Four ways that you can switch career to become a software engineer

Software engineer has become a very hot career path in these few years, thanks to the glamorous silicon valley overnight success legends like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the amazing pay packages and benefits that tech companies provide. As a software engineer in silicon valley, many people asked me how to switch career to become a software engineer. I will shed some light and share four ways how you can transition into software engineer career.

do or do not, there is no try.

1. Get a Computer Science Diploma at School

This is the most obvious and intuitive way to do it. You will have a solid foundation and a credible diploma to apply for jobs by the time of the graduations. You also have access to faculty, teaching assistants, office hours, alumni network , and possibly campus career fair. The cost of this path is that you have to put a full stop to your current job and fully commit to it. The cost is also higher since you have to pay for tuition, school supply expenses, living expenses and on top of that, without your current income. I would recommend this route to people who are determined to dedicate to software engineer career and willing to invest 100% of their time into it.

2. Get a Computer Science Diploma Online

There are some prestigious universities that are providing online program for people who are interested to transition into software engineering field.The more famous one include online CS master program in Georgia Tech and online MCIT program in University of Pennsylvania. These kind of programs are master degree program tailored for people who do not have CS background but are passionate about this field. The benefit of these programs is that it’s very flexible since it’s online courses. You can still keep your full time job and take class and do homework after work. They are also cheaper comparing to the in person on campus program. The Georgia Tech online CS program cost about $7000 and the online MCIT program in UPenn cost about $25000. The tuition is cheaper and plus you don’t need to relocate and pay for other expenses and you can keep your current job and sources of income. I know someone who graduated from the online CS master program and was able to score a job in big company like Salesforce. You may also quit your job to focus fully on the online program if you are financially safe to do so. I would recommend this path to people who are passionate about CS, but not able to relocate or give up current job for some reason.

3. Free Online Courses

There are some free online courses you can take as well to self learn computer science. The famous one include MIT open courses ware, codecademy, udacity, coursera, etc. The list goes on and on. There are tons of free information online that you can learn programing from. The benefit is that you can give it a shot at your own pace to test the water and see if this is your cup of tea before investing more time and money in it. In addition, it’s FREE! However the downside is that the information might be here and there and you will need to somehow piece them together without the help of faculty or teaching assistant. With that being said, I know someone who self taught and was able to get a software engineer job. But it will be more tough comparing to the first two options. I would recommend this path to people who are interested in CS and want to test the water or people who are confident in their persistence and self discipline.

4. Bootcamp

There are many bootcamps out there. They are usually high intensity program ranged from 6 to 28 weeks. The benefit is that it’s shorter comparing to CS degree program in person or online. However, it also has its con. A few years back, when software companies were hiring new grads like crazy, they also hired from bootcamps as well. But as the supply of CS new grads increased, they gradually reduce their hiring from bootcamp. Another reason is that the quality of the bootcamps is inconsistent, so companies prefer to go with new grads with a CS degree. I would recommend this path to people who want to transition into software engineer in short amount of time.

You may pick from the above four options based on your need at the current phase of your life. They are not easy but I can assure you that they will be rewarding. Come join me!