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I would like to ask you, is that possible to get a job in low level programming area without electrical engineering knowledge?

Some background: I am working as Java developer / architect since 14 years. I am interested in low level programming and have experience with micro-controller programming in C and Assembler. I would like to change.

I was just browsing the jobs and reading a lot and I always have the feeling that, without having knowledge in electronics, circuits and such, it's hard or impossible to find something for me.

Now I think, I may just don't know what exactly should I look for? Could you please tell me what are the career options in low level programming area with deep understanding of algorithm, C programming, but lack of electrical related knowledge?

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    "Is that possible to get a job in low level programming area without electrical engineering knowledge?" Short answer no. I think you meant to ask if you could get a low level programming job without an electrical engineering degree and that answer is absolutely yes. – jcmack Feb 23 at 0:44
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    Sure, try govt, I've seen a few programmers who don't seem to know anything except how to make fancy powerpoint presentations – Kilisi Feb 23 at 3:21
  • Many times the engineer will be explaining what the code needs to do while you implement that - between your collaboration it happens... – Solar Mike Feb 23 at 7:02
  • @jcmack "I think you meant to ask if you could get a low level programming job without an electrical engineering degree and that answer is absolutely yes" Correct and sorry. This is what I meant with my question. – user1399448 Feb 23 at 7:14
  • I guess there are different types of low-level programming. In very brief, I'd say you have no problem. – Fattie Feb 23 at 16:38
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I've come to the opinion that the basic premise of this question is flawed.

Could you please tell me what are the career options in low level programming area with deep understanding of algorithm, C programming, but lack of electrical related knowledge?

The premise appears to be that you want to be employed as a low level programmer1 but you feel you don't have the requisite low level knowledge. IMHO the flaw is that you don't recognize that you can obtain that knowledge - and hence place yourself in a better position for the jobs you want.

I am not suggesting that you go back to school and get an EE degree (although if that is your passion there is nothing wrong with that). Instead there are several other ways that you could gain practical electronics knowledge.

  • Hands on hard work. Buy, build, debug and understand electronics kits and work your way up from the simplest to the more sophisticated. If you came to me and said that by day you were a Java programmer, but by night you built, programmed and debugged sophisticated self guided robots (and can back it up) then I would be impressed. (BTW also check out EE stack exchange, Ras Pi Stack exchange and Arduino Stack exchange)

  • Online courses. There are a ton of online electronics courses. Sure, not as fancy as am EE degree, but they should give you the basic knowledge you need to get your foot in the door (and you can do them while still doing your day job)

  • Open source projects. They always have a need for contributors. Working your way up through an interesting OSS robotics project will give you street cred and involve you in a larger community that will have the connections you need to the jobs you want. (EG I just did a quick google and there are at least 8 open source drone software projects)

While none of these are a panacea, with hard work and time you will be able to gain a knowledge of electronics and electrical engineering that you can present to a potential employer.


  1. Finally I'm not sure of your actual desires, but there is a a huge range of careers that allow you to play with hardware without having to go in-depth with the details of the electronics. For example any sort of industrial automation will have you working at the bit level while not needing in-depth knowledge of electronics. Yes you will need a basic working knowledge, but your day to day work will be more information technology based, rather than solder a wire here, set up an oscilloscope there. And to be honest, this line of work could do with more people who know how to properly architect software. Along those lines I just googled "java based HMI" which could help you get into the field by playing on your existing strengths.
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I was just browsing the jobs and reading a lot and I always have the feeling that, without having knowledge in electronics, circuits and such, it's hard or impossible to find something for me

I strongly suggest you actually apply to those jobs you see and like. If you never apply for the fear that "it's impossible given your background", you will never be able to switch to the career you like.

Besides, if what you seek are programming jobs, then most likely what matters most is that you are able to program and know about algorithms, etc. of low-level languages, not necessarily about the electrical parts and components involved (otherwise it would be other kind of role, and not a programming one...each job's requirements could be different, though).

So, I suggest you stop "just browsing" and start applying to the jobs you see and like. Highlight your knowledge and experience on low-level programming on your resume, and customize it for each job you apply, so your chances of landing an offer are maximized.

  • I have two things that I worried about and mostly this is why I "just browsing" and not yet applied. First I most found jobs where they were looking for "engineers" and not really "programmers" and in the description something like "deep knowledge in electrical engineer" was mentioned.Secondly, I feel with this transition (JavaEE->Low Level) I will be simply useless. Okay, programming is programming, but this two area are just too far for each other. That is my bad feeling. – user1399448 Feb 23 at 7:21
  • Can you please link or just name job titles or "buzzwords" that you think I should look for? Maybe if you could mention some areas. – user1399448 Feb 23 at 7:24
  • Well, I would focus my search to roles and jobs that don't require such "deep knowledge", perhaps as a junior dev or similar. Still, whatever you decide you must keep searching until you find a job that seams reasonable and that you like, and actually go for it and apply. – DarkCygnus Feb 23 at 10:07
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Every embedded (aka low level) engineer must be able to

  • read the schematics to identify test points,
  • ask the technician to solder wires there,
  • hook up the scope to those wires,
  • make sense of the scope data, and
  • not be afraid to fry a board or two.

This pretty much covers all the bases about the electrical engineering. Keep in mind that most of debugging techniques you (as Java developer / architect) are familiar with are likely not applicable. If all that feels all right, just stop browsing, as @DarkCygnus suggests.

Working with high voltage power equipment is a different story.

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    "fry a board ..." don't know. :) I don't have any hands-on experience with boards, circuits and that's the problem. However I'm fine with low-level things e.g. MCU programming, registry, C, assembler, optimization for small memory devices, etc. – user1399448 Feb 23 at 7:26
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    This is a great answer. However, it is true that "some types" of low-level programming really don't use all this stuff. – Fattie Feb 23 at 16:38

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