View Full Version : Where to start for a career change into programming?

06-25-2009, 04:24 PM
Hi all,

New to the forums. I'm extremely fed up with my current job and industry and have decided to jump ship before its too late. Thinking of something I would enjoy to do as a career is very difficult but I do enjoy problem solving and remember that I enjoyed computer programming when at College.

College was just PASCAL which im sure was out of date then and i've forgotten most of it. Anyway, the reason for this thread is that I really need a help in where to start learning programming. What books to read? Online resources? etc. I've looked into CompuTeach and Advent and other sites that offer 'great opportunities to earn 50k a year' but I'm not willing to pay out 5k to listen to such bull.

I've spent hours looking at books on the internet but none of them mean anything to me, beginners books ive seen were written back in 2000 and I dont know how relevant these will be now.

Please any help or advice would be appreciated,

Many thanks

06-25-2009, 08:06 PM
Do you feel like you have an aptitude for programming? There are many other types of jobs other than programming you can also get into. Networking, technical writing, tech support and many other fields are also options.

If I were you I would want to find out right up front if I have the aptitude for programming and if I even enjoy it. Read through (and do the exercises!) something like Programming for Dummies and find this out about yourself first thing.

06-25-2009, 08:19 PM
I've not really explored any other avenues such as networking etc as again I would have even less of an idea where to start. I do believe I have the aptitude for programming as I done very well at College and also took one module in Visual Basic whilst at University and received a first. Whilst I realise this doesn't mean much, I do think it can be used as an indicator.

I also dabbled in html in the passed and had a relatively successful information site that used to get a few hundred hits per day but again this was years ago.

I certainly think I would enjoy it a lot more than what I'm doing now as a baker in a mass production bread manufacture and do remember sitting for hours trying to work out the best way of getting a program to do something back in College.

I just bought 'HTML, XHTML & CSS' by Elizabeth Castro on the recommendation of another site as a good introduction to programming so will follow your advice and see how I get on with the exercises in that.

Just any other information I can get on where to look would be great

Thanks for the reply.

06-25-2009, 09:39 PM
Creating a website using (X)HTML and CSS is completely different than computer programming. The server-side programming that can be done using languages such as PHP, however, can be similar. But make no mistake, server-side programming is still completely different from application programming.

Though you have some background in PASCAL and VB, I do suggest starting with web development since personally, I believe it's an easier transition than getting into application programming (easier to learn and easier to find jobs without education). After learning how a website is constructed, you can move to server-side development, which will be more familiar to you.

Good luck! But just a word of warning, programming/coding as a whole is not the easiest market to jump into without a formal education and/or experience. With slow markets around the world and outsourcing in countries such as the Philippines and India becoming more prevalent (esp. due to the ailing economies), you will be hard-pressed to find a programming job these days, esp. without the background.

If you like math and solving problems, certain engineering fields, like environmental and civil, should be set to boom once the economies of the world begin to stabilize and push upward again. Also, like Fumigator suggested, networking and IT are always going to be around and many of their certifications and schooling can be accomplished within a year.


06-26-2009, 04:36 PM
Without formal education, a strong portfolio (fake websites will work) will go a long way in achieving your goals of getting a web development job. This is still a field where your demonstrated ability can outweigh your documentation (diploma, certificates etc...)

One good thing about programing for the web is that you only have to come up with one great idea for a webby (craigslist for example) and then impliment it properly and you are no longer looking for employment but you'll be looking rather for employees.

One drawback is the outsourcing which has always been a problem for developers who pay more than $0.20 for a loaf of bread. You'll be in competition with with very talented programmers living in third world countries. Much like construction workers and others in the U.S. competing for jobs with low cost illegal labor.

I've been working as a freelancer for about 6 months for a development company in my local area. When I got my first job, I didn't have a website, not even an e-mail account. What I did was to create a demo disk to show my html abilities. I got an interview on my second cold call and now I have a couple of websites under my belt. I don't make a lot doing it, just a couple of hundred dollars per project on average even for database driven php sites. Did I mention I have been learning web development for about 10years off and on.

If you are settled on web development as a career, I suggest you start, in your spare time, putting together a portfolio. Once you have something up that you can show prospective employers (clients), start marketing yourself as a freelance developer. Do this for a while to get some real world development expeirence and continue to add projects and now references to your portfolio. All this can be done while still working a "real job" and it will provide suplimental income (always nice).

