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Ask Slashdot: Best Options For Ongoing Education?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the hardwire-your-brain-into-stack-overflow dept.

Education 149

An anonymous reader writes "Lately, with the volatility of the economy, I have been thinking of expanding my education to reach into other areas related to my career. I have a computer science degree from Purdue and have been employed as a firmware engineer for 10+ years writing C and C++. I like what I do, but to me it seems that most job opportunities are available for people with skills in higher level languages such as ASP, .NET, C#, PHP, Scripting, Web applications and so on. Is it worth going back to school to get this training? I was thinking that a computer information technology degree would fit the bill, but I am concerned that going back to college would require a lot of time wasted doing electives and taking courses that don't get to the 'meat' of the learning. What would you do?"

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Don't go to school for languages... (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about a year ago | (#46247951)

Just learn them. School will only teach you one specific set of solutions to a problem rather then teaching you to problem solve. If you want to learn another language, just do it. Sit down, think up a simple application and write it.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248083)

I agree with your advice, but I'm compelled to point out that your assessment of school is specifically for tech schools. A good college is a bad choice for the submitter for the opposite reason: it'll teach how to solve problems, but usually without regard to whether the languages or platforms used look good on a resume. (Then again, I'm always wary of a tech person who automatically dismisses electives as a waste.)

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248603)

But... what's wrong with the RPGIV I learned at my local community college? It looks good on my resume!!!

And if you can't think of an application ... (3, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year ago | (#46248091)

... or if you don't want to just write a toy program that you're going to throw away, then find some open source project that you can contribute to.

Or check Code For America [codeforamerica.org] (or whatever the equivalent is in your country) to help out on local projects ... then you're also networking in your area, if you're looking for a new job.

Go to school for learning the fundamentals of programming ('this is a variable', 'this is a function'), or maybe to get a deeper understanding of different styles of programming (procedural / functional / OO / event-driven, etc.) ... but for learning languages you're often better off working on a project you care about and maybe finding a support community (local users group for that language, or the support community behind that project) or a mentor (eg, someone else from that project)

If you're one of those people who learn better from structured education ... then maybe look into a MOOC [mooc-list.com] or community college. This is not one of those situations where shelling out university prices is appropriate.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248127)

I thought school was supposed to teach a framework for solving problems, instead of the solutions to specific problems.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248241)

"I thought school was supposed to teach a framework for solving problems..."

How passe. In that environment, you have students questioning teachers - egos don't put up with that.

Maybe its been 30 years or so since you've been in school, but teachers teaching their opinions ("solutions to specific problems") and grading students on how well they regurgitate the teachers opinions has become the norm.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

ubergeek2009 (1475007) | about a year ago | (#46248303)

Not at my school.
In my degree I take courses from multiple departments: engineering mechanics,electrical eng,mech eng, physics, computer science,writing courses, and a few liberal electives(I took two american history courses and first semester german) There were no classes, that I took at least, that didn't allow reasonable amounts of questioning, unless a student was just being ridiculous.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248403)

I'm actually a teacher. Not at the University level, but a teacher nonetheless; and not a particularly great one. But even I see the need to instruct students on how to learn as opposed to what to learn. Memorizing information without a framework is a waste of time.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248295)

True, but this won't get you a Job, the HR-drone does keyword recognition what you list under "Certificates" in your CV, if it does not match, you get rejected.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about a year ago | (#46248671)

The keys to getting a job in a bleak job environment is networking with ppl
in that field, and making an online portfolio that demonstrates real world
provable ability.

Social networks like linkedin and such that show other workers and bosses
that favor you highly lend credibility to your resume/cv.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

thoughtlover (83833) | about a year ago | (#46248599)

I agree with the parent. You already have knowledge on low-level programming and many basic concepts firmly-grounded. School is only going to cost you more money, in the long run. It sounds like you have the propensity to self-educate and there are many free, online courses for you to choose from --even be graded on. Don't waste money on what you can learn in your free-time.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#46248693)

Getting a Computer Science Degree is good, but it isn't about learning how to program in the newest hottest language. It is about Computer Science, Theory, Methodologies, Styles and Best Practices. Now this is good because it gives you a strong foundation to be a really good programmer, not sweat about learning new languages, and knowing where to focus your mental attention on (Meeting the requirements vs. Just getting it to work)

Now if you have years of experience and no degree, there could still be value in getting a degree, however chances are you would be better off just learning the language yourself. Give yourself some personal projects and work on a language you don't know.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248805)

You, like many others, need to learn the difference between then, and than.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#46248907)

"Just learn them."

Further, I would say don't learn PHP, unless you are just studying the basic principles of how Web applications work.

