Maths Teacher to Software Engineer

Hi everyone, please can you offer some advice regarding my desire to move into software development.

I’ve got a good job as a systems support on £38k per year but I’m bored. I used to be a Maths teacher and enjoy working on advance technical problems, hence I feel that programming would scratch that itch. I’ve tried some tutorials but struggle to maintain motivation after a point. I feel like I would do better to learn on the job. Is it possible to land a job with a similar salary to my current one without a strong portfolio demonstrating programming experience?

The longer version of my background is I grew up enjoying working with computers, building my own gaming PCs and tinkering with software. I’ve always been very good at Maths and eventually studied Mathematics and Computing at University, which I thoroughly enjoyed and graduated with a 2:1. I particularly enjoyed some projects in the final year using Python and PHP.

Also, in my final year at uni my partner became pregant, which put pressure on me to find a job in a hurry. I applied for some tech focused jobs with no success. Two of the jobs I applied for the interviews went really well but my programming skills were limited. In one of them they gave me a programming challenge in C, which I was less familiar with. The experience of these interviews shook my confidence a lot. I was also applying to be a secondary Maths teacher and accepted a job offer. At first I enjoyed the challenge and being a part of the education process, but after a couple of years I was getting bored with the level of the Maths. However, my wife wanted a bigger house and we now had 2 kids, so the salary meant I continued for 13 years total.

In 2017 I started to invest in GPU cryptocurrency mining as this fulfilled my interest in technology and in 2020 I was able to leave teaching. This also allowed me to refresh all my technology knowledge.

Now I have a new job as a systems support, but I’m not finding it challenging or fulfilling, although the pay is really good and it’s a really easy work from home job.

Math teacher!! sooolddd!!

SE should be easy for you, as you also have knowledge about mining as well (i have no clue about that)

now question is what kind of engineer you want to be? web apps/game devs/big data/vr-ar, options are plenty, you got to find your niche :slight_smile:

btw, when you do leave that system support gigs of yours, feel free to pass it to me, let me deal with it for awhile :grin:

happy searching and good luck :slight_smile:

I don’t have much insight into the job market in the UK, so I don’t know what the average expectation is for a junior developer. In the US though, “I can learn to develop software on the job” doesn’t fly. The basic fundamentals of programming take months to learn, during which you can’t contribute to the company. If you have a strong interest in programming, but you haven’t been able to learn on your own then you might want to spend some time considering why you haven’t been motivated to learn and what you can do to address that.

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This is only possible at companies that have well-built training programs, that see you as a worth wild investment and don’t pick someone else that seems like a safer bet.

Generally, hiring anyone is a risk to the entire business. Not many jobs allow you to affect millions or even billions of people, which is both good and bad. Screw something up bad enough and you negatively affect all those people.

This is why only companies that understand the risk andaccept it are possible jobs for your. All other companies that sense this risk but can’t do anything about it just see you as essentially a walking time bomb. Of course the most senior engineer could make a mistake out of carelessness or otherwise and still create the same problems, but there is less risk in hiring someone who knows what they are doing and has some experience to prove it.

So I would not try to get a job that will pay for you to learn. Mainly because there isn’t much preventing you from learning what you need now.

I’d focus on this aspect of your journey to see if you can dig into why. It sounds like you don’t have other factors such as financial or time pressures on your “career pivot” as many do. So you should be able to take your time learning and building up your skills and planning out a path to go from your current systems support job to a more developer focused role.

There are some aspects of development that aren’t really fun, and might never be fun. Tutorials can be one of those aspects, so I’d look at other approaches that might fit you better, maybe using text-based guides, or focusing on building projects so you can learn more via a “hands on experience”.

Finally it’s worth mentioning that having a background in some technologies, and a background in math/computing can show well on a resume. Which I’d leverage when applying to jobs. That said going in with 0 practical experience doesn’t make much sense if you can get some practical experience now to at least hit the ground running and at least appear less like a “risk”.

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

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Brilliant responses thank you. Regarding the motivation factor, when I’m coding I enjoy it but it gets to a point where I feel that’s not enough due to an uncertainty as to whether I would actually use what I’m learning or it be of any benefit in an interview. If I had a clear checklist of tasks to complete in preperation for an interview I think I would feel more motivated. I’ve looked into a paid training courses in the past that give a recognised certification. Are these considered any better than completing free courses such as the ones on freecodecamp?

I should add, I wrote a lot of software at Uni but that was 15 years ago. My strongest skills are Mathematics, Data and Excel. I’ve also completed a few tutorials and worked on some mining related software, but I don’t necessarily have a showcase of projects.