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How do I convince my parents to let me be an engineer?

My name is Sky. I'm heading into 10th grade this school year and some advice on how to convince my dad to let me be an engineer would be greatly appreciated. My dad wants me to go into the medical field and be a primary doctor or a surgeon so that I'll always have a job and make lots of money. However, I don't want to do this because I don't like interacting with people. Don't get me wrong, I am very good at interacting with people, but I'd rather not make a career out of it. I have nothing against doctors, it's just that it's not the path for me. Convincing my dad is goes in a cycle.
1. Convince my dad that there are lots of engineering jobs out there, that they make good money, and that I can get one out of college if I'm good.
2. I do something wrong or wimpy and he guilt trips me.
3. He guilt trips me some more by saying that I'm ungrateful for not taking his advice because he knows better.
4. He says I should be a doctor because "x, y, and z."
5. Repeat.
It doesn't help that he had a daughter in Arizona that wanted to be a psychiatrist even though he told her she should just be a doctor. By now, she's either married or working in a fast food restaurant.
I'm sorry if this sounds like a rant, but I need to get my dad to let me be an engineer. Otherwise he'll kick me out of the house once I graduate high school. #career #engineering


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John’s Answer

Sky while it’s not uncommon to come across this situation with your parents, convincing them to allow you to pursue what you want can be a challenge. But if you dread talking to your parents about studying what you like, or if you have trouble trying to get them over the line, don’t worry, because here are some tips to help you change their mind.

BE PREPARED WITH YOU COUNTERPOINTS

It’s important to anticipate the thunderstorm of questions and prepare for them as part of your extensive research. Think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t pursue this course and address them one by one. When you’re well prepared, it’s easier for you to predict what sort of questions will your parents ask and that boosts your confidence level (which is crucial). Preparation also shows that you are keen and committed, and there’s no better gratification to a parent than watching their child pour their hundred percent into something. While it’s important to make your points clear, it’s also crucial to engage in a healthy debate and not be overly assertive or defensive. If you play your cards right, you can get them to (grudgingly) agree, perhaps even letting you study something that’s incredulous as ENGINEERING

SHOW THEM YOUR ENTHUSIASM FOR ENGINEERING

It’s understandable that your parents may have their own practical reasons behind their decision. Sometimes, it could be for financial reasons, but most of the time, its down to whether or not they can relate to your enthusiasm and dedication. So, one effective way of getting your parents to give their blessing is simply to show what it really means to you. In other words, show them the passion you have for the course! A PowerPoint presentation with bar charts, statistical numbers and interesting facts are all welcoming information to aid your argument and elevate your points. Make it entertaining, informative and fun. Top it up with a touch of witty charm and your parents will say “yes” faster than an elephant sliding downhill on an icy slope. It’s hard for your parents to object you after seeing so much enthusiasm and passion.

Sky when planning your education, it's always a good idea to keep your future in mind. Which industries are growing, and which pay the best? It's especially important to keep these sorts of questions in mind when you have an interest in engineering, as there are a wide range of paths you can take within this field.

John recommends the following next steps:

Chemical Engineer – Chemical engineers are responsible for breaking down, analyzing and researching different chemical compounds. They can help create the materials used in food, textiles, industrial products or medicine. The field of chemical engineering offers a variety of opportunities to work on specialized, innovative projects. Chemical engineers must be highly skilled in calculus, chemistry, physics and biology. You'll typically work in an office or laboratory, but may spend time at industrial plants and other locations. In 2019, the median income for chemical engineers was $108,770 per year, and the field is expected to grow 6% through 2028.
Electrical and Electronics Engineer If electronics and electricity are more your thing, then look into becoming an electrical and electronics engineer. They design, build and test things like motors, navigation systems, and communication systems. You'll need a bachelor's degree in order to get into this field, and some practical experience, like an internship, is also helpful. If you are able to enter this field, you can expect an income around $101,250 per year (the median income for 2019 according to the BLS), and plenty of open job spots, as it is expected to grow 2% through 2028.
Civil Engineer If you want to help your fellow citizens safely travel from place to place, civil engineering is for you. Civil engineers work on projects like roads, airports, tunnels, dams and bridges, in addition to working on buildings. They play a large role in the nation's infrastructure, working for both the public and private sector. One of the most appealing aspects of civil engineering is that it is expected to grow 6% through 2028, according to the BLS. In 2019, the median income for this field was $87,060 per year, more than double the median for all occupations.
Mechanical Engineer Mechanical engineers are the people who work on mechanical and thermal sensors, which include tools, machines, and other devices. You'll find yourself working inside an office most of the time, but occasionally you'll travel to work sites to handle any issues. To become a mechanical engineer, you'll need to get your bachelor's degree in either mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. In addition, if you want to sell your services to the public, all states require that mechanical engineers are licensed. Going forward, the job outlook for mechanical engineers is 4% though 2028, according to the BLS. You can also expect a median salary of $88,430 per year, also according to the BLS.

Thank You Dexter for your Continued Support. “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville John Frick

Great advice. I would add "software engineer" to your list, Sky. The data suggested in other answers will help you here, if indeed data will help. I also recommend figuring out when, during the day or week, your father seems most receptive to new or different ideas. Dave Spragg

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Dexter’s Answer

Hi Sky,

Is your father someone who can be reasoned with and be convinced with data? If so, there are many resources to help you:
* https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/15/the-20-best-jobs-in-america-in-2020-according-to-glassdoor-ranking.html
* https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs
* https://www.glassdoor.com/List/Best-Jobs-in-America-LST_KQ0,20.htm

If he's anything like my father though, he has his mindset, he won't respect your mind, and it'd be like charging into windmills trying to convince him. For me, disagreements with my father has led to a fracturing of our relationship, and I'm not sure if there's an easy answer in having him support your career choice. Especially given this environment we're in where college might all be virtual for a few years, you would really need a place to stay.

Have you thought about going the really difficult route of trying to double major? Like major in Biology/Chemistry to satisfy your father, but at the same time do another major or minor in Computer Science? It'll be really difficult as everyone knows Chem has one of the hardest course requirements (comp sci isn't a cake walk either), but if you're up for it, you might be able to get support from your parents until you can make it on your own.

I think you're in a difficult spot, so I really wish you the best of luck, and I really hope his mind can be changed with lots of evidence to back you up. I can tell ya that my doctor friends envy my life as a software developer because I get to work from home and the stresses of my job are infinitely smaller than what they have to go through (esp in the COVID environment).

--
Dexter

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Catherine’s Answer

This seems like a very complex situation and will ultimately take some work outside of this forum to resolve. However, you are still fairly young and have time to continue to learn about yourself and engineering in order to make the best decision. What I will say is try not to stress too much about this as you will begin your college search in junior year and you can tackle this in smaller pieces.

As a biomedical engineer who has a large network of engineer colleagues among multiple engineering disciplines (chemical, mechanical, electrical, etc.), there are plenty of jobs for engineers and you can make a decent living in the field. In fact, engineers are the ones who provide the technology to doctors and surgeons in order for them to do their jobs. Engineers and doctors must work together to bring solutions to patients so I would say they are both equally important and valuable careers.

As far as having a conversation about your career with your father, I encourage you to seek out some advice from someone you trust within your life. This could be another family member, a teacher, a coach, or anyone who can help you through this journey over the next couple of years. A guidance counselor would also be a great resource as they will be able to help provide you with information about engineering to share with your father and can help you with the college application process.

Remember to take a deep breathe - you don't need to have it all figured out right now but I hope you will find some clarity and peace of mind in your choice when the time comes.

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LeeAnn’s Answer

Hi Sky! As a mother of 5 very different children with unique personalities and goals, I have not always agreed with their decisions.