I'm not saying any one language is perfect. But PHP is primitive and has a collection of built-in methods with woefully inconsistent syntax (parameters). Personally I consider it less of a "language", than a hodgepodge of inconsistent utility functions. You learn PHP not via the principles of its design, if any, but merely by memorizing the functions you need and the parameters they accept. Also, object-orientation was tacked on long after PHP had become a thing, and the language shows it.

People will tell you that there is a huge installed base of PHP, with lots of jobs for PHP programmers, and that's true. But that happens in the evolution of any successful language: it becomes popular, it develops an established base, lots of useful things are built with it. THEN, when something better comes along, all the good jobs are still with the old language... for a while. But only for a while.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46248917)

Just learn them.

I am taking a "free online" course in programming Android for Mobile Handheld Systems. I can deal with passively listening to the lecture videos, I can deal with looking up the information required for the quizzes, but I have to draw the line at jumping the hoops required for the automated lab grading system. For the time invested in figuring out what hoops these guys want me to jump through, I can finish writing my own app, learn how to color outside their lines, and generally get a better education in App programming for the same time invested. If I thought I "needed" that grade, I'd have to waste an awful lot of time and brainpower to get it.

I'd much rather show impressive working original Apps than a certificate from a course showing that I can jump prescribed hoops.

Re:Don't go to school for languages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249327)

School will only teach you one specific set of solutions to a problem rather then teaching you to problem solve.

A shitty school focused on vocational training will do that. A good school will do the exact opposite. At a good school you will probably won't do any work in "practical" languages at all, just academic ones.

Learn on your own, build something you can show (1)

jpc1957 (1820122) | about a year ago | (#46249527)

Showing actual, relevant work products are the best way to get a job now. Pick the technology you want to learn, build an application that motivates you to put in the time. The technology should be marketable, the application doesn't have to be. Just has to be professional quality in the end. Based on your existing skills with embedded development and lower level languages there are a couple directions you could take. 'Internet of Things' is getting hot if you want to stay with embedded development. Objective-C for iOS is a good fit with your C background. ASP, .NET, C# all require commitment to the Microsoft world. It's not just the languages and frameworks, but you have to buy products, and learn many server side components. Certifications are also usually expected. A big commitment. PHP is OK (one of my primary languages), free to use and don't have to learn large frameworks to do productive work. Can't go wrong at this point with JavaScript, that should be a secondary skill for pretty much any developer now, and it's become a very viable primary language also. It's on the way up, while PHP is probably declining.

Learn HolyC (0)

TempleOS (3394245) | about a year ago | (#46247965)

Holy C is like the ten commandment tablets handed down from God. God says...memory Coeternal willed Unity dangerous superfluously ways revealing single good subjoins shamelessness dry perverted successive toiling inebriated plans meaning feedeth yielding weeping Lastly fresh purity shield Connecticut bestowed Seek afterward Image insult suggests **The Especially dreadful Avenue some swept Both rejected herself assenting inveigler separateth Light challenges NOT abashed soul plain immoderate grievous comely authors weakest crookedness point deformity creating prerogative concludeth Prophet Luxury remaineth 30 world probable lofty Orations lottery tongues disengage imperishable Latins murmured broke different glorified secure protesting forgiven suffice choked devoutness clearest related fraught otherwhiles unforgotten patterns sever times wandered queen knit villa rend applauses discreet springeth

Your degree will suffice. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46247991)

Just start learning the new languages. You'll be surprised at how easy they are to pick up when you already have programming background..

IMO: You'd waste time & money going back to school.

Re: Your degree will suffice. (1)

techneeks (1374735) | about a year ago | (#46248039)

I couldn't agree more. I would get yourself into a language that already has a similar structure to C and C++ such as PHP and JavaScript. These languages are the foundation of modern web applications and allow you the broadest range possible for future development.

Re:Your degree will suffice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248205)

What if you don't already have a programming background? Like the rest of us, are are thinking along the same lines?

Re:Your degree will suffice. (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | about a year ago | (#46248307)

Pretty much anything requires a 4 year degree now. (yes, you can "get away" without one but you limit your options and make your life more difficult)

If your trying to jump into the programing field it depends what your current degree/job experaince are to the best approach.

Re:Your degree will suffice. (3, Informative)

rjune (123157) | about a year ago | (#46248363)

There is another alternative. I went back to school because if I'm doing something on my own, life tends to get in the way. Taking a class forces me to do the work. That being said, that is the situation that applies to me. Perhaps you have more self-discipline and learn effectively on your own as other posters have suggested. However, you don't have to earn another degree. Just enroll as a non-degree student and cherry pick the courses you would find useful. Just because you a CS degree doesn't mean that you have to go to a 4 year college. I have an MS in Computing, but I'm taking some courses at technical college (2 year college). Go for the knowledge you think is useful for your goals and career. Good Luck!

