Mechanical Engineering to Software Developer?

I was curious if anyone had any experience or guidance on the prospects for someone in my career situation.

I have a MS Mechanical Engineering degree and I have about 15 years of professional experience in manufacturing and process gas construction. I am PMP certified and I have worked for two companies on expat assignments in China leading global teams. Currently, I am a program manager for an industrial manufacturing company located in China.

I’ve always enjoyed coding and I’ve learned C# through Bob Tabor’s courses, Python myself and even applied it in some simple ways at work by developing quick tools to make my job easier.

I’m interesting in going through the curriculum, getting certified and transitioning to a developer role. I’m not sure if my background would be well accepted in the software development industry, or if my previous experience would have little value.

I’m also fairly well compensated for the work I do, and I’m not sure if I would expect a significant step back in compensation for this type of transition. Although, a small one would probably be OK if I can do something I enjoy more.

Does anyone have experience or knowledge of people who transitioned from engineering / project management roles into developer roles, and how that impacted their career choices and outcomes?


Hi @fjpereny!

I wish I could tell you my story about how I became a software developer but I am only 5 months in. However, I can provide you with some great resources from FCC about other people sharing their success stories. In these stories you will find that people have come from all backgrounds and have successfully transitioned into software development. I am sure you will also get some great replies from other FCC members sharing their success stories.

You can also check out the FCC podcast and youtube channel where there are dozens of stories that will help inspire you.

Hope that helps!

Happy coding!

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Thank you for the information.

There is the concept of career capital,
meaning you already have a huge asset with your current career.

Do you see any possibilities to leverage your existing career capital combined with your new coding skills?

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I’m not sure. I think that is my biggest concern, that I have invested a lot in my current career that would not fully translate to a career in software.

I do think having strong program and team management skills translates well to almost any position. Working on global programs has certainly improved my cultural understanding and flexibility to work with very diverse teams.

Quick thing: you mentioned “getting certified”. That’s not really something we do in software development. It’s not the same as engineering disciplines.

I’ve worked with a number of people who have switched to programming from another career, including at least one person who started out in Mechanical Engineering. They have almost always come into development jobs as entry-level or junior developers. The only exceptions that I can think of is when they are going into a management role rather than a development role or maybe if they’re previous background is very closely tied to the problem space that the company is working in so they have expertise in the specific subject even if they don’t have programming experience.


Your management skills would be very useful in tech and I suspect would translate well. One difference might be that tech work is often a lot more about taking large risks with quality in order to get stuff done faster.

You might look at companies in tech but supporting engineering tasks. Robotics, manufacturing control systems, etc.