Author Topic: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?  (Read 3477 times)

iwanttobelive2

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Thank you for the advice everyone. I deleted body of this message as I am thinking maybe this isn't the best place to ask this question. Others in this situation, keep positive, keep working hard and look for opportunities.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 02:14:43 PM by iwanttobelive2 »

hdatontodo

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 05:09:44 AM »
I feel kind of stuck in life right now. Mid 30's, making about $30K base and with all the overtime and bonus's I'm expecting to pull about +$35,000 this year.

Nowhere close to my FIRE goals. I'm currently working at a warehouse that distributes products sold by websites.

Long story short, great recession happened found my self unemployed, decided to go to college, graduated with a BS in Business and unable to find a job. I actually posted on here 6 years ago when I couldn't find work and actually ended up homeless. Fast forward to now, I've been in the trucking and warehouse industry since then. I've found it physically exhausting, mentally numb and worst of all low paying. I tried truck driving for a few years, hated it, found it extremely stressful and the pay was pretty bad.

I've been trying to live the MMM principles since I found the blog (Republic wireless phone, buying a high millage used car, ect). Sadly, I'm still in quite a bit of debt. $36K for my student loans ($60 on IBR, all Government loans), $3500 left on my car loan, $800 per month (renting) for my housing, an emergency fund that will cover 3 months right now, 401K at max company match in a low cost Vanguard fund, No CC debt. Working about 50 hours a week.

As far as applying for jobs, I've continued to get rejected for everything that is not related to truck driving or working in a warehouse. I've felt like I've tried everything as far as resumes, interview skills, ect. I've tried moving up with in the companies I've worked for, but being told "I don't have enough experience, and were not going to give it to you" has kept me from getting something better paying.

print("I know this post is making me sound like a Complainypants.")

I've been interested in Coding for a while. I've just never taken it past a hobby. I used to make games in BASIC when I was kid. I took at class on HTML in the early days of the internet, but nothing went past that. I wanted to be an engineer when I went to college but the lack of requirement math classes and extra time it would take to finish them setting me back from graduating, I ended up going the fastest degree I could get, Business. Which due to a bad economy and my location ensured that I was going to be unemployable when I graduated. I've thought about going back to college for Computer Science.

But I kind of feel like programming and coding right now is a gold rush. I've seen programming boot camps pop up and then disappear at almost the same speed. I'm reading there is a glut of unemployed and inexperienced junior programmers needing jobs and a bunch of companies with a serious need for Senior Software people.

I looked into a programming bootcamps but I was worried I wouldn't be able to find a job afterwords. I also can't take the break from not working and or pay $12K-20K that these bootcamps want.

I mentioned I work for a warehouse for a bunch of websites, I reached out to some of the software people at these websites and the recruiters for job openings in programming. The feedback I got was that it would be very hard to get into one of those positions without a traditional CS degree. That CS degree opens the door to an internship, which opens the door to a well paying career.

I've been trying to self learn Python, I'm enjoying it. Its a fun hobby at this point, but I am wondering if it will be something that I could transition into a career. I'm really feeling like I won't be able to get into this field without a degree based on what everyone is telling me. Unless I'm extremely lucky and landing a software job, but so far I'm seeing "Need 4 year degree and internship OR 4 - 6 years work experience coding", only problem is I can't get that job without a degree or previous experience.

I just have a bad feeling about a lot of the programming bootcamps. I've noticed that a lot of colleges and state universities are offering a MS in CS online now.

Ranging in price from $6K a year to $20K a year. I've seen some big name Universities that are offering this, heres an example:
https://www.umassd.edu/extension/programs/msincomputersciencemscs/ University of Mass Dartmouth, Per 3 credit class is $2,007.

I've seen cheaper online ms degrees out there from less famous Universities.

My work will help pay for $3,000 a year for an accredited University tuition costs. 

I'm wondering if that would be a good move? I've got my foot in the door at my company, maybe getting a online MSCS degree would allow me to transition to an higher paying job that would lead to faster FIRE.

I've got my doubts though. I'd be looking at quite a bit more in student loans. I'm scared of that honestly.

I don't want a repeat of my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, where I graduated with lots of debt and every employer I've ran into has told me due to lack of experience and or they don't care about my degree, I won't be getting the job.

Would a cheaper CS degree from a less known school hurt my job prospects? Graduating from a small private non-profit that ended up shutting down had ended up being a horrible choice in the past for me.

Or should I just keep working my current job and pay down debt and not go to school?
I had a Business Mgmt degree, then got a CS degree (undergrad, not masters). I was already in the technology field, and the company had tuition assistance.

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iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 05:19:17 AM »
:)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 02:15:01 PM by iwanttobelive2 »

sokoloff

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 05:20:06 AM »
Whether you have a masterís degree, a bachelorís degree, or a few years of hobby programming, youíre still a junior programmer when you start. (In your case, a masterís and bachelorís are exactly the same to start.)

Trying to get into the industry with only strong hobby experience and no degree is a bit of luck required, but most jobs arenít strict on degrees. With weak hobby experience and no open source contributions will be tough. You might consider whether thereís an open source project that you could contribute towards. Itís unpaid, but the work is public and generally well-regarded (because an employer can see it and make a judgment on facts rather than an interview).