I suppose, but (4, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#46247999)

If that's what you want to do, sure. But these PHP/C#/Web folks are a dime a dozen. You already have experience in something specialized. There may not be many jobs per se, but there aren't many people to fill those. Move into driver development or embedded system programming. You will be able to transfer current skills and you won't face saturation like in the higher level languages.

Chicken/egg (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#46248087)

But these PHP/C#/Web folks are a dime a dozen.

Yes, because there's apparently much more demand for them, so more people develop those skills. I'm currently doing .NET/web stuff specifically because I couldn't find work writing C. (And I'm entry-level, so it's not as if experience was a factor -- in fact, I wrote C & Fortran in my research assistant job while at school).

Re:I suppose, but (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#46248115)

Generalization == many jobs, much competition, low(er) pay
Specialization == fewer jobs, less competition, much higher pay

At a previous job, we had an in-house programmer who pulled the third-highest salary in the company because the in-house app was written in some little-known variant of an old version of Visual Basic. However, it got to the point where a total rewrite was on the drawing board because that language didn't work well well with the APIs of other software we were starting to use, and a web-based interface was starting to make more sense as our sales force became more mobile and we expanded to more branch offices. It didn't help that I, the lowly sysadmin making less than a third of what he did, had to teach him VB.NET and did the initial web interface and software installer myself.

Re:I suppose, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248145)

This is what I seem to be seeing as well. The firmware jobs are not as plentiful as other types of software development jobs but the firmware jobs seem to pay much better, assuming you are in the upper tier of developers. By my own informal estimates, a firmware engineer will make at least 20% more than the developers working at upper stacks of software.

Re:I suppose, but (3, Informative)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#46248217)

I second this. I'm in a specialty like OP, embedded software in C/C++. Like OP I've been feeling the heat due to economic slowdown, defense cuts, sequestration, etc.
After looking into switching software fields to web/database I decided to stick with embedded. The fact is that there is still a demand for embedded software and I'd have to take a significant pay cut to switch out of it. I guess it boils down to if you want more *perceived* job security at lower pay or to take your chances at higher pay.

Re:I suppose, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249075)

He can just move to NY for instance. If he did anything reasonably complex in C/C++, he'll get a job easily.
And he can then learn on the job other tools like python, javascript, web service, java etc.
I would expect that Chicago, Houston and the west coast would offer reasonably similar opportunities.

the 'meat' of the learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248001)

Electives are what make us human and give us heart.

Re:the 'meat' of the learning (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#46248231)

Electives and minors are what makes US graduates less marketable that graduates who could focus on their core subject.

Re:the 'meat' of the learning (1)

the phantom (107624) | about a year ago | (#46248399)

[citation needed]

Re:the 'meat' of the learning (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#46248577)

Not needed. It's bloody obvious.

Re:the 'meat' of the learning (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about a year ago | (#46248633)

Not that high on the list of concerns for the heartless corporations.

Half or more of the corporations that act like they have a heart are acting.

In the bottom line oriented world that is unfolding core knowledge
of your skillset is what they are looking for, that and teamwork.

Re:the 'meat' of the learning (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | about a year ago | (#46248739)

But I don't want a heart, I want to improve my skillset

Forget going back to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248011)

You've already got the background. Just set yourself a project in one of these 'modern' languages and complete it, and learn the tech along the way. How about making a web app that does something fun, or solves a problem you have? Once you've learned the idioms of your chosen language or framework, you'll be flying. A lot of it is just bolting together things that other people have already done anyway. It's a damn sight easier than firmware, that's for sure...

Definitely not . . . (3, Insightful)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about a year ago | (#46248021)

This is probably one of the few professional areas where going to a formal educational institution is a waste of time and money. There is SO much by way of online resources that you can use to self-teach, communities to ask questions (like StackOverflow), and practical projects that you can do to learn programming. If your aim is to learn another language, consider yourself extremely fortunate. Decide which language you're interested in, get a good book, start an SO account and get started.

Purdue is useless, Get a refund. (0, Flamebait)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#46248025)

If they gave you a computer science degree, and never taught you how to pick up a new language for free in a matter of a few days on your own in today's world of unlimited documentation for the ten-year-old languages that you've listed, then they're useless, you should never have gone in the first place.

You're now talking to a population of people who've picked up dozens of languages, and continue to pick up a handful every year. If you can't learn on your own, then you aren't worth squat to anybody.

C and C++ are among the most complicated and in-depth languages to learn, and even more effortful to comprehend. PHP is probably the simplest, with the shallowest learning curve and the most documentation. If you can't move from sprinting to walking, then you should just lie down now. Learn to bake pizzas; you'll find it challenging.

Appologies (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#46248047)

Ok, that came out a little harsher than I'd intended. Let's blame it on passion.

