Career change for my life

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Hello to all and to all a hello. I am looking for everyone's opinions and knowledge. So please fill free to feed me your opinions and knowledge. First off I have a degree as a network Engineer and a degree in MIS. I of coarse have my MCSE and MY CNA Net + and etc. I have been involved in networking / hardware and software support for over 12 years now, everything from wiring networks to design and implementation. After all these years I am getting a little burned out one the networking side of things, I still enjoy it and helping others lean it but I have also lost long term and perm jobs due to outsourcing. I also enjoy the idea of programming which I have not touched programming since college and that was VB 6. However I am now 30, married and with 2 kids one 8 and the other 14 months. and would like to change to a more stable career to benefit the family and myself and learn VB.net, ADO.net, ASP.net and so forth. I have noticed many excellent positions for Programmers and developers which seem to be a more stable choice for long and lasting careers. 1. Does anyone here have any opinions on changing paths at this point in my life or anyone's life? 2. What do you see has the best way to learn. IE( Quickcerts.com ) Where you by the MCSD track videos that seem to be taught in a class like environment...Or learn on your own? 3. Also What is it like trying to interview and qualify for these positions Entry level and more advanced ? 4. Or would you say to just stay where I am and hope for the best ( a raise, a move to new location or just forget it too old to do such a thing. hmmmm, okay no , this is not a choice. hehehe I do not want to lose anybody so my questions will stop here for now. Please I ask everyone and anyone to read and answer these questions for me everyone is welcome. I want to hear what everyone thinks and knows. I greatly appreciate your time. DJ

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You are young – 30 is young! In my humble opinion, it is harder to change careers or career paths as time goes by (get older!) and so my advice to you is if you are interested in programming – go for it. I have been a programmer for over 20 years now and have worn many different career hats as a programmer (analyst, project/team leader, dba work, etc.). You can continue to learn in this career or stick with the same thing/language if you so choose. Personally, I find it best to continue to learn and so thus having the opportunity to move around to different positions/jobs within a company or changing companies. Programming is a challenging job – it’s much more than making the code work – it’s very tedious, though and not for those who are not detail oriented.

1. Does anyone here have any opions on changing paths at this point in my life or anyones life ??
>>>”… this point..” – you have so many more years to work – don’t get stuck in a rut where you are 1) bored and 2) no job security. Job security is important and finding the career that provides that as well as self-satisfaction is the key.

2. What do you see has the best way to learn. IE( Quickcerts.com ) Where you by the MCSD track
videos that seem to be taught in a class like environment… Or learn on your own. ??
>>>>One thought is to learn on the job – can you move into a position with your current employer where you’d be given the opportunity to learn?

3. Also What is it like trying to interview and qualify for these positions Entry level and more advanced ?
>>> like any other interview – depends on your level of experience and, of course, who is doing the interview – technical staff versus management.

4. Or would you say to just stay where I am and hope for the best ( a raise, a move to new location or just forget it too old to do such a thing. hmmmm, okay no , this is not a choice. hehehe
>>> Never just stay put if you don’t have to. And, again, 30 is YOUNG!