Our oldest wanted to go to Germany and study German engineering. I told him to learn German first! He did, and he went and is thriving and loving his decision. I could ask for more.

My second oldest was admit about not going to college and wanted a trade/skill instead. He researched and found a top school here that was able to get through an accelerated program in 18 months and he is making 6 figures now at the age of 19. We did not support his decision, but again are incredibly happy that he found his place contributing to society and doing what fulfills him.

Are middle son is graduating H.S next year and has always wanted to be in law enforcement. Despite the dangers out there associated with this, we know we can't stop him. We instead encouraged him to join the local police department young explorers program that trains and teaches teenagers the expectations and real life situations involved with law enforcement. His goal is to enter the F.B.I one day, and for this reason he has decided to attend a college that will give him the degree he needs.

As for the next one, she has always wanted to be a doctor "to make lots of money". While we don't agree with her reasons for wanting to pursue this career, she is a brilliant and a hard working student. Fortunately she still has a few years left to decide.

The youngest wants to do what his dad does.. so too be continued.

My advice is talk to your dad about your reasons for wanting to pursue what is important to you. Be clear and respectful in your reasons, and share your plans to get there. In the long run I believe he will be proud of your accomplishments and share in your happiness in doing something you are passionate about and love.

Best of luck to you!

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Coraline’s Answer

It's honestly really tough dealing with not only a parent who doesn't listen to you, but also guilts you. You don't have to listen to what he says, because if you choose the path he wants instead of what you wanted, it's likely you'll end up feeling resentment. The best you can really do it seems, based on what important to your dad, is show him how lucrative engineering can be and explain why you want to do engineering. It seems like that's what you have been trying, though. If he's threatening to kick you out, when you're a senior you can apply for a student loan and get dorm housing at a college. It'll be really tough, but doable if you get a job in college. You could also maybe get a scholarship and just get a small apartment somewhere while you go to school, but you would still need a job during that. You still have a few years before you graduate, so I really hope that eventually you will be able to get through to your father.

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Whitney’s Answer

Hi Sky! It can be so difficult dealing with parents who refuse to see things from any perspective but their own. There may be no way to change your dad's views, but if you feel strongly about not wanting to go into the medical field, stick to your gut! Going through med school is tough for anyone, and if you don't want to be there, you won't succeed because your heart isn't in it.

If you're passionate about engineering, I encourage you to continue pursuing it regardless of your dad's beliefs! You're certainly correct that there are plenty of engineering jobs, and they are well compensated. Engineering is not an easy field to study either, but if you're dedicated and passionate, you'll find a way to make it work regardless of your family's support!

One other difference I noted between the fields is the required investment in your education. While doctors and surgeons make a great deal of money, engineers generally start their career after a 4 year degree. On the other hand, doctor and surgeons must complete their 4 year bachelor's degree and then attend another 4 years of med school. After med school, they must then complete their residency which could last between 3-7 years (or more) depending on what type of doctor/surgeon you are becoming. During this time, they aren't making nearly as much as full doctors. It doesn't sound like your dad is going to change his mind easily, but this is another point he should consider!

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Andy’s Answer

Hey Sky!

I definitely understand where you're coming from. As a female engineer myself in a medical field heavy family, I always felt the pressure to go into the medical field myself. When asked why I went engineering here are my answers:

- I finished college and went straight into my career within 4 years of graduating high school with little to no college debt. As a doctor, you won't be working for at least 7 or 8 years and then you'll have twice the amount of debt.
- I have a normal 9-5 job and get to be home with my family on all holidays and weekends and asking for days off or taking vacations is never an issue since.
- I am MUCH better at logic and understanding and terrible at memorization. I would pronounce all the medicines wrong and not know the right body parts and do terrible at the medical field, but if you gave me a puzzle to solve or told me to fix something, I can get it done in less than an hour.
- Medical is always needed yes, but engineers will always be needed just as much. Guess who makes all the equipment that the medical field uses?