Iím not a big fan of boot camps, but in your case, a boot camp with a strong downstream placement record might be a good fit.

narrative

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 07:07:49 AM »
Have you checked out what kind of resources your local library offers for free? Our local library offers free access to lynda.com classes, and while they aren't exactly a boot camp there are lots of classes with different focuses that when completed and put on a resume show you are working to learn new skills.

Another option (depending on what exactly you want to do) is Udacity. I haven't looked at it in a year or two, so maybe it has changed, but the classes used to be free and then you paid if you wanted to get their "certificate" or whatever they call it. You can (or at least used to be able to) walk through the classes in your "nanodegree" for free and then pay the monthly fee at the end to submit all your projects. You might miss out on some of the features, but the cost would be far less than paying the monthly fee while you worked through all the classes.

Just throwing some ideas out there. Best of luck to you!


Bird In Hand

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 07:23:58 AM »
I've been trying to self learn Python, I'm enjoying it.  Its a fun hobby at this point, but I am wondering if it will be something that I could transition into a career.

Ok, step 1 is to continue and ramp-up your self-learning as a hobby.  You're doing something you enjoy now, and it might pay big dividends in the future.  Try to do something with what you've learned in Python.  How about creating a cool FIRE-related web app in Django or whatever the Python framework du jour is?  Then learn enough to build a straight HTML/CSS/Javascript web app in a topic that interests you.  Then pick another language, learn it, and use it to build something else that interests you.  Rinse and repeat.  Eventually you'll have a portfolio of cool stuff you've built.  Even if it doesn't lead to a programming career, it's badass because you've learned useful skills, built cool stuff, and had a blast doing it.

Quote
Ranging in price from $6K a year to $20K a year. I've seen some big name Universities that are offering this, heres an example:
https://www.umassd.edu/extension/programs/msincomputersciencemscs/ University of Mass Dartmouth, Per 3 credit class is $2,007.
...
My work will help pay for $3,000 a year for an accredited University tuition costs. 

IMO a MS probably doesn't make sense, but a BS could be helpful to get your foot in the door.  I might consider either if you can do it on the cheap.  If you don't have a strong CS background, I would expect a good MS program to be extremely challenging.  Do you have to take classes toward a degree in order to get the tuition assistance, or can you just take one-off courses that interest you?

Regardless of whether you get the degree, many companies will look askance at an applicant who segued into programming in his 30s, simply because it falls outside the norm.  Just expect that, and prepare to explain yourself.  A good (and true) story is that you've had a lifelong interest in programming, made what turned out to be a regretful decision in getting a business degree, and are returning to your true passion.  Buttressed with a portfolio of personal projects, possibly some open source contributions, and CS coursework (maybe a degree, maybe not), I think that story will give you some traction and help you get your foot into the door at the right company.

Quote
Or should I just keep working my current job and pay down debt and not go to school?

Certainly that's an option.  If you really ramp up the intensity of programming as your side hobby (and you enjoy it), you might find that your life feels more meaningful, and your job less dull.  Or maybe it will spark a fire in you that can't be extinguished, and that motivation will drive you to search tirelessly until you find a programming opportunity somewhere -- maybe even for less pay initially.

Lady SA

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 08:44:27 AM »
I don't know if a degree is necessary to get your foot in the door if you are willing to start at the bottom (which will still pay better than what you make now). If you begin building your portfolio and start contributing to public repos and joining local programming meetups (and network heavily with the engineers/programmers there), I think you can get in as a junior developer somewhere. For an example, last month, the engineering group I work with hired a former paralegal with zero professional or collegiate software experience, but had built his portfolio in the evenings and weekends on his own time. We hired him on as a junior because we were taking a risk, but it worked out really well. So he is proof that a lack of degree doesn't really mean something, as long as you develop in-demand skills that companies are searching high-and-low for.


formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 09:58:23 AM »
IMO a MS probably doesn't make sense, but a BS could be helpful to get your foot in the door.  I might consider either if you can do it on the cheap.  If you don't have a strong CS background, I would expect a good MS program to be extremely challenging.  Do you have to take classes toward a degree in order to get the tuition assistance, or can you just take one-off courses that interest you?

I know a LOT Of people who got an MS in computer science on top of a bachelor's degree in something else.  In many cases, these are foreign students who got their undergrad in their home countries and then get an MS in Comp Sci here to find an entry-level programming job. 

However, when you choose a program, find one that actually helps you find a job by connecting you with employers.  My university did this; my husband's smaller school only helped with resume writing and interview skills, and a lot of people had a hard time finding a job or internship.  (I know some graduates from his college who never found jobs in their field).   You don't want to load yourself with more debt and be unable to find a job.

Have you applied for or looked for any Business Analyst/Systems Analyst-type roles?  Your business background is perfect for this.  Perhaps pair that with a project management certification course, and you may be able to get into a junior BA role.   You'll need to really work your resume to highlight the general skills that you learned from your jobs (your undergrad school may be able to help you with that).

You should actually make sure your resume is highlighting those general skills anyway.  My husband worked as a mechanic for 20 years and just graduated with a bachelor's in IT.  He was able to find a job without a ton of IT experience because he focused on his other skillset - from working on cars he demonstrated excellence in troubleshooting, problem solving, training others, being self-motivated, etc.  Make sure that you are showing the valuable skills that you're gaining at your current job in a way that ties them into the job that you want.

