Dark567 wrote:Sure, but things like engineering architect, tech leads, etc. are all alternatives to management.
I mean unless you only consider moving up the chain of command as career success, but that's a fairly narrow view.
But they're still fairly bossy, with a clear hierarchical element to them. Teams have a leader but multiple members, and architect is basically a hierarchic postition by design. Such positions are unavoidably a minority of jobs. Of course, you can grow in a career without becoming a hierarchical next level, but instead becoming a more experienced, more authoriative member of teams without being an explicit leader.
But that's exactly the kind of job that is dangerous to lose, if you're older. It's the management aspects of team leadership or project manager or architect that travel well to other fields. If you hold a good position based on your long and deep experience with a field, you're not necessarily going to find a similarly important and similarly paid job again.
In fact, even at reduced pay and status you might be less popular than young people with far less exeprience. It often works far better when the junior members of a team are eager young ones willing to learn and prove themselves, instead of old hands who remember being more senior. The latter is a recipe for conflicts, and companies often avoid it by not hiring older people for junior jobs.
None of this is unique to engineering, it's true for every job where people build up in-depth experience over many years. But it is a trap where being an engineer won't protect you from. If someone chose to become an engineer despite not liking the work but because of job secrity, then this is a doubly painful trap.