Changing Careers from Sales to Software Engineering

Tech Career Hub
Written by:
App Academy
Published on:
August 25, 2022
a man adjusting his suit while walking

Discover the steps to successfully transition from a sales career to becoming a software engineer. Learn the skills, training, and mindset needed to make this career change.

Changing careers is an intimidating process for anyone — but less intimidating when you start to find the overlaps in your previous experience that you can apply to your new career venture.

While you’re in the process of acquiring new skills and new knowledge, your past job experience can seem invaluable. The opposite is true, though — leaning on those skills and functions you’re already familiar with can open more doors than it will close them.

This is especially true when changing careers from a role in sales to a role in software engineering. Let’s explore what that career change pipeline looks like and where you can find synergy between your past and future experience.

What does a sales role look like?

Someone in sales does just that — they sell. There are many roles and positions within a sales organization, but they all work together to create bottom line business for an organization.

In sales, rejection is a near-daily occurrence. Folks in sales need to learn how to pivot out of rejection or turn it into a positive experience by moving on to the next client. Once you do make sales, relationship building is the name of the game to retain customers for the long haul or upsell on new products, features, or services.

There are many levels and promotions one can earn in sales, ranging from a sales development representative to a director of sales or even a chief revenue officer.

What does a software engineer role look like?

Software engineers use programming languages, functions, and other principles to develop pieces of software used on web apps, mobile apps, web pages, tools, and programs. Not only do they develop new software, they regularly test and improve existing software to update it for better functionality.

Software engineers are highly collaborative and often require teamwide decision making to come to a solution. People often think software engineering is a solo job, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Software engineering involves heavy data-driven problem solving at teamwide scale.

Where do software engineering and sales roles overlap?

If you’re looking to transition from sales to software engineering, you’re in luck — there are some key overlaps in skills that can work in your favor when applying for junior software engineering roles.

Collaboration is one shared job function that sales professionals and engineers share; though people in sales have their own pipeline and book of business, they’re typically part of a larger sales organization that works together to generate and maintain business. Software engineering is similar in that they work within the department to create products and make them viable to go to market.

Both sales professionals and software engineers are also highly organized and analytical. People in sales use data from customer relationship management software all the time to make business decisions and find trends in successful customers. Programming languages like SQL are often used to do this. Software engineers are the same — using organized data to inform business decisions and draw conclusions about what features, tools, or programs to create. Some would say both people in sales and in software engineering are “Type A”.

If you work in tech sales specifically, you already have working knowledge of a product and how it functions. Transitioning to the engineering side would involve you knowing how that product works and making decisions to improve it.

Both roles can also be high-paying and both have tons of upward mobility and growth opportunities, but the two functions are innately different. Software engineers build the product, while sales professionals put it on the market and get it in front of customers.

Learn More: Best Jobs for Type A Personalities

What are some must-have skills to change careers from sales to software engineering?

Coding is a must-know skill for anyone looking to transition from sales to software engineering. Languages like SQL, HTML & CSS, Python, and JavaScript are used regularly in sales organizations to store, use, and update customer data, but only certain people within a sales team may know them.

Developing additional coding acumen is the only foolproof way to be competitive as an applicant for junior software engineering roles. Over the course of your previous sales experience, you’ll have developed critical soft and meta skills like teamwork, leadership, decision-making, and empathy (by really understanding what your customer needs and delivering on it).

Read More: Programming 101: Learning How to Code for Beginners

Start your transition from sales to software engineering with App Academy Open

If coding isn’t for you, you will not succeed in software engineering. App Academy Open gives you a way to try coding, risk-free, at no cost to ensure this career transition is one you want to make.

If you’re serious about changing careers, App Academy’s bootcamp programs are some of the best in the world. We’ve placed nearly 5,000 students in software engineering roles to date.


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