Re:Appologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248131)

Nah. You're just an asshole.

Re:Appologies (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#46248159)

And yet, I put my name behind my words. Gives them some weight. You might try not running away from yours.

Re:Appologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248235)

lol no you didn't, unless your real name is holophrastic.

Re:Appologies (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#46248369)

Umm, yes I did. It is. It's on my tax forms and everything. I'm interested in knowing how the hell you thought that you could dis-authenticate my name simply by reading it here? How the hell would you know what my name is?!

In either case, it's irrelevant. There's no confusion that I'm the same person as I was moments ago. You, on the other hand, I have no way to know if you are the same poster or a different one.

you can lol all you like. I don't believe that you're actually laughing.

Re:Purdue is useless, Get a refund. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248213)

I graduated from Purdue in 1976 with a BSEE. It would have been a double major with CS but that required 2 years of a foreign language so I just took the CS classes.

One of the classes I took almost 40 years ago taught 4 different languages (I have no idea what they were), the idea being that it actually taught you how to learn a language quickly.

It got me though 30+ years of engineering/programming/project management.

But that model fell apart when I tried to learn an OO language. I wasn't prepared for that and am still struggling. Luckily my job doesn't require me coding it, but I need to talk intelligently to my programmers so I am still trying.

Re:Purdue is useless, Get a refund. (4, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#46248347)

I feel your pain. I actually went into, and then out of OO programming. The issue is that while it's a perfect technique for some very specific directions, it's horrible for solving real-world business problems.

You, specifically you, need to look at OO programming much differently. Then you'll find it quite easy to use. It's not actually any different than procedural programming. It's simply a collection of encapsulated procedural mini-programs. That's it. It's exactly the same code, it's just called differently. It's the same function/subroutine, it's just launched/triggered/executed with a different syntax.

The reason it's horrid for most business problems is simply because business problems are solved by figuring out how to sequence individual and often disparate tasks. Whereas OO is designed to solve problems where the same task needs to be solved countless times and the sequence is almost irrelevant.

If you've always tried to use OO for business tasks, then your struggle wasn't with the hammer, it was with how to use the hammer to turn a screw. But if I were to give you a nail, you'd suddenly understand how to use the hammer quite instinctively.

If you still/ever need someone to walk you through it, let me know. I'm happy to help.

Learn on your own. (1)

pwnstar23 (2717703) | about a year ago | (#46248043)

First of all its really easy to learn a new language after you mastered one, especially c++, since it's sort of low level. Second, all you need is a book and a few hours a week and you'll learn a new language in a month or so. You should be competent in that language by then. Third, going back to school would be way over kill, it's not that big of a deal to learn a new language especially going from c++ to C# since c# is based on c++ with the c style syntax. The only other thing that pops up is getting to know .net, but that's not hard due to reference sites like msdn.com.

community college (3, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#46248059)

I am concerned that going back to college would require a lot of time wasted doing electives and taking courses that don't get to the 'meat' of the learning

If you really want to get into teh web development side, I'd check out your local community colleges. All your gen ed stuff (english, math courses, history, etc) from your prior degree(s) should still count, so you'd just need to do the core classes for the AS degree you are interested in. You should be able to finish up in 3 or 4 semesters, if that.

Industry Problem (5, Insightful)

ltrand (933535) | about a year ago | (#46248061)

Background: I am an adjunct instructor and an IT professional. As such, this is a common discussion topic.

The education industry, meaning colleges and universities, need a way to "add on" additional skill emphasis to degrees without requiring whole new degrees. I think, instead of detracting from current products (associates, bachelors, masters degrees), this will add revenue abilities from lifetime learning requirements that tech people have.

For Example: BSCS, Purdue University, 1990
CS Advanced Programming Topics, Coursera, 2013.

This would allow people to add the 2-3 courses that they need to refresh their skills, get students into the halls paying tuition (out of pocket, or company money), allow current students to brush up and work with more experienced folks IN CLASS, and show what HR is looking for, current accredited skills improvement.

But we seem stuck in the past. So we have to suffer through $1,000 a day "boot camps" that still require you to do a lot of on-your-own learning. We NEED something better. Colleges, be they 4 year or community, need to have programs that carry through the whole career ladder for skills improvement. I think that will help all of us overcome the "no training dollars this year" dilemma we constantly find.

graduate certificates (3, Informative)

moniker (9961) | about a year ago | (#46248417)

The education industry, meaning colleges and universities, need a way to "add on" additional skill emphasis to degrees without requiring whole new degrees.

They are called graduate certificates. You take a couple of graduate level courses, and you get a graduate certificate. Often, you can get a certificate while you are on the path towards a masters.

Re:graduate certificates (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248679)

The University of Washington calls these kinds of programs Professional and Continuing Education, and it's an expanding area. I'm sure other universities have similar programs. As an example of what's available at UW, and to get a sense of what's out there, check out www.pce.uw.edu/computing-it.html. (Full disclosure: I work at UW, but not in PCE.)

Re:graduate certificates (1)

ltrand (933535) | about a year ago | (#46248699)

While true, they are limited in usefulness. The real point is that continuing education is not even really a focus of current colleges. Besides which, many graduate certificates carries their own "not really required" requirements and precludes community colleges, what most of us could actually afford out-of-pocket.

Re:graduate certificates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248949)

Community colleges also have certificates in specific areas such as web design. The community college where my husband teaches programming has a lot of returning adults either getting a certificate or taking a few classes for continuing education. The "gotcha" in all this is that "success" metrics count completion of a degree program or certificate, so continuing education (if not completing a certificate) doesn't count against the success of a program like computer information systems. The metrics need to take completion of individual courses (without working toward something larger) into consideration.

Re:graduate certificates (2)

j2.718ff (2441884) | about a year ago | (#46249675)

The education industry, meaning colleges and universities, need a way to "add on" additional skill emphasis to degrees without requiring whole new degrees.

They are called graduate certificates. You take a couple of graduate level courses, and you get a graduate certificate. Often, you can get a certificate while you are on the path towards a masters.

Or, if you don't need a piece of paper, you can just find classes that interest you, and take them.

Where I work, tuition reimbursement exists if you are enrolled in a degree or certificate program -- it's much harder to get the company to pay for a single class. For that reason alone, graduate certificates are great.

Re:Industry Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248487)

MCSD works just fine IMO. If you can pass that, you'll know enough to get past most interviews and be able to develop at a decent level as well. Outside of that experience counts, so start programming today and do it daily in the new language that's chosen.

Colleges time tables are poor for ongoing educatio (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#46249319)

Colleges time tables are poor for ongoing education and there needs to be a some kind of badges system that makes taking classes to refresh / learn new skills add up to some thing and not just that nice but it's not an degree from HR.

Qt/QtQuick/QML (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248101)

Platforms are becoming more fragmented. However, Qt gets more and more cross platform - not only Windows, Linux and MacOS desktops, but also mobile (Android, iOS, Ubuntu, Sailfish, Tizen, heck even WindowsRT!) as well. Since you already have C++ experience, this might complement your knownledge. Also, QtQuick is really awesome. I once read a comment that QML is what HTML5 should have been for apps. Given my prior expierence as webdeveloper, I couldn't agree more - webtech really sucks compared to this.

I work as C#/.NET dev, but I really grow tired of all the limitiations and license crap these very corporate-oriented platforms are giving me. I've picked up SailfishOS development in Qt/QtQuick, and it really is a relieve to just install the SDK and hack away without limitations.

Free and Inexpensive Alternatives to College (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248107)

Coursera has free courses that you can take on your own time. I have taken their basic Python course and learned a lot. You might also want to subscribe to Lynda.com to learn and sharpen your skills.

Re:Free and Inexpensive Alternatives to College (1)

jonyen (2633919) | about a year ago | (#46248229)

Ditto. I'm also watching the video archive for the Compilers class from Stanford and it's been really helpful to understand more of the underlying structure.

Selfeducation?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248111)

If you were trained correctly in the programming art then it really shouldn't matter much what kind of programming language you use. Just reading some book and having access to documentation should be enough. I'm a software engineer too with 12+ years of experience as WCDMA designer and it works for me perfectly. Learning new stuff all the time.

Healthcare.gov? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248125)

I've heard the web team working on Healtcare.gov is looking for talent.

What problem (1)

dietsip (723998) | about a year ago | (#46248141)

You have it backwards. Don't find a solution when you don't know the problem. It's easier to figure out what type of problems you are interested in solving and get the necessary training to solve those types of problems then the other way around.

Hoax or Idiot? (1)

fygment (444210) | about a year ago | (#46248161)

WTF, sounds like you want to give up a job you like because ... there seem to be opportunities for people with other skills?
People with the skills needed to work as a teller in fast food joints are also in demand.

Got a job you like? Upgrade on your own time, take some courses, and use your industry network to let people know you've got the extra skills. THAT will get you variety and maybe move you up/around in your current company.

No. Learn on your own time for FREE (1)

Morpeth (577066) | about a year ago | (#46248173)

There are so many great online professional sites with tips, tools, tutorials, etc., plus great publishers like WROX press, O'Reilly etc if you want to go that route. I tend to do both

The bulk of my development skills were self-taught or learned on the job, I don't even have a CS degree (I changed career paths), and I work exactly in the areas you described; C#, ASP, .NET, SQL, etc.

