Has Anyone Thought of a Career Change?


#1

I chose computer science because it was offered a college close to home. I graduated from a jr college with an associates in arts before getting into computer science. I was originally going to be a band director or something related to music at least.

I pretty much resisted my choice of computer science all through college. It was like I was fighting myself.

Anyway, my father did blue collar work all of his life, and it was kind of expected that I would follow-suit (though my father is definitely glad I got a college degree). I have been looking up blue collar jobs to see if any would interest me and would be similar in pay to what I make now.

One thing that seemed interesting to me, but probably very hard on your body, is HVAC or plumbing (though plumbing is a really dirty job). That would require vo-tech classes and/or an apprenticeship. The only reason I thought of it is because there aren’t really any tech jobs in this area.

I am decent at plumbing and like to work with my hands. I do enjoy the outdoors more than sitting at a desk all day in a cubicle, staring at code. To me, that’s incredibly boring. For some reason even talking about it doesn’t really interest me as much as it does others.

For the past 3 years or so, I figured I was either in the wrong career or burned out, or both. My wife won’t let me change careers, so its not really an option, though.

One of the places I applied pays their DBAs (i’m not a DBA right now, but thinking about doing DBA work for the experience and I am pretty good with databases) a minimum of 28k or so a year. I figured, heck, if I’m going to take that large of a pay cut (it would be more than a 30k pay cut), I may as well change careers altogether.

Just curious what you all think.


#2

I’m in the same boat.

I’m between jobs right now and tomorrow I have a 2nd interview.

I’m not married and I don’t have children so I might have a bit more freedom than you. Right now, what my mind wants is to leave my apartment, sell my stuff and travel Asia/Australia for at least 6 months and possibly work there.

For example, I’ve been on vacation in Costa Rica 2 years ago and I stayed a couple days in a great eco-hostel. I think it would be nice working in a place like that for a couple of months.

However, my financial situation won’t allow that. I have made poor decisions and acquired a fair amount of credit card debt and it really bothers me. Right now I barely have enough employment benefits to pay the bills.

I live in Canada and in my province, there are psychologists trained to help people with career advice (there are not life coaches). So I’ve been seeing a therapist with the specific goal of learning more about myself and what else I could do. I won’t change careers right away but it’s a goal for the 2-3 years.

So perhaps you should consider finding a career counsellor/therapist that could help you figure out who you are and what are your priorities in life.

I’m still passionate about some aspects of CS. However lately i’ve been concerned about my health. Sometimes I sit for 4 hours straight and I’m a bit light headed when I get up. I’ve gained 30 pounds in the last 3 years and i’m wondering if i’ll ever be able to find stability physically and mentally at another job. Sometimes I think i’m too old for this.

That doesn’t make much sense to me. It looks like you have an out. There’s something else you’re good at and you could make a good living doing it. It’s not my business but if it’s the right decision for your well being, why would your wife be opposed to it ?

What you need to do now is figure out a transition plan.

What do you need to be trained ?
How much does it cost ?
Can you work full time and study part time ?
Is there help in your area ?

It’s great that you have figured out what else you could do to make a living and be happy (I haven’t figured that one out yet). But it’s very hard to go through this alone.

I think you should start by finding help, like a Career counsellor/coach in your area.

Keep us posted,

Good luck


#3

Thanks.

Sorry to hear about your financial situation. For me, it would be a matter of getting money help from my extended family if I ventured off into a new career.

I think I like what I do, but I just think there are some really bad jobs for devs out there and we’re basically treated like blue collar workers - we just crank out code.

I was just trying to rationalize it and find an out if I needed it. Plumbing work pays very little to start off with (around 30k or so) and its an incredibly dirty job. But I was just thinking, the kind of work we all do is white collar and uses our minds (and my mind is not that strong - well, my emotional intelligence is horrible), but blue collar work is purely physical.

