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For personal reasons I am looking to make a transfer to an office in a different state. Currently I am a Level 3 engineer, whose definition includes:

Degree and typical experience in engineering classification: Bachelor's and 5 or more years' experience, Master's degree with 3 or more years' experience or PhD degree with experience.

I currently have 3 years of experience and a Master's degree. I was only recently promoted to Level 3 based on my performance in that time.

The position I'm considering to transfer to is a Level 2 position:

Degree and typical experience in engineering classification: Bachelor's and 2 or more years' experience or a Master's degree with experience.

Based on my discussions with the hiring manager, they do not have budget for a Level 3 position, only a Level 2. Based on my research of salaries for the position, my current salary is on the high end for a Level 2 in the new office (and kind of low if I were to go as a Level 3). From my understanding, an offer is imminent. My guess is they will offer me my current salary (which is really a pay cut due to the cost of living increase).

To be fair, the Level 2 position I'm considering is more aligned with my career goals AND I don't have industry experience in that subfield yet. My Master's degree was focused on this subfield, so what I would be doing is not brand new to me.

I do worry about the compensation but more importantly I'm concerned about how "demoting" to take this position would impact my career.

  • Are both the jobs in the same domain, or are they related? – Dawny33 Dec 9 '15 at 14:59
  • @Dawny33 Both jobs are within aerospace. My current position is in test and evaluation, the new position is in flight control design. So they're related in that both are needed to build airplanes, but there isn't a ton of crossover on a day-to-day level. I should mention that my M.S. is in control systems, so it's not like the Level 2 position is brand new and I have no idea what I'm doing there. – Dang Khoa Dec 9 '15 at 15:05
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    What is your career goal? For becoming a level 4 in test&evaluation it's probably not good. For leading a happy and healthy life? That's up to you to decide. – nvoigt Dec 9 '15 at 15:12
  • This would be a big mistake within the same company. – TheMathemagician Dec 9 '15 at 15:28
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    @Lilientha my current job title (listed on LinkedIn) is Test & Evaluation Engineer. I would list the next one as "Guidance Nav and Control Engineer". Very different subfields. I don't think I would put level designation on LinkedIn.. – Dang Khoa Dec 9 '15 at 16:43
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If the change is to a lower classification in order to get experience in a new career field or subfield, then it is not likely to hurt you at all except for the financial issue. Plenty of people have to temporarily move downward to get into a particular specialization.

If you are changing physical locations, it also might not hurt very much. People will recognize that sometimes you have to take what you can get when you need to change localities.

Where it would hurt the most is when you stay at the same employer in the same location working in the same specialty. Then it is a demotion and people will want to know why you were moved down.

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I do worry about the compensation but more importantly I'm concerned about how "demoting" to take this position would impact my career.

Probably little to no impact. From what I seen the "level" system is arbitrary and at the same time proprietary to each company. Since you're being paid the salary of a level 2, it sounds to me like your new boss is going to treat you as a senior level person but just can't officially put that down at HR. As such, it wouldn't really matter since your responsibilities would be that of a senior role.

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