Dave1442397

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 10:30:45 AM »
Have you applied for or looked for any Business Analyst/Systems Analyst-type roles?  Your business background is perfect for this.  Perhaps pair that with a project management certification course, and you may be able to get into a junior BA role.   You'll need to really work your resume to highlight the general skills that you learned from your jobs (your undergrad school may be able to help you with that).

You should actually make sure your resume is highlighting those general skills anyway.  My husband worked as a mechanic for 20 years and just graduated with a bachelor's in IT.  He was able to find a job without a ton of IT experience because he focused on his other skillset - from working on cars he demonstrated excellence in troubleshooting, problem solving, training others, being self-motivated, etc.  Make sure that you are showing the valuable skills that you're gaining at your current job in a way that ties them into the job that you want.

I agree - both very important points. My department is currently forced to work with recent offshore graduates, and there's maybe one out of twenty that can write decent code, and absolutely none that have any business sense.

Business Analysts are very important to our system. Being able to talk to clients, figure out what they need (as opposed to what they think they need) and then translating that into meaningful specs is not easy, and the people who are good at it are in demand.

I can deal with inexperienced people if they are logical thinkers with a good work ethic. People who ask questions and make note of the answers for next time are always a pleasure to work with.

Another thing you could look into is doing Python projects on the side - see sites like Upwork.com

https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/?q=python

nick663

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 10:36:39 AM »
I don't want a repeat of my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, where I graduated with lots of debt and every employer I've ran into has told me due to lack of experience and or they don't care about my degree, I won't be getting the job.
I don't have a Business Admin degree but I'm surprised to hear this.  We've hired more than a few people straight out of college with a BA degree and paid far better than what you're currently earning.  Data from payscale and other websites seems to back this:
https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Bachelor_of_Business_Administration_(BBA)/Salary

I would take the approach of finding out why you're experiencing below average results before investing more in a supplementary degree:
Have you tried applying outside your immediate job market?  Have you had someone look over your resume to make sure it's polished and putting your best foot forward?  Are you getting interviews?  Do you interview well?  Etc.

Goinganon

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 11:00:02 AM »
Have you looked into community college classes? They are cheap and many classes can be done entirely online. In addition, take a look at code.org. It started off mostly for beginners, but now even has college-level courses. At the very least, itís a good introduction.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 11:47:23 AM »
I know a LOT Of people who got an MS in computer science on top of a bachelor's degree in something else..

So do I, but the vast majority had undergrad degrees in mathematics, engineering, etc.  I'm just saying that a BS in business administration might be lacking in some important background material (especially mathematics) that a reputable MS program in CS would likely require as prerequisites anyway.

Samuel

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2018, 12:11:49 PM »

I would take the approach of finding out why you're experiencing below average results before investing more in a supplementary degree:
Have you tried applying outside your immediate job market?  Have you had someone look over your resume to make sure it's polished and putting your best foot forward?  Are you getting interviews?  Do you interview well?  Etc.

I second this. With a BS in Business and solid (if unrelated) work experience it seems like you should be able to get into some kind of office work role and out of the warehouse without a cut in pay (and quite possibly a bump up). Then you'd at least be building more relevant work experience, and nothing says you can't keep studying the coding in the evenings (might actually be easier with a less physically taxing job).

I totally get the frustration with the conservative HR gatekeepers who are hesitant to take a (perceived) risk on someone who is educated but unproven. I've been in a similar situation. Keep your head up and keep consistently trying new doors. I didn't have a particularly useful degree or any internships but eventually found my way into my current cushy mega corp job through a side door (a contract gig through a staffing company) and I know many others with a similar story. It's nearly impossible to predict where the good breaks will find you, but you have to meet them halfway with activity and preparation.

It's a huge leap from hobby coding to a very challenging, long and expensive masters program. Sounds a bit like you're swinging for the fences out of frustration. That makes me nervous.
 
I know a LOT Of people who got an MS in computer science on top of a bachelor's degree in something else..

So do I, but the vast majority had undergrad degrees in mathematics, engineering, etc.  I'm just saying that a BS in business administration might be lacking in some important background material (especially mathematics) that a reputable MS program in CS would likely require as prerequisites anyway.

I took a glance at the requirements of the program listed in the original post. "Students with a BS in a field other than Computer Science or Computer Engineering may be required to complete 4 fully online courses in computer science fundamentals that may be finished within one year." So best case scenario it's another years worth of prep classes before the actual masters program.




iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2018, 12:12:12 PM »
Thank you for the advice.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 02:15:35 PM by iwanttobelive2 »

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2018, 12:54:22 PM »
Have you looked into community college classes? They are cheap and many classes can be done entirely online. In addition, take a look at code.org. It started off mostly for beginners, but now even has college-level courses. At the very least, itís a good introduction.

I was going to post this very question.
I am a dinosaur when it comes to what the computer field needs now, I can only share what my son did (who is 32 now) He took 2 years at the local CC, and came out with a networking degree. With that, he got a job with a medical transcription company. If I remember right, he got paid $40,000 and this was 8-9 yrs ago. After a few years he quit, said he did not like the way the place was run ??? and got his name on a temp agencies list.  He ended up working at a hospital's IT dept. He made about 50,000/yr. but the hospital had to pay the temp it's share. They hired him permanently, made 65,000/ yr, and was told he could probably make more in other places. He switched to another hospital:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/epic-fu-money-stories/msg1822442/#msg1822442

He tells me he's very happy there, and will probably stay there awhile. He is now making about $75,000.

I would think coding is something community colleges are teaching now, plus maybe you could work at the same time?

« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 09:48:27 PM by TheWifeHalf »

Lan Mandragoran

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2018, 01:04:01 PM »
Pretty much just going to agree with everyone else here....

I'm not a programmer, but I am a Sys Admin that manages a bunch of pretty technical stuff.

My advice to myself would have been to stop going to school and start learning how to do stuff, get certifications if its relevant or in your case maybe a portfolio of cool stuff you've built.

Then get a crappy job, do something awesome or two (even if its just something you can brag about that's only halfway awesome), if you don't get a promotion in a year or so, find a new job. Aquire more skills, get promoted/find a new job. Rinse/repeat until you make whatever is reasonably high or you are satisfied. Pretty simple :P its worked for me so far at least.

mozar

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2018, 02:14:08 PM »
Agree with everyone. Here are some concrete steps I posted somewhere else.

Try Freecodecamp.org people have gotten hired after finishing it.
If you do a bootcamp do one that has a paid internship attached. This will differentiate you from all the other boot camp graduates who just did the boot camp and have no real experience.
Start participating in Github. You can participate in other people's projects and get real time feedback. Employers are also sometimes interested in this as it can serve as a resume.
You can get certificates online from the Harvard Extension school and MIT that will have Intro to CS, and other classes you can take on Udacity and Edx.

There are different types of IT jobs with lots of different salary ranges.
a. UX designer - 20-30k a year
b. Front end developer (html, css, javascript) 30-40k a year
c. Back end developer (databases/algorithms) 40k+
d. machine learning/ natural language processing (this is where the crazy money is right now) 75k+

There are websites that can help you learn how to whiteboard which is important for back end developer interviews
Join your local meetup (meetup.com), I have ones for front end/ back end etc and they have regular classes and a slack channel where they post jobs

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2018, 02:37:32 PM »
Agree with everyone. Here are some concrete steps I posted somewhere else.

Try Freecodecamp.org people have gotten hired after finishing it.
If you do a bootcamp do one that has a paid internship attached. This will differentiate you from all the other boot camp graduates who just did the boot camp and have no real experience.
Start participating in Github. You can participate in other people's projects and get real time feedback. Employers are also sometimes interested in this as it can serve as a resume.
You can get certificates online from the Harvard Extension school and MIT that will have Intro to CS, and other classes you can take on Udacity and Edx.

There are different types of IT jobs with lots of different salary ranges.
a. UX designer - 20-30k a year
b. Front end developer (html, css, javascript) 30-40k a year
c. Back end developer (databases/algorithms) 40k+
d. machine learning/ natural language processing (this is where the crazy money is right now) 75k+

There are websites that can help you learn how to whiteboard which is important for back end developer interviews
Join your local meetup (meetup.com), I have ones for front end/ back end etc and they have regular classes and a slack channel where they post jobs

Thanks. I'll look into.. Does coding really pay that low for A and B? I'm making more than that or at the same level right now.

I'm slowly chugging away at my debt and slowly saving at my current income. I agree with everyone going back to school might not be the best path. I don't want more student loans.

mozar

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2018, 03:06:37 PM »
Yep, better to know now than later right? There is probably more earning potential in the long run than you have now though. You can look at craigslist/indeed etc for job postings in your area.

FIREby35

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2018, 03:16:34 PM »
I have a question, where do you live? I live in a state with very low unemployment and in a vibrant city. It seems to me that in my city, anyone who can show up to work on time can find a job. Perhaps you location is part of the problem?

Have you ever considered starting a business? I know not everyone is an entrepreneur but it has the advantage of not need to ask anyone else for a raise, you just go get it yourself. BTW, I'd think of a traditional business. You could mow lawns for more than 30k a year - seriously. You do have a business degree. Why not do business but for yourself?

Just a couple thoughts. Good luck to you.

sokoloff

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2018, 04:45:12 PM »
There are different types of IT jobs with lots of different salary ranges.
a. UX designer - 20-30k a year
b. Front end developer (html, css, javascript) 30-40k a year
c. Back end developer (databases/algorithms) 40k+
d. machine learning/ natural language processing (this is where the crazy money is right now) 75k+

There are websites that can help you learn how to whiteboard which is important for back end developer interviews
Join your local meetup (meetup.com), I have ones for front end/ back end etc and they have regular classes and a slack channel where they post jobs
Thanks. I'll look into.. Does coding really pay that low for A and B? I'm making more than that or at the same level right now.
We're paying fresh college grads $100K (Boston area). That's starting salary for any of a-c, with seniors making more than double that.

I don't think most UX, front end, or back end developers in the US would get out of bed for the figures listed above, nor do they need to.

