"You should not shift careers to education--it pays half of what your engineering employment does."
I simply ignored the noise, jumped at opportunities regardless of whether it was the "right time," and let my gut guide me...if I lacked skills, I picked them up along the way. Continuing education is critical, and a terminal degree can never hurt you--but may be needed to open doors, so that's really where to begin--not end.
"We don't want you to succeed here."
I'd love to say "no, I've never experienced discouragement," but I'd be lying. As much as you stay focused on the positive, that noise will sometimes creep in. For me, the "noise" has come from few peers at work, but again, having a mentor has been immensely helpful. You're going to have people around you that want you to succeed and very few people that want to tear you down. Don't let the negativity discourage you. Execute flawlessly and let the results speak for themselves.