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Life direction: how to start commercial programming again?

P: 1
Hi All,

This is a career and life direction question in a unique circumstance, so I hope some of the savvy minds already in the industry can help me.

I used to be an engineer in Australia, but currently live in Asia, doing the typical English teaching etc.

The work I used to do was heavy on the software. Programming embedded systems, using RTOSs, system design (use cases, requirements and so on), C/C++, with a smattering of VBA and scripting, and some industrial automation programming (SCADA etc).

Unfortunately my degree wasn't in software engineering, but in something called mechatronic engineering (a kind of hybrid of bits and pieces of mech/elec/soft). This was a big mistake as it is not recognizable to most employers versus a standard 'electrical engineer' or 'software engineer'. My aptitude was always in software (I was writing programs in DOS when I was 10 etc), so I see refocusing back into software dev as my best shot.

So basically, I have been trying to move my skills over to more commercially valuable software languages. Valuable based on what I've seen anyway. Learning PHP, Java, javascript, html, css, ruby&rails, python&django etc (all done now except rails). All those languages are so much easier and faster to get things done in, but ultimately I would still do C++ work again if that offered good opportunities. I've been using these new languages to start writing mobile apps and web apps that I plan to either make some money from directly, or at least be able to use them as a portfolio evidencing my skills.

I want to find some way to return to making money with software, without returning to live in a western country. I'm not willing or able to get a standard cubicle job programming in Asia, since a junior job wouldn't pay much more per hour than English teaching anyway (or even significantly less in some countries here), and they have no reason to hire someone who can't speak their language when they can just hire an eager local grad. Currently I see my best chance as making some online web apps / services or some niche mobile apps that I can sell premium versions of.

Some examples I met on my travels were guys who had already built a client book in their industrial niche in their home country, and then continued working as usual when they moved overseas. Another was a web developer who could speak none of the local language, who was doing $100k+, all contract or client work. Another got a local business partner and offered inter-country services, he was also making large bank. Basically if I could do even 10% of something like these guys are doing, I would be in a much better position.

So does anyone know how I can find other avenues I could pursue in my situation, that are a bit closer to 'wage' than 'business attempt'? What is the best direction I could take with my software development? Or possibly other IT services of some kind? Or if this forum isn't the best place to ask, where do you recommend I do?

Many thanks!
Apr 29 '16 #1
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