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2018, 04:52:21 PM »
There are different types of IT jobs with lots of different salary ranges.
a. UX designer - 20-30k a year
b. Front end developer (html, css, javascript) 30-40k a year
c. Back end developer (databases/algorithms) 40k+
d. machine learning/ natural language processing (this is where the crazy money is right now) 75k+

There are websites that can help you learn how to whiteboard which is important for back end developer interviews
Join your local meetup (meetup.com), I have ones for front end/ back end etc and they have regular classes and a slack channel where they post jobs
Thanks. I'll look into.. Does coding really pay that low for A and B? I'm making more than that or at the same level right now.
We're paying fresh college grads $100K (Boston area). That's starting salary for any of a-c, with seniors making more than double that.

I don't think most UX, front end, or back end developers in the US would get out of bed for the figures listed above, nor do they need to.
Whats your opinion on going back to get a Masters in Computer Science online?

Hargrove

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2018, 07:24:26 PM »
You don't need a degree. It's obsolete as soon as you get it. Given how obsessed tech is with certs these days, it's about proving you can do x thing instead of looking like you can do things generally.

Do stuff like Free Code Camp. Interview people with the jobs before you need any - what would a hiring manager want? What certs would best help you get there? Do you live in an area with a good enough tech hub?

The problem with some tech/programming jobs is that the people who desperately need you have no idea how much they need you, and want to pay you peanuts (those are the jobs you learn to refuse). Jobs that know what you're worth, on the other hand, may ruthlessly remind you how many certs you're missing.

But yeah, I disagree with the lowball numbers. Help desk techies can get 30k+. You should definitely be able to hit 50k in a year or two if you're picking up certs and designing or administrating.

My warning: you seem to want to "have arrived." Programming is not about having arrived. It's about constantly updating your programming. CONSTANTLY. You can't get a degree and "be there." Think about whether constant learning and self-improvement projects sound like a good time to you (that said, many jobs pay you to learn on the job if your other tasks are done).

Bartleby_the_Scrivener

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2018, 08:10:57 PM »
You don't need a degree. It's obsolete as soon as you get it. Given how obsessed tech is with certs these days, it's about proving you can do x thing instead of looking like you can do things generally. ...

But yeah, I disagree with the lowball numbers. Help desk techies can get 30k+. You should definitely be able to hit 50k in a year or two if you're picking up certs and designing or administrating.

+1

I've seen a pretty good amount of people start low on the help desk, get promoted in a few years, and end up as system administrators or project managers. It does take some initiative (i.e. proposing and working on side projects without being asked), but that seems to be a good way up the ladder.

On a side note, from what I've observed, IT people increase their salaries by moving from company to company every few years if they're not promoted.

Short version: there are probably better ways of doing what you want to do than dropping more money on a degree.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: June 13, 2019, 08:29:54 PM by Bartleby_the_Scrivener »

sokoloff

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2018, 05:50:14 AM »
We're paying fresh college grads $100K (Boston area). That's starting salary for any of a-c, with seniors making more than double that.

I don't think most UX, front end, or back end developers in the US would get out of bed for the figures listed above, nor do they need to.
Whats your opinion on going back to get a Masters in Computer Science online?
Fairly low in the general case. Like @Hargrove says, the industry evolves quickly and a generalized masterís degree (in comp sci) isnít gong to make as much difference to your career as it does in other, slower changing fields.

In your specific case, it may help shape the narrative youíre trying to change and make it clear that your committed to changing course from driver/lifter to programmer. An online masterís from University of Phoenix or whatever the latest equivalent of ITT/Devry isnít going to do it, but a masterís from a tier 1 (or high tier 2) college is going to help cast your resume in a much more positive light than today. But, so would a boot camp or substantial/sustained open source contributions.

Your problem seems to be transmitting confidence into resume screeners and hiring managers that youíre a strong candidate. Part of that is general work ethic (will show up and work hard) but the part that you seem to be missing is substantial experience. You can try the help desk route (some of my best employees came through our equivalent of that route). You can try the ďtake any entry levelĒ programming job route. You can try the credential route (accredited masterís, boot camp, or industry cert route). Itís going to take work on your part (because this is a field where you will be competing against candidates who have been doing this for 4-10 years by the time they apply for their first job), but this is also a field that is very much about what you can DO, not what pedigree or sheepskin you have. The sheepskin at best only helps get you into the interview room.

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2018, 08:24:07 AM »
Have you looked into community college classes? They are cheap and many classes can be done entirely online. In addition, take a look at code.org. It started off mostly for beginners, but now even has college-level courses. At the very least, itís a good introduction.

I don't think I'm a beginner, I feel like I've moved past that. But at the same time building a running Tensor Flow example is kind where I struggle at the moment. I still have to look back at my past example code and or google things to make something new.

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2018, 08:25:44 AM »
Have you checked out what kind of resources your local library offers for free? Our local library offers free access to lynda.com classes, and while they aren't exactly a boot camp there are lots of classes with different focuses that when completed and put on a resume show you are working to learn new skills.



My employer just started offering free lynda.com access. I just signed up today, I'll see what they offer.

goatmom

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2018, 01:27:18 PM »
There are some bootcamps that are free and you pay back a portion of your first year salary.  Not sure if you are part of an underrepresented group in coding - if so - there are other scholarships available at these bootcamps.  I know several people that have recently completed bootcamps.  All three are making more than $75,000 a year.  This was after about 6 months and about 15,000 invested.  The one that is making $100,000 went to one of the free bootcamps where he has to pay back based on first year salary.  Best of luck!

sokoloff

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2018, 02:02:02 PM »
Have you looked into community college classes? They are cheap and many classes can be done entirely online. In addition, take a look at code.org. It started off mostly for beginners, but now even has college-level courses. At the very least, itís a good introduction.

