• Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  

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

This topic is 2412 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Advertisement
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


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.[/quote]
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?[/quote]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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sounds like bad news for introverts.

[color="#1C2837"]If anything, the companies discovered that they were paying way too much for certain jobs which didn't require that much "skill".

[color="#1C2837"]...

[color="#1C2837"]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.[color="#1C2837"][/quote]

[color="#1c2837"]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.

[color="#1c2837"]How should seniors address the drop in their perceived value?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


[color=#1C2837][size=2]"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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement