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Old 12-26-2015, 11:53 AM
ugman ugman is offline
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Location: massachusetts
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Sorry if this is long winded. The basic premise of the question is "is it a good idea to pursue an AS in programming?"

I worked 20+ years as a Mechanical Engineer. At the end I started taking programming classes nights and learned C++ and Visual Basic 6 along with other basic programming stuff. I was only entered in a certificate program, and after learning VB6 had an opportunity to develop a piece of software for $. That ended up turning into a full time job, part ownership of software I developed... and in the end, licensed close to $1 million in software. However... ended up getting laid off at 50. I ended up going back to school for HVACR and have been working in that field, and for myself for the last couple of years. The downside is it's back breaking work. I have looked into programming work... but my programming skills are outdated, and lacking in things such as XML and web application programming. All of my software work was with a desktop client/server application.

If I go back to school I will get an AS in programming which means I will take all object oriented programming from C++, Java, Visual Basic.NET, etc. Also XML and web application development.

At the age of 53... would anyone agree it would would be worth the time and effort to go back to school? The HVACR is killing me!!
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Old 12-30-2015, 03:52 PM
hDC_0Question hDC_0 is offline

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Hi ugman,

Just to let you know you are not alone.
There are a lot of "old tyme" programmers who wake up one day and find there skillsets are obsolete.

The fact is that web application programming is moving very quickly.

So quickly that a lot of the state and local community colleges are just not keeping up.

Many are still teaching the same standard C/C++ and Java courses they have been teaching for the last 10-20 years.

In some areas of the country specialized vocationally oriented "code schools" have sprung up to specialty teach modern python/flask/django techniques as well as mobile app programming (Android and iOS) and Ruby on Rails.

That's not to say that has totally disappeared, but the options for server side program have greatly expanded.

There has also been a transition from LAMP stack to MEAN stack on the server side, so in using nodejs there is a need for javascript programmers both on the client and server side (being able to do both client and server side programming is called being a "full stack developer").

The aforementioned specialized code schools also provide job placement, which can tend to be the downside of getting a certificate or associate's degree --those, in and of themselves, may not get you very far when looking for an actual job.

The programming world has seen a lot of "degree" creep, where sometimes companies seeking even low level programming work (like Microsoft Office scripting) are asking for Bachelors Degrees (if you can believe it).

Besides seeking out a specialized programming school the other thing that might be helpful to make you more "job ready" is to have a free github site full of project source code to put on your resume.

This constitutes "real world experience" versus the "theory" that most employers feel college students only get in attending a university.

One other thing that can say "I'm job ready" is having a few apps out there,
even if it's just a few simple game for Android published on/to Google Play.

If you do decide to go the standard community college to AS or certificate path, there is nothing stopping you from taking a few MOOC (massively open online courses) for free.

Real world high end colleges like MIT and Standford offer video-ed versions of their actual professors online for anyone to learn from.

For instance the Stanford CS106A Java-centric "programming methodology" course is a good "pre-Android" introduction course:

Follow this with a good "getting your hands dirty" book on Android programming, which has some working Android game code you can download for free like this one:
Wiley: Android Game Programming For Dummies - Derek James

The Stanford iPhone course is CS193:
CS 193P iPhone Application Development

Here's the main page for MIT's OpenCourseWare courses:

For MIT computer science courses the list is:
Courses | MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course Materials

There are just so many more online options nowadays for "getting back into programming" (especially web app programming) that it would be stupid to ignore them (unless you want to be doing backbreaking labor for the next 10-20 years).

Anyway, good luck with wherever your career ambitions take you..

Last edited by hDC_0; 12-30-2015 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:12 AM
ugman ugman is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: massachusetts
Posts: 95

That was the best reply ever. Thank you for taking the time to put some great insight together. Very much appreciated.
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:28 AM
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dilettanteQuestion dilettante is offline
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Employers want a proper degree for legitimate reasons.

The main thing is that it is taken as a measure of "civilization." Mostly in rather base terms: can you sit still and focus on things, can you deliver when given requirements, can you be expected to be able to communicate verbally and in writing with fluency in the language.

But I suspect even more important is that given a buyers' market for labor it can serve as a useful "coarse filter" for weeding down the candidate pool. Requiring a degree guarantees nothing but it weights the pool in favor of successful outcomes.

An "associates degree" is really little more than a certification of attendance and not really a degree. They don't count for much at all.

Nobody gets treated or judged as an individual until the interview.

I can't see how posting crap to github counts for anything except with the narrow "old boys' club" of others who have done so. Have you looked at any of that stuff? The code quality is terrible and usually comes with very little usable documentation of meager quality at best. There is no curation, anybody can post any old crud there.

And nobody gives a whit about MOOC "training" you may have sat through. It just doesn't count as education, and at its best should only be viewed as a tool for getting yourself up to speed to begin serious study of a given topic.

Is any of this what you want to hear? No (hell no). I get it and I'm sorry. But don't fool yourself.

At your age (or worse, at mine) the odds of getting hired into a full-time programming job are neglible for many reasons. Even most of my contract work has turned into "train these young guys from India, Brazil, etc. to do the work you used to do for us."
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