Maybe it would be a bonus that I would get a workout, a tan, and get paid for it. But, looking at my father as an example, I would dread the threat of having chronic back problems. He was a welder, though, so I don’t know - maybe plumbing or something else (I’m not a stellar plumber, you still have to be trained and all that and go through an apprenticeship) would result in a different sort of ailment. I’m more or less a decent handy man at this point.

In the software development realm, I think I would enjoy a company that was very large, global even. If I could have a task to do each day and be a tiny fish in a big pond for a while, I might enjoy that more than being a big fish in a small pond. Also, a place where there are few surprises. I kind of feel like my last two jobs caught me by surprise. Its incredibly unfair, but that’s life. You have to live and learn.

I think she doesn’t want me to change careers because this career field has such high earning potential. If I were to change career fields, it would put more strain on our marriage (this whole debacle has put a huge strain on things).

I think I would rather work with my hands more than my mind. Granted, the best jobs out there require you to do both fairly well.

Re: transition plan:

  • To be trained in plumbing or hvac, or anything like that - you usually get an apprenticeship or attend a vo-tech school for about a year or so. I imagine it would be a piece of cake…

  • How much does it cost? Good question - if you go through an apprenticeship, you get paid to learn - you shadow someone, I think.

  • Can I work full time and study part time? I need to research it, but I’m not sure that I could.

  • Is there help in your area? I think there is. There’s an unemployment center nearby that has counselors - not sure if I could leverage that or not since I am employed. :: shrug :: but you never know.

At this point, I’m in the mindset of “I have to provide for my family” and am being incredibly creative with ideas. I’m not opposed to doing any kind of work. I just need to be able to earn enough money (between my wife’s income and mine) for us to live where we live.

Sorry for the long post!


#4

Just to throw in my 2¢, do you know anyone in the HVAC or plumbing fields, or know someone who knows someone? It might be worth it to call in some favors and schedule some sort of job shadowing ride-along type day. This might be something you can contact a union about, though I’m only guessing. I just know that whenever I’ve changed careers, sometimes just the research will turn me off, but sometimes actually talking to the people, seeing their day will make me realize it’s just a “grass is greener” situation, and sometimes it makes me more enthusiastic, but it’s better to know before you try and jump in. You can also better understand the physical dangers and training options by talking to a real person in the field.

Good luck with whatever you choose and I hope you find something that lets you be happier.


#5

That’s true. I have my CS degree, and I think I should stay in this career field. I’m just feeling a bit hopeless and very afraid.

I’m pretty good at what I do, but I’m deathly afraid of what my job prospects would look like if I am fired.

Right now, I am employed. I have to do my best to keep it that way.


#6

Has Anyone Thought of a Career Change?

Yes, a minute ago.

Not because of IT, because of the hiring process. Had several (funny) calls with headhunters these weeks, hiring seems overly optimized these days.

– edit & offtopic –

Found this “Managing Your IT Career v6 - (Why do recruiters suck so bad?)” on youtube.


#7

You read my mind today. I think of this a lot especially as of late. I got into the tech field by accident. I had a fine arts degree and intended to go into something more creative after college, but my career counselor’s advice was “we don’t always get the dream job right away so grab what you can get” and so I was hired right out of college based on the bit of coding experience I did have.

The money was and still is great compared to other professions, and it’s probably part of the reason I stuck with it. I convinced myself it was only temporary until one day I can step away and “achieve the dream job” my career counselor told me won’t show up right away. I also wanted to see how far I could run with it as I was doing things I’d never imagined myself to be doing, coming from a fine arts degree I mean rather than a CS degree.

Now a few years later, with my mental troubles and just looking at my life in general, I’m not sure the money is even worth it anymore. Sure not every job is going to be enjoyable every single day, but the amount of mental energy being a coder takes is not something I think I can do anymore especially as we’re pressured to learn more and more things and keep up with this fast growing industry.

Being a developer can be unpredictable, the job itself is everchanging as well as the duties expected of you, sometimes I wish I could go back to a “boring” desk job for the sake of predictability and my job being officially over once the clock hits a certain time. It’s one thing to pick up phones or write data entry with a headache versus try to write a program in JS. Not that I’m undermining those types of jobs - just that the mental focus issues make it difficult to achieve some tasks due to the amount of thought involved - development is not usually a mindless automatic task.

