Software Engineers please advise on the career?!


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 30, 2010
How did you enter this field? I'm seriously considering a move from my major.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but so far I've gathered that a minimum of a bachelor's degree in Computer Science is required for pretty much every job (unless you have extensive experience). But there are so many avenues one could take to get to this destination (IT Tech, Software Developer, Network-blah-blah-blah etc.) that I've become a bit overwhelmed. What kind of schooling (under-grad, grad) did you complete? and with all the aforementioned avenues of schooling, how did you make it to your position as an engineer? Does the schooling process help and/or helped you to find your niche in this broad field (i.e. Systems vs Applications)?

While I'm nowhere near developer status at the moment, I have taken web design during my high school years. I became pretty competent with HTML in those years, going so far as to abandon Dreamweaver and other WYSIWYG editors in favor of using straight HTML editors (Coda for Mac, Bluefish? on Ubuntu). Even created a MySQL database. It was a lot of fun for me, and I used to feel very accomplished even after hours of perfecting my work. But out of high school, Pharmacy offered the greatest earning potential in our retail economy, and now I'm full time in a hospital, but I still can't see myself struggling as a technician through another 6 years of schooling.

One program I've read up on is "Software Applications Developer," offered through Rasmussen. As I see it, in 18 month's time I'd be able to double my salary. Then I can rollover my credits into their bachelors of Computer Science program. I know I won't earn Pharmacist's salary straight out of school, but I see the earning potential increases along with experience, beyond the scope of a pharmacist's salary. Plus the student loans won't gouge me.

So career advise is needed!
Last edited:


macrumors G3
Sep 15, 2011
Vilano Beach, FL
You know, I meant to post something a few days ago, better late than never :)

I won't say whether you should bail from one academic direction into a new one, there are plenty of online resources that show revenue potential by occupation, location, etc., and you can assess those against the time you've already committed vs. starting from scratch.

I'd caution against chasing the money, as it sounds like you're already in a career path that's potentially very good (@A.Goldberg can give you some outstanding perspective into that industry).

The tech sector is extremely diverse, and I'd say the "IT" type occupations - jobs around infrastructure/networking/support - are more limited, regardless of their income opportunity. As a developer, which includes coding, architecture, design, management, writing, you can go big, small, enterprise/corporate, government, boutique shop, contractor in short and long term gigs, you can work with web, mobile, AR/VR, front end, backend, DB, a mix of those.

The more your skills cross technology, platforms, etc., the more value you carry.

Some formal schooling is not a bad thing, experience and "real" talent for the work is far more important, but the latter generally comes from years of immersing yourself into coding, otherwise you're going to need some sort of initial ramp up, some guidelines, a little understanding of the basics.

Er, I had a more organized response in my head, but the cool weather is making me a little giddy to finish up this update package, wash my car and go for a cruise, more later if you're interested. :cool:
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: A.Goldberg

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
Toronto, Ontario
A bachelors degree in a STEM related field even if its not Computer Science could get your foot in the door if you bring a strong portfolio of past work. Once you get some applicable experience employers are more likely to look to that then where and what you went to school for. I know some SE's who don't have a degree at all, but were major contributors on open source projects. Id say start off by working on some shippable apps in your spare time, it doesn't really matter what it relates to, if you ship something (and even better, make money from it) its going to look better than someone who followed directions in class for 4 years and now feels entitled to a job.

I personally went from tech business owner -> web dev in corp environment -> leader of technology at startup -> SE in corp environment

If you are doing it for the money you will burn out fast, the startup world is rough, but its good experience and part of the reason I have the job I do now.


macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
Obviously choosing a very specialized career is difficult when you don't know what you really want to do.

I'm a Clinical Pharmacist, I love my job but I'm not you're averaged PharmD sitting at CVS counting pills all day. I can say if you like working in pharmacy, talk to some Pharmacists in other settings. If you're bored with it and miserable, then it might not be for you. There's a lot of things a pharmacist can do beyond hospital and retail. Chasing down money is not the way to go and whatever career you take is no guarantee of success.

I work my day job at a psychiatric hospital consulting with patients and doctors. About a year ago using some of the people I connected with through my career we started a healthcare-related business. Currently we're doing quite fantastically- far above expectations and frankly above and maxed out to what our infrastructure was set to provide (which may mean time for expansion). I'm being vague but let's just say I have a decent chunk of additional money flow coming in ontop of my normal salary. I never thought I would be involved in such a business yet here I am.

I will say Pharmacy is A LOT of work and is considered one of the most rigorous academic programs out there. It's really an 8yr program stuffed into 6. Your background as a tech will help you though. It's also considered one of the most valuable programs dollar for education vs. salary. It's also worth noting while some careers have the *potential* to eventually exceed a PharmD salary, it may take years so get there. 6-figures out of college is a nice gift.

Anyways, PM me if you have any questions about Pharmacy and options outside of the conventional career routes. My best advice is do what you love, not where the money leads you. I know plenty of miserable Pharmacists who hate their lives (some quit and eventually come back) because it's not really what they want to do.


macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
And side note: I originally went to school for a career in fianance. That's what my parents told me I should do, that's what my older brother did, and my grandfather. My grandfather and dad both had successful careers in finance. But that's not really what I wanted to do, I'm sure I would have done fine.

I eventually decided it was not what I wanted to do, plus the economy at the time was disasterous. So I transferred schools and haven't looked back.

So point being, there's always a chance to change your mind.