I don't think I'm a beginner, I feel like I've moved past that.
I beg to differ, based on what you say in your opening post:
I've been interested in Coding for a while. I've just never taken it past a hobby. I used to make games in BASIC when I was kid. I took at class on HTML in the early days of the internet, but nothing went past that. I wanted to be an engineer when I went to college but the lack of requirement math classes and extra time it would take to finish them setting me back from graduating, I ended up going the fastest degree I could get, Business. Which due to a bad economy and my location ensured that I was going to be unemployable when I graduated. I've thought about going back to college for Computer Science.

But I kind of feel like programming and coding right now is a gold rush.

I've been trying to self learn Python, I'm enjoying it. Its a fun hobby at this point, but I am wondering if it will be something that I could transition into a career.
That's full-on beginner territory when it comes to coding as a professional engineer. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Everyone is a beginner at some point.)

nick663

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2018, 04:43:47 PM »
It's a huge leap from hobby coding to a very challenging, long and expensive masters program. Sounds a bit like you're swinging for the fences out of frustration. That makes me nervous.
This is what concerns me as well.  From what I have seen with friends the CS field is highly competitive and difficult to enter.  I worry that if the OP has not gotten value out of an undergrad like business admin he won't have much luck in the CS job market.

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #30 on: July 06, 2018, 06:55:05 PM »
It's a huge leap from hobby coding to a very challenging, long and expensive masters program. Sounds a bit like you're swinging for the fences out of frustration. That makes me nervous.
This is what concerns me as well.  From what I have seen with friends the CS field is highly competitive and difficult to enter.  I worry that if the OP has not gotten value out of an undergrad like business admin he won't have much luck in the CS job market.

That's why I was coming on here, for a reality check. What would you suggest (Trying to get a variety of opinions)? Understanding that this quite might be impossible. Overall I'm kind of the opinion that going back to get a Masters is probably not the best idea.
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That really if I want any possible chance of getting into Coding as a career I just need to work on it. Putting more examples in my github, contributing to open source projects, using online resources to help learn more advanced coding (Freecodecamp, Lynda, Udemy, ect). Even then its still a small chance of success. But still something I want to try.

sokoloff

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2018, 04:26:28 AM »
That really if I want any possible chance of getting into Coding as a career I just need to work on it. Putting more examples in my github, contributing to open source projects, using online resources to help learn more advanced coding (Freecodecamp, Lynda, Udemy, ect). Even then its still a small chance of success. But still something I want to try.
Becoming a pop star or professional athlete is a small chance of success.

Getting full time employment as a computer programmer if you're skilled and experienced at programming and even the least bit flexible is a virtual certainty I think.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #32 on: July 09, 2018, 09:17:26 AM »
What is the market like where you live or plan to live (if you are relocating)?  Have you looked through all of the job boards (indeed, dice.com, monster, careerbuilder, ziprecruiter, linkedin) to see what types of entry-level coding positions exist and what qualifications they are asking for?  That will help you determine whether this is feasible to do on your own and point you towards which languages you need to focus on and which techniques you will need to pick up.

thesis

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #33 on: July 09, 2018, 09:46:16 AM »
 Non-CS major here.

Getting started is tough, it really is. Even just being more junior and being laid off can land you in a very difficult position. Your greatest hedge against this is simply knowing your stuff. Know your language, know your framework, and maybe read a book on passing coding interviews. The process is horribly inefficient, but sometimes you just have to play the game. Granted, I didn't pass several job interviews because I didn't actually know the material, hence why now I stress this so much. It may be difficult, but you can find people who will take a chance on you (assuming your location has sufficient demand), but you'd better know the material when the time comes.

Building open source is good for this. I'd say a FIRE calculator may be helpful for learning, but remember your audience. If you've been struggling through warehouse work and you're going to tell a business that you built a FIRE calculator, just imagine the reaction. Build it to learn, but maybe build something relevant to the particular industry that you are applying for. That will raise some questions and get more people interested.

Best of luck to you, it is tough. Also, IT has more certifications than programming. Even getting into a data entry job and knowing some SQL or VBA might help you get your foot in the door. Don't overlook technical jobs that aren't specifically programming jobs. Again, be useful to an employer. Being useful in programming often means knowing 5+ languages and having experience. You may not have that yet, so shooting for programming jobs that require 4+ years of experience is going to waste your time and the time of others and is going to depress you. Shoot lower if you need, take advantage of every opportunity to learn and apply new skills. Build an Access database to track your warehouse productivity or store logistics information. Get fancy with this, really build it out, then graduate to your own desktop application, etc. Use your current roles as leverage


ketchup

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #35 on: July 09, 2018, 10:47:22 AM »
But yeah, I disagree with the lowball numbers. Help desk techies can get 30k+. You should definitely be able to hit 50k in a year or two if you're picking up certs and designing or administrating.
This is exactly what I did.  I got pulled into the IT department of a company I was already working at as a lab tech.  They put me at 30k rising to 42k over the next few years, then a month ago bumped up to 50k when my old boss left and I took over his job (and I know I'll get another big bump once I prove that I can actually do this shit).