Anyway, enough about me. There’s this saying about happy wife, happy life - but I think that goes both ways. I don’t think it’s realistic that human beings stay in one profession and one place all their lives. Some do but at some point in our lives, we want a change. I don’t know anything about plumbing but I think if you can network and sort of spend time outside of your tech job (yes I know, this is hard as hell) doing some plumbing gigs and getting your reputation around - it’ll help.

You’re basically trying to build a client base before you leave from one career to another. Once you’re an established plumber and have some connections, and feel confident there’s a stable position waiting for you, then you can make the jump. That’s what I’m trying to do. Work on my writing (which is what I want to do more of) on the side, try to build that up, so when that eventually looks promising enough, I can feel more comfortable making the jump.

I know financials are super important - it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t suddenly jumped careers either as I too, have a family to support. But I can’t stand the thought of coding until retirement, I don’t think I’ll last. Forcing yourself to be somewhere you’re not happy is also a recipe for burn out and in my case with depression/anxiety, the thought of having some sort of breakdown where I can’t work at all is something I have to consider versus just changing careers and dealing with the decrease in income, but I’ll be happier.

Take it a day at a time. Write down a list of the pros/cons of a career change and make sure all your ducks are in a row if you do decide to make the move. Discuss a plan with your wife that she feels comfortable with. Maybe she thinks you’re just going to jump without a plan so setting some goals and making it a step by step process might make her more open to it.

Good luck!


#8

After my burnout, I swore off programming. Hated the people I worked with, hated the way I was invisible and unimportant to the company. I pursued other options. Tried to be a writer, tried to be a Web guy, tried a few other things.

At the end of it all, I realized I missed needing to be smart. My brain want being used in a meaningful way, and even though the jobs were easier and less stressful, I felt worse because I never got the mental satisfaction that I did from programming. I ended up going back, but with a better understanding of myself and what I need in a job.

All of that to say: I think that changing careers needs to be for the right reasons if it’s going to be successful. Escaping programming isn’t the right reason. Another way to say it is: run toward something, not away from it. I wasn’t passionate about being a full-time writer, so I didn’t want to put in all the hours and I kept comparing the pay scale back to CS.

Also, I think it’s fine to get out for a while. Sometimes you need space and time to get perspective and be able to fully assess a situation.


#9

I think being a plumber isn’t something I really want to do.

I guess when I posted this, I was thinking, “Well screw it all. If I’m stuck here and there are no tech jobs, then I may as well switch careers to something that will be realitively cheap and probably have a lot of work.”

That, and I’ve always sort of felt like a fish out of water.

You see, I was originally a music major in Jr. College but switched to computer science because the girl I was dating at the time didn’t think that we could make it financially if I went on to a university that offered music education.

A part of me regrets the fact that I never completed my music ed degree.

I mean, heck, I went through a stage in my computer science days where I called all my of my classmates nerds and dorks, etc. I rejected my own major and the people that were in it.

I used to play my piano instead of study. I also was really hooked on FFXI back then…stupid MMORPGs.

Anyway, I think that it’s way too late to get my music education degree. That’s why I was thinking skilled trade.

But now, I’m kind of thinking that I’ll stick with software development and try to find a less toxic work environment. After all that drama over the past few weeks, I discovered that I don’t care about the same stuff anymore.

I mean, I don’t internalize anything at work, and I just focus on my job.

That has made things a lot easier…well, that, and I’m paranoid I’m going to be let go any day now (thank you, me). My wife basically threatened to leave me if I didn’t get over my obsessing and anxiety over all this stuff.

She said that I would not only lose my job, but I would lose her and our kids.

So, I have been trying hard and praying a lot.


#10

Well, first off, I can’t imagine a serious DBA job that pays 28K today. Are we talking dollars or some other currency? About the only way I could see that kind of money would be something way off the beaten path, like a ski resort or something.

