Author Topic: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?  (Read 7259 times)

misterdirector1

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Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« on: March 16, 2015, 06:10:56 PM »
I know there are many Mustachians who are/were developers of software or websites. I like working hard but hate working to make other people rich. I'd love to hear your opinion on whether dev would be a good line of work for someone with my background/goals.

At 24 years, I'm one of many millennials recently out of school with little-to-no marketable skills (an art degree but at least Uncle Sam paid for it). I think I have the constitution for coding because I'm enjoying the limited troubleshooting in my entry-level support job. Also, like many Mustachians, I love micromanagement and streamlining efficient processes/systems. I think it would be a good complement to my existing creative skills as well. As I job search, development jobs (both web and app/software) seem to be ubiquitous and well-paying.

Optimally, I would like to design my life to include the following, most of which are interconnected:
1. Self employment (business owner or contractor)
2. Location independence. In this case, the freedom not to move. I would like to own a home in a medium-sized city (~100,000) and not have to worry about running out of employers. I believe remote internet jobs would be good for this lifestyle and there seem to be many remote developer gigs.
3. I'm hoping the remote/contract jobs will allow me time for my life. Ideally I'd like to work hard 20-30 hours a week instead of working 40+ and spending most of the time looking like I'm busy.
4. Finally, I want to make enough money to get a good 'stache going--keeping my student lifestyle and living in a medium city, that means at least $50,000/year

Do these goals seem realistic to achieve in the next 3-5 years? Anyone doing something similar? General advice for the industry? Could I have all this from a single employer instead of contract work (which I'm assuming is tiring to chase down)?

RFAAOATB

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2015, 06:25:17 PM »
I went from 0 to $60k in three years as a public service programmer.  You may have to settle for the big tech hubs of your location which are typically the larger cities or state capitals.  You will most likely have standard full time hours with limited to no overtime.  Pick up a beginning C#.NET book, download Visual Studio, and see if you can get through most of it without losing your mind.  Then create as interesting a project you can and look for the most junior programmer job you can find.  Bring the source code to your interview, get hired, and work your way up from there.

iamlindoro

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 06:28:34 PM »
OK, so let me say that I love being a self employed developer, and it is undoubtedly *good* money, it is far from "easy" money.  There are a lot of things to take into account here, and a lot of different paths by which people become self employed developers.  It's possible that the rare few have both light workload and plenty of money, but at least at first, finding legitimate high paying contract work is HARD. 

Let me step back a few years.  First off, I have about 20 years of experience in the IT field, and over a decade of that as a developer.  I worked for most of that time as a regular W2 employee.  This is my first point:  Being paid well (or hired at all) as a developer requires credibility.  You develop credibility over time, and there's no way to skip to the front of the queue.  You command a high salary because you bring a breadth of experience that others lack, not just by virtue of the job title you put on your resume. 

This also plays into my second point:  You need to build relationships.  At least at first, and probably for a long time thereafter, you will get your best work through professional relationships you have built by showing others what you can do, and being easy to work with.  This, again, requires that you put in the time to build these things.  Often, it will mean being flexible and willing to go the extra mile-- but people remember who was easy to work with and relentlessly optimistic just as much as they remember their credentials.

Third, enough work to make a real go of it takes time.  Even with credibility, relationships, and the skill to back up your work, it still may take months or years of slogging at it before the pipeline starts to fill up.  It'll be some small one off jobs here or there after six months of looking, or a half time thing balanced with your W2 job, or whatever, but it will very likely take time.

The summary of my thoughts above is that most people who want to be highly paid developers working on more or less their own terms need to first earn the right to do so.  There are exceptions to every rule and I'm sure there are some people out there who fell into a viable self employed situation with little to no skill or effort.  Generally speaking, though, you are a business owner and that means taking responsibility for busting your ass all day, every day, odd hours, on the customers terms, and usually as someone else's employee for a good while, before you can make a go of it by yourself.  Alternately, this means innovating from the ground up on your own, which while certainly possible, is not where I've made my money and carries more inherent risk.

Don't take this as discouragement, though.  I freaking love it.  I recently got what a few years ago I would have considered an impossible-to-pass-up W2 offer, and had to negotiate the ability to work it as 1099 because I don't want to give up the tax and retirement benefits of self employed status.  I don't have all the flexibility you mentioned; I live in a high COL area and pretty much have to stay here and make the occasional appearance in an office, but I'm also saving at a rate that a same-pay W2 developer couldn't hope to match due to tax benefits and retirement vehicles that only the self employed can... employ.  I just think you're probably in for a few years of groundwork first.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 06:36:43 PM by iamlindoro »

seattleite

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 09:31:45 PM »
I agree with everything iamlindoro said. Great answer. I'd like to add some of my own experience to it.

You can indeed become an independent developer on your own, but it might take longer to break into the well-paying jobs than if you worked as a W2 employee for someone first. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong (I'm very ignorant of the world of contracting)

Since you don't already have a CS degree from a well-known university you'll need to make up for it with some sort of portfolio that others could see (e.g. websites they can use, apps they can download from the app store). And this of course assumes that you've already learned how to write software, which I'll get to further down in this post.

You said you "hate working to make other people rich". Unfortunately, if you end up as a W2 employee doing programming you will be making people very rich with your skills. When I was working for my former employer (a very well know tech company) one team did an estimate that every engineer on that team added (or saved) $2M in revenue for the company. And this was 15 years ago so the engineers were probably being "only" paid $80k with maybe a total cost to the employer of $200k. So the employer made 10x what they paid for the employee. But another way to look at it was that "kids" a few years out of college were making $80k.

