From Carpenter to Front End Developer in under 5 months
Andrew Charlebois

First off, welcome to the wonderful and exciting world of coding; though it been almost 25 years since my first job as a developer, I do recall the excitement. Indeed, I just started a new position a few weeks back, and it’s been a fun ride there so far. That said…

…these kinds of articles give me pause. While I find it great that others are making the jump from a non-tech career to the tech field, it also seems to me like something of a “canary-in-the-coal-mine”. Why? Well, many of us have seen articles or heard discussion about how technology — particularly that of AI, ML, deep learning, etc — are taking over more and more jobs and career paths, and leading to a potential glut of unemployed people with no other skills.

I applaud you for making the move — believe me, I don’t see the career of being a software developer going away any time soon. There is, though, potentially something coming down the pipe. I don’t know if it is 5 years away, or 20; I’d like to believe the latter. Regardless, at some point in the future we are going to see a big shift in how we relate to technology and income-generating work. Software development won’t be immune to this; either we as software developers will become more sought after (in which case we can rejoice — job security and all that) — or we’ll be displaced ourselves (at which point all bets are off — because when the systems are capable of upgrading themselves — well, you can ponder on that).

Not everybody can or will be able to become a software developer, though. Even for those with the skills (or capable of getting the skills, like yourself), there won’t be a calling for that many more developers — not to the level to take care of all the future unemployed due to advances in software and automation.

As I see more people like yourself enter into the career path of being a software developer, as well as the growth of both coding camps, hacker camps, and self-teaching resources for coding — I tend to wonder if such changes mean that software development as a profession is coming to a close — or at least a great restriction. We’ve seen this in the past with other professions — where the “next hot skill” was heavily promoted, technical schools and other resources devoted to learning the skills were marketed, students were trained — then they flooded the market only to find shortly thereafter that the market was already contracting, either because labor moved elsewhere, or technology made it cheaper to perform the same job in a different or more efficient manner.

You and others entering into this field a new software developers need to keep this in mind. Again, I’m not seeing — yet — this contraction happening in the field of software development. There are plenty of jobs still out there, plenty of people hiring across all major (and many minor) markets. At the same time, don’t sit on your laurels at your new jobs and think all is fine. Continue to expand your skills — particularly in those areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning (this won’t be easy — expect extreme levels of mathematics — linear algebra and calculus, mainly — along with stats and probabilities).

Keep an eye out, too, on the horizon. Hopefully something like UBI (universal basic income) is implemented before the first wave hits (soon, most likely) with people in the driving trades (truck drivers, couriers, deliveries, etc) once self-driving vehicles make real inroads. It’s only going to snowball from there.