Are your skills transferable to other technologies?

I’m a Java developer with strong database skills and have been working on the same types of software development projects for a long time. How can I use these skills to work in different ways so I can work on something new? Thank you for your question. You have a great skill set and should be very proud of yourself. The combination of programming and database skills are not only a wonderful combination from a software development perspective, it also has the potential to pivot you into other technical areas.

From a programming perspective, your Java skills can potentially be used to move you in the following directions: • Big Data: Hadoop MapReduce is an expanded version of Java, as are various other Big Data oriented technologies. • Mobility: As a Java developer, your programming skills are very transferable to various mobile device development technologies. For example, expanding your programming language knowledge to include JavaScript, could pivot you into mobile device development. Yes, in many ways the only thing that Java and JavaScript have in common is the word “Java” in the name, but programming is programming. If you have a deep technical understanding of Java, learning to program in JavaScript will be very doable. • Instructing: There are many technical professionals of all skills who have made the professional decision to move from practitioner to teacher. As an additional item, your database knowledge would make you more versatile because you could also provide instruction in the database area. • Business Analyst or Project Manager: If you have a strong understanding of a specific business area, for example accounting systems, enjoy working with business users and/or running projects, consider moving toward a Business Analyst or Project Manager role. Also, your strong technical background would be of great value because of your understanding of the issues facing software developers. • IT Manager: If you are thinking of moving into the management ranks, now may be a good time to consider it. That way, you can still be involved with software development activities, but will not have to do that actual hands-on development. • New application type: By your email, I don’t know in what specific area you have been programming. Whatever area it was, consider pivoting your technical skill to move to a new application area. For example, if your programming work was financial services oriented, try to move to health care type applications. In the short term, until you gain some health care business experience, it will be harder for you to find work in the health care arena than in your current industry. Once you have gained experience in your new industry you will be on your way.

From a database perspective, the same logic as pivoting your programming expertise is also true for your database skills. However, there are additional database-specific opportunities, including: • Production DBA: The role of Production DBA (Database Administrator) is very different than the role of an application oriented DBA. My thought is that you naturally fall into the role of Application DBA because you are also a programmer. An Application DBA generally designs database schemas and writes stored procedures. A Production DBA is more datacenter oriented and performs tasks such as rebuilding database indexes, monitoring available disk space, and other related tasks. • Data Architect: This role is increasing in demand for a number of reasons. First, increased movement toward cloud computing is fracturing companies’ data models and increasing the need for internal data warehouses. Second, as more and more data is collected and stored, it needs to be properly and professionally managed.

The basic concept behind my previous suggestions is that the best way to change your professional direction is to do so using your current skills and experience as a lever to move yourself toward your new goal.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or at www.ManagerMechanics.com.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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