There are so many reasons why I choose engineering over medical, and just like with me, you'll have your reasons too. Just know, if its money related, I paid off my student loans in 2 years while my pharmacist cousin has 30 more years to go and we make around the same amount of money. She also has to work all weekends and holidays and is hard to take off work.

Hope this helps!

Valid! It's a lot more expensive to go to school and never finish the degree than it is to only spend four years and come out with a credential that immediately lands you a job. Katherine Colburn

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Garrett’s Answer

Hi Sky,

Disagreements with your parents about your future can be very frustrating! I have been an engineer for 25 years, and my girlfriend is an ER doctor so I know that they are both very good career choices. I can see why you and your father are having this disagreement. Your situation really has two different problems with two different solutions:

Problem #1: What educational path should you pursue?
You and your father are not agreeing about your long term path, but do you really have to decide that right now? A career in medicine or engineering will both benefit from advanced classes in science, so the things you study in high school might not be that different either way. Even when you go to college, selecting a school with good microbiology, chemistry, and engineering departments can allow you to make great progress that would largely apply to either engineering or medicine. It is important to remember that your entire future is not determined while you are in high school. My girlfriend initially got a 4-year degree in art (painting) and became a doctor later. Instead of worrying about the rest of your life, worry about what you want to do right now. What are the next classes you need to take? Maybe you and your father would even agree on that!

Problem #2: How do you improve your relationship with your father?
Regardless of who is right or who eventually "wins" this argument, you want to have a good relationship with your father. One thing that I have found when I have professional disagreements with people at work is this: Sometimes the person you are arguing with can't tell the difference between not understanding their point of view and not agreeing with it. The fact that your father often repeats the same reasons behind his opinion makes me think that he is not feeling like you are listening and that you don't understand what he is saying. I think you do understand it, but just don't agree.

So here is what you do: Show him that you understand. Tell him that you can tell that he cares about your long-term well being, and that you understand that this is why he is promoting a career in medicine. Tell him that you understand that his career choice for you would be lucrative and that the employment opportunities would be very good. When he says something that is true, repeat it back to him and let him know that you are listening and that you understand him. Tell him and show him that you respect his opinion.

Now, this is important, just because you might agree with his facts, does not mean that you have to agree with his conclusion.

You are trying to let your father know that you are listening. If your father feels like he is being heard, his mindset may begin to be more open to listening to your side. He might even ask you something like, "Well, if you agree with all of this, why do you want to be an engineer?" This is your opportunity to help him understand, really, why you are drawn to engineering. Tell him that the most important thing to you is making a choice that will make you happy. But you can't explain anything to him unless he is able to really listen to you.

Finally, regarding your career decision, I would like you to keep something in mind: just because you don't like dealing with people (and I don't like it either!) does not mean that you would not enjoy a career in medicine. There are medical researchers, for example, that don't deal directly with patients all day long. So rather than worrying about interacting with people, think about the things in the world that you find really interesting. If you are fascinated by how the human body works then a career in medicine might be the right choice. If you are fascinated by machines or computers or chemistry or bridges, then maybe engineering is the best choice. Either way, remember that the choice is ultimately yours, and you should pursue the things in life that you believe will make you the most happy!


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EJ’s Answer

Here are a few options.

#1) Perhaps, you should tell your parents that you will consider both. You can declare pre-med, while studying in the engineering program. Pre-med is not a major, and many engineering students declare pre-med, without it hindering their goals to graduate with an engineering degree. In this way, you can always leave your options open and also will be honest with your parents when you say that you are considering both professions.
When finishing up with your degree, if your heart is still in becoming an engineer, then you can have another conversation with your parents. Only this time, you will be an adult with an engineering degree under your belt. I know this may only be a few years from now, but your father will probably look at you differently at that time. Moving away from home does that to many families.

#2) Tell them that you have hemophobia, you’re scared of blood. My husband was in a similar situation, and that is what he told his parents. Not joking.

