Anyone here considering studying Machine Learning as an alternative to Web Development?

I came here in November at a friend’s recommendation. I am a non-programmer who thought it might be interesting to switch careers at some point and I’ve always been curious about modern computer programming (not counting my foray into Fortran & Basic in the early 90s). The hot sub-field of programming seemed to be Web Development so I thought why not. Now that I am in the learning process - which I am highly enjoying - I have been immersing myself in countless online articles about programming. One theme in particular that seems to pervade is another hot sub-field called Machine Learning. Many of you have probably noticed.

So my question is, have any of you, like me, had any doubts about whether web dev is a good choice as a career path vs something less well-established, less mature, and more future forward like ML? Maybe I need some reassurance that this web thingy is a good choice and I should stick to it.

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This thread on HN might give you some insight.

IMO: web development is pretty well established. Tools/Libraries/rich open source and the community make it very much easier for outsiders to break into the field, plus lots of job demand make it a viable career option as well.


I will check out the link, thanks!

If you want to go the machine learning route, then let me tell you this: you have to be really good at the mathematics behind machine learning in order to do anything meaningful in this field. A solid grasp of the basics of linear algebra, calculus (both single variable and multivariable), probability theory, and statistics is absolutely essential to get started in this field. Just knowing the various algorithms and how to apply them won’t suffice; you have to understand why they work. Not much math is required for web development, though.

The fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence have a high barrier to entry. They are highly intellectually stimulating and that’s why you don’t have any bootcamps for these areas of study. You can’t learn ML in 12 weeks.


Yes I am kind of kicking around machine learning, but as posted above - you have to know a lot of higher math and statistics for machine learning. And know it well. The competition for jobs will be a lot harder since there are fewer companies that need such a skill like machine learning. Also I tend to think that right now you would need an advanced degree to get any attention. At my age, I don’t feel like pushing myself through any more mental gauntlets unless there is a guaranteed, stable job that I can ride into the sunset.

The reason for my doubts about web dev, particularly the Javascript world and to a lesser degree the MS .NET world - it changes too fast. You have to re-learn a lot. Every… single… year. And it is getting to the point that even some of the top professionals in the field are beginning to groan. So I am also reading a bit here and there on other topics like MSSQL database development, Linux programming, Windows desktop apps, health informatics, bioinformatics, etc. I’m trying to find that sweet spot that piques interest and has staying power and doesn’t require re-learning volumes of libraries and frameworks every year. However, that may be like searching for a unicorn.

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Ok. It’s a good choice and you should stick to it.


I’ve considered this, as my wife is a data scientist at Facebook and the work seems really interesting. However, I’ve heard that you have to be at a very high level to land a job as a Machine Learning/Data Scientist. Many of the people working this field have PhDs in Math or CS. Seems like the bar is set higher in these fields in terms of the level of education they expect.

That’s a good point @sassy_samurai and that’s the sense I get about ML - much harder, a lot of math, requires many prerequisites. I have quite a bit of math background but it dates from a while back so I’m very rusty in that field.

Thanks for the encouragement @PortableStick! I will stick to it. I’m just drawn to ML but I understand that it’s a less realistic goal.

Keep up with the unicorn search @DWAbrego! Thanks for your input. You’re right it’s crazy the amount of learning involved and the constant changes. That’s ok though - I love learning!
That How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016 article is pretty hilarious! I had read it before and it will be interesting to read it again in the future to see how much more sense it will make once I have more knowledge about the js community.

I hear that quite a bit @jonathanwmaddison. You’re in good hands if you pursue it yourself though.

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