Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I want a career with computers but I'm not sure what?

  1. Sep 1, 2013 #1
    I'm torn between software engineering and computer repair.
    Both are great to me.
    Like if my friend comes to me and says my computer is running really slow can you fix it?
    I love that. I love being the one to go to and I love fixing computers. Even if it took a week to fix that's a zero stress job for me. I'd do it for free. Money is just a bonus.

    But I also am really interested in actual computer science.
    I love knowing how computers work inside and out. I've had countless ideas for programs I would write if I actually knew how. I know programming is math intensive and that doesn't bother me at all.
    But now there's a few thoughts that hold me back. I plan on having a family in the future. So of course I want a salary that will support all of us. I know a software engineer makes around 55K entry level.
    But I don't even know if a computer technician is an actual career or if the salary can compete with that.
    And I also don't know about software engineering because I've never done anything hands on with programming.
    So I feel like I might have some fantasy of it that's totally blown out of proportion and when I'm actually in the field I won't like it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You could start your own computer repair business, run it out of your home, write off taxes that are ambiguously both business and personal. You will be able to take breaks when you want to play with your kids, mostly of your own accord.
  4. Sep 2, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You won't make much money at computer repair, and it's tough because hardware constantly changes. Software engineering is a dicey profession, right now, due to outsourcing. Jobs in the business world exploit young programmers by expecting them to work very long hours (but the pay is good). Jobs often don't last more than 2-4 years; once a project is defunded, layoffs often happen. Finally, software engineering is a complex field that requires intense attention to detail, and thus, it really is not for everyone. Before making a decision to go that route, you should try learning to program. Only go into software if you LOVE programming.
  5. Sep 10, 2013 #4
    All this assumes you go to a good school for your education:

    Another option you may want to look into is network management/admin. Enterprise level stuff. Setup/maintain computer networks for an intermediate to large scale business. Setting up routers/switches/dhcp/dns/ad-ds servers for your business, running cables, etc. This usually also includes desktop support. You have to learn the theory behind how networks work, the different protocols, security, etc. It's a HUGE plus if you know both Linux & Windows.
    The pay is really good, better than programmers in general IMO and offers better job security. But it can be harder to get that first break as most businesses are very reluctant to hire someone straight out of school, they want people that already have experience.

    Like harborsparrow said, there's not that much money in computer repair. It was my first job and in most cases, you're looking at 30-40k if you are working for a business like geek squad or something. It's a good starter job, a stepping stone, something to get your feet wet and get a bit of experience but unless you run your own store, I do not believe there's too much money there.
    Programming is a love/hate thing. There's no middle ground. You will either love it, or you will want to kill yourself. It is a LOT of hard work, the field is continually changing. You have to know a lot. Programming concepts usually apply across languages (depends on the language) but the syntax can be very different. You need to know C#/JAVA languages as a minimum and the relevant database (MySQL, MSSQL) But the big bucks are in Oracle. Extremely hard to break into, costs a pretty penny to get the certifications but you can easily make 6 figures with some experience and the job security is great.
  6. Nov 26, 2013 #5
    If I were you I would learn a bit of an entry level language(off the top of my head java would be the least intimidating and you could easily transition to c# or c++). From here try to solve problems to see if you are good enough to do it professionally. Some great ones can be found at the website projecteuler.

    You can learn java online here:


    You could download netbeans to compile(run) your programs or use this website:

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook