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I'm a 30 year old software developer, and I think I want to be an electronics engineer.

CalicaCalica regularRegistered User regular
It makes perfect sense in retrospect, given where my interests lie; but it sort of abruptly crystallized for me this morning. I'm kind of gobsmacked and brimming with questions:
  • I have a BS in Management Computer Systems, which basically means I know how to program in high-level languages. Should I be looking at a master's degree or another bachelor's degree? (If the typical entry-level education is a bachelor's, will having a master's and no work experience in the field make it harder to find jobs?)
  • How does the whole "going back to school for a master's" thing even work?
  • How early would I need to pick a specialization? *Do* I need to pick a specialization?

...and others, but those are the big ones to start with, I suppose.

Jedoc wrote: »
The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.

Posts

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One regular Registered User regular
    I think your education and background make needing a specific additional degree unnecessary. Apply to jobs.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • ThroThro regular Registered User regular
    I think your education and background make needing a specific additional degree unnecessary. Apply to jobs.

    I'm not sure I agree with all of this, but I certainly agree with the second part. Start applying to jobs, see if anyone bites. I go with a shotgun approach to job apps though, which not everyone would agree with.
    I would say be prepared to be shoehorned into being the embedded software guy, especially if you go this route.

    Going back for a masters is pretty straightforward. You apply just like you did for undergraduate. Often colleges will ask for GREs (the SATs of masters programs), so look up if they're required for the colleges you're applying to. What I found great is that there are many part-time graduate programs you can go to, which means you can do it while employed full-time.

    You don't always need to pick a specialization, depends on the masters program. Mine was just any 3 classes in a specific field is now your specialization. It actually helps if there's something specific you want to do though.

    It's been my experience that employers value a Master's degree in the field over a BS, but many important EE skills are taught at undergrad.

    What work in EE are you looking to do? Have you done any circuit work or related stuff before?

  • schussschuss regular Registered User regular
    I think getting into embedded development would be key now, even if it's a hobbyist thing. That should start to teach you a lot about whether it's something you really will enjoy or not. I have some friends who do that, and it's VERY different from webdev or other dev work given the limitations you have around memory, bandwidth and processing power.

    CelestialBadgerthatassemblyguyecco the dolphin
  • mRahmanimRahmani regular DetroitRegistered User regular
    edited October 2016
    I'm 29 and made the jump from being a web developer to an automotive embedded controls engineer last year. In practice I still spend a lot of time looking at C code, but I think it's a similar move to what you're looking for.

    A new degree isn't strictly necessary, but if you still have the option of going back and getting a dual degree it may not be the worst thing. Especially if your current role has tuition reimbursement.

    mRahmani on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One regular Registered User regular
    Just do it.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • CalicaCalica regular Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Thro wrote: »
    I think your education and background make needing a specific additional degree unnecessary. Apply to jobs.

    I'm not sure I agree with all of this, but I certainly agree with the second part. Start applying to jobs, see if anyone bites. I go with a shotgun approach to job apps though, which not everyone would agree with.
    I would say be prepared to be shoehorned into being the embedded software guy, especially if you go this route.

    Going back for a masters is pretty straightforward. You apply just like you did for undergraduate. Often colleges will ask for GREs (the SATs of masters programs), so look up if they're required for the colleges you're applying to. What I found great is that there are many part-time graduate programs you can go to, which means you can do it while employed full-time.

    You don't always need to pick a specialization, depends on the masters program. Mine was just any 3 classes in a specific field is now your specialization. It actually helps if there's something specific you want to do though.
    I meant in the informal sense.
    Thro wrote: »
    It's been my experience that employers value a Master's degree in the field over a BS, but many important EE skills are taught at undergrad.
    What kind of important skills? How else might one acquire them?
    Thro wrote: »
    What work in EE are you looking to do? Have you done any circuit work or related stuff before?
    I've done some reading and pen-and-paper stuff, but no, not really. As for what work I want to do... I'm not sure how to answer that. If I'm asked, as a programmer, what kind of work I enjoy, my answer boils down to, "...um, programming?" I like learning new things. I like figuring out how things work and solving problems and making things do stuff. I like mental challenges and I like making things with my hands. EE seems like it would fit, plus there's the awesome bonus of Knowing How To Do Cool Things, but I don't know enough about the specifics to say what aspects of that I want to focus on.

    schuss wrote: »
    I think getting into embedded development would be key now, even if it's a hobbyist thing. That should start to teach you a lot about whether it's something you really will enjoy or not. I have some friends who do that, and it's VERY different from webdev or other dev work given the limitations you have around memory, bandwidth and processing power.
    I definitely want to get an Arduino or similar and start playing with it. The only reason I haven't already is that I had some unexpected, substantial vet bills a couple of months ago.

