nuclear from Oil n Gas and there's loads of guys who have worked over there you could speak to. I suggest that would be your best in.

Bechtel, Westinghouse are big players over there plus there's the Savannah River Facility (America's Sellafield).

In terms of being a Registered Engineer for the State, its not usually a problem someone else will sign the forms that required that sort of stuff.

Best of luck.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 2:45 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

In my experience as an Electrical Engineer relocated from UK to Louisiana, I didn't have too much trouble finding a decent job. My qualifications have never been questioned - I guess a Bachelors degree is widely recognised wherever you got it from. I am a Chartered Engineer in the UK, and that is recognised by some companies over here, although becoming a PE in the US may be advantageous if you want to work in the public sector.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 3:20 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Join IEEE (and nuclear equivalent if you want to work in that industry) if you aren't a member already. Go to the conferences and network like crazy.

I would seriously consider getting certified and doing any and all exams this involves. It may not be essential for all jobs. But in this current economic climate there are a dozen job applicants who will be certified thus consigning your application to the round file.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
Join IEEE (and nuclear equivalent if you want to work in that industry) if you aren't a member already. Go to the conferences and network like crazy.

I would seriously consider getting certified and doing any and all exams this involves. It may not be essential for all jobs. But in this current economic climate there are a dozen job applicants who will be certified thus consigning your application to the round file.
Becoming a Professional Engineer (PE) is a multi-step process, and IIRC, requires one to be actually working for someone who already is a PE. I'm an engineer myself, and never really considered doing the PE because a) my field doesn't really require it and b) it was going to take several years to devote to it.

As an EE Tibbsey, it's not really necessary to become a PE, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. I would follow the suggestion of joining IEEE and probably even LinkedIn to start doing some networking. You shouldn't have any issues with a BS and not any other certs. I don't know what kinds of certs are out there for an EE, but they could prove worthy of pursuing if those certs are useful and could help you stand out from other applicants.

Last edited by Bluegrass Lass; Jul 2nd 2010 at 5:24 pm.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 5:16 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by 1chumly View Post
I was very pleased to see the reply from MrSensical deleted. I thought it was totally uncalled for. Good job Meauxna!
Shame, I was about to quote it, no wonder doing so was confusing my browser, hey ho!

Thanks for all the useful replies folks, it has both got me thinking and set my mind to rest. Its comforting to know that there are people to hand that have gone through the same thing. The reason for the question was just because a friend of mine who is married to a Canadian asked very much the same question and made it sound like certification was a necessity. I thought that if there are requirements I would like to head them off at the pass whilst going through the visa application process.

Professional membership is a good call, I had overlooked that one - I am a member of the IET which I would have thought a good place to look for some clues, and a look at the IEEE definitely is in order

Job wise, I will be somewhat limited I think by geography, in that now I will be moving because the wife potentially has the better job - hence it currently looks like northern California, so nuclear power is out.

Thanks for the congrats Buchan, though unfortunately they are premature if warranted at all - its something I/we have just started on the road towards, so by the sounds of it its all still a year or so off
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 6:32 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Tibbsey23 View Post

...snippage...

The reason for the question was just because a friend of mine who is married to a Canadian asked very much the same question and made it sound like certification was a necessity.
Aha... Canada is very strict about who is allowed to call himself an engineer. I believe that certification IS necessary there in order to use that title.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 7:26 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Tibbsey23 View Post
Shame, I was about to quote it, no wonder doing so was confusing my browser, hey ho!

Thanks for all the useful replies folks, it has both got me thinking and set my mind to rest. Its comforting to know that there are people to hand that have gone through the same thing. The reason for the question was just because a friend of mine who is married to a Canadian asked very much the same question and made it sound like certification was a necessity. I thought that if there are requirements I would like to head them off at the pass whilst going through the visa application process.

Professional membership is a good call, I had overlooked that one - I am a member of the IET which I would have thought a good place to look for some clues, and a look at the IEEE definitely is in order

Job wise, I will be somewhat limited I think by geography, in that now I will be moving because the wife potentially has the better job - hence it currently looks like northern California, so nuclear power is out.

Thanks for the congrats Buchan, though unfortunately they are premature if warranted at all - its something I/we have just started on the road towards, so by the sounds of it its all still a year or so off
It was certainly uncalled for but I just decided to send a PM to the moderator instead. Good luck.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 8:04 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Bill_S View Post
Aha... Canada is very strict about who is allowed to call himself an engineer. I believe that certification IS necessary there in order to use that title.
I was job titled a specialist rather than engineer in Canada as were most of my colleagues. It didn't affect my ability to get a job nor my salary although I agree with a previous posters comments re the current job Market. Network network, and focus on an market sector that is truly internationally minded eg Engineering contractors which will have less issues on where you were educated as
opposed to say the regional utilities who will always go for home grown good ol boys

Last edited by Buchan6; Jul 2nd 2010 at 8:07 pm.
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Old Jul 2nd 2010, 8:19 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by 1chumly View Post
It was certainly uncalled for but I just decided to send a PM to the moderator instead. Good luck.
Agreed, and thanks. It seemed to me very difficult to ask a career type question without mentioning qualifications and experience... both of which in my case I really don't think are boast worthy!!

Originally Posted by Bill_S View Post
Aha... Canada is very strict about who is allowed to call himself an engineer. I believe that certification IS necessary there in order to use that title.
Ah that clears that up then! Although I realise that they are very different countries, I have heard talk of things in the states, so just wanted to check.

Is becoming a PE a little like obtaining chartership?

Originally Posted by Buchan6
an market sector that is truly internationally minded eg Engineering contractors which will have less issues on where you were educated
True, plus my opinion is that working for a company who has contracts all over (like I do now) potentially offers a greater variety of work and potential career opportunities. Though it does require greater flexibility geographically speaking.
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Old Jul 3rd 2010, 12:06 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Is becoming a PE a little like obtaining chartership?In a way yes because it is suited towards a particular education / work eperiejce level.

True, plus my opinion is that working for a company who has contracts all over (like I do now) potentially offers a greater variety of work and potential career opportunities. Though it does require greater flexibility geographically speaking.[/QUOTE] Agreed plus it's a premiership name on your cv in my opinion. Given your locations quessing your at BE or M ?? Drop me a PM sometime be good to cut further.

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Old Jul 3rd 2010, 7:00 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Tibbsey23 View Post
Job wise, I will be somewhat limited I think by geography, in that now I will be moving because the wife potentially has the better job - hence it currently looks like northern California, so nuclear power is out.
If you are going to be working in the silicon valley, very few engineering jobs requires any sort of qualifications/certification.
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Old Jul 4th 2010, 4:19 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Tibbsey23 View Post
Hi folks,

....some background: I have a bachelors in Electrical and Electronic engineering and have (or will have in the expected time for my visa to be processed) 3-3.5 years work experience as an electrical engineer in the nuclear power industry. My main area of work is in the design, development and installation of electrical modifications and improvements. My involvement varies depending on the work, but being site based I am most often concerned with the installation aspects of projects - looking at the interface between new and old plant, updating drawings, writing installation and commissioning procedures, drawing up bills of materials and then overseeing the final installation. I do very much enjoy the technical side of my job and will be sad to leave it... but unfortunately family comes first and I have one to start!!!
Nice to have a PE license, but not necessary unless you wish to do solo work or consult. Most firms just want the technical ability and training. As far as nuclear industry here, it depends on the state you intend to move to.

Joining an American professional organisation and adding this to your resume will deffo help to make it look less foreign. Suggest you re-write your res in American terms and verbage and change the format from CV to resume.
Do some research on what to (not) expect from US companies when job hunting - there's stuff on that on this site. Be aware of the differences in workplace "rights" over here.

Good luck.
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Old Jul 5th 2010, 3:30 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Originally Posted by Xebedee View Post
Nice to have a PE license, but not necessary unless you wish to do solo work or consult. Most firms just want the technical ability and training.
I agree. Even being a member of NSPE did not help me much.
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Old Jul 10th 2010, 11:18 pm
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Default Re: UK Engineer in the USA

Thanks again folks, this thread has definitely set my mind to rest on some things and weeded out some more things I need to think about

Although I do find the nuclear industry an interesting setting for engineering, and its something I have always wanted to get into, I am happy to move on - and accept that the western USA isn't really the best place for nuclear power jobs! I do fancy working in and around hydro plants, but realistically I will just have to see what's available
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