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Dave Fecak has served as the President and Founder of the Philadelphia Area Java Users' Group since 2000. He is an active blogger on software engineering career topics at http://jobtipsforgeeks.com, and author of Job Tips For GEEKS: The Job Search ebook (http://jobtipsforgeeksbook.com) Professionally, Dave has been a recruiter and consultant for 15 years helping startup and early growth firms to hire software engineers (primarily focused on Java/JVM, Python, Ruby, functional languages, and mobile). Dave is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 67 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Alternative Jobs For Bored Web/App Developers

06.19.2013
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I’ve recently seen a spate of engineers declaring boredom and/or dissatisfaction with their current roles and responsibilities, which leads them to openly question what options are available.  Perhaps building accounting software products or maintaining the web presence of an insurance firm just isn’t inspiring you to get out of bed anymore.  This problem isn’t unique to the software industry (and based on a 2003 Joel On Software post, not necessarily new), but whenever a professional invests years of their life getting an education and honing their skills, it can be daunting to think that the time was somewhat wasted.

Thankfully, if you are losing your passion for typical web or software development, your training and experience have at least in part prepared you for several alternative roles that perhaps you have not considered.  It seems that frustrated developers tend to weigh their options as stay in development or leave the industry, without considering the fact that these other alternatives exist.  If the source of discontentment is tied to the role of app or web dev work (and not the overall tech industry), there are some relatively new roles that have become more in demand that may satisfy the itch you have.

This information may also be useful to new entrants into the market and grads that are wondering what they can do with their computer science degree other than just stereotypical development roles.

Here are some examples (some have crossover and similarity):

  • Performance Engineer - This role isn’t about building a product, but rather improving speed, scalability and reliability.  Performance engineers may be thinking about databases or monitoring tools one day and hardware or operating systems the next.  It is a highly technical and specialized role with increasing market demand.

  • QA Automation Engineer – QA is one discipline that seems to have gone through some significant changes over the course of my career (15 years).  In the late 90′s, QA meant large teams of manual testers and high demand mostly attributed to the Y2K scare (history lesson for the young).  At some point thereafter it became the norm to outsource QA overseas, making QA a lost art in the US and thus making QA talent significantly harder to find.  Over the past couple years, there seems to be some resurgence of demand for QA to be performed domestically, and hires typically will be expected to have some automation and scripting experience.

  • DevOps Engineer – This  is another role that has been growing due to the number of shops that like to deploy frequently.  As the trend in delivery will not be changing anytime soon, the ability to automate the process will continue to be in demand.

  • Configuration, Release, or Build Manager/Engineer – As the look of development teams has progressed from crowded shops to remote employees, combined with the popularity of cloud-based computing, the concept of configuration management is changing.  Demand for talent in these areas is relatively steady.

  • Embedded Systems and Firmware Engineer – Although the transition from your typical app or web developer position may be a bit more complex, one should expect growth in embedded systems to continue as the variety and sheer number of devices continues to increase.  The concepts of ubiquitous computing and the Internet of Things are getting one step closer to reality every day, and engineering talent with a unique set of skills will be required.

  • Project Manager, Technical Writer, Business Analyst – Having a coding background can make the move into any of these jobs a bit easier, and your appreciation for development should maximize your shot at being successful.

Before abandoning the years you have invested in learning how to code, consider whether or not you may be happy in a different role that enables you to reuse many of the skills you have already developed.

Published at DZone with permission of Dave Fecak, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Dmitry Leskov replied on Wed, 2013/06/19 - 11:51pm

I turned from s/w development to support and then to marketing. In fact, the opportunities are endless - an ex-colleague went to showbiz and then real estate, though I think his soft skills were of more value to him along that road.

Dave Fecak replied on Thu, 2013/06/20 - 9:33am in response to: Dmitry Leskov

Thanks for the comment.  I'm not sure how well an engineering background sets you up for showbiz (CGI, animator?) or real estate, but whatever makes you happy I guess.  I've heard a couple people mention Product Management and Pre-sales type roles as well, which I didn't include in my article.  

Magga Dora Ragn... replied on Thu, 2013/06/27 - 2:00pm

Great post :) To add a little bit.

I think you are ignoring the power of context on our feeling of doing something worthwhile. If you are indeed bored with the website of an insurance company you may find that maintaining a website for a sports news channel or creating web applications that support health professionals in life or death situations (or wherever you passions lie) will change the outlook even if the tasks are exactly the same. One of the great advantages of being a computer scientist is that you get to dive into so many industries and problem domains.

Sometimes the fatigue comes from having mastered the problem domain, or from working within an organization that has toxic atmosphere not from the actual work per se. Changing organizations may cure the disillusionment.

Also, let's not ignore burnout which is rampant in our industry. A good vacation can do wonders!

To end I would also like to point out that many web developers I have worked with have also shown great talent for design and they may want to consider moving further into that direction as user experience designers, interaction designers, information architects or similar.

Dave Fecak replied on Thu, 2013/06/27 - 2:05pm in response to: Magga Dora Ragnarsdottir

That is a great point about domains, and something I didn't consider when writing this piece.  I'd absolutely agree that creating something with higher meaning or value can change a programmer's perspective, and I've had several candidates come to me over the years seeking industries or domains that might have better satisfaction (usually helping people).

I'm coincidentally writing a piece now about leaving jobs which segues nicely from your comments, look for it in a few days here.

All good points, thanks for sharing!

Zanya Arte replied on Wed, 2013/09/04 - 4:00am

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me . the-ukjobs-today 

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