My yeshiva-educated son is interested in working in tech and is seriously considering becoming a software engineer. We did some research and it seems there are many ways to make his dream a reality. Would you be able to advise us on which avenue is best to pursue? Also, do you have any insight into other jobs in the tech field that might be suitable for him?
It’s wonderful that your son knows what he wants and is actively pursuing it.
You are correct in stating that there are various avenues to go about pursuing a software engineering career. According to Hired’s “2020 State of Software Engineers” report – which is based on data it receives on its jobs site – 50 percent of engineers learn to code through a computer science degree, 19 percent have a relevant college degree, 10 percent participate in a boot camp program, and 22 percent are self-taught. (Some learn from a multiple of sources.)
Here are two important things for your son to consider when thinking about becoming a software engineer:
1) Software engineering is a skill-based profession. Therefore, the expertise your son will develop, as well as the computer languages he will learn, will play a significant role in his success as an engineer.
2) Work experience – i.e., projects successfully completed in his field – is important regardless of how one learns the necessary skills. However, if your son chooses to take a more untraditional route, his work experience will be even more important.
I should add that since software engineering is skill-based, the interview process typically includes coding tests, white boarding sessions, and behavioral interviews, all of which give the interviewer a chance to see if the applicant has the skills and temperament to join the team.
In terms of the second part of your question:
Software engineers are in demand across the board. Covid-19 accelerated the trend towards a more virtual society, and many companies that hadn’t put resources into creating a strong online presence in the past are reconsidering their strategy. Some in-demand jobs in the tech industry today include: data scientists, DevOps engineers, security engineers, data analysts, solutions architects, systems engineers, software engineers, and software developers.
And in 2020, we have seen an uptick in interest for people with knowledge of artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing, and machine learning. Every company is becoming a tech company to a certain degree, and having competent and solution-oriented in-house personnel who can manage the tech has become a priority.
If your son is serious about pursuing a career in tech, there are many learning methods and career paths he can pursue. But his decisions should be based on what he enjoys and is passionate about. Software engineering salaries are competitive – the average engineering salary increased 6-7 percent in the last year – and yet, software engineers say the number one reason they choose their profession is because of the “new challenges and continuous learning.”
Yes, all the above-mentioned factors are important when making career decisions. But the most important thing to consider is what your son is excited about – after all, this is what he will be doing for most of his waking hours.
Good luck to your son!