I'd always been a "computer guy" but had no formal training and certainly no degree, just enough know-how to get started and seized an opportunity.  I'm not saying everyone can emulate what I did exactly, but you have more options than dropping a bunch of time and money on more schooling.

JLee

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2018, 10:48:53 AM »
But yeah, I disagree with the lowball numbers. Help desk techies can get 30k+. You should definitely be able to hit 50k in a year or two if you're picking up certs and designing or administrating.
This is exactly what I did.  I got pulled into the IT department of a company I was already working at as a lab tech.  They put me at 30k rising to 42k over the next few years, then a month ago bumped up to 50k when my old boss left and I took over his job (and I know I'll get another big bump once I prove that I can actually do this shit).

I'd always been a "computer guy" but had no formal training and certainly no degree, just enough know-how to get started and seized an opportunity.

Same here. Entry level $33k in 2012. Five promotions in three years, a new company/offer, another nearly three years there and I'm on track for about $117k this year. I have an AA in "general studies."

I did move to a HCOL area for this job, but it took me from $61k to over $100k so was well worth the tradeoff.

ketchup

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #37 on: July 09, 2018, 11:04:12 AM »
But yeah, I disagree with the lowball numbers. Help desk techies can get 30k+. You should definitely be able to hit 50k in a year or two if you're picking up certs and designing or administrating.
This is exactly what I did.  I got pulled into the IT department of a company I was already working at as a lab tech.  They put me at 30k rising to 42k over the next few years, then a month ago bumped up to 50k when my old boss left and I took over his job (and I know I'll get another big bump once I prove that I can actually do this shit).

I'd always been a "computer guy" but had no formal training and certainly no degree, just enough know-how to get started and seized an opportunity.

Same here. Entry level $33k in 2012. Five promotions in three years, a new company/offer, another nearly three years there and I'm on track for about $117k this year. I have an AA in "general studies."

I did move to a HCOL area for this job, but it took me from $61k to over $100k so was well worth the tradeoff.
It really seems to be the trend with people in IT.  A sysadmin guy I hired a few weeks ago got his foot in the door in the 90s when he was working as a mechanic at a car dealer.  He was the only one who could "do the computers" and things just went from there.  No degree, but lots of certs for him.

redbird

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #38 on: July 09, 2018, 12:06:08 PM »
My husband got a masters in CompSci for more money reasons. He had a BS in Finance before that. Something I want to point out is that he had to take some math and computer classes (basically 1 full-time semester's worth) before he was allowed into the computer science masters program, because the university felt like the courses he took for his finance degree wasn't enough. Luckily for him, his job paid for both those classes and the master's program. It was directly job-related since he was working in a coding position at the time so it was super easy for him to justify it to HR. The only thing the job wouldn't pay for was the textbooks, so it wasn't too bad.

The point of this story is just to say that you may also have to take some additional classes before you're allowed into a comp sci masters program just because your degree is "only" business and may not have enough qualifying credits. So that will be an additional cost for you if you can't get a job or loan to pay for it.

BlueMR2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2018, 11:31:24 AM »
It really seems to be the trend with people in IT.  A sysadmin guy I hired a few weeks ago got his foot in the door in the 90s when he was working as a mechanic at a car dealer.  He was the only one who could "do the computers" and things just went from there.  No degree, but lots of certs for him.

Self study and a cert seems to be the way to go.  Having it as a hobby and no cert is doable in smaller businesses, but a cert goes a long way in big business.  From what I've seen so far, coding camps aren't the best option.  Too many people getting pumped out of them that just aren't good for much other than simple tasks.  College courses will certainly expose you to more useful concepts that will help you learning new technology faster than those that are purely self-taught, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of impact on getting that first job.  A Masters appears to make it even harder to get a job for someone starting out.  I really can't recommend taking on that kind of debt only to make it harder to get the job (even though you'd be more well prepared for it).

iwanttobelive2

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2018, 07:25:03 PM »
Thank you for the advice.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 02:16:11 PM by iwanttobelive2 »

mozar

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2018, 08:08:49 PM »
Quote
All the feedback I'm getting about trying to move into software is that I'd need to be a young grad fresh out of a good state University and that going back to get Masters in CS with my background would most likely be a waste of time and not get me a job.

Not all the feedback. You got a lot of great advice on this thread. I know it's hard when people irl are telling you things. It sounds like they don't know much. I promise that the advice you are getting on this forum is far superior than what joe schmo co-worker will tell you. Have you considered moving? I live in the DC area and their are so many employers looking for your skillsets.

katsiki

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #42 on: August 19, 2018, 08:40:33 PM »
Small update. I've been exhausted the amount of jobs open at my place of work that involve anything related to excel, sql and anything remotely similar to my Business Degree, I've had 100% rejection (I've been applying for over a year at this point for various positions with my current company). I've gotten feedback and I've been told I'm just not qualified enough and my experience doesn't look that great. I graduated college 5 years ago and I've only been able to find work doing Warehouse labor work. There's no path to move up as far as I can tell. All the feedback I'm getting about trying to move into software is that I'd need to be a young grad fresh out of a good state University and that going back to get Masters in CS with my background would most likely be a waste of time and not get me a job. I'm being told Self taught isn't even being considered for most companies, especially my current one. I've tried reaching out to many different people about this. I guess that's just the reality of things at this point in time. I'll need to figure out another path to take I guess.