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  • DrillO
    Hi DJ Wow! What a great question.....one that we have all asked ourselves I'm sure. This is also a tough question.....there are so many variables. First off, I think you are at a great age to make a change if that is what you want to do. You are also at a great age to move upward in your current field. It is truly up to you. If you have lost all your steam then you might want a change. Programming can be rewarding especially if you land in the right place. Your current skill set can be rwarding too. I know where you are because I have been there too. There are always companies and organizations looking for good Managers in your field and having 12 years of real world experience stands you in good shape. That is what I have done and found the move to be very good and stable. As far as learing is concerned, keep at it no matter what you do, even if it is mostly self study. The more you know and can demonstrate, the better your chances in what ever you decide to do. We seem to be heading into a time once again where there are shortages in good Tech workers. Use this to your advantage. If you can't move up or sideways where you are now, it may be a good time to start looking around. There are things that I would have done differently throughout my career but I am basically happy. This is still a very vibrant and exciting field in which to work. I wish you luck and every success. The method of study and securing further education will be determined by your situation. I doubt for example that with a young family you could do the full time study route. Fast tracking for the people with experience is a good way to go if you can manage it. If I can be more specific or provide more info, I would be happy to. Best, Paul
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  • Ghigbee
    I had similar burnout issues at my previous job (doing windows sysadmin, tech support, etc). I began to dust off my programming knowledge and use it to make the (then) current job more efficient. This gave me three benefits, my job became a little easier, I got back into the swing of programming, and I had some programming experience for my resume. Adding this programming experience to my resume allowed me to move to a new employer who was looking for a "jack of all trades." This new job allows me to do alot of different things, including programming, and is far more stable for my family, and far more enjoyable for me. For me, learning by doing is the best method. I dug out my old programming books and started designing some programs that were applicable to my current job. Once I refreshed the basics I picked out a couple of newer languages and started working with them. You may find classroom works better for you, maybe not, but if you try the book method first it is a cheaper investment. My other recommendation is to look for an employer who is a consumer of technology, not a provider. That way you won't be considered "just a number" like you would if you were working for a Cisco, Microsoft, Unisys, 3Com,etc. Thats my $.02 worth. Hope it helps. Let me know if you have any questions.
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  • Thamilton
    I think that if you're burning out on networking that you definitely should be proactive in making a change. While paid learning sources (web and classroom) would be a good starting point to learn (or re-learn) the basics, you just can't beat practical application. Find a process or task in your current job that would benefit from an application, then design and build it. It may take a while and you may make a lot of mistakes along the way, but the reward will be a deeper understanding of what you'll encounter as a programmer, something you won't get in a book. Who knows, that application may end up being a way to show your current employer that you're capable of branching out, and you may end up getting "real" assignments to further your learning. Once you have this type of practical experience under your belt, you'll be in great shape to take one of those "stable career" positions you're looking at. Best of luck!
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  • grocket007
    4 years ago at age 34 I made a career change to the IT field. I spent the prior 17 years in one industry and can relate to the burnout syndrome. My advice is to do what you enjoy. Salary is important but so is enjoying what you do. Weigh what is important for you. Job duties? , a 40hr. work week? or is salary, OT opportunites, or is weekends off to spend time with your kids important to you? I make less now than what I used to do but am happy not to have to work 70+ hrs. a week. For the first time I get weekends off and am lucky to work with some good people. Also, it never hurts to interview for a position. It's good practice and you might get a great job offer. Just make sure you tell the interviewer not to contact your current employer without first notifying you. That way you can avoid being put in a precarious position. You are definately not to old to change careers. Good luck to you.
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  • BeerMaker
    Heres my 2 cents... Never too late to switch careers, especially if you are not happy with what you do. Just make sure that programming is what your really love. Leverage your current skills as you jump into programming and you'll maximize your income. Start by figuring out if there are companies in the area that you want to work for. Do some programming on the side. If you have some VB under your belt, start with the new tools for Visual Studio 2005 these skills will be in demand in the next 12-24 months. Pick something you need or might find useful in your job and write some code. Learn by doing and perhaps you can find a mentor at your current job. Good luck
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  • TIMWATSON
    REALLY GOOD REPLIES FROM EVERYONE TO THIS QUESTION. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU..., IF IT IS PROGRAMMING YOU WISH TO DO..., HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE EMERGING EMBEDDED MARKET..., IN ASSEMBLER, PERHAPS? WHEN I STARTED AS A TECH IN THE LATE '70's, I HAD A CHANCE TO BECOME A MACHINIST (STATE OF CA. PAID FOR THE SCHOOL), WHICH WAS A THING I WANTED TO DO SINCE CHILDHOOD, I COMPLETED THE SCHOOL, AND WORKED IN THAT FIELD FOR A WHILE. A BETTER COMPUTER JOB CAME UP, I WENT BACK INTO COMPUTERS, AND FOREVER LOST MY FEAR OF CHANGE. I WILL BE 49 ON 23 DEC. YOUR EXPERIENCES WILL ALWAYS REMAIN WITH YOU. AS THE OLD SAYING GOES 'NO FEAR'. TIM.
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  • R8escjohn