    Just do it.
    Cute.

    Calica on
    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger regular Registered User regular
    An Arduino starter kit costs $99, if you can't afford that you certainly can't afford a masters. It's best to find out if you enjoy a thing before you pay lots of money and time to learn it.

  • ScooterScooter regular Registered User regular
    I started out in college as a Computer Engineering student, which was a subtrack of Electrical Engineering at my school. I changed majors late into Computer Science, going from hardware to software. Assuming that the EE you're thinking of is anything like the CE I went through in school, they are drrrrraaaaassstically different skillsets. We did take a handful of programming classes in CE, but mostly it was physics, math, and more physics. It could be I've got the wrong image in my head of what "electronics engineering" means exactly, but I think you would need a lot more schooling to switch into it.

    If you like programming, I would recommend computer science (which is maybe what you already have), not EE.

    Lanlaorn
  • thatassemblyguythatassemblyguy RESIST. irregularRegistered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Calica wrote: »
    Thro wrote: »
    I think your education and background make needing a specific additional degree unnecessary. Apply to jobs.

    I'm not sure I agree with all of this, but I certainly agree with the second part. Start applying to jobs, see if anyone bites. I go with a shotgun approach to job apps though, which not everyone would agree with.
    I would say be prepared to be shoehorned into being the embedded software guy, especially if you go this route.

    Going back for a masters is pretty straightforward. You apply just like you did for undergraduate. Often colleges will ask for GREs (the SATs of masters programs), so look up if they're required for the colleges you're applying to. What I found great is that there are many part-time graduate programs you can go to, which means you can do it while employed full-time.

    You don't always need to pick a specialization, depends on the masters program. Mine was just any 3 classes in a specific field is now your specialization. It actually helps if there's something specific you want to do though.
    I meant in the informal sense.
    Thro wrote: »
    It's been my experience that employers value a Master's degree in the field over a BS, but many important EE skills are taught at undergrad.
    What kind of important skills? How else might one acquire them?
    Thro wrote: »
    What work in EE are you looking to do? Have you done any circuit work or related stuff before?
    I've done some reading and pen-and-paper stuff, but no, not really. As for what work I want to do... I'm not sure how to answer that. If I'm asked, as a programmer, what kind of work I enjoy, my answer boils down to, "...um, programming?" I like learning new things. I like figuring out how things work and solving problems and making things do stuff. I like mental challenges and I like making things with my hands. EE seems like it would fit, plus there's the awesome bonus of Knowing How To Do Cool Things, but I don't know enough about the specifics to say what aspects of that I want to focus on.

    schuss wrote: »
    I think getting into embedded development would be key now, even if it's a hobbyist thing. That should start to teach you a lot about whether it's something you really will enjoy or not. I have some friends who do that, and it's VERY different from webdev or other dev work given the limitations you have around memory, bandwidth and processing power.
    I definitely want to get an Arduino or similar and start playing with it. The only reason I haven't already is that I had some unexpected, substantial vet bills a couple of months ago.

    Just do it.
    Cute.


    If you're going to look into Master's degree programs, double check the prerequisites for acceptance. I assume that most Master's programs will require that you can demonstrate basic understanding of E.Mag, Circuits, Power and Comms (mostly the same principles applied at different scales with crazy wacky maths that are involved in each area).

    If you want to get your feet wet with some undergrad courses, check out https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/

    thatassemblyguy on
  • CalicaCalica regular Registered User regular
    An Arduino starter kit costs $99, if you can't afford that you certainly can't afford a masters. It's best to find out if you enjoy a thing before you pay lots of money and time to learn it.
    Until today, Arduino was firmly in the category of "unnecessary fun toy," not "investigating a possible career change."

    If you're going to look into Master's degree programs, double check the prerequisites for acceptance. I assume that most Master's programs will require that you can demonstrate basic understanding of E.Mag, Circuits, Power and Comms (mostly the same principles applied at different scales with crazy wacky maths that are involved in each area).

    If you want to get your feet wet with some undergrad courses, check out https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/
    I looked into the prerequisites for a program that happens to be near me, and it involves 30-some credits of things I have no knowledge of. I don't mind doing the work, but it makes the logistics significantly harder.

