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Back to school for a second degree or continue on career path?

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  • Jul 10th, 2015 12:16 am
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[OP]
Member
Feb 2, 2010
348 posts
10 upvotes

Back to school for a second degree or continue on career path?

I am turning 28 and may have the option to work as a junior underwriter making 40-45k a year. I already have a BA, but have only worked in customer service and sales. I have read good things about insurance underwriting, such as the potential to make more as a senior, but I am not sure if the industry is strong in the long-run.

The option I have been mulling over is Computer Science as a second degree or diploma. I am interested in becoming a software engineer as well. It'll take about 2 years, but there is also a lot more jobs available compared to insurance. I also feel that software engineering is a skill set that will be very valuable to have in the future.

Am I overrating CompSci and underrating the insurance business? I don't want to regret it when I turn 35 and realize I am in a deadend job.

My goal is to have career stability and to have good work-life balance. I do want to have the option of starting my own business one day.

Advice appreciated.
21 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 23, 2008
3897 posts
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Halifax
Stay as an underwriter and learn to code on the side. A CompSci degree only has limited benefit, if any.
Member
Dec 25, 2006
370 posts
62 upvotes
Waterloo
Before you join a computer science diploma course, explore if you have an inclination to code. You can try the courses at Coursera.org or edx.org. Python will be a good start. Join one of the courses, it is free, and see how it goes.
Jr. Member
Dec 14, 2014
177 posts
5 upvotes
Mississauga, ON
elliotforgames wrote: I am turning 28 and may have the option to work as a junior underwriter making 40-45k a year. I already have a BA, but have only worked in customer service and sales. I have read good things about insurance underwriting, such as the potential to make more as a senior, but I am not sure if the industry is strong in the long-run.

The option I have been mulling over is Computer Science as a second degree or diploma. I am interested in becoming a software engineer as well. It'll take about 2 years, but there is also a lot more jobs available compared to insurance. I also feel that software engineering is a skill set that will be very valuable to have in the future.

Am I overrating CompSci and underrating the insurance business? I don't want to regret it when I turn 35 and realize I am in a deadend job.

My goal is to have career stability and to have good work-life balance. I do want to have the option of starting my own business one day.

Advice appreciated.
Comp sci degrees are 4 years. A programming diploma is 2 years. I would stick with your current job as you probably wont be making more than 40-45k with a programming diploma anyway and a degree would take too long to complete.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Jul 11, 2008
4368 posts
1508 upvotes
Away from RFD idiots
Michaelp1990 wrote: Comp sci degrees are 4 years. A programming diploma is 2 years. I would stick with your current job as you probably wont be making more than 40-45k with a programming diploma anyway and a degree would take too long to complete.
if op already has undergraduate with some overlapping courses, it'll take 2 years to complete as second undergraduate.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
5608 posts
1807 upvotes
Toronto
mathiewannabe wrote: if op already has undergraduate with some overlapping courses, it'll take 2 years to complete as second undergraduate.
In UofT, even if you already have a undergrad degree, you can at most get 1 normal academic year's worth of credits so you'd still need 3 normal years. Of course there is nothing to stop you from doing 120% load, taking summer courses etc if the course schedule fits. Altho with CS, you'd probably be better off doing summer job or open source then studying in the summer... not for the money but for the real world coding experience.
Deal Addict
Mar 18, 2015
3136 posts
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Antarctica
If you actually prefer coding in your spare time to other pursuits or just love to program, it won't hurt to try to break into the field. I would try to get in a decent compsci program such as u of t's coop (or Waterloo, but that could be harder to get in, may be someone can chime in), run side projects while in school and network.

Rather make 35-40k starting (with potential for way more with passion and networking) for a few years doing what you love than 75k doing something that's just routine and "for the money". Plus there's always the possibility to relocate to US for work; you don't have to limit yourself.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 6, 2006
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Toronto
Crichtonfan wrote: If you actually prefer coding in your spare time to other pursuits or just love to program, it won't hurt to try to break into the field. I would try to get in a decent compsci program such as u of t's coop (or Waterloo, but that could be harder to get in, may be someone can chime in), run side projects while in school and network.

UofT downtown doesn't have "coop" program for CS, so to speak. You just apply for PEY during 2nd/3rd year summer. It's completely optional and has no bearing on your CS degree requirement. Of course, if you want a good (or at least better) start for your CS career, it's a must-do.

For someone who already have a degree (or over 25?), you'd be applying as mature student which is usually pretty easy to get in even for UofT downtown. Not sure about Waterloo, but it's usually the case for most university's ArtSci undergrad. I was considering something similar and applied to York. I got the acceptance letter within the same week.... didn't even know Canada Post is so quick lol. (... and no I didn't go to York...)
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Mar 18, 2015
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Antarctica
boyohboy wrote: UofT downtown doesn't have "coop" program for CS, so to speak. You just apply for PEY during 2nd/3rd year summer. It's completely optional and has no bearing on your CS degree requirement. Of course, if you want a good (or at least better) start for your CS career, it's a must-do.

For someone who already have a degree (or over 25?), you'd be applying as mature student which is usually pretty easy to get in even for UofT downtown. Not sure about Waterloo, but it's usually the case for most university's ArtSci undergrad. I was considering something similar and applied to York. I got the acceptance letter within the same week.... didn't even know Canada Post is so quick lol. (... and no I didn't go to York...)
Yeah I was thinking more about UTSC as they seem to have their own coop comp sci program (although I have heard students are allowed to participate in PEY as well, could be wrong).

Any how, OP first needs to make sure they aren't going to be turned off by debugging code (have seen many programming students hate programming for that). If you can persevere and love problem solving its a very promising field. If you are in it for just money you will do horrible and burn out quite fast.
[OP]
Member
Feb 2, 2010
348 posts
10 upvotes
Michaelp1990 wrote: Comp sci degrees are 4 years. A programming diploma is 2 years. I would stick with your current job as you probably wont be making more than 40-45k with a programming diploma anyway and a degree would take too long to complete.
I do already have a BA and since I am situated in Vancouver, UBC offers a 2 year degree but admission is 2016. SFU also has a second degree which is closer to 2.5 years. I'll be 31 before I start a career as a software engineer.

Is it true you only make 40-45k with a diploma? My friend who worked in CS for 5 years with degree was making 40k, but I thought it was an anomaly. I thought you would be in the 60k range?

How much would an entry level software engineer be making on average?
Deal Addict
Aug 16, 2008
1056 posts
402 upvotes
Markham
average starting salary for developers with a 4 year cs degree is 60k.

<7 years, 80k+
> 8 years architect level 100k+

cs is a huge field and is not limited to software development. There's consulting, business development, direct sales, pre-sales, post-sales, systems admin, systems architecture, solutions architecture, technical marketing, technical education, technical enablement, project management, program management, and then there is of course industry specialization to throw into the mix, whether you are in healthcare information systems, financial banking systems, telecom, or in the tech industry itself.

I know people who have worked in the field for 10 years and are making 70k doing OT work for a bank overseas, and others who are managing a team of technical sales making over 200k....so please dont generalize.
Jr. Member
Dec 14, 2014
177 posts
5 upvotes
Mississauga, ON
elliotforgames wrote: I do already have a BA and since I am situated in Vancouver, UBC offers a 2 year degree but admission is 2016. SFU also has a second degree which is closer to 2.5 years. I'll be 31 before I start a career as a software engineer.

Is it true you only make 40-45k with a diploma? My friend who worked in CS for 5 years with degree was making 40k, but I thought it was an anomaly. I thought you would be in the 60k range?

How much would an entry level software engineer be making on average?
If you decide to take a degree from a UNIVERSITY in software engineering,making 60k entry level sounds about right. Here in Ontario colleges award diplomas and universities give degrees. Also i don't think colleges award diplomas in computer science at least not in Ontario. Colleges award diplomas in programming or I.T which would only get you certain jobs that probably wont get you more than 40-45k. If you're set on the further education path i would recommend you get a degree over a diploma. Also you couldn't really become a "Software Engineer" with just a diploma from college. You would need a degree from a university.
Deal Addict
Mar 18, 2015
3136 posts
2984 upvotes
Antarctica
elliotforgames wrote: I do already have a BA and since I am situated in Vancouver, UBC offers a 2 year degree but admission is 2016. SFU also has a second degree which is closer to 2.5 years. I'll be 31 before I start a career as a software engineer.