    Hello all, This is an excellent thread and one I have thought about myself. My story?Somewhat similar to those posted above. Worked in a corporate type environment as head Network Engineer for 12 some years. Huge server farm, over 4000 nodes, plus all of the fun that comes with that?you get the picture. 24/7 plus weekends gets old and plus I was getting way burned out as head folks were always into cutting edge stuff and liked changing infrastructure stuff *way* to fast. (?..You know that wireless infrastructure we installed 2 years ago ? (and finally got to work stably like a year ago) - from vendor A- we have decided to go with vendors B solution and they said they could get it operational in the next 6 months, give them what ever help they need?.. :- Took cut in pay so was a tad hesitant at first, but do not regret it a bit. *Extremely* flexible comp time plus *only* M-F 9-5. Pay is still somewhat an issue (heck, some of your custodian folks make more than me I am sure), but money is not everything. Having a stable home life now and time to do community volunteer work is much more worth it. That may be an option for you if you are willing and able to take a pay cut. Hope this info helps!
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  • R8escjohn
    Hello all, This is an excellent thread and one I have thought about myself. My story?Somewhat similar to those posted above. Worked in a corporate type environment as head Network Engineer for 12 some years. Huge server farm, over 4000 nodes, plus all of the fun that comes with that?you get the picture. 24/7 plus weekends gets old and plus I was getting way burned out as head folks were always into cutting edge stuff and liked changing infrastructure stuff *way* to fast. (?..You know that wireless infrastructure we installed 2 years ago ? (and finally got to work stably like a year ago) - from vendor A- we have decided to go with vendors B solution and they said they could get it operational in the next 6 months, give them what ever help they need?.. :- Took cut in pay so was a tad hesitant at first, but do not regret it a bit. *Extremely* flexible comp time plus *only* M-F 9-5. Pay is still somewhat an issue (heck, some of your custodian folks make more than me I am sure), but money is not everything. Having a stable home life now and time to do community volunteer work is much more worth it. That may be an option for you if you are willing and able to take a pay cut. Hope this info helps!
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  • Cwgraves
    Great question. I started out 24 years ago as an electrician and electronics technician, so the transition into network and pc support was natural. I was attending college for Computer Science at the same time to learn programming. After several years of trying to keep up with technology and doing both hardware and software, I switched and concentrated just on the software side of things. (I got tired of crawling under desks)! The past 4 or 5 years, I have noticed a change in the industry that will help with your decision. Many companies are outsourcing development, but still use in-house application architects and/or project managers. While you are breaking into the programming career, make sure you place a great importance on design principles and industry standard best practices. Look into process standards such as Capability Maturity Model (CMM) or AGILE. When you interview, the main thing to get across is your ability to solve problems. The computer language doesn't matter. You will use whatever TOOL is necessary to get the job done. Most companies, especially in the day of heavy outsourcing, are bottom line thinkers. How are you going to help make them more money? Either you think like a business analyst, or you are more efficient as a developer... Something has to set you apart from the many other programmers applying for the same position. (You'll have to think about that yourself). I just recently accepted a position as a Senior Database Engineer, and help the Systems Analysts and programmers design their databases and objects. Over the length of my career, I have found it necessary to keep up with current technology. Also, I have taken a more specialized position every 3-5 years. Hope some of this helps.
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  • VenPhil
    Dear DJ, This might be my second response--I don't remember whether I actually got around to responding when your message was first posted. I made several career changes--in my 20's, 30's, and 40's. There is nothing really to keep one from doing that except the idea that you can't. The key, I think, to getting employed in a new area is selling your prospective employer on the idea that you've been around the block and know all the mistakes to avoid. This is the essence of "experience." Keep in mind that in any trade involving physical skills, there is an apprenticeship period that one MUST complete in order to be considered "skilled" in that area, and that applies to persons of any age that are learning that skill. The same really applies in the more intellectual endeavors, especially when considering competitive business situations where the ability to turn out a good product quickly is the difference between success and failure. And this ability is based mainly on experience, I think. I say experience because technical expertise doesn't vary a lot in teams assigned to develop new software products. Of course, in large corporations like banks and other programmer intensive organizations, the technical ability of programmers varies considerably. I remember a study done in the 60's or 70's that the very best programmers in an organization could produce 100 times the number of debugged, workable code than the least able programmers. These super-programmers were few and far between, but that difference did exist. I don't think the difference is as wide today, but I am sure the factor of "experience" is what sets "good" programmers (or whatever) apart from "not-so-good" ones. Good luck, Phil
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  • DaveInAZ
    My advice would be, if you're dead-set on becoming a programmer, do it in stages, not one big leap. Given your hardware background, and total lack of real world programming experience, you'd take a huge hit in the wallet if you just jumped into programming, no matter what courses you take or how many you take. Education counts for very little, these days. There are too many experienced programmers pounding the pavement looking for work. Employers don't have to hire inexperienced people, and most of them won't. The ones that do have "entry level" positions generally pay about as much as McDonald's. So, I would advise moving into a different, but still hardware-related, field where your experience counts for something. There are a lot of companies that primarily produce hardware, but also need some programming, and many of them are related to large networks in some fashion. I'd recommend seeking a position with one of them, on the hardware side, with a move to the software side a possibility for the future. That would get you the change of scenery you're after, probably with much better hours and without the huge cut in pay (at least, not as large), and it keeps your options open.
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