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  1. #1
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    Career change advice

    Hi,

    I’ve been working as an accountant for the last 12 years in the manufacturing industry. Have experience of system implementation and report writing, love working with MS Access, and encoding embedded VB modules. I always regretted not doing computer science. I would like to research the possibility of a career change to programmer at this late stage, still think I would excel in that career and have alot to offer employers.

    Could anyone give advise with the following
    - How to find out if I really have an aptitude for this career ?
    - What steps would be required to make this leap?
    - What language/job would allow me to make use of my accounting experience ?
    - Finally how would this career path seem to employers?

    Many thanks
    Jay

  • #2
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Have you considered trying to write custom accounting software?

    Making a career change when you already have 12 years experience in an unrelated field is going to be expensive. I'm guessing as an accountant your income is fairly decent, moving in to a new field with no related experience, you'll be competing with graduates and school leavers - being older and more experienced in the work place will give you an edge in some respects but you're probably looking at a significant drop in wage.
    Graduates will also have the advantage of related degrees and probably project work to back up their applications.

    I would suggest if you're dead set on a career move and you can afford the drop in wages that you should freelance on the side to build up a portfolio of projects and get vital job-related experience.

    Something else to consider is how well you will deal with starting on the bottom rung again? How will you deal with jumped up little know-it-alls, barely out of university being senior to you? Not everyone can handle that.

    Freelancing on the side will give you a taste of the industry, a little extra cash if you can get it and its non-comittal - you dont have to give your job up until you're ready and have secured your first IT job.

  • #3
    raf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Power View Post
    Have experience of system implementation and report writing, love working with MS Access, and encoding embedded VB modules. ... I would like to research the possibility of a career change to programmer at this late stage, still think I would excel in that career and have alot to offer employers.
    Don't get me wrong, but messing around with VB and Access only gives you a very limited view on programming. That experience might be relevant if you want to do some "end user computing" development work, but for the majority of IT jobs, that sort of experience isn't realy of much value.
    All depends on what you wanna do as a "programmer" realy...
    I used to work for a big bank-insurance company, and there they actually had EUC teams that mainly developped that sort of reporting systems with SAS, Business Objects or VB. In big financial companys, there will be career possebilitys for someone with a lott of accounting knowledge, that is keen on developping this sort of non-business critical reporting environments.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Power View Post
    Could anyone give advise with the following
    - How to find out if I really have an aptitude for this career ?
    I think you can only dive in and try it out.
    Like i said, I don't realy know what you think a "programmer" does, and there is a big difference between the dozens of different programming/IT jobs.
    I think it would be very difficult to find people that are already some time in the business, and that are still working as pure coders. Most of the more experienced IT'ers, certainly the ones with some business knowledge in some domain, will become technical/functional analysts or project managers or team leaders etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Power View Post
    - What steps would be required to make this leap?
    Realy depends on the sort of job you're looking for. If you want to do for instance a sort of consultancy job, maybe as a functional analysts in a business intelligence environment, then your accounting knowledge will make it easier for you to get a foot between the door, which will allow you to develop your analytical skills over time. If you're gonna work for a relatively small company, then you'll probably have the 'opportunity' to also develop some of the sollutions (if you realy enjoy developping so much --> me personally, i'm more interested in the functional aspects then in the actual coding).
    But if you really just want to write lines of code, then i think you'll gonna need to start from scratch, and i would realy ask myself if that is what you want to do, 5 days a week, for the next few years. Because writing some VB once and a while is completely something else as full time coding to a functional/technical spec. And like i said --> most experienced coders evolve to more analytical tasks, so you might as well skip a few steps and look for a more functional job where you can still use your accountancy knowledge and become the link between the 'accountants/end users' and the technical IT-crowd (technical analysts, coders, DBA's, system admins etc)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Power View Post
    - What language/job would allow me to make use of my accounting experience ?
    I don't think it's realy linked to certain languages --> there aren't realy a lott of domain-language links. Maybe SAP, but even then: what sort of job in what sort of company, will determine the used technologys far more, then their business domain.
    Depending on the sort of sector and company-size you're looking at, they'll require different competences. And then it also largely depends on the sort of job you're looking at. In pure coding jobs, your accounting experience will be worth very little. If you want to use that experience, then you'll end up with more functional jobs like business analyst, functional analyst, information analyst etc or with EUC jobs where you'll be developping small reporting tools in a BI-environment.
    Small companys, will typically use stuff like VB and Ms Access, whereas large companys will go for SAS, SAP, JAVA, COBOL, Oracle, DB2.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Power View Post
    - Finally how would this career path seem to employers?
    If you're talking about employers where you would now be inquiring for a job: if you are inquiring for a real technical IT-job, then i think most of them would be hessitant --> younger applicants will be cheaper, possebly more flexible, maybe better at home in recent technologies etc.
    If you're looking for a more functional job, possebly in the business intelligence departements of larger companys, then your age/experience/eagerness to learn will be more of an advantage.
    There are a lott of jobs in that zone between the realy technical IT-jobs and the pure business-jobs, where you can't realy follow some formal education for, and where employers are mainly looking at what sort of person you are, what your organisation, communication and analysing skills are, what sort of tasks you have done in the past etc. The more technically competent you are and the more domain knowledge you have, the better you'll be able to play your role in a more functional IT job. But chances are you'll hardly ever write a significant amount of code.
    I've been working in various, more functional, IT-roles the last 7 years, and i've hardly written any code in that time. But it helps a lott if you know a few coding languages and db-servers. I expand/keep my knowledge up to date by doing a lott of freelance work on the side, but at work, i try to avoid coding as much as possible --> nothing that frustrates most DBA's and coders as much as a project manager/analyst that gives the impression he could just as well develop it himself or that ask them to explain their sollutions/problems into detail. You need to be a Bill Gates to get away with a "Whats the problem? Do you want me to write it myself over the weekend?" attitude.

    So, in short, the way i see it is that your best bets are either:
    - a real techie IT-job in some EUC-development environment, but then you're accounting experiences will be of little value. This sort of jobs are rarely open for external candidates. Usally, people grow into this sort of job from another position at that company, so it might take a while before you get this sort of job;
    - a more functional job, possebly in the manufacturing business --> in some big company with a business intelligence environment. Stuff like functional analysts for data warehouse or accountancy processes or something similar.
    Posting guidelines I use to see if I will spend time to answer your question : http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html


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