So you want to get a job in computers?

Earlier this year, I talked about getting a job in science – the pitfalls, the misconceptions, and yes, even how to do it, if you were feeling particularly masochistic.  Unlike many budding biologists, I was pretty successful.  I had relevant jobs throughout university and found a job immediately after graduating.  But, as readers may know, I left my job as a research assistant to pursue a career in computer sciences.  So why trade biological science for computers?  Or if you’re just starting out, why consider a career in computers at all?

 

Photo Credit: pennstatelive via flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/4947382490/)

 

Roll in the dough

Computer science is a well paying field.  I’m not talking about IT technicians or computer support – I’m talking software engineering, UX design, database architecture and the like.  Even in Vancouver, notorious for low wages and high costs of living, a reasonably good software developer fresh out of college can expect to earn $50000 to $60000 at a small to medium sized company and $55000 to $70000 at a larger company.  At IT hot spots like California and Seattle, you can expect to make something on the higher range of that amount, and possibly even more.  Not bad when you’re fresh out of school at the age of 22.  Later on in your career, senior developers and team leads can easily make salaries in the 6 digit range.

 

Get creative

In my opinion, working in software and web development is a great career for someone who wants to do something technical but also creative. When you’re programming, you’re always being innovative, whether it is how you solve a bug or how you design an application.  Plus, there is a huge range of creative fields available to specialize in.  If you’re more visual, you could be a designer, a user experience specialist or a computer animator.  If you enjoy technical and mathematical problems, you might could be a QA specialist, a database designer or a back-end architect.  All of these jobs require creative minds – not code monkeys.

Take it easy

No one wants to work their asses off all day long.  On a hot day, I don’t want to be outside or in a stuffy production line – I want to be in an air conditioned office (gotta keep those servers chill…) with plenty of sodas and snacks!  As a computer person, you’re likely going to be chilling out in an expensive chair all day long.  (No joke – at one workplace, my chair cost $1200 and had same-day servicing!)  If anything, you’ll want to get up and get active more so that you don’t end up with a giant backside and circulatory issues.

Join the party

Programming, software, and systems administration are no longer fields limited to poorly dressed social misfits with large IQs.  In my classes, I had a wonderful diverse group of people – little punk girls, Comicon-ready geeks, and plenty of average 20-somethings.  Sure, you get the awkward types here and there, but that’s true for any group of people!  Plus, what other career comes with workplace beer coolers and a steady supply of caffeine and junk food?

Sounds good right?  Are you interested in learning more?  Next time I’ll talk about how you can get a job in computers, at any age.

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21 Comments

  1. It does sound like a great field to get into! I’m not super tech savvy, but I’m glad you found something that you both enjoy and earns you great money.

  2. Jason says:

    I’m not tech savvy or very creative but it certainly sounds like an interesting field. I’m glad there are people like you that can do it. I’m just a numbers guy. 🙂

    • CF says:

      One of my computer jobs was in the finance industry (forex), so I am a bit of both, maybe? Interest-rate swaps still boggle my mind though.

      • As someone who has been trading for many years and makes a good living doing it let me just say don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who doesn’t fully understand interest-rate swaps! Haha.

        Funny thing about the financial industry is that so much of the packaged nonsense that gets traded around isn’t really understood by anyone any more.

  3. Excellent post on the perks of the IT field. I’ve been a software developer for six years and the points you highlighted were my main reasons for choosing this field. Although, I never found the workplace beer cooler! I’d add the possibility of working remotely as another potential perk.

    • CF says:

      That’s true – not many jobs out there where you can basically do an equivalent day of work from home with little to no hassle or set up. Usually all it takes is downloading a copy of your code to work on from your home laptop or borrowing a work laptop to take home.

  4. jefferson says:

    i work in the software engineering field, and love it.. it is challenging and exciting, and you really get to pour yourself into the job…

    i feel very fortunate to be able to make money with my mind, instead of with my back.. and this a great industry to be in.

    the computer industry isn’t going anywhere.. and it is a great field to get into.. we actually often have trouble finding qualified candidates for openings..

  5. I’m actually considering getting out of the computer industry. One of the main reasons is actually your point about taking it easy. That kind of job is actually quite bad on your body. Sitting down for long stretches is much worse than people would really expect. If I was in one of the specific industries making $60-70k I’d probably be more willing to stick around though.

    • CF says:

      I find that with sitting down so much, I actually enjoy being active more. So I’ll take walks during work and I’ll run or do yoga in the evening. When I worked more active jobs, I was always too tired to do any useful exercise.

  6. I would consider looking to some huge firms, as well, for dollars.
    I work in primary industry and we have a lot of in-house programs. There’s a whole bunch of programmers and software engineers who are paid a lot for their skills.

    • CF says:

      I will also hit you up the next time I’m looking for a job! 🙂

      Big firms definitely do have lots of jobs for programmers – think telecom, financials and healthcare, to name a few.

  7. eemusings says:

    Awesome that you’ve found a job you both like and pays well. Did you have to do much in the way of retraining or are you self-taught?

    • CF says:

      I did a program at the local university that basically provides you with a Bachelors of Computer Science in 1.5 years, provided that you have a previous degree. Luckily, I was working at the university at the time, so my tuition was free. It was a pretty intense program though!

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