With the time to say good bye to engineering colleges and looking for jobs, many students with non-computer science background have this question in mind. After studying a particular subject for 4 yrs or more moving out to a completely new field will be a difficult decision as it comes with lot of questions. If you are serious about life you definitely think about it as you need to survive there with peers who have been studying about it for the time you learned something else.
My early days of graduation and even after PhD, I was totally against the idea of going to software industry if you are not a computer science student by background. This was because software was at the early stages and mostly database and web based jobs were in focus. For example like hospital management system, banking system, ticketing software was in development. At the web technologies mostly website, content management systems, web servers and other related infrastructure for under development.
During that time I could not see the deep penetration of computers in every spear of life. I could only see what can be done by engineers from different domains after working for almost a decade with one of leading technology companies in the world. I got a chance to work on few extra ordinary products that are considered as miracles of science. Where you need a bunch of PhDs and great engineers from almost all domains to sit and make the final product.
Recently while working on a project to make MRI, I got a chance to see how things go from scratch till end product. How engineers with background in mechanical, electrical, electronics, people from mathematics, physics and medicine are needed to make one product. How much it’s important for them to have a programming ability to sync with the complete system software development.
During this time, every day I started meeting engineers with complete strange backgrounds and finally met doctors who almost know image processing as good as a computer engineer. As we need to verify the final image outputs to medical doctors and they had tell us if there is something wrong and how it can be improved.
Now after working on different technologies, different products, meeting PhDs in different fields working together and seeing how one can contribute to final product development I could say software development is a must for every engineer from any domain and specialization.
The best thing could be that you be best at your specialization, learn programming and work in some good software company for few years. But as rule of thumb look for companies making software for your field of specialization. That way you will get a great career and contribute to the development of your own field. There are many companies do software for very special fields you can always search for a position with them.
Programming has become new form of literacy for any great career in this century. Take it seriously and plan your career well.
Hope this helped you with your decisions. Wish you all a great luck ahead.