Changing Careers - 20+ yrs as mechanical engineer wanting to get into IT development

Sorry for long prelude, but figured it’s good to have some background.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, have been an engineer for over 20 years, although in the automotive field. Most of my experience is more product development and product management than engineering.

Having a bunch of time off due to COVID, not voluntarily for the most part, made me realize how burned out I was, and making a 30-60 minute one way commute anymore just isn’t going to happen. Engineering jobs aren’t so remote work friendly. I just need to be around for my kids and not stuck in traffic trying to help them with activities, emergencies, and just being there. So remote work is ideal. And I need to find a job within a year because money goes fast.

I have a firm understanding of computer hardware and how Windows works after having had to tame DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1 through Win 11 today. I’ve written more batch scripts and powershell scripts than I can remember. Am I an expert? No, by no means. But I also have modified Javascript, C++, python, and other code to suit my needs for personal projects. So I feel I understand programming, how it works, and the mentality behind constructing usable code with variables, for loops, importing/exporting data, splitting data, manipulating data to output to a more usable format, etc.

Where I’m going with this, so I’m not spinning my wheels, what certifications make most sense to complete from FreeCodeCamp? Or at least focus on up front? Is this really enough to find an entry level job? I just don’t want to spend a bunch of time doing something that isn’t value added.

I’m not looking to make $100k up front, but just get my foot in the door, and get some experience, and ability to work remotely for the most part, and see where it takes me.

I’ve had some base experience with Python lately, and have nearly completed that course. But it was a tough slog, and don’t want to continue if it’s really not going to be value added.

Thanks for input.

Hello @HTWingNut, welcome to the forums!

This largely falls into what would be considered “a system admin roles”, which isn’t necessarily development, but more an operations support role. IE you don’t build the software, you maintain the systems that the software runs on.

This is still a role that can be completely remote. Throw in the fact most companies leverage the cloud, there is no physical hardware in most cases and everything is “already remote”.

Job hunting wise this might make or break what you’re aiming for. Depending on the sort of projects you’ve done in the past, you could go for a developer job, or more of a system admin job. And how impactful your preexisting experience is might also make some jobs much easier to get than others.

FreeCodeCamp focuses on front-end web development, and provides some Python curriculum’s for data science basics. So it could help you if you want to aim for a remote developer job.

However, these are not the only routes available to you, especially with your preexisting experience that seems to tilt toward a system admin role.

System admin roles usually have less competition, but also lower payout over time compared to a developer role. You will still get paid well, as System Admins are still important, but they wont “make the big money” for the company, as they are there to help keep things humming and solve day to day problems. So it might make more sense to lean on you pre-existing work experience to get a remote tech job without trying to fight your way into a developer job, of which there can be fierce competition.

You could also get into this field without a Computer Science degree, which is what is looked for when it comes to development jobs of all kinds. If you’re serious, a CompTIA cert would help dramatically. (refs: Your Next Move: Systems Administrator | CompTIA)

Or you could refocus your current skills into more modern sought after roles, such as some sort of cloud system admin, and get some certs for specific cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP).

Regardless I personally think leveraging your pre-existing skills might get you a remote role faster than following perfectly along with freeCodeCamp’s curriculum.

Good luck, keep learning, keep building :+1:


Thank you. That sounds like a solid option, System Administrator. I guess it could possibly get my foot in the door and see if there’s anything else I may want to do.

Do CompTIA certs really help? They’re expensive, $1500-1800 total for A+, Network+, Security +. I don’t mind shelling out the money but only if it’s definitely a benefit.

They can be very beneficial, and help you stand out during the job search, but you could also start out without those certs and just see how you stand with your preexisting knowledge, and just do some self-learning on latest trends and technologies to catch yourself back up.

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Ok. Thank you for your time and input.

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