Working as a Software Engineer

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Returning to software engineering after stay-at-home stint

Jan 2005

My husband is a software engineer who has been out of the workforce for the past 2 yrs. He has been taking care of the kids and I have been working. Since I am being laid off from my job with a severence package, we are taking this opportunity to finally switch roles. However, my husband has been out of work for so long (he has done small contract jobs) that he needs to get some training to make himself more marketable and bring himself up to date. In the past, he has worked as a programmer in C and C+, some Java, and has done programming for the web and for software. His goal is to get back into programming (of some kind) and maybe eventually become an architect.

The dilemma is that he does not know which certification or training to take. He is thinking of doing a MCAD or MCSC bootcamp to get Microsoft certified, but we want to make sure this will help him get a job. Also these bootcamps are quite pricey, and I am not sure if it would be worth it. Could he just take some online courses in Java and .NET, etc. instead and still be ''marketable?''

I was wondering if any software engineers or web programmers out there have some advice. Which certification do you think is more practical? Or are there specific languages/architecture he should be learning such as C++, etc.? Thanks in advance

My husband is an engineer and gives this advice: your husband should get out there and interview. In my husband's experience, certificates won't count for a lot, especially in Silicon Valley, because these certifications help someone become a technician, not an engineer--which is not what your husband is looking for, by the sounds of it. Better would be to spend some time writing an innovative piece of software--this would be much more impressive to a prospective enployer than a certification. Good luck to him! anon

I'm a software engineer myself, with a background that sounds similar to your husband's. Two years ago, I was in a similar position. I'd only been out of work for 5 months, but for the 3 or so years before t! hat, I'd been doing a lot of WEB development. Then, the bottom dropped out and there were no contracts available. I not only had to find a *real* job, but I discovered that there were more interviews available for C++ jobs than anything else and I hadn't done any C++ programming in almost 5 years. I don't know how much C or C++ programming experience your husband has. If it's in the 5 to 10 year range, though, I wouldn't bother with any sort of certification. I don't think many software companies are interested in certification. They may give him a test of their own, though, even an ad-hoc oral one. What I believe got me the great job I've got now was reading from cover to cover a book called Effective C++. It's pretty much the industry bible these days and I hadn't read it. I absolutely crammed before interviewing, basically trying to memorize that book. It paid off. Your husband might want to try taking a couple of interviews that he doesn't care too much about and get his feet wet again. It's really not too bad out there right now. There ARE programming jobs. Things are looking better than they did a couple of years ago. Been there

In my opinion mcsc certification will not be helpful if he has not worked as a network engineer before. Looks like he is not sure what kind of job he wants. To help with that , I suggest he starts looking at job adds in the newspaper and online. that will gve him an idea what are the most indemand skills right now. Pick something that is in demand and he already has experience in( no one is willing t train right now. they want u to hit the ground running). Buy a few books on that topic, and spend some time seriously studing(take your laptop and go to barnes and noble or the library) practice the sample programs. Take a class if need be. Post your resumes on all the online sites and call up old friends in the industry. Go to interviews. Talk to recruters. Join job hunting support groups (the are very good for networking, ideas and moral support) It will take time and constant effort. dont get discouraged and you will get there. sherry