    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
  • ThroThro regular Registered User regular
    Calica wrote: »
    Thro wrote: »
    You don't always need to pick a specialization, depends on the masters program. Mine was just any 3 classes in a specific field is now your specialization. It actually helps if there's something specific you want to do though.
    I meant in the informal sense.
    Oh! In that case just look around and see what you like. It's been mentioned above, but MIT, Stanford and some others put some EE courses online for free, so it wouldn't hurt to take a look at a few. There's a lot of stuff out there; I personally focused on optics, but am currently doing circuit design.
    Calica wrote: »
    Thro wrote: »
    It's been my experience that employers value a Master's degree in the field over a BS, but many important EE skills are taught at undergrad.
    What kind of important skills? How else might one acquire them?
    Soldering, how the components work (capacitors, resistors, etc.), Electromagnetic theory (2nd semester college physics generally + some application). If you're doing a masters, it's kinda assumed you know the basics. I'll echo some other posters above, get an Audrino or Pi and start making little projects.
    I'd also recommend reading "The Art of Electronics".
    Calica wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    I think getting into embedded development would be key now, even if it's a hobbyist thing. That should start to teach you a lot about whether it's something you really will enjoy or not. I have some friends who do that, and it's VERY different from webdev or other dev work given the limitations you have around memory, bandwidth and processing power.
    I definitely want to get an Arduino or similar and start playing with it. The only reason I haven't already is that I had some unexpected, substantial vet bills a couple of months ago.
    I highly recommend doing this. I like Sparkfun for hobbyist level components and kits.



    Calica
  • PrimePrime regular Registered User regular
    I did it the other way around. I was an electronics engineer about 6 years ago and went into software development. But my branch of electronics was probably miles away from what you want to do but I was soldering consumer PCBs, diagnosing and repairing component level faults, working on/fixing CRTs and programming EPROMS etc.

    So if the above floats your boat, look into components (capacitors, resistors, transistors, relays etc), practice soldering (get a good iron) and get familiar with basic calculations of voltage/current/resistance.

    Calica
  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver regular Registered User regular
    Just do it.

    This.

    I can not comment on how to go about making the change since education systems here(Denmark) are different, but you should find the way and do it.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • CalicaCalica regular Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Just do it.

    This.

    I can not comment on how to go about making the change since education systems here(Denmark) are different, but you should find the way and do it.

    Hence this thread. (Edit: as part of "find[ing] the way", I mean)

    Calica on
    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe regular Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    I didn't make the exact change, but I made a substantial career change. The first step I took was finding a job I wanted. Like, straight up, find the name of it, who hires for it, what the job looks like. I then networked around that space to get a few resumes from people who had that job.

    Then, no nonsense, I just started doing the things I needed to do to make my resume look more like those resumes. I got certs. I finagled at work to get experience doing tasks I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. I restructured my resume to emphasize things I'd been doing which I'd overlooked, and deemphasized my old roles. And then I started applying. I applied to a lot of jobs, and I networked a whole lot. The only way I was able to pull it off was by networking with people who believed in my zeal to change, and eventually one of them gave me a shot. That, so far, has been the hardest step: getting a job in the NEW career track (cyber security in my case). Once you have the one job, it seems to me that you're a thousand miles ahead of where you were.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
    Calica
  • BlazeFireBlazeFire regular Registered User regular
    I might have missed this, but what exactly is it you want to do? Electronics Engineering covers a wide range of responsibilities. I think depending on where your interests (what are these interests?) lie, it may change the advice provided. Like I'm thinking if you want to be doing chip design the advice is going to be way different than if you want to do embedded hardware programming.

  • CalicaCalica regular Registered User regular
    BlazeFire wrote: »
    I might have missed this, but what exactly is it you want to do? Electronics Engineering covers a wide range of responsibilities. I think depending on where your interests (what are these interests?) lie, it may change the advice provided. Like I'm thinking if you want to be doing chip design the advice is going to be way different than if you want to do embedded hardware programming.

    Not sure yet. I've only just realized I'm interested in the field; I have a ton of research and learning to do.

    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
  • BlazeFireBlazeFire regular Registered User regular
    Calica wrote: »
    BlazeFire wrote: »
    I might have missed this, but what exactly is it you want to do? Electronics Engineering covers a wide range of responsibilities. I think depending on where your interests (what are these interests?) lie, it may change the advice provided. Like I'm thinking if you want to be doing chip design the advice is going to be way different than if you want to do embedded hardware programming.

    Not sure yet. I've only just realized I'm interested in the field; I have a ton of research and learning to do.

    That's definitely your first step then. One option is to look at job postings from around the world that are labelled for "electronics engineer" and see what the responsibilities include. There can be a lot of variation.

    Calica
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