I've got a storied career. I went from being a draft resister hippie type near the end of the Vietnam War to being an expediter at a nuclear power plant construction company near Wall Street, then finally left New York for warmer weather in Florida where I spent a couple of years as a real estate broker and eventually landed at Merrill Lynch as a financial consultant. I stayed at Merrill for about 8 years.
It was at Merrill that I first became interested in programming. I had been graphing the technical indicators from Bob Farrell's group in New York with colored pencils and there was an older guy at the Orlando office who had a TRS-80 and printer. So I learned to program the indicator data in BASIC and print out graphs. Before long I had saved up $3500 to buy an Apple IIe and began seriously studying BASIC. Later I enrolled in an external doctoral program to get my PhD in economics, and a good part of my dissertation was spent coding FFT algorithms in Turbo Basic.
Software development is one of the few professions where you can earn six figures with no formal degree. But it takes a certain kind of personality. Programmers are paid to think, and that requires a logical, problem-solving type of mindset - and a lot of patience and motivation to learn.
I hope some readers will get insight from this.