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Should I choose hardware engineer or software engineer or programmer as my career?


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#21 rocketkiller   Members   -  Reputation: 100

Posted 10 July 2011 - 09:14 AM


They are a dime a dozen because there are dozens ( ok, millions ) of jobs. Going to have a bitch of a time finding employement in electrical engineering field these days.


Why do you say that? It might not necessarily be games related, but there are plenty of places that need electrical engineers. Plus when the apocalypse comes they can still make computers while us programmers will have no idea what to do.


I never learn electrical engineers..

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#22 rocketkiller   Members   -  Reputation: 100

Posted 10 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

I'll throw one on too. I knew a guy who didn't really know programming or anything who went in to get a CS degree. Now he's - I think - an AI researcher or something and does really fascinating stuff. It sounds like a joy.

I'll retract that comment about them being a "dime a dozen"; there's a lot of mediocre people in some fields, especially if they seem like the obvious thing to go into (CS is for a lot of people) and that inflates the figures and by no means that talent is common. If you're smart and serious, somebody needs you.

I can't say anything else except that the OP ought to think about what he has a passion for so that he'll take it seriously.


sorry but may I know what is CS?

#23 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 10 July 2011 - 11:04 AM

sorry but may I know what is CS?

computer science.

#24 JoeCooper   Members   -  Reputation: 338

Posted 10 July 2011 - 12:46 PM

I think I prefer software engineer..


I'm suspicious that you have a clear mental image of what "software engineering" (as opposed to computer science).

But if you want to do computers and software, by all means have a closer look at those and see if either resonates with you and, chances are, you can switch from one to the other without too much extra work if you change your mind.

#25 LeChuckIsBack   Members   -  Reputation: 95

Posted 10 July 2011 - 05:50 PM

Should I choose hardware engineer or software engineer or programmer as my career?


You seem to love rockets, why don't you become an astronaut?
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana: It has been found that the circular area is to the quadrant of the circumference, as the area of an equilateral triangle is to the square of one side. The diameter employed as a linear unit according to the present rule in computing the circle's area is entirely wrong."

#26 RivieraKid   Members   -  Reputation: 374

Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:31 AM

bound to be places where you can do all 3.

#27 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 11 July 2011 - 12:05 PM

Computer Engineering seems very defined. Software Development, Software Engineering, and Software Architecture are disciplines that have too much gray in them for the question to be really answerable.
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#28 dublindan   Members   -  Reputation: 457

Posted 13 July 2011 - 09:33 PM

My vote is to go into hardware simply because thats where I've been finding myself headed lately. My background is in software. Learned to program because I wanted to make games, got a degree in computer science, worked in telecommunications (backend server stuff for mobile networks) and web development (mostly backend, a little javascript/html/css) and now I'm starting a hardware startup, kinda. Still learning a lot about electronics, getting pretty intimate with certain microcontroller datasheets and building cool gadgets. Just today I was working with a bluetooth module connected to a PIC24 microcontroller. Lots of interesting stuff to learn and fun things to program.

Of course, I always liked low level stuff, from embedded systems to operating systems to compilers. The assembly and computer architecture courses I took in uni were probably my favourites. Also, I have no idea what kind of job a typical electrical engineer can look forward to. Dunno if what I seem to have slipped into is the norm in the field or not, but I'm loving it so far!

I still do a lot of programming: firmware, tools and scripts. Not to mention that I still do a little web development work. I love programing though and I love using various languages and this lets me use C, assembly, C++ and Python on a regular basis.

What should you do? I don't know. I think you need to try out a few different things first. Get some exposure to the various fields in both hardware and software. See what you like and what you don't like. See what you're good at. Learn some new things in the process.

Also, be prepared to learn somehting new and switch careers later, especially if its to a complementary field. Who knows if you still want to do the same things in ten years as you do now. Ten years ago, I sure didn't see myself doing what I do now.

#29 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

Posted 14 July 2011 - 12:14 PM

If it is any consolation, nothing says you cannot enjoy other disciplines outside of your career as a hobby. Take my word for this: specialization is not as fun as honing multiple disciplines, but it yields more prospects.

On another note... Job security. Globalization coupled with the fact that programmers can work regardless of location has made outsourcing the norm (if websites dedicated entirely to freelance project bids are an indicator). Prototyping firms, public science labs and Arduino also seem to be setting the stage for making engineering costs damn near disappear.

It is one thing to program or tinker as a hobby, but choosing them as careers brings the question of how you can remain indispensable. Why would a company always want to hire you instead of an equally skilled bloke on the other hemisphere who will do the same job for less? For this reason (with some others),

If I were you, I would think of programming and engineering as skills to augment the career I end up in. Make yourself more valuable in an industry that can most benefit from your services.

