Hi, I'm thinking of switching from law to computer engineering. I have been in law practice for some time, but I don't seem to enjoy the nature of the work. It seems to me Tech industry is more interesting and creative. But maybe it's the "grass is greener on the other side" mentality that comes into play. Could anyone kindly give your observations or judgement, on the profession or the career change (I'm near 30)? Any thought is welcome.
Do you want to do actual computer engineering or just work in the tech industry?
If you mean computer engineering:
Computer engineering can get very competitive. Electrical/Computer engineering classes have a reputation for being one of the harder engineer majors. It tends to be very mathy, even by engineering standards. Universities usually have a couple of EE core classes many people flunk out of where they are forced to switch majors.
Unlike in law, you're competing on a much larger scale. EE/Computer Engineering is a very popular major in countries like China and India. A lot of top students hope to major in it and end up at companies like Samsung, NVidia or Intel. Whereas in law, the competition isn't going to be near as rough -- you're not competing against some of the best students from China/India/Taiwan/Korea. A decent number of international students will be in a lot of your classes, at the grad level some of the students from schools like Tsinghua and IIT will be the most intelligent people you'll ever meet.
If you mean just working in the tech industry as a programmer:
A % of students who graduate with computer engineering degrees but whose grades are not stellar end up as software engineers/programmers. Aside from that, you can program with a computer science degree, a math degree, it doesn't really matter. Like someone else here already has mentioned, it's not really degree driven as much as whether you can prove you're a good programmer.
Programming can be extremely financially lucrative, but also ultra competitive. The pay can be ridiculous at the high end, with stock bonuses being crazy at some companies.
Getting these jobs require passing various technical interviews, usually done in front of 1 or a couple other engineers. If you cannot pass these technical interviews (the vast majority of comp sci and engineering majors can't), your grades, degree or school name won't save you. There are a few popular books that explain how to improve that you can study, but some people never do well. There are people who never pass these interviews with degrees out of good schools, but there are college dropouts that do well on these interviews.
Similar to computer engineering, the competition is fierce and there are good programmers coming out of every country applying to similar jobs. There are a lot of programmers really passionate about their work, some of the ones I know have been programming since they were teenagers for fun. They can get jobs at the major tech companies with amazing pay and benefits. On the flipside, there are some that never can due to the tech interviews (despite their much better grades or grad degree). I wouldn't worry about age, general consensus among hiring at the VC backed startups and major tech companies is, the vast majority of people can't code, so if you can code you'll be fine.
As for startups, which someone else mentioned, that can get very complex. It's similar to starting your own firm or joining a small firm. There are huge pay-offs and success stories just like in any other industry where you can start a business, there are far more failures, and a lot of luck is involved. I would suggest you read Chaos Monkeys, which is a book about startups, the culture of the tech industry, and the ridiculous riches and struggles in Silicone Valley.