Also over the past two years I have come to hate my current industry. Its no longer something I'm passionate about. All my passion has been stolen by computer programming. I want to make a career switch to a job as a computer programmer.
The only problem is that while I do know some things about computer programming, I know absolutely nothing about the computer programming industry. Where should I start? Obviously Senior Web Developer is out of the question. Or is it? Do I have to start at telephone tech support or something and work my way up? Does my experience allow me to skip a few steps and get a job that isn't normally a entry level position?
Also, even though I have put together working code and all, how do I know I have what it takes to be a professional coder? I don't want to put myself in a position where I'm over my head. The is the only reason I've avoided rentacoder.com. I'd hate to put someone out because I lead myself on to be a professional level programmer when I'm far from it -- if thats that case, I have no idea.
When I browse this site, I sometimes feel like I'm a complete moron. Of the 50 or so questions on the front page of this site, only maybe 1 or 2 of them I have any idea what they're even talking about. When I first started learning PHP, it was OK I thought to be clueless at this stage. But that was probably 10,000 programming hours ago. I should be better by now, right? I should at least be able to browse this site and come across a single question that I'm capable to answer, right?
Someone wrote a very wisdom-filled answer to a question I read here on this site that read (paraphrased) "it's not fair to compare your knowledge to the collective knowledge of a community", which I believe and understand. But if thats the case, then what is it fair to compare my knowledge to?
A popular thing that gets thrown around here is a Donald Rumsfeld quote about "unknown unknowns". Thats definitely me right now. I have no idea if what I don't know is way too much to be a good programmer, or if I don't know about just as much as most other programmers working in the industry today.
What I want to know, is that if there is some kind of "litmus test" (metaphorical or not) to determine if you're ready to handle a programming job.
When I get my first programmer interview, when the interviewer asks me "what makes you think you have what it takes", what can I do to make it so I can answer him confidently and without having to just make something up?