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What job is this? Can I make a living with this?
October 28, 2009 10:31 PM   Subscribe

I hate coding. I like conceiving of what the code could do . Work please?

I've always been a tech-oriented person, but never much cared for programming/tech support (I deal with enough of that from family)/computer science sort of work. Lately at work they've had me testing out new software, where I diagnose bugs, suggest better ways to implement features, etc. I've found it really fits the way I think and seems to help the IT staff out a lot (we're not a software company, but do produce our own specialized software for internal use). I've been pretty unhappy with my current job and would like to move into something more suited to my interests, so I'm wondering if this is something that might be good for me.

This sort of work is pretty random at my employer, so there isn't a way to transfer into this as a full time position. I'd like to find something that suits my tech-knowledge without the programming focus and that lets me think outside of how the software currently works and how it could work if improved. Our coders are so focused on fixing current problems that they rarely have time to think of how to improve the interface as a whole. Is this something that A) is a job people would be looking for and B) something that would pay the bills with potential for more? Thanks.
posted by fishmasta to Work & Money (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
While not exactly what you're looking for, Quality assurance or Usability testing are close.
posted by Axle at 10:40 PM on October 28, 2009


Looks like you're a generalist. Maybe you'd be happy in QA, tech writing, or sales support -- these positions often drive development and lead to Product Management positions.

I find it odd you put programming and tech support in the same category, not all companies lump the two together. Still, all positions pretty much expect you to support someone/something some of the time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:45 PM on October 28, 2009


Other people I know who were into the same aspects have found themselves in systems engineering.

Systems engineering is a really critical part of any big project, where you take all the little bits that the code-monkeys do and make sure they interact. It requires knowing a little bit about a lot of things, sometimes swooping in to solve problems when little bits or little people that do not communicate well need to be troubleshot or improved upon, and not actually doing the coding, but rather ensuring that the needs of one group are understood and met by another.

(For anyone who sees this question from the other side, I know other people who ended up in the same field after being technical writers wanting more technical responsibilities.)
posted by whatzit at 10:51 PM on October 28, 2009


See e.g. Human Computer Interaction
posted by GPF at 11:24 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'd be an ideal software architect, assuming you have the resources, smarts and work ethic to obtain the necessary qualifications.
posted by randomstriker at 1:42 AM on October 29, 2009


Sounds like an architect to me. Or in design, where yu do as much or as little technical work as you like.
posted by Admira at 3:47 AM on October 29, 2009


Let me counter randomstriker...if you're not coming from a programming background its unlikely you'll have much call for your services as software architect. For example, as SA you'd be asked to 'determine the best way for System A to communicate with System B' using generally accepted design patterns and techniques that are the lingua franca of coding. My $.02...
posted by toastchee at 5:08 AM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I'm a little confused. You say you like finding bugs and suggesting better ways to implement things, but then go on to say that you want a role that lets you 'think outside of how the software currently works and how it could work if improved'.

If you enjoy thinking about what software might do under many different kinds of scenarios, then you may have found your calling as a software tester (note: QA is not software testing, these are different beasts).

To be a good tester, what you want is a deep-seated desire to be constantly learning, an eye for detail and enough diplomacy to tell people that their baby is ugly and probably mentally disabled and not have them hate you.


Take a look at some of the following blogs. I consider these guys heroes in the field of software testing.

James Bach - particularly this (2Mb pdf)
Michael Bolton

Cem Kaner has also written a prodigious amount on software testing.

See if any of that lot rings true.
posted by CardinalRichelieuHandPuppet at 5:25 AM on October 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Perhaps you'd enjoy being a program manager? You'd still ideally need enough programming knowledge to have discussions with developers, but your job wouldn't involve coding. I don't know how common—outside of Microsoft—it is for this to be a dedicated position, though. It wasn't at the places I've worked, but they were pretty small.
posted by serathen at 6:38 AM on October 29, 2009


Look at interaction design, user interface design, or user experience design. Seconding toastchee, you're definitely not an architect.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:52 AM on October 29, 2009


It sounds like you're enjoying QA, so you could just go into QA.

If you want to do more of the bigger picture stuff you could go into product management.
posted by alms at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2009


You're a product manager.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:26 AM on October 29, 2009


Seconding crazycanuck. If you're an architect, you would be a behavioral architect. Sometimes Business Analysts do what you're talking about. Sometimes Product Manager is used as a synonym for Business Analyst, though generally not.

The best fit for you, in my opinion, is to look at interaction designer and information architect as a career path. Most of the jobs are for Business Analysts, where you would be able to apply this stuff.
posted by xammerboy at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2009


I'm a Software Test Engineer. I love it. I think you would love it too.

However, at least at the company I'm at, the main path out of testing is to go into coding, and become a Software Development Engineer in Test. There is also an increase in Automated Test Analysis, which requires you to at least be able to read the code/debug spew when the test barfs, to figure out what the hell went wrong now. So, be warned about that. I know a few testers, however, who went into Program Management instead, because they have no desire for coding.

Personally, I'm like you - I love the technology, but also have no desire for the coding aspect. So personally, I'm looking at expanding into Human Computer Interaction.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:04 PM on October 29, 2009


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