Author Topic: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering  (Read 10794 times)

MUSTACHEFTW

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Seattle
Hello friends,

I recall reading one of MMM's posts on his blog that stated that most of his audience was comprised of engineers, so hopefully the following questions are appropriate for this forum. 

Here is quick bio of me and my career:

-Working in Greater Seattle area
-24 years old
-1.5 years into electrical engineering career
-Salary: ~$70k

Lately I have contemplated pursuing a second degree in Computer Science in order to work within the software industry in Seattle.  Here are the reasons why: I have more interest in software than I do in EE, there seems to be MUCH more employment opportunity for software development engineers/programmers in Seattle, and all of my CS friends with the same amount of work experience as me seem to earn a significantly higher salary than I do (20%+ more).  There are already a lot of juggernaut software companies in Seattle and there seem to be more companies opening offices here (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Tableau, Zillow, etc.).

Does anyone have anymore info on the computer science employment outlook?

How costly is a career change in terms of time and money? I do not think I would qualify for financial aid because of my salary, so I am assuming I would have to pay out of pocket for another degree?  I think the best case scenario would be loans.  Would the ROI (time and money) be worth it?  I will probably be around 27 when I finish the CSE degree.

I am not sure if I can handle working full time and pursue a CSE degree full time since I am assuming that a CSE degree is just as hard, if not harder, than an EE degree.

I do not have much programming knowledge other than a bit of OOP(C++, Java, etc.) and low-level programming that I learned from my BSEE degree. At a local university, they are offering a Graduate certificate in Software design and development, which will take one year.  Would I be able to get a job with just this or would I need to pursue the entire degree to get employed at a big software company?

Would it be a wise decision for me to pursue this career change?

Thank you very much
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 09:43:36 PM by MUSTACHEFTW »

Faraday

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1191
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NC
  • Solar Powered Slice
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2015, 09:35:05 PM »
Hello friends,

I recall reading one of MMM's posts on his blog that stated that most of his audience was comprised of engineers, so hopefully the following questions are appropriate for this forum. 

Here is quick bio of me and my career:

-Working in Greater Seattle area
-24 years old
-1.5 years into electrical engineering career
-Salary: ~$70k

Lately I have contemplated pursuing a second degree in Computer Science in order to work within the software industry in Seattle.  Here are the reasons why: I have more interest in software than I do in EE, there seems to be MUCH more employment opportunity for software development engineers/programmers in Seattle, and all of my CS friends with the same amount of work experience as me seem to earn a significantly higher salary than I do (20%+ more).  There are already a lot of juggernaut software companies in Seattle and there seem to be more companies opening offices here (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Tableau, Zillow, etc.).

Does anyone have anymore info on the computer science employment outlook?

How costly is a career change in terms of time and money? I do not think I would qualify for financial aid because of my salary, so I am assuming I would have to pay out of pocket for another degree?  I think the best case scenario would be loans.  Would the ROI (time and money) be worth it?  I will probably be around 27 when I finish the CSE degree.

I am not sure if I can handle working full time and pursue a CSE degree full time since I am assuming that a CSE degree is just as hard, if not harder, than an EE degree.

Would it be a wise decision for me to pursue this career change?

Thank you very much

YES YES YES, do it!

I am a BSEE who had to leave hardware development. I ended up making a career out of IT. If I had it to do over again, I'd have done low-level software engineering.

If you decided to write hardware drivers or other low-level code that depends on your hardware knowledge, you would be a golden, shining gem in a sea of pure software engineers.

DO IT!

simplified

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2015, 09:47:30 PM »
Average software jobs pay much more than hardware jobs and are plentiful. Based on what you mentioned, it may be a good idea for you to switch careers.

You do not need a degree in computer science to have a successful software career. You should start asking around and exploring the different options and try to find what interests you. Then pick up books and self educate.

I have a BS in Electrical and MS in Computer Science. Based on what I'm doing in my job, I can tell you that the MS was a complete waste of time and money. It may be a different story if you went to a top 10 school. Then your degree will be worth something. Otherwise please read books. If it makes you feel better, read the same books that are prescribed by the university and save yourself tons of time and money.



 

bacchi

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5704
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2015, 10:30:12 PM »
Yeah, I'm not convinced you need a 2nd degree either. The certificate will be fine.

Mefla has a good point. It's specialized, it's niche, but writing device driver software or asm can pay crazy high.

Faraday

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1191
  • Age: 59
  • Location: NC
  • Solar Powered Slice
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2015, 08:14:00 AM »
Yeah, I'm not convinced you need a 2nd degree either. The certificate will be fine.

Mefla has a good point. It's specialized, it's niche, but writing device driver software or asm can pay crazy high.

Thanks bacchi, appreciate the backup there.

I have a couple friends who write device drivers and they do very well - one fellow owns his own airplane.)

It's insane money and very difficult to outsource. You CAN outsource it, but outsourcing ASM programming doesn't leverage the costs quite as well as more labor-intensive tasks like pc desktop support.

I enjoyed writing ASM when I was in school. I'm very sorry I didn't develop that enjoyment into a career. Going into IT was an easy choice, but it's not as respected and important as ASM coding is. I worked lots of holidays, did lots of after-hours work. Not good, not good at all.

seattlecyclone

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5947
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Seattle, WA
    • My blog
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 08:26:12 AM »
The employment outlook is great. Software is eating the world. Jobs of all kinds are constantly being automated out of existence, but as a software engineer you'll be the one doing the automating. Don't bother with another degree. An EE degree is close enough to CS to get past the HR filter. Once you get there, you'll be asked to prove your coding ability on a whiteboard just like any other candidate, so if you think you can learn to code on your own and study some algorithms, that could be an easier way to go than a full-blown CS degree.

NathanP

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 137
Re: Career Change? Electrical Engineering to Software Engineering
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2015, 08:49:34 AM »
If you want to go the education route consider getting your masters in EE or CS or CE. I graduated with an EE degree and went on to get my MSEE. Many of the courses I took involved multi-core programming, software design patterns, etc..

Out of school I was hired as a Software Engineer, but in a role that involved some debugging on embedded hardware. My coworkers were impressed when I was able to use a logic analyzer to quickly debug a timing issue. I do confess that I wouldn't have been very good at designing a complete SW system from scratch, but you will learn that with time.

As has been mentioned, your EE degree will get you into the interview where you can prove yourself.