#30daychallenge Day 16: If I want to change my career to software development, where do I start?

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I’m changing gears, from rest mode to being active again. Numerous meetings and two trips to SARS in one day (no kidding) left me completely knackered! Nevertheless, as a result, I fell asleep with my laptop and phone on my lap and didn’t get to post the answer to this question the other day. So, let’s get to it then…

If I want to change my career to software development, where can I start to learn?

If you are considering venturing into a career as a software developer, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “Do I enjoy the Google+ experience?“. This may sound like an odd and totally irrelevant question, but when you look at the global stats of people registered on this social network, it becomes clear why. Think of it as the Web AddiCT software development aptitude test 😉 if you want to run this simple test on yourself, feel free to go and create your Google+ account and add WebAddiCT(s); to your circles.

google+ demographics job title 2014 august
Google+ users’ job title/occupation stats during August 2014 – measured by CircleCount


So, did you enjoy the Google+ experience? Still want to journey into the world of software development? Then continue reading.

If self-study is your thing, the Internet is your best friend. A good place to start would be to find free educational resources. If you are able to grasp the fundamentals of software programming, you’ll be able to take the next step.

The University of Toronto’s Learn to Program: The Fundamentals is a 10 week program that requires 6-8 hours of (online) work per week… it’s available on Coursera, an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations from around the globe to offer online courses to anyone, for free.

I was fortunate enough to start my software development journey at CPUT when Marlon Parker (pictured below) was still a Student/Lecturer and was using scenes from The Matrix to demonstrate programming fundamentals. If you take the red pill, else. (Programmers out there will get this). This served as the foundation for everything else. C++ was only the start to what I’d consider the best programming language ( JAVAKN) for saying Saluton Mondo to thinking in new ways  😉

Online educational programs aren’t for everyone. If you’d like to study a part-time programming course at a tertiary institution, I’d highly recommend this part time course – Fundamentals of JAVA programming – hidden in the Health & Wellness Faculty of my almer mater. Please note that I’d only suggest doing this once you’ve grasped the fundamentals. Why JAVA? I’d seriously recommend it, not only for becoming a JAVA programmer (which is a well-paid career btw), but rather because of the impact that learning JAVA will have on your thinking processes. I mean, why else would they offer this course as part of the Health & Wellness Sciences faculty and not Informatics & Design? 😛

The principles of JAVA programming are the same as those used by most web, mobile, start-up and corporate software developers today. Pay special attention to this:

Fundamentals of Java Programming is a 70-hour course which provides a conceptual understanding of Object Oriented programming. The course also teaches students how to use the JAVA language’s object oriented technologies to solve business problems.

If you intend to make the switch-over to a software development career path, there are countless ways to learn the fundamentals of programming. The two suggestions I mention above is catered to the person who asked the question (he’s based in Cape Town), but these would also make a solid foundation for anyone keen to learn, irrespective of the programming path they end up following.

There are many roles in software development that inadvertently destroy jobs (through automation) but also simultaneously create new and better paying employment opportunities out there. Personally, I believe that the benefits outweigh the perceived loss. I don’t think software development is for everyone, but if you like the sound of spending most of your day (all day, every day, all damn day) solving problems by writing thousands of lines of code, then you should definitely consider changing careers.  If you’re a little put off now, don’t be. There are various other career opportunities in Information & Communication Technology that may actually be better suited to you than software development. I would, however, highly recommend that everyone learn at least one programming language in their lives.

Have you changed your career to software development? Tell us how you started.

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