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Can I prosper in programming as a late starter?

Question :

It seems that the whole world is going digital and I’m thinking it’s high time I got in on the action. I’ve always had an interest in computers and would love to be able to write software, but I’ve never studied programming and am not sure where to start. What programming skills are most important in Hong Kong? Is it feasible to pick up the required skills by studying in my spare time outside work and if so, would you recommend self-learning or online courses? Will I, as someone who already has several years of work experience, stand a chance in the job market against fresh graduates with computer science degrees?  

Posted by Codemaster on Saturday, 28 May 2016

Comments :

I appreciate your proactiveness in pursuing a career that reflects your interests and talents. Welcome to the world of computer programming!

Computer programming allows businesses to convert their innovative business ideas into business solutions through the help of digital technology. With a computer science degree, a programming developer usually follows a career path where they work as a programmer for two to three years, grow to become an analyst programmer in another two years, and become a systems analyst (SA) in around five years. Alternatively, someone who possesses strong business knowledge may pursue a business analyst (BA) path instead of that of an SA.

An SA either designs new IT solutions or modifies, enhances or adapts existing systems, with the aim to improve business efficiency and productivity. Meanwhile, a BA is the bridge between business stakeholders and the IT department.

It’s not a must for a BA to possess a computer programming degree, though a good understanding of IT programming is beneficial to the role. Good BAs are great verbal and written communicators, tactful diplomats and problem solvers. By and large, an SA role will require much deeper programming skills than that of a BA. Based on your strengths and interests, you may choose to grow to become either an SA or a BA. If you already have some business experience, you may possess the qualities of a good BA.

With this in mind, you may explore the type of programming skills you wish to acquire. Various computer languages and platforms have their strengths and suitability in different industries. For example, web development may require PHP and JavaScript; bank business systems call for C#, C++ and Java; while the most commonly used mobile technologies for iOS and Android platforms are tools such as Unity and Corona.

An IT professional is required to constantly upgrade themselves with different programming skills, so you would need to decide which industry you want to focus on and the technical path you would like to take. After identifying the language, try to speak to some professionals in related industries to gain further insight into the needs and the direction of growth. Each language should have their authorised institutions for obtaining the certificates. I wish you good luck.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Can I prosper in programming as a late starter?

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