Seriously, I don't think it makes sense, and for gawd's sake DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, go to place like Phoenix or Capella, they are a joke and not a single person in IT I know puts ANY value on those kinds of places.

Emerging Technologies (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about a year ago | (#46248185)

A master's degree might open some doors closed to a 4 year degree.

I'd focus on emerging technologies if you want a big break.

The things that are about to disrupt the current paradigm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Emerging Technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248323)

They might "disrupt the current paradigm" but will they syngergize his ROI bringing the TCO down to levels heretofore unrealized?

Re:Emerging Technologies (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about a year ago | (#46248425)

synergize his ROI... omg a buzzword troll.

The emerging technologies are real, your
acronym spam is a humor repeat that has
been use a few times...

consider a masters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248197)

Two things:

1. Don't go to universities for *training*, you go there for an education (you can probably get your company to pay for some training, and there are many free online options)

2. Consider going back to a university for a masters degree, rather than for another bachelors. With a masters, you don't have to take any courses not related to your field. If you want more practical education, don't go to a big research university, go to a mid-tier state university.

Best Options For Ongoing Education? (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#46248237)

An open mind.

Electives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248255)

If you already have your BS why would you go back for another? If you want to further your education you go back for a MS. What you want from the content of your question however, sounds like you need a couple hundred dollars worth of reference books and some free weekends.

Re:Electives? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#46248329)

If you already have your BS why would you go back for another? If you want to further your education you go back for a MS. What you want from the content of your question however, sounds like you need a couple hundred dollars worth of reference books and some free weekends.

The problem with learning this way is that you need the motivation. Either because you need the new skill/language to complete some part of a paying job or project, or because it scratches a particular itch or fills some need you have.

Taking a course, even at a community college, where you've paid for the course, paid to be evaluated (tests/projects/labs throughout the course/semester/term) and you've paid to recieve a grade is sometimes the only way to get truly committed to learning the skill or completing the course work.

Re:Electives? (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about a year ago | (#46248453)

Well if he wants to move from code/developer to software engineer on some project
that has government ties that requires higher level degrees to higher level pay
then its viable.

The area that is seeing the most growth is the emerging tech list I posted earlier.

Join a start up or a young company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248271)

Honestly, don't bother with going back to college.

I was in your exact same position one year ago. I had worked for Xerox for 5 years and I saw the writing on the wall with the group I was in. Knew I had to get out of there. I was interested in web development, so I found a company that was 5 years old that was hiring web developers and applied.

If you have the fundamentals of software development down, you can get a job at smaller companies that are willing to hire people with good fundamentals and a willingness to learn on the job. That's exactly what I did and I transitioned quite seamlessly from the C/C++ embedded world to C# .NET.

Keep in mind with a smaller company, you'll have to expect that benefits likely won't match that of a big company... but the tradeoff in being hired without specific experience of a language is well worth it for your long term career.

PHP (2)

webtron (1124453) | about a year ago | (#46248351)

Your best option here is PHP. There is tons of PHP work out there to be had and it is cross-platform so you won't be locked into MS.

PHP has had a bit of a renaissance lately and being based on C you'll be right at home with lots of job opportunities.

Just start taking PHP contracts. No need to go re-educate yourself to do something simpler than what you were doing.

Udacity (1)

mycroft822 (822167) | about a year ago | (#46248359)

I've found Udacity to have some pretty good online CS classes. They have been expanding into other areas as well lately, but their focus has mainly been CS. I thought the Web Applications class was really well done. Python is even my new favorite scripting language because of it.

My situation is slightly different (1)

sentiblue (3535839) | about a year ago | (#46248447)

I'm in similar but slightly different position.... I went to a well-known university but didn't have a chance to finish my degree. I've been working as an datacenter operations linux system engineer for some 10years now... I want to move up to management but without a degree it seems to hard. Additional life pressure has added on... now that I'm married and have a baby. I still wanna go back to college and get an MIS degree... and hopefully MBA if I still have time after that... It just seems that after a day of working and dealing with family requirements... there isn't much time left for academic activities... am I just being a lazy ass?

Re:My situation is slightly different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248769)

Shoulda kept your dick in your pants if your career is so important.

Re:My situation is slightly different (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248979)

In my opinion, you should do it. Those things can haunt you for a long time if you don't act. I believe that by careful arranging of your schedule, you can pull it.

Re:My situation is slightly different (1)

volmtech (769154) | about a year ago | (#46249215)

Yep, lazy. At the age of 46 I decided to try college. My boss let me take two days a week off and I had night classes two other days after work. I still got in almost 40 hours at work with long days and working Saturdays. I only did it for one semester but I did get a raise and put on salary.

My 29 year old son in law needs one more semester to complete his AA. He could move up to management then but he wont make the effort.