02-03-2010, 01:38 AM
Hey Guys,
I have also been looking as to how to develop a career in programming and was wondering if anyone had any advice on where to start. I am only a freshman in High School but I want to start developing my knowledge now so that I will have a better chance of success. I am currently in the process of learning C++ and am starting to get the hang of it. Any advice on the best schools, languages to learn, and courses to take; anything to help me in this career would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

02-03-2010, 12:32 PM
I can only agree with everyone who suggests you build up a portfolio first. My brother and I used to make some money on the side when we were younger (teens) putting together websites and logos. I was confident with html and most importantly flash. He'd do all the graphical work and I'd put everything together. I also made some money with flash games etc. It was really hard getting a first job, but there are lots of websites out there with forum sections for people looking to get some freelance work done. Mostly every developer pounces on it right away so you'll need good references and a low price. Watch out that they don't scam you either. My brother and I almost got screwed by this one ***** who ended up paying though. And I once quit a project I got because the guy kept demanding changes that weren't settled at first, always wanting to add extra stuff, for no extra pay. If you show someone that you are desperate for work/money, they'll most likely try to rip you off by cutting the price or demanding extra tasks.

I got out of web programming and am concentrating on computer programming exclusively as I would like to study computer sience when I go to uni next year (edit...its 2010...so, this year :P).

02-03-2010, 08:40 PM
I got my first computer my freshman year in high school. (:

If your doing this just for employment (during high school), I suggest you stick with web development. Programming jobs are much more difficult to come by without a college degree.

I did web development for a while. I got fairly good at it, the only problem being that my artistic/graphical abilities were very lacking.

I actually ended up creating my own computer repair business which I ran for about a year. I did simple things like fix viruses on windows, install Microsoft Office, etc. One of the biggest things I did business on was installing Open Office and showing the customer how easy it was to use. I was able to make more money on that because I didn't have to buy a copy of the software, and the customer didn't have to pay as high of a price.

If your beginning to learn to program, I really suggest that you learn the application of computer science during your learning process. Implementing sorting algorithms, creating stacks, queues, search trees, etc. are great ways to learn how to program.

During my junior year of high school I ended up taking a computer science class at my local community college. It really didn't teach me much, as I was already familiar with c++. However, the second class I took (over the summer) was more focused on software engineering rather than the language. I benefited more from this class than anything else.

I will also be studying Computer Science at a university (this year), as I'm currently a senior in high school.



02-03-2010, 11:38 PM
if learning to program I would probably advise against learning web development. Just because you may get side tracked with issues that are out of your control; browser variations are a big pain. You can also learn bad habits which is not what you want when starting out.
I would suggest something like Microsoft Visual Studio Express. These are the free versions and will allow you to develop appliations with it, C# is a nice language but you can use Visual Basic or Visual C++ and many of the examples are very good. MSDN is packed with a lot of information.
For books I have always really liked Wrox as a publisher. For most subjects they have 'Beginning XXX' and then move on to 'Professional XXX' when you have a bit more experience with XXX. Depending on your understanding you may be able to go to the Professional level and pick up a lower level introduction online. There are usually lots of starter tutorials for software but the more advanced stuff starts to get harder to find without being too specific.

05-15-2010, 12:45 AM
thanks a lot for the helpful info guys! anything else that would be helpful to a high school freshman such as myself?

05-16-2010, 12:46 PM
hi all,

i think it is great that the OP is questioning what he wants to do with his career. for me the key thing in a career is: to do something that you enjoy, then it will come easily and not feel like work!! :thumbsup:

I agree that web development would be the quickest way for you to start building projects to demonstrate your keenness and ability. I would recommend that you start small by following some online tutorials and see if you enjoy it!. if this is the case, then start doing some small websites for local businesses. don't charge them a lot on the understanding that you are still learning your trade and before you know it you will have a heap of experience that you would never learn just from using books/educational route alone.

hope that helps

07-14-2010, 10:47 AM

I want to know about the Perl Language....its utility and does it have any future????
Is it a good option for career...


09-06-2011, 11:45 AM
Perl is (and will always be, in my opinion) a viable language for web development. It's a language that once you learn, you'll be able to use anywhere.

For instance, I've used it for Web Development, System Administration, and personal projects.

03-28-2012, 12:37 PM
If you want to change your career to programming then at first you need to learn c language and you can read ANSI C book (E.Balaguruswami).