Is it true you only make 40-45k with a diploma? My friend who worked in CS for 5 years with degree was making 40k, but I thought it was an anomaly. I thought you would be in the 60k range?

How much would an entry level software engineer be making on average?
You can make more depending on how much better you can code compared to the rest. A lot of grads are bad at coding and thus end up being stuck in low paying roles.
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
8003 posts
4031 upvotes
Toronto
elliotforgames wrote: I am turning 28 and may have the option to work as a junior underwriter making 40-45k a year. I already have a BA, but have only worked in customer service and sales. I have read good things about insurance underwriting, such as the potential to make more as a senior, but I am not sure if the industry is strong in the long-run.

The option I have been mulling over is Computer Science as a second degree or diploma. I am interested in becoming a software engineer as well. It'll take about 2 years, but there is also a lot more jobs available compared to insurance. I also feel that software engineering is a skill set that will be very valuable to have in the future.

Am I overrating CompSci and underrating the insurance business? I don't want to regret it when I turn 35 and realize I am in a deadend job.

My goal is to have career stability and to have good work-life balance. I do want to have the option of starting my own business one day.

Advice appreciated.
dont waste your time in school anymore.

and if you want to go into software design/engineering, you should already be a pro programmer on your own without school.

99% of the professional software coding peoples are self taught. school doesn't teach you that.. might help you refine it but definitely wont teach it to you.
Sr. Member
Sep 13, 2010
590 posts
166 upvotes
Montreal
daivey wrote: dont waste your time in school anymore.

and if you want to go into software design/engineering, you should already be a pro programmer on your own without school.

99% of the professional software coding peoples are self taught. school doesn't teach you that.. might help you refine it but definitely wont teach it to you.
Weird because 99% of the professional programmers I work with learnt to code by going to school and getting a degree in comp sci or comp eng.
Also you will have a hard time getting a programming job by telling companies that you were self-taught.
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
8003 posts
4031 upvotes
Toronto
TheComebackKid wrote: Weird because 99% of the professional programmers I work with learnt to code by going to school and getting a degree in comp sci or comp eng.
Also you will have a hard time getting a programming job by telling companies that you were self-taught.
yeah cause a 4 year degree will teach you how to program.

also interesting because 99% of the professional programmers I know learned to code on their own.. School was just for the paper.
Deal Addict
Mar 18, 2015
3136 posts
2984 upvotes
Antarctica
daivey wrote: dont waste your time in school anymore.

and if you want to go into software design/engineering, you should already be a pro programmer on your own without school.

99% of the professional software coding peoples are self taught. school doesn't teach you that.. might help you refine it but definitely wont teach it to you.
Learning to code isn't the same as learning to optimize/learning to apply different algorithms/learning to model stuff using mathematical analysis. Unless every self taught programmer is disciplined enough to teach themselves all that too.

CS = computer science, not just computer programmer
Newbie
Jul 11, 2014
59 posts
8 upvotes
Hamilton, ON
Stay as a under-writer. My ex moved to Calgary from Ontario to become an underwriter and he's now making 70K + over there vs, 50K from Ontario. He's a single male, and I think 70K is enough if you want to just live life alone.
Sr. Member
Feb 10, 2015
607 posts
228 upvotes
FriesandSteak wrote: Stay as a under-writer. My ex moved to Calgary from Ontario to become an underwriter and he's now making 70K + over there vs, 50K from Ontario. He's a single male, and I think 70K is enough if you want to just live life alone.
$70k in Calgary is kind of meh.

Good for him though.
Member
Dec 25, 2006
370 posts
62 upvotes
Waterloo
To OP, since you are already working in an insurance company if you pick up some database/SQL+Access skills in a part-time course, I think there would be opportunities within the organization for which you will qualify as an internal candidate. Explore that option as well.

Banks and insurance companies use MS Access a lot (not as main database though). Lot of people do not realize that.

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