Well, here's my take on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248463)

Unless you're a Google-level uber-genius, (or just convinced the right people that you are), technical fields are a gloomy dead-end, especially as you get along into your late 30s and beyond.

It's a never-ending treadmill of trends, fashion, buzzwords and complete and utter bullshit that's either a colossal waste of time and human energy, or junk that ends up in a landfill.

It's difficult for tech-types to digest this, but learn more about social things. Not necessarily to become a social worker! I mean learn about what are the things that keep your local society together. Notaries, accountants, small business, running a condo board, etc. These are all things that even thought they COULD be easily done away with and automated, the social inertia behind these concepts guarantee income and employment.

Keep the technical shit for rainy weekends. No one cares about yet another excitable 45-year-old teenager playing around with computers. Especially when these teenagers don't have professional associations like accountants or notaries do.... That's what it boils down to.

Engineering associations don't do shit about setting wages or preventing outsourcing.

Re:Well, here's my take on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249169)

Working in technology is way more fun than some crusty community job.

Re:Well, here's my take on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249253)

So notaries, accountants, condo managers are crusty communists? Yet software, predicated on free information for all, isn't? I see. Well, I'm convinced.

Two important thoughts (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about a year ago | (#46248497)

First, if you want to learn new programming languages, just do so. Your education in CS should have given you the necessary skills to do so. In the end there are only a few paradigms and concepts present in all the languages you mentioned. Nothing you did not already have in some way in university or school.

Second, it is true that there are more openings in those areas. However, there are also much more competitors for those jobs. Most students learn Java or at some strange universities C# and .Net. Furthermore, people who like to code a little often start with PHP, Python or Ruby for their web thingy. This all results in a lot of people able to "code" in these languages and with the associated frameworks. And they are cheap. Cheap as in "I am fresh from college/university and need the money" cheap or in "I am a college drop out and need the money" cheap. Therefore, it might not the best to wast your time in becoming a member of that pool of coders. Better improve your skill level in embedded systems. And there is definitely a lot to learn even at university. Especially if you have only a bachelor degree.

No. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#46248549)

You can pick these skills up from online courses and self-study. College would through you in with a bunch of software engineering newbs and cost you way more than you need to spend.

All Programmers Need Continuing Education (1)

stargazer1sd (708392) | about a year ago | (#46248631)

My rule of thumb is that most everything you know now will be useful, but mostly obsolete in ten years or less. That makes extracurricular learning a constant and ongoing process. There are a multiple ways to accomplish this. The best way will depend on your learning style. The areas you study will depend on both your interests and available opportunities.

You already have a Bachelor's from a good school. An additional degree in computer technology isn't going to deliver a lot of value. You've been working in embedded systems, which can be its own little world sometimes. But at least where I live, good opportunities abound. If you like it, you can stay there, or you can branch out. I moved from embedded, to systems software, to application software. I still like embedded programming.

If you want to branch out, it's vital that you know your goal. It can be exploratory, or it can be more concrete. There's room for both. But, be prepared for some major time commitments. You can find lots of resources for self directed learning with a little searching. If you need a classroom setting, Extension courses are good resource, albeit expensive. Don't forget to check your local community college. Our local CC offers an excellent introduction to the Java programming language. It's always filled.

Online tutorials in most subjects are plentiful, and there are more traditional books and study guides. Study groups are another resource, if you find a good one. They have the advantage of expanding your social and professional network too.

My personal mix is mostly books, online articles, and fiddling around doing something useful for someone else. I also attend a couple of conferences I find particularly useful. However, I do appreciate that there are times when a structured approach is best. I find it most useful in abstract areas like UML, or other methodologies and particulary complicated subjects like optical engineering. You get to determine what's best for you. There's no canonically right way.

Write better firmware! (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#46248771)

Given how difficult it is to replace firmware, and how crappy a lot of it is, I would have thought that the world needs more (and not fewer) firmware developers.

Javascript and Python (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248833)

Javascript, the language of the web. Soon we will see a full stack from client to server (with a really good IDE to help debug). Python, the language of internet money. Both will rise in use and popularity.

Just post your resume (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#46248879)

As a former firmware engineer myself, let me assure you that the rest of the coding world views us as the elites-of-the-elites. Yes, you need to know SQL and Javascript to get a job these days, but if you can pick those up (you can), you'll have a distinct edge over virtually everyone else applying for whatever job you want.

And in case you wondered - Yes, you do have it harder than the rest of the coding world. Shit, I could sleep through my 9-to-5 and still outperform most of my peers at writing user-space code. Like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, 80% of the pay for 5% of the frustration. You won't look back!

