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I'm considering web development, database administration, and software development/programming. How can I tell which area would be right for me?

#software-development #computer-software #programming #technology

I have a bachelor's degree unrelated to CS. I'm looking at either a boot camp, an AAS degree or maybe another bachelor's in CS. My kids are almost out of high school so I'm looking for a big change and something I can really sink my teeth into. But with so many options, how do I know which direction to go?

Also, will my options be limited if I do a boot camp instead of getting a CS degree?


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Thai’s Answer

I suggest you read about each section of focus at a high level and see which one you learn the fastest and enjoy most. Once you select the focus, find a mentor as you will need support first couple years doing the job.

You don't need a bachelor in CS to do these job. A college degree will do. You can study for some certifications to get thing started and your foot in the door. To give you an idea, I've trained a construction worker to become an unix admin, mentored a history and a biologist major as an analyst, and a journalist as a tester. None of them has a CS degree. Few classes or certifications started their career in IT. I know few top software developers have no college degree. Continuous learning through reading and applying is the key.

Many thanks Thai. I really appreciate you takimg the time to answer. It’s encouraging to hear I might not need a full CS degree to be successful. I will take up your suggestions, thanks! Kathy M.

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Leon’s Answer

First you need a computer connected to the Internet. If you don't have one, I buy my computers from https://discountcomputerdepot.com/. They offer a one year guarantee (and they really mean it) excellent service. They are an authorized recondition dealer. This is not a sales pitch it is just where I buy my computers for the best price and service. Currently, we have seven computers in our house used for working from home, creating programs, enjoying the Internet and answering CareerVillage.com questions.

Another way to save money is to download and use open source software that can be loaded from the Internet onto Microsoft O/S or Linux O/S and they are free.

During my career as a Release Engineer, I programmed (many different languages), database programmed (Oracle, SQL and MySQL) and created web pages. Also, I worked with the groups that specialize in these tasks on a daily basis by suggesting changes, improvements and testing their results before and after adding to the Production release.

When I was worked in Boston I joined a number of computer meetup groups and there is no better way to learn about these computer science areas than talking to the people that work at it on a daily basis.

This link lists the meetup groups within 25 miles of your home Fairfax Virginia.


Next learning a programming language:

There are three programming languages you should start with: 1) JavaScript 2) Python 3)SQL, and there is no better place to learn them for free--W3SCHOOLS.com. There a number of others but this is the one I like and learn from the best. Also, you should buy some text books that you can read and markup with important information. A book that I bought to learn about creating a web site and learning about open source programming is: WordPress All-in-One for dummies. I also have JavaScript , Python and SQL (MySQL) books.

All three of the professions you are considering are changing and improving every day. So you need to continue learning every day. I have learned computer science for over 40 years and I am still learning every day.

I hope this information has helped you learn more about computer science!!

Leon recommends the following next steps:

Learn three computer languages: JavaScript, Python and SQL.
Learn more about the three languages.
Learn about WordPress.com web design.

Leon, many thanks for taking the time! And thanks for the information on discountcomputerdepot.com. I will check it out. Happy New Year and thanks again! Kathy M.

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Jake’s Answer

My personal experience taught me that you should do something that you like/enjoy doing for 10+ hours a day. If you land a job on software discipline you will be working hard.

Anyway, here are my personal tips. Big companies are starting to waive the "required" bachelor's in CS; however, is all about discipline and personality. People, hire based on biased opinions and if they like (or can work with,) the candidate.

There are really good online courses on CS fundamentals which are cheaper than bachelor's. The key here would be making a routine and showing your work online on any code versioning tool.

I'd like to add that software engineers never stop learning - we are constantly researching, reading and sharing knowledge. Even to this day, StackOverflow is my place to go-to for answers.

Lastly, about the CS discipline, that is really though question for anyone to answer for you. Check the job descriptions for each role. Ask to actual people who work on these roles, how their day to day is... Bottom line is that once you have basic CS knowledge you can do whatever role. That's the beauty of this, you can overcome the gap any time. I went from C++ to java to typescript. Honestly, I miss C++ but that's why I make side projects. Is up to you.

Feel free to connect with me and asking questions. I wish you best of luck on your new journey.

Jake recommends the following next steps:

Create GitHub/gitlsb/bitbucket account to share your personal work
Create a StackOverflow account
Network with software engineers to ask about their experience
Always keep learning
Never be afraid to ask

A million thanks for your comments, Jake. Your suggestions are terrific and I appreciate your encouragement. And thanks for your invitation to connect again, I just might! Kathy M.

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Michele’s Answer

These 3 areas are indeed very different from each other, and they each require different sets of skills and natural ability. I can try to categorize them a bit for you, at a high level, so you can think about where you best fit. First and foremost, I think you should base your decision on the activities that make you the most happy. What are you passionate about? What are you good at naturally? What makes you feel excited when you think about solving a problem?

Michele recommends the following next steps:

Web development involves the planning and writing interactive content that will be exposed to users, so should be easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and provide fast response. You'll need to learn web-based infrastructure design (web server like jetty, and client-side languages like JavaScript, HTML5, servlets). There is some programming required, but not as much as being software engineer. If you are creative, like to work with users, don't mind getting other people's ideas for changes to what you've done, this might be a good area for you. http://classifieds.usatoday.com/blog/careers/7-skills-every-web-developer-needs-resume/
Database administration is VERY different than web design or software development. You will work with the engineers in these other areas to design and install database software, set up tables for their data, make sure the computers or virtual environments that host the database(s) remain functional. If you like working with data, statistics, connections between different problem areas, this may be a good choice for you. https://work.chron.com/skills-needed-database-administrator-10356.html
Software development/programming involves both scientific methods and artistic endeavors. I was studying to be a nurse, and then switched to computer science because I was much more analytical and liked to solve problems where I could use abstract thinking, like putting puzzles together. I've never regretted the decision! https://www.thebalancecareers.com/software-developer-job-description-salary-and-skills-2061833 Hope this helps!

Michele, Great answer! Many thanks for getting to the heart of my question and answering in such great detail. The articles will be very helpful, I'm sure. Yes, it sounds like each is quite different and your description helps illustrate how they differ. Much appreciated! Kathy M.

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Sushma’s Answer

Hi Kathy

Since you mentioned you are not from software background or have computers degree, I would recommend you to gain some knowledge on Agile methodology and software testing. This knowledge will give you an exposure into software development life cycle and web applications. Once you are more familiar with the overall software development then you can see what interest you a lot and pick on a journey which gives you job satisfaction. Web Development for many would be interesting and I hope you might like it too. Bug again as beginner you need foundational knowledge on overall software development and web applications along with some development methodologies. You can get some minimal knowledge by watching YouTube videos or searching for online courses

Sushma recommends the following next steps:

Watch this video to give you a brief background - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB2iQSvrcG0
Agile basics - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9tjYJXcdTs
Udemy.com is a great website for getting online courses

Hi Sushma, Many thanks for your great answer and apologies for not seeing it earlier. Your advice to learn about software development and web applications in general is really helpful. I saw a really interesting job posting today that involves software testing and though I've never even heard of the technologies they require, the job itself sounds really interesting for a detail oriented person like me. I will definitely look into it. Thanks for the video recommendations. Kathy M.