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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Sky,

You already have some great answers and advice here so I'll just chime from a standpoint of a parent with two daughters now in their 20s.

I'm sorry you are feeling frustrated but good for you asking the question and gaining feedback from others. I grew up in a family that has many in medical professions including my father. Early on, it was clear that his dream was for me to become a nurse. However, I wanted to major in music in college. It took some heavy convincing for him to help me go to college in another state and major in music. I finished my BA Degree and last two years in organizational management.

When our youngest daughter wanted to go to Europe for an educational trip, while still in school, her father and I had many questions for her. How will you afford this? What will the value be? How will you keep up with your studies and not let the trip affect your grades? Etc.

She came up with a plan and details, like others have suggested and showed us the value. She also found a job that year and saved up much of the money herself that she would need for travel and expenses. Because of her hard work and showing us her plan, it made it pretty much impossible for us to say no!

She went on the trip and it was an opportunity of a lifetime for her.

Don't get frustrated. Get creative!

Best wishes to you in your future goals.

#career #engineering

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Estelle’s Answer

Being an engineer is a really special thing. You can choose to be an engineer that develops artificial limbs for people. You can be an engineer that helps protect the water we drink or the air we breathe. Its up to you to think of what you really want to do. Remember you will be the one taking those college classes and spending your life working not your parents. Engineers make decent money $50000 to $65,000 starting out and topping out at around $150,000 for specialty engineers and managers. Take all the science, math, chemistry and physics you can in high school.

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Helen’s Answer

Hi Sky,
I guess this is the typical conversation with our parents. Most important thing is to let them know they are not the ones going to college, you are. Is a commitment you are doing for yourself. Besides, you say you like to interact with people, engineering have a lot of fields were you can interact with people. If that is what you like, you will be successful in it and make a lot of money. Show him cases of success from the college you want to apply.

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Danielle’s Answer

This may not answer your question directly but here's something to consider mentioning while discussing with your parents.

I was actually initially interested in going to medical school. But my father's advice was to not go directly to "Pre-Med". Instead, find a major in which you can take all the classes you need to meet all of the pre-requisites for medical school but in this way you have a solid degree in case Medical School doesn't work.

If you go straight "Pre-Med" and hate Medical School, then you have no degree to fall back on.

I decided to go into Engineering and obtained 2 degrees - 1 in Biological & Food Processing Engineering and 1 in Pharmaceutical Sciences. It took longer than the typical 4 years and once I graduated college, I didn't want to go continue studying 24/7 so I decided not to go to Medical School.

However, even though I met all of the pre-requisites, I ended up having 2 degrees to fall back on and have been able to build a solid career in something I enjoy.

So maybe you can propose it as a Plan B of sorts. You want to go in to Engineering because it has all of the subjects you love and can consider adding a couple classes later if you end up deciding to go to Medical School but then once you have the degree you want maybe it won't even be a topic of conversation any longer.

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Stephanie’s Answer

It's your future and career. If it doesn't fit you, it won't matter how much money you make, you will be miserable. This needs to be your decision.

If engineering is truly what you want to do, then pursue it.

To help make this a win-win, look into biomedical engineering or just plain engineering. I know quite a few engineers that went on to be doctors. To get into medical school, it doesn't have to be Pre-Med, it could be an engineering degree.

Engineering is a solid career and is always needed. Being a doctor takes a lot of investment in time, money, and mental taxing(dealing with death, trauma, etc.). If you do not have the desire to help people as a doctor but yet become one, you will not make a good doctor. It's your future that you will be doing until you retire. You may be able to retire early, but is it really worth it to be unhappy in a career that your father forced you into.

Your father might not say it to your face, but generally, parents are going to be happy and proud as long as you succeed and make you're way in the world. It may be difficult, but it needs to be your choice.

If it comes down to him paying for school or not, try the biomedical approach. if you don't go on to medical school at least you have an engineering degree.

Be true to yourself and you will never regret it.

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