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Thoughts on switching from a product design role to engineering after 15 years

September 13, 2020 at 7:22pm

Thoughts on switching from a product design role to engineering after 15 years

September 13, 2020 at 7:22pm
I recently had my first child and as a result, I’m thinking more about the future than I normally would. I realize this is probably the wrong response and maintaining presence is more important than ever but I can’t seem to help it now that I’m responsible for someone other than myself. This question is really nothing more than a thought experiment in my own head as I realize my motivations are bad/wrong. I firmly believe that you should do what you love, and that has worked out wonderfully well for me thus far.
With that said, I’m curious if anyone else has found themselves thinking about switching from design to dev not because they enjoy it more, but because more career opportunities exist? It seems that there are 10:1 frontend/full stack roles to product design jobs here in the Phoenix market and that pattern seems to expand when looking at remote only. Granted, these opportunities are perceived as I would think the talent pool for developers is likely larger than that of product designers. So this entire perception I’ve built could be bad all together. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this.
In an effort to seek other opinions on the topic, I sought out articles and content from designers making the switch and I was surprised to find VERY little, yet quite a few posts from developers hoping to make a transition to design. Which was fascinating and makes me wonder why this is?
What little content I did find was from very junior designers who quickly discovered they didn’t actually enjoy design and a frontend or engineering role fit them much better. This is definitely not the case for me. I love design and have spent quite a bit of time in my career on the frontend so I can say with certainty that design is my home. To me, code has always been a means to an end. The chisel or the hammer to create the product but I’ve never been deeply passionate about said hammers the way my peers in engineering roles are. I don’t get excited about debating Vue vs React, they’re just tools to me.
My income is closer to the upper end of the range for someone with my experience and I think transitioning to an engineering role wouldn’t really change much for me financially. I would likely land somewhere in a mid-tier frontend role which would actually be a pay cut on average so money is not a motivating factor. It just seems like there’s a lot more opportunity as a whole which makes me feel like that somehow provides my family with stability.
I should probably also add that I’m happily employed and have no plans on leaving anytime soon. This is really nothing more than a thought experiment as I know all good things eventually come to an end, and I want to be prepared when that day comes. So, have you considered it? Or even better, have you made the transition? How did it work out for you?

September 14, 2020 at 8:31pm
Hey Aaron, my son is now 2,5 years. I'm a developer, and I often wonder if I'm missing out on other opportunities. I work with Vue, but see the generally larger React job market. But Vue gets the job done, and I ship features. As you said: It's a tool. If it helps, I'd like to share my own view: I understand that my role puts us in a privileged role. By no means I want to sound disrespectful to all the hard-working people when I say the following: We wouldn't be able to spend so much time with our child if I worked a minimum wage job. We are really in a good spot. I don't know what the future holds. Sometimes I think about it though. When I will have to look for a new job, then I have good training and experience under the belt. I don't know if this resonates with you as it does with me, but my thoughts then always circle back to the simple Bible wisdom: Don't worry today about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own troubles (Matthew 6, 34). I hope I could be of help. But I understand that, when we are responsible for another human being, we will never stop to question if we are doing the best we can. And maybe we shouldn't ever stop. Micha
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That's an interesting take. I hadn't considered the similarities from the perspective of vue to react opportunities. We also use Vue at work and it's not lost on my that there's very few Vue jobs in the market relative to react.
Great advice all around, thank you for taking time out of your day to share that with me.

September 15, 2020 at 6:44pm
You spent a good amount of time to post your thoughts. Obviously it is very important to you. When I saw no replies, I just had to write this. Also, it manifests my own thought process. We need to talk about these things more. Thanks for bringing it up! Wish you all the best for your little family! :)