If you love technology and innovation, and want a career that lets you work on creating new, useful things using your knowledge of the latest tech, then being a software developer can be a great job plan. If you have the aptitude, learning the skills can be easy and there are opportunities to work anywhere in the world, either for big brands or small, interesting startups. If you are young and thinking about your future, or are an older person with some professional experience who wants to change careers, there is a lot to be said for programming as an option. However, there are some things you should know about what it is like to work in this industry before you commit to it as your goal:
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Ever Changing Technology
One of the most important things to consider about life as a developer is that you never really finish becoming an expert. You may master one technology only for it to become obsolete, and you always need to stay on top of new ways programming languages and tools are being used. You may learn how to work with the latest NET Controls for ASP.NET MVC, WPF, Windows Forms, UWP, Silverlight and Xamarin because that is in demand right now, only for those skills to be useless by the time you are 30. This is something developers get used to, and which is a good thing that means technology is progressing, however it does mean you are committing to a career where there is no point at which you’ll ‘know enough’ and be able to ease up on training and following the industry.
Specialism is Important
There might have been a time decades ago when you could simply be ‘a programmer’, and be able to do whatever tasks someone might need a programmer to do. These days, however, you’ll need to specialize in something, whether it is mobile apps, certain web technologies, a given language or database system, or something else. By specializing you can define your career and become a true expert, but choosing where to specialize can be hard before you have worked in a few different environments. Learn as much as you can, but always bear in mind that there will come a time when as a professional you will need to focus on a particular area.
Developers have a pretty simple career progression, which leads them from being junior programmers to highly respected experts. However, for most there comes a time when they have to choose between remaining a full time programmer and becoming a development manager or other senior figure in a business. Both options can be lucrative and rewarding, but it can help to have an idea early on whether your ambitions lie in management or in actual dev work.
Programming is a great way to make a living but is also a career path full of choices, so understand what is likely to happen in your future before you choose it as your career!