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Life as a LabVIEW Developer

Hi Guys, 

 

So I have been in a business/commercial function for sometime now but I have always enjoyed programming in LabVIEW, Python, and JS. I don't have an EE or CS background but I'm considering moving into a software (LV) engineering role. I'm still not sure about this but I would like to hear how a day as a LabVIEW developer looks like and future/jobs/career prospects are for a LV developer.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Great question! A better place for this discussion might be in the Breakpoint

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Thanks Gregory :). I tried to look for a "general discussion" category but couldn't find it Smiley Wink

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Hi cc,

LabVIEW development is not my full-time job, but most weeks I spend 15+ hours doing some form of LabVIEW / software development. I think part of what keeps life interesting with LabVIEW is that you are often using it to interface with hardware. I have done some fun projects without any hardware (besides the PC running the program), but I would probably get bored if all of my projects were like that. Working with hardware gets you out of your seat and into the lab, and the variety keeps things interesting. 

You can work in many different industries and still have your job focus on LabVIEW, so think about what you want to be doing your programming for. Some places specialize in LabVIEW and test systems and then contract out to many different companies. This sounds like it could be interesting, but I've never tried it.

Try to think about what phase of the software you like to work on the most. Do you like planning it out and thinking how different pieces interact? Do you like coding up the guts and getting stuff running? Do you like supporting the users and adding new features? These are all important parts of delivering good software, and you might do all of them or just some of them.

Also try to think what kind of company you want to work on. Smaller companies often have less "rules", so you can get things done faster, but sometimes less direction as well, so you may be unsure what the requirements are or need to make your own requirements. Large companies often have a more rigid way of doing things, but they are usually (not always) in place for a reason. Also, you are more likely to find a mentor who can help you along your LabVIEW journey if you join a team of experienced programmers.

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After an extensive hardware R&D background I started using LV 20 years ago. I've been doing both since and the variety makes every day worth going to work for. One day I'm immersed in code, the next I'm debugging hardware drivers, the next I'm developing a UI with an operator, the next hashing out a spec with engineering in a meeting room. Every day I'm the functional lead and project manager. Can't see doing anything else. There's just too much to do that I can do. Smiley Happy

PaulG.

LabVIEW versions 5.0 - 2020

“All programmers are optimists”
― Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
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Thanks all for your answers. 

 

What do you think would be the cons and pros of pursuing such a career?

 

Also what skills do you recommend to work on (Electronics, embedded Languages...etc)?

 

Thanks

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What other skills are useful, depend on how you are using LabVIEW.  In general I'd say someone good at LabVIEW should have a good understanding of electronics, electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science.  Of course if you are using LabVIEW just for a general purpose programming language and processing some data, having a knowledge of electrical engineering isn't all that necessary.  But in general when I think of a good LabVIEW developer they also have good electrical engineering skills since troubleshooting hardware issues generally means debugging wiring.

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@cc77 wrote:

Thanks all for your answers. 

 

What do you think would be the cons and pros of pursuing such a career?

 

Also what skills do you recommend to work on (Electronics, embedded Languages...etc)?

 

Thanks


Very good questions!  First and foremost LabVIEW was designed for engineer to conduct experiments!  That "Test" roll is still the largest segment employing LabVIEW developers.  Lucky for me I enjoy interacting with engineers and scientists.

 

Some of the pros are you get to write code that may impact the lives of millions.  For instance I was involved once on a project that drove "Positive Train Control Radios" from "Beta" to full scale production.  Fairly large project with plenty of challenges.  PTC is a reality today because of the automated testing performed in production.  What helped me help that team was my experience as an Electronics Technician in the Navy.  I KNOW test equipment, electronics theory, and how to troubleshoot a system.  In fact, I used to TEACH those skills for the Navy.  That system integration skill set can really make or break new product development.  Those skills will never go out of demand (although NPD is a financial risk for companies and, in down markets.....that's a con- you might not find much of a market)

 

Become familiar with the burdens of code development!  SCC, Bug tracking, Regression Testing, and requirements tracking!  documenting, documenting, documenting!  Then there is the difference between functional code and maintainable code, you have to have STYLE! and a style that others can flow with.  And, you need to be "Agile" enough to work a "Waterfall".  understanding process and their mechanics is a way to ensure success.

 

Should you choose to pursue the life of a LabVIEW developer I wish you as much happiness as I've gotten from it and none of the painful moments! 


"Should be" isn't "Is" -Jay
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I'll share my layman's explanation that I offer when people ask what I do for a living.

 

"I am the scientist behind the scientists and engineers that change our world."

 

Then there is war story my wife likes to tell about me stumbling into the world of computers.

 

 

Spoiler

I (like Jeff) started out in the Navy. My father had told me while in high school that "When you graduate, you have to get out, get a job or both." The Navy covered the "Both" option. Near the end of boot camp it came time to choose a career route and I was asked "So Ben, what do you want to do?" Having seen what the underwater explosive stuff, I answered, "I want to be a SEAL!". The guy asking smiled and said, "That's nice Ben, but you can do math. You are going to fix computers".

 

So I look at LV developers as "The SEALs of the technological world".

 

 

 

Ben

Retired Senior Automation Systems Architect with Data Science Automation LabVIEW Champion Knight of NI and Prepper LinkedIn Profile YouTube Channel
Message 9 of 14
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Context: I've been writing software for 30+ years and LabVIEW for 20+ and am now in my early 50s

I have friends in lots of different lines of work and I have to say the vast majority are working towards their retirement or to pay for non-work related occupations (holidays, hobbies, sport etc). In the non LabVIEW world there's only 2 of us that categorically state we will not retire and we're both software engineers. I'm really quite defined by making things with 1s and 0s.

 

Upside is creativity is good for your soul, downside is the lows can be quite low.

 

Finding work is job #1, finding good people to work for and with is job #2, finding stuff you're interested in to work on is job #3, continuously learning is job #4.

 

For my type of work learn 50% LabVIEW, 20% databases, 20% linux, 10% PLCs would be a pretty useful mix. If you're working for yourself you can add sales, marketing and accounting to the mix too. For LabVIEW my bag is design rather than every technique, framework or methodology.

 

Main thing is learn about yourself, know if you're happy or not. If not do something about it. You'd be surprised how many people actually forget to have fun like it's something they should be guilty about.

I left permanent employment Jan 1 2000 and have loved most of it since then, so now is a good time for one of those leaps.

Best of luck!

Steve

Steve


Opportunity to learn from experienced developers / entrepeneurs (Fab,Joerg and Brian amongst them):
DSH Pragmatic Software Development Workshop


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