I am 33, live in Austalia and I'm stuck in a massive rut. I earn a modest salary as a computer programmer programming Delphi. I finished my masters with first class honours 4 years ago and took a job at a financial services company. I've had a good run at the company in terms of learning about their business but my career is going nowhere. Unfortunately this knowledge is about the UK finance industry and not the local industry. I've learnt hardly anything technical in 4 years. The software framework is 10+ years old and no work is being done to it. The software product also isn't very good. There is no room to move at all in the company for the foreseeable future. To make matters worse the company might close down in a few years. There is a very insular culture and there are no training opportunities. The one benefit of my current company is they don't work us too hard and expect quality code over quantity. Most people at work say they feel stuck and have been there an average of 10 years.
I look at job advertisements and everything is 5+ years java or .net. There are a few Delphi jobs around but they all want architecture experience and all I've done for 4 years is maintenance business logic programming. Before my masters I used to do video and web design work but I wanted to become a software engineer. All my friends I graduated with are moving on to exciting work and different projects. Delphi work is drying up and I don't really want to extend my use of this language too much if I change roles. I'm also very afraid of not having the technical skills to succeed in another Delphi role.
I have started to learn .NET and am considering MSCD certification but this will take 6 months of my spare time. Then I could work on a side project for 6 months to get some experience then hopefully I could take a more junior role elsewhere? This will take up all my spare time. If someone gives me a chance to work in .NET I'll work hard to do a good job. Can anyone suggest any other ideas?
I was about my buy my first property this year and can't really afford to take a pay cut. I'm single and houses where I live are very expensive. Should I just consign myself to being stuck in this job for the rest of my career? I also still have a huge university loan to pay off for my masters. I feel sick and am not sleeping I feel so bad. Nothing is working out. I feel like I made a huge career mistake taking this job.
Please offer advice if you have software industry knowledge!