Career in Programming vs. Networking

In summary, the conversation discusses the speaker's desire to pursue a career in either physics, engineering, networking, or programming. They are seeking guidance on the types of jobs available, the process for obtaining certifications and learning new languages, and what the normal work day is like. The conversation also includes insights from someone who has been a programmer for 11 years and someone who is studying computer network security. They offer advice on finding job satisfaction in programming and the potential for a successful career in higher-end networking. Overall, the conversation emphasizes the importance of pursuing a career that one enjoys and continually challenging oneself to stay updated with technology.
  • #1
JC92
10
0
Ok, so apart from my desire to become a Physicist or Engineer I've also considered going into a more computer related career in either networking or programming. Yea, let's face it I haven't really been able to decide. One way or the other I'd like to be prepared or at least know what I'm getting into. I've spoken to people about both programming and networking, but I still don't really have a good idea of what a career in either field would entail. As far as I know a degree in Computer Science would be the best choice to start off. However, after that I'm clueless as to what happens. So basically, I would appreciate some general information on the types of jobs you start out with for both careers, what is the process for getting certifications in networking/learning new languages for programming, and what is the normal work day like? Also one other note is that I would really like to be able to program for a gaming company, however I don't know how difficult it would be to land a job working for one. Thanks in advance for any responses.
 
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  • #2
I've been a programmer for the last 11 years, doing the run-of-the-mill corporate grind. Here's my insight:

Your happiness in programming probably depends on the job environment. If you're working for a gaming company, I've been told to expect to work long, hard hours, but in a laid back environment. That is, the people are friendly, nice, generally young, and do fun stuff together, even at work.

If you work for a big company, your hours will probably be pretty flexible, and you won't be expected to work all that hard. There's enough bureaucracy to give you a steady, but uninteresting job. You may or may not need to be called for support at 4am, but probably not.

If you're at a small company, you'll be the go-to-guy for everything. You know programming? That means you know everything else, and can do everything. You'll feel very useful, and do a wide enough variety of things to keep interested. But you'll also likely be the go-to-guy at 4am when there's a problem.

Obviously, that's some massive generalization-- there are always exceptions.

For me, programming is made more fun by writing more tangible things-- desktop applications, web pages-- stuff like that. Doing more obscure things like writing a linker for code compilation, or writing data analysis code, or whatever, isn't as fun, because it's less "hands-on". You won't find much use for it in your everyday life, unlike writing web pages, where you can use your on-the-job skills to also do fun personal projects.

Networking? I haven't has much experience with it. I haven't been overly impressed with my company's networking group, but that seems to be because we either get "the incompetent guy", or we get they guy that's ALWAYS too busy. And from what I've seen, they're VERY frequently on call, and called into work weekends, because that's the only time of day when people aren't using the network, and makes it the only time that changes can be made.

So my vote is for programming. But there are a lot of variables involved.

DaveE
 
  • #3
I used to be a software engineer until i became disabled. The VA is sending me for a degree and computer network security is one of my majors.

Okay. First, it is all on what you really enjoy doing.

Programming is great if you love to do it. And you can have a constant search for new things. It is all on you. The nice thing about it is that technology changes so much, that every few years you can jump in and quickly build a desirable skill set.

The key is that you have to love it, and always challenge yourself, even if your job is doing the same old thing.

Anymore you really should have a comp sci degree. Companies shy away from the self starters.

The network side a bit more complicated. I agree with Davee, most networking people in companies are not very skilled. They took a few courses and maybe got a certfication, but they other than that they are nothing more than pc assemblers who connect cable. And they know how roaming profiles work.

That is not the networking you want to do, but sadly most of the jobs are in this area.

The higher end networking is designing and implementing networks, security, and desiging the server architecture is where you want to be. But you have to build your credentials, and you will probably have to work for a consulting firm and travel.

The focus now is security, which is beyond users permissions. It is a very dynamic field and you need to build a wide range of experience beyond one operating system or network technology. There is a certification for it and it is the fastest growing technology field right now.

I am going into with a lot of technical knowledge, but I am not a nuts and bolts network person.

If you really want to feel yourself out with the networking. Cisco ( I am not a big fan of their books ), has a lot of free resources online, and buy one of their books for the CCNA certification. ( this is one you should have ). See if you like it and if it interests you.

Programming will get you a better job in the short run, but if you really go into the higher end networking you will do just as well. ( it will take you a few years to get the credientials and the experience ).

Good Luck.

Personally I would urge you to go programming if you like it. But there is a career path in networking if you really find it interesting. ( though it will take more work and determination on your part )
 
  • #4
Thanks for the responses so far. Programming definitely sounds more interesting on a whole. The only problem is that I've never really had the motivation to teach myself a language. I was going to take the C++ class we have here at my high school this year, but sadly not enough people signed up for it.

I actually at one point tried to teach myself C+ or C#, something like that, but I had nothing in mind to use the end product for since it was essentially a personal undertaking. So I eventually slacked off and the ebook has since been collecting digital dust in a random folder.

As for networking, I've had even less experience. I mean I've set up my home network and such, but not much else. If I did go into networking it would most likely be in the security aspects of it. The more money long term I guess is a plus, but I would rather enjoy what I'm doing rather than hate it and make more money.
 
  • #5
JC92 said:
The only problem is that I've never really had the motivation to teach myself a language.

Yeah... that's a real problem.
 
  • #6
JC92 said:
I actually at one point tried to teach myself C+ or C#, something like that, but I had nothing in mind to use the end product for since it was essentially a personal undertaking.

Yeah, you'll need some pet project ideas to work on. And most importantly of all, the pet projects have to be reasonably bite-sized pieces of coding. Nothing like "write my own version of Halo". More like "write a program to display the Mandelbrot set" or something like that. It's got to be something you can manage, and something that you can achieve within reason.

For me, I wasn't interested in programming until I found graphics. Once I could write programs with graphics, pet projects, games, and other stuff seemed to come up all the time, which I would just have fun writing. Unfortunately, it seems like everyone treats graphics these days as though it were some huge complex process-- probably why I never continued down the C++ path after school-- they never REALLY taught us how to actually write anything graphics-wise!

DaveE
 
  • #7
CRGreathouse said:
Yeah... that's a real problem.

Well keep in mind that I'm still in high school, and I've never gone about teaching myself something as big as an entire programming language. I'm sure once I find a project to work towards and get that first language down pact I'll be immersed in the subject enough to where learning new ones and finding little projects to help me out won't be too hard anymore.
 
  • #8
JC92 said:
I'm still in high school, and I've never gone about teaching myself something as big as an entire programming language.

Bah! [gathers crotchety old-man powers] In my day, I started learning BASIC programming when I was in 6th grade! In the snow! Uphill both ways! Huh... actually, I suppose technically, I knew 4 programming languages by the time I graduated high school, although only 1 of those did I learn for fun on my own (BASIC). The others (Logo, Pascal, C), I took classes in before doing them on my own (I did a little Pascal on my own after the class, but not too much).

Anyway, it's not about learning an entire programming language. It's remarkably similar to human languages. You can learn enough French to get by in France, but not know nearly the whole language. And until you have a reason to learn French, you probably won't do much learning. Sitting down with a "teach yourself X" book probably won't work-- you've got to have some goals in mind, or some inspiration that it allows you to achieve. THEN you'll start learning.

DaveE
 
  • #9
davee123 said:
Bah! [gathers crotchety old-man powers] In my day, I started learning BASIC programming when I was in 6th grade! In the snow! Uphill both ways! Huh... actually, I suppose technically, I knew 4 programming languages by the time I graduated high school, although only 1 of those did I learn for fun on my own (BASIC). The others (Logo, Pascal, C), I took classes in before doing them on my own (I did a little Pascal on my own after the class, but not too much).

DaveE

Yea, I wish I would have had a better choice of classes to take for programming. The only class that I have been able to take is Visual Basic, but our teacher for the class was in the Air Force reserve or w/e and got called back on duty at the beginning of the year. Essentially the entire year we had substitutes coming in and out of the class that didn't have any experience at all with programming. Since then, most of the classes have just been dropped because of the lack of a qualified teacher and not enough people signing up for the class.

I'll probably be going to a community college, for this summer at least, before I head off to a university. I'll have to check, but it's possible that they offer some programming classes. That would give me a chance to take a few good classes.
 

Related to Career in Programming vs. Networking

What is the difference between a career in programming and networking?

A career in programming involves designing, coding, and testing computer programs and software. The focus is on creating solutions and applications using various programming languages. On the other hand, a career in networking involves setting up, maintaining, and securing computer networks. The focus is on connecting devices and ensuring efficient communication between them.

Which career has better job prospects and opportunities in the future?

Both programming and networking are in high demand and will continue to be in the future. However, the job market for programming is expected to grow at a faster rate due to the increasing use of technology in various industries. Networking jobs may be more stable, but programming offers more diverse and specialized career paths.

What skills are required for a career in programming?

To succeed in a programming career, one must have a strong understanding of computer science fundamentals, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in programming languages such as Java, Python, or C++. It is also essential to stay updated with the latest technologies and continuously improve coding skills.

What skills are required for a career in networking?

A career in networking requires a strong understanding of network protocols, security, and troubleshooting techniques. Technical skills such as configuring and maintaining network devices, knowledge of operating systems, and experience with network monitoring tools are also essential. Communication and teamwork skills are also crucial for working with other IT professionals and clients.

Can one have a career in both programming and networking?

Yes, it is possible to have a career in both programming and networking. Many companies may require professionals who have knowledge and skills in both areas to work on complex projects. However, it may be challenging to excel in both fields simultaneously, and one may need to prioritize and specialize in one area while having a basic understanding of the other.

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