As far as plumbing, if you could survive the apprenticeship, don’t mind working with your hands, and last long enough to start your own business, then, yeah, I think it would be good, maybe really good. Nothing wrong with that line of work.

And I’ve thought about leaving for a long time. I still think about it. But I don’t really have a good answer. I have a finance degree and I could probably make that switch but it would be at a lower level and I hated accounting when I worked in it. Where else I could go and make the money I make, which while not great, especially in California, is still better than I’d start over at in a different field.

And, I don’t even know where I’d switch too. Education is expensive if I had to full retool. It’s not like picking up a new language in a lot of cases.

Anyways, I never found an easy answer to the question but it wouldn’t hurt my soul if I got out.


#11

I just wanted to say that I loved the “Hiring seems overly optimized these days” phrase. I doubt very much that for 95% plus of the jobs it even matters but we gotta jack the candidates through the process, because everyone else is doing it.


#12

Its a job at a local university. According to their pay scales, it starts at around $28k/yr (I live in a southern state that’s not really known for technology or education for that matter. le sigh - but we’re known for passing retarded bills and being last in everything!). One of my coworkers says that particular department is for entry level people. I’d link it, but I don’t want to expose myself (lol - I said “expose myself” /12-year-old-off)

I don’t know, though. Maybe they’ll give me a call and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they decide to offer me close to what I make now. That would be very cool.

My wife will definitely not allow me to make a career change. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. She is incredibly mad at me for all that stuff that happened at work the other day and threatened to divorce me for it.

If there are no dev jobs here in the area, what am I going to do, go work at GameStop or something? That’s definitely not going to work, haha. Then again, she could be the main bread-winner and I could work somewhere that pays a low wage to make up the difference.

That would kill me, though. I went to college so I wouldn’t have to work at a Lowes or a Wal-Mart, or a GameStop. Though, if money were no object, I might actually enjoy working at a GameStop: I love video games.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very good developer and I catch on quick, etc. etc. (not interested in tooting my own horn) - I just happen to have soft skill issues apparently. Historically, I haven’t been that good at dealing with aggressive, egotistical, or just general a*holes.

But, back on topic, I think, in the end, we’ll wind up doing what’s right for our family no matter what.


#13

That makes more sense to me. I work in government and we had someone do a presentation from one of the Southern states and she, who did a great job of presenting, said she hadn’t seen a COLA in, I think, a decade. And it’s education, so that goes off-kilter too. I’ve seen DBA jobs at some of the state universities at $40K and, I think, “who, how, what, where, here?”

I’m someone who took a pay cut to get out of a bad situation. I’m in a better place, it’s more relaxed and I like the people better, but the pay cut was hard. I may not have had a choice, and time/distance makes things seem not as bad as they were, but I wish I’d have found a way to stay. I’ve set myself back maybe as much as 5 years with the cut I took and it was smaller than yours. Plus, I lost out on some serious intangibles.

I guess I’m just trying to say that, that would be a big change, one I couldn’t imagine doing today.


#14

I’m definitely not going to take a job that will set me back that much. Just kinda crazy that this particular state (which will go un-named but i bet you all know which state it is) has very few jobs in software development or technology in general, and they pay peanuts compared to other states.

My pay is pretty decent right now, I think. But compared to the national average, it’s around 20k under or so. And I’ve been doing this for 9 years, lol.

Education in my state is horrendous. I graduated high school with high honors, 18th in my class (out of 300 or so), beta club, national honors society, etc. etc. Went to Jr. College for Music Ed and maintained a really good GPA.

Then I went to a university and changed my major. My GPA dropped .8 of a point. But that was around Hurricane Katrina and we were affected big time - my school had to relocate because of it. So part of it was because of Katrina and part of it was because I was living way out of my comfort zone.

Er, I’m not exactly sure what that had to do with education in my state being bad. Sorry for the weird tangent, but yeah we rank at the bottom most of the time when it comes to education.