Are you also applying to jobs outside of your current employer?  If not, why not?

Did you ever indicate your state or region?  You might get more targeted help if you did.

I wonder if your current company is the problem (hence my first question), or if there is something else going on with your approach.

Good luck in any case!


bryan995

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2018, 09:12:45 PM »
It sounds to me that either your current location or current employer may be hindering things.

I think the best path may be to try to get a job in IT (look anywhere in the country), and then slowly move up to more and more software engineering (if that is where your interests lie).  It is a very natural path with generally a lower bar for entry.  Lots of companies will even pay to relocate you.  But of course, without experience and/or being fresh out of college it will be much harder, but not impossible !

Personally I don't think that going back for a MS in comp science is terrible idea.  In fact, I think it could give you the fresh start you are looking for.  You are absolutely right that comp sci is a gold rush right now, anything tech in fact.  But of course, most of the gold is in Silicon Valley and Seattle.  You need to be willing to relocate.

How much $ and how long for you to get a MS (sorry if you posted above)?  I read the you may not be able to take out loans ... not sure how best to handle that.  Others will have ideas.  But I think you need to somehow find a way to make this work.  It is certainly possible to dive into this field without any formal training, but it is difficult.  You would need to somehow demonstrate the quality of your work and have public, documented experience (repositories on GitHub + high level contributions, compete in kaggle-type competitions, have documented contractor work etc).

After a MS, I think you could start to apply all across the country.  You would be viewed as an entry level, fresh grad candidate without needing to have previous work experience.  You can also start looking for internships.  Many are paid, but of course, most are generally only open to current students, BS, MS or PHD level.  If you can start the MS, you can then go down the internship route.  Its a great IN to a company, most are more than willing to hire the interns after graduating assuming good performance / feedback.  Think of it as a paid 3-month long interview.

If you can relocate to a HCOL area with a fresh MS, I think you could be making 70K+, in IT.  100K+ if you can get in as entry level software engineer/ data scientist.   New grads from top schools (MIT, Stanford) are making 200K+ in FANG level companies (facebook, apple, netflix, google).  But these are top of line students, who know the field extremely well.  Check out https://leetcode.com for common programming interview questions.  These are normal for the higher paid SWE (software engineer) positions.  Practicing here is never a bad thing!  And check this (https://www.levels.fyi/?compare=Facebook,Amazon,Google&track=Software%20Engineer) for levels and salaries at tech companies. Keep in mind the competition at these companies is intense, but a few years of practice and dedication and anyone can be there.

best of luck - will follow this.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 08:25:30 AM by bryan995 »

gerardc

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #44 on: August 19, 2018, 11:47:44 PM »
Have you looked into community college classes? They are cheap and many classes can be done entirely online. In addition, take a look at code.org. It started off mostly for beginners, but now even has college-level courses. At the very least, itís a good introduction.

I don't think I'm a beginner, I feel like I've moved past that. But at the same time building a running Tensor Flow example is kind where I struggle at the moment. I still have to look back at my past example code and or google things to make something new.

I'm a senior software engineer at a big tech company and I always google things and copy paste code from elsewhere when starting a new file (for example). Also setting up a TF environment or just understanding a model can be complicated. Coding takes time, it's normal. The only thing that matters is being able to come up with a working product in the end.

A lot of tutorials are overly complicated and will make you feel bad. I think learning by projects is best and will give you more useful practical skills, and confidence in your own abilities. But different people learn differently.

Imma

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Re: Feel stuck, making $30K. Should I get a Masters in Computer Science?
« Reply #45 on: August 20, 2018, 03:16:17 AM »
Are you active on LinkedIn? I'm asking you because I am, and I work for an IT-company in a non-IT role. I have an undergrad in a non--IT field. I get approached by recruiters about twice a week asking me if I'm interested in doing a (paid) traineeship where they'll teach me coding and get me a job as a Business Analyst / Consultant / etc. I am not interested in that at all, but in my area there seems to be a very big shortage of people with a Business / Finance-type background and some interest in computers.

I would also sit down with your manager for a serious conversation. I have started out my career in very low paid temp roles during the Great Recession as well, so I know what it was like. Still, my talent was recognized in these companies pretty quickly. That doesn't mean that they immediately promoted me to a well-paid job, but I was able to add some extra responsabilities to those jobs. I was hired as a receptionist at one place and ended up covering a maternity leave in the office. I was hired to work at a copy machine 40 hours a week and ended up doing admin, etc, etc. Even when they couldn't offer me a well-paid job, they were able to give me some extra learning opportunities.

If you are working as a labourer / driver and you have a college degree, it's only natural to evolve to a become a leader among your peers, to be the guy who makes the schedule or talks to the boss about problems you're encountering, to evolve to a become a foreperson or supervisor. If that hasn't happened in this workplace or other places you've worked at, maybe you need to sit down with your manager and seriously ask them if there's something about you (or your behaviour, or certain skills) why you don't seem to be able to progress.

I think it's also relevant where you are: are you in a city or in a very rural area? What is the jobmarket like? I understand you don't want to mention the exact place, but mentioning the area or state would help. A lot of people are on MMM and the ones I've met so far are really nice and helpful. Who knows, your future employer might be reading this.