Making a Software Development Career Change

By Dr Eamon Costello

Many software developers will have Bryan Adams nostalgia moment about when and where they bought their “first real six string”. For me, it was books. A red Wrox book on VBA for MS Access, a very fat book on XML, a java book with a tiger on the front.

I didn’t formally study computing. My primary degree was in English and History. It was when I started working in software development that I decided I needed to go back and do a conversion course. Although I had built up the skills, and could develop software in multiple languages, I did feel a “glass ceiling” of sorts hovering over me. Colleagues on my Higher Diploma in Computer Science course came from diverse backgrounds – the veritable butcher, baker and candlestick maker. The maths graduate, the engineer, the business analyst and me, the rogue arts grad.


Now I’m on the other side of the fence. I am privileged to be an educator in an area that I am passionate about. Software development is one of the continued success stories of our economy. While the dodgy GDP rates and accounting practices of multinationals may make the headlines, the reality is that there are many thousands of people working in a very vibrant industry in Ireland in a diversity of roles and companies.

This year, for the first time, the Government have funded part-time ICT conversion programmes. DCU will be running a Higher Diploma in Software Development over two years for those already in employment. Moving sidewise in a career can be tricky but being able to both study and work towards that goal is very important. Morever the Government are funding the student fees. This course, and others like it, should really help build a pipeline of skilled graduates in software development.

Although it is a challenging and intensive course of study we believe the mix of tools, technologies and techniques that students will learn will help give them an edge in the labour market. Although applicants must have a degree in a non-computing area, the key requirement is passion. You will know if it’s for you or not.

The “Summer of ’69” is not a great metaphor as you don’t need to have been programming a ZX spectrum since you were 12 to have a rewarding career in software development. The industry will benefit most from a diversity of practitioners.

Applications are now being accepted for the fully-funded Higher Diploma in Science in Software Development at DCU. For more information and to apply check out

The original article was first ublished by Dr Eamon Costello on his Linkedin account.