#30 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2397

Posted 14 July 2011 - 01:13 PM

On another note... Job security. Globalization coupled with the fact that programmers can work regardless of location has made outsourcing the norm (if websites dedicated entirely to freelance project bids are an indicator).


Outsourcing != off-shoring.

It is one thing to program or tinker as a hobby, but choosing them as careers brings the question of how you can remain indispensable.

Most people can read and write.
Few have jobs as Writers.
The job of a typist is all but extinct, at very least it falls under data entry these days.

Why would a company always want to hire you instead of an equally skilled bloke on the other hemisphere who will do the same job for less?

You can't. That stage is over. Equal skill today costs about the same.

If anything, the companies discovered that they were paying way too much for certain jobs which didn't require that much "skill".

Regardless of bias, a lot of programming falls under that. If a 12-year old self-taught can follow a few tutorials and produce something with business value, then there really is something odd about someone else asking $250k for 10 year seniority. Way too many jobs have complexity of the former.

As a general advice, anything that does not tie your career to inter-personal relations is subject to lowest bidder outcome. This is why the only salaries going up are those of CEOs. Their performance is highly subjective and determined almost exclusively through social aspects rather than performance metrics applied to their employees.

#31 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

Posted 14 July 2011 - 02:01 PM

Sounds like bad news for introverts.

If anything, the companies discovered that they were paying way too much for certain jobs which didn't require that much "skill".

...

Regardless of bias, a lot of programming falls under that. If a 12-year old self-taught can follow a few tutorials and produce something with business value, then there really is something odd about someone else asking $250k for 10 year seniority. Way too many jobs have complexity of the former.



I understand what you mean when looking at jobs that the less experienced can handle, but politics can get ugly in a task that seems easy to managers from a result-oriented perspective. I charge more for projects if they are complex or tedious enough, but when a client presumes on the difficulty of an assignment without knowing the process involved, bad assumptions about the skills involved can follow and the perceived value of all the work drops. ("Whaddya MEAN you need an hour to move that thing there?!") Thing is, I wouldn't kill myself by bidding at $20/hr based on these misconceptions.

How should seniors address the drop in their perceived value?

#32 dublindan   Members   -  Reputation: 457

Posted 14 July 2011 - 08:02 PM

Sounds like bad news for introverts.

Introverts have always been at a business/career disadvantage, in my opinion. Sure, you can be a successful programmer/engineer without paying much attention to the social game, but you will always be disadvantaged compared to the extroverts. It seems to me that most of the world is very much who you know at least just as much as what you know.

"Whaddya MEAN you need an hour to move that thing there?!"

I guess you have to offset the time/cost with more value (real or perceived) so they still feel happy paying whatever rate you ask for.

#33 Katie   Members   -  Reputation: 1313

Posted 15 July 2011 - 04:15 AM

"How should seniors address the drop in their perceived value?"

Because juniors can follow a tutorial and generate something with business value, the point about senior people is that either they have hugely deep knowledge about something really specialised -- that you can't get from a google search. Or they have broad knowledge -- they've seen a lot of stuff tried and failed and can prevent you giving the junior people the wrong things to do.

Or they have dimension -- they not only understand software, they understand all the other things that are going on.

Most projects don't fail because the software is hard to write. Most software isn't hard to write. There's very little software is actually screaming bleeding edge software. Most software is, underneath, the dull systematic addressing of a bunch of issues. Projects fail not because the software can't address the issues -- they fail because the collection of people involved can't identify the issues properly.

More experienced people gain skills in how to do that[1].


All three of those things; depth, breadth and dimension are worth extra.



[1] It doesn't always help -- if you have an environment where your senior engineers can't ask questions and can't challenge the requirements to fully understand them, then your project will probably fail.

#34 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

Posted 15 July 2011 - 06:57 AM

Introverts have always been at a business/career disadvantage, in my opinion. Sure, you can be a successful programmer/engineer without paying much attention to the social game, but you will always be disadvantaged compared to the extroverts. It seems to me that most of the world is very much who you know at least just as much as what you know.


Introversion is not shyness. Valuing personal time is not anti-social. Introverts have networks and can understand the value of being assertive and leaving their comfort zone. Articles like these try to put the quiet and the timid in the same boat, which pressures introverts to not just leave their comfort zone, but to ignore it altogether.

An introvert's network might not be as big as an extroverts, but (s)he can compete and prosper with enough discipline. I would only call that a disadvantage if said introvert was chronically envious (and therefore unhappy) when comparing themselves to an extrovert.




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