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I'm an engineer looking to future-proof my earning potential and open up some freelancing opportunities. My degree is in electrical engineering, but most of my professional experience involves working with fpgas. I've done a little board design, and some c.

I'm concerned fpgas are an increasingly niche device that will eventually get pushed out. I had identified heterogenous computing (opencl, cuda, etc...) as an interesting area on the rise that I'd like to get involved with. Also, I want to learn more about low level computing, things like kernel programming and device drivers. They seem like natural progressions given my work history and I'm also personally interested in developing these skills. But my question is - are they good business decisions? Have I overlooked something else? I have only my perspective and greatly welcome others.

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Freelancing is a business, not a hobby. If you can get your client's needs to match what you want to learn about, that's a bonus.

Otherwise, you need to research the market.

  • Which skills are in high demand?
  • Which of those skills are in short supply?
  • Which of those skills can you quickly get up to speed on?

That's how you pick the next skill to learn. Go where the money is.

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Well this is pretty opinion-based question, but here are a few directions to investigate.

You first have to decide what will be your area for freelancing like: programming, design,...

After this, try a few tools or technologies to see how you like them. Or if are passionate about a specific technology, learn more about it.

As you learn create sample projects which you will later put in your portfolio.

Be persistent, offer good quality and be very professional.

Many of us here did the same way I described, and most of us succeeded.

PS. IMHO low-level programming does not have future on services like Odesk or Elance. You need to be close to a hardware you program. I have not seen much, if any, projects where clients ask for such services. Please note that this is my opinion and experience, and reality may be totally opposite. If I were you, I would research your niche to see if there is any work available.

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