Just a warning, though... We tend to suck at GUI design. Fortunately, you'll have no trouble finding members of your "team" that actually want the "glamor" of arguing with management about typefaces and colors. ;)

Re:Just post your resume (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249179)

The parent is right, many employers are concerned about getting people who understand low level concepts. Good recruiters (easy to find them on the job sites) will help you sell what you know to people who care.

Notably, the stackoverflow jobs can point you to VERY interesting companies. You can also use Dice (who bought Slashdot and is blamed for the horrible Beta) or Careerbuilder.
There is also efinancialcareers.

The key is to know your low level stuff and avoid missing keywords on your resume. So if you wrote a small DB to manage something at work, put SQL. etc.

Learn Network Load Balances and a Web Framework (1)

nevermindme (912672) | about a year ago | (#46248915)

Both are quick to pick up and in highest demands and really have zero impact if visualization keeps accelerating. 100% US English is also great to have. Christopher Hull 219 613 3785

law school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46248967)

Seriously. 10 years into my law career after leaving the engineering world (BSEE from Purdue) and its non-stop layoffs and questionable future prospects and I couldn't be happier.

Just languages (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about a year ago | (#46248975)

Unless I'm missing something, those are just languages. Learn the basics and start writing your own projects in the one/ones that interest you. I was hired as a C++ developer, but I've been required to learn Perl, Ruby, and Bash scripting to perform my job. Picking up a new language isn't a big deal, provided you have sufficient motivation to do it.

You've got a CS degree from a good school. If you can claim a language on your resume and back it up with code, then I don't see a reason that you'd need to go back to school just for that.

C++ puts you at an advantage (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about a year ago | (#46249099)

If you know C++, you have the fundamentals and then some. Picking up Java, C#, etc. will be something you can do in your spare time over a couple of weeks. I know, because I was hired as a Java programmer on the strength of my C++ experience, in spite of having written only one tiny Java class. I read an ebook and was productive immediately. Granted, it took a lot longer to learn all the rest of the ecosystem, like HTTP and all the godzillions of available libraries, but it wasn't hard.

Just turn off half of your brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249133)

If you've worked in C++, the hardest thing to remember in something like Java or C# is to forget half the bullshit you need to know to write C++.

Also Purdue BS in CS from 10+ years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249301)

>ASP, .NET, C#, PHP, Scripting, Web applications

PHP is super easy to learn; Scripting is the same - in fact I'm sure you had to do some to get your degree.

I suggest figuring out what you want to do (Sysadmin? Network Engineer? Web Dev? Systems Programming? Application Programming?), and finding the requirements there -- typically it's just a few certs or languages to learn. If you are still in Indiana, Ivy tech has done a much better job of adding programming classes. //wolfmann Purdue CS of '04 (started in '99)

>employed as a firmware engineer for 10+ years writing C and C++
I would have hated that.

Extended Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249365)

Many of the universities and colleges in my area provide extended education course. The duration of these course is typically 1-4 terms (quarters or semesters based on the school). Occasionally the course is self-paced online courses or short 2-5 day courses. Course subjects are limited in scope (e.g., C++, Remote sensing, etc.). The course are also usually designed around supporting full time workers (i.e., classes are held in the evenings or are self-paced). Typically, one receives some sort of certificate upon course completion indicating that the individual has completed the course.

If you find the structured approach that a traditional education program provides (i.e., structured class work, interaction with other students, and access to professors), then this may be a good option to look into.

college needs to change and HR needs to drop the (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#46249395)

college needs to change and HR needs to drop the need it to get a job part.

I would view it as a red flag on your resume. (2)

whatthef*ck (215929) | about a year ago | (#46249479)

In my experience, the best programmers all have one (among others) critical skill: They have the ability to pick up new languages, APIs, technologies, etc., quickly and on their own. The fact that, after 10+ years as a programmer, you see ASP, .NET, C#, etc. as so formidable that you feel (apparently) that you might learn them more efficiently by sitting in a classroom and being spoon-fed would give me pause if I were considering hiring you for any developer position.

Re:I would view it as a red flag on your resume. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249637)

In my own defense, I wouldn't have any problems picking up a new language. The issue is that employeers word job postings so that they can find the perfect candidate. I doubt they would consider an engineer that dosnt have experience in the 12 languages they were looking for, even though I would be completely capable of doing the work. This is why I would consider formal education, rather then learn-it-on your own.

Dover math books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249727)

Have some fun with Dover math books. Forget about the trend of the day. If you're an embedded systems programmer, you should never want for work. I see these skills in perennial demand. You could probably buy all the Dover math books for what one semester of college would cost, and get a better education. At least you'd learn something that lasts, rather than the next fad that will be obsolete next year.

C and C++ are still relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46249867)

You might want to try movile application. iOS applications are written in Objective-C, that would enable reuse of your knowledge. Application tend to be small and it is still possible to have one-man projects.

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