My advice is to take a look at http://programmers.stackexchange.com and http://stackoverflow.com. There are some amazing resources for learning how to write software online nowadays. I could go on for hours about this, but let me leave by just saying this: Learning how to code isn't the only prerequisite to one of these jobs or contracts, you also need to know how to apply your coding skills to solve problems.

gergg

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2015, 09:52:53 PM »
You may need to work in an office for 2-3 years in an entry level developer role.  After that, remote/flexible developer jobs aren't that hard to come by.  I'm a developer at a large well known company (household name).  My entire team is full time remote - I don't even have a desk in the office building.  This affords me the flexibility to schedule my time however I want but gives the stability of a salaried position.

Ricky

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2015, 09:56:55 PM »
The path to freelance development from 0 to hero in a short amount of time is going to be a challenging, but not impossible endeavor. I'm in a similar situation though I don't currently care whether the work initially comes from salary of freelance, I only care about getting any and all of the experience I can. iamlindoro mentioned credibility and this is true. Getting your hands dirty is the only way to move up.

If you are totally against working for someone then you're gonna have to build some stuff on your own and be motivated.

Syonyk

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 09:57:52 PM »
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, once you have the skills, portfolio, relationships, and expertise in the "weird stuff" that commands money because very few other people can do it.

And that second half of the answer takes years.

You can probably get decent enough to bring home some money in 6 months or a year of focused effort, but finding the right people is key, and being willing to put up with crap work is a good way to build your reputation.

Also, please, please, understand security, because most self-taught developers are utterly terrible at it.  I mean, I'm fine with that, since security keeps me paid nicely, but get good at it.

deborah

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 01:43:30 AM »
Yes you can earn a lot. But there aren't that many with the skills to earn a lot. There aren't that many with the ability to gain the skills (there are a lot of people out there who write absolutely awful code).

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, 06:50:52 AM »
There isn't easy money.  If there was, everyone would do it.

But if you can code really well, then there is good money in it.

BlueBeard

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 07:55:00 AM »
Candidates are limited and companies tend to hire anyone. I have been unfortunate enough to work with many of the unskilled. Somehow they keep getting jobs. Easy money.

scottish

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 08:19:27 AM »
I think it's pretty easy money, but then I really like my work.

It seems to me that a lot of competent folks run into problems after 5-10 years.  What happens is that they understand the whole business better than their management, who often screw things up.  Some managers are the exception to this, but it's not too common.   I didn't clue in to how widespread this was until I was having lunch with a former colleague, and she brought up the topic.  Dr Doom has a whole series of blog posts about this on his web site:   http://livingafi.com/2014/06/13/the-job-experience-tech-support-year-1/

My experience has been that you either 1.  learn to deal with this effectively, 2. become inured to it and don't care, or 3. get fed up and get out.  I'm curious what other people have experienced though...

Christopher.Pfohl

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 08:19:46 AM »
No one else has mentioned this, but there is a small, but significant, part of programming that you either have or don't have. Trying to learn is cheap, valuable, and enlightening, however, and in your case would let you know if you are one of the few that has the (not always positive) character traits that makes a good programmer. I'd try out some courses online (treehouse, khan academy, or udacity) and see if you can successfully put together a small website. You're an artist, so make a portfolio showcasing your work, try and sell prints perhaps, it doesn't matter as long as the site is non-trivial.

To make really impressive money in software requires a lot of experience. Looking for $50k a year for 20 hours a week ($100k amortized) just won't happen without that lots of experience. $50k a year w/ 30 hours a week ($66,666 amortized) is achievable for a good entry level person.

As another side note: A lot of companies don't hire remote workers who haven't either a) already worked remotely successfully, or b) worked out of their office.  Be prepared to move to the office for a few years, work 40+ hours a week and you'll have an infinitely higher shot at having your boss allow you to cut back to 30 hours and allow you to work remotely.

What the others are saying about contracting is true: you need a good rep, and the best way to build that is to have a 9-5 for a while.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 08:36:25 AM »
Anything is easy money if you're good at it, you like it, and someone will pay for it.

jjcamembert

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 11:33:28 AM »
Keep in mind that there are already lots of programmers available in 3rd-world countries willing to work for what westerners consider "small change." So as far as broadly advertising for remote jobs you are going to be in a very competitive market. Like others have said, to combat that you need to focus on real relationships and narrow your skill set. In my experience even just applying to regular jobs being a "good programmer" isn't enough; it's more about what technology you work with, or what specific kind of software you make. Look at job listings and you'll see all kinds of programmers: front-end, back-end, database, full-stack, etc. The closer you match one of those specific roles the easier it is to get hired.

I'd also recommend trying to start with entry-level 9-5. I was self-taught and thought I was pretty good at programming, but working with a team of professionals taught me how to write more understandable, maintainable, "pretty" code. I have at several points in my career gone full-time remote for my employer. All it took was proving my worth first, mitigating their perceived risks, and finally asking. But I actually quit my last full-time remote for a job where I'm in the office everyday because I enjoy the work I'm doing here more; if you don't get to be creative and stop learning in any job it's not going to be fun anymore!

hdatontodo

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 03:16:14 PM »
and sometime the work can be easy but the hours are not like in the following website migration from server to server. I wrote a unix shell script that read in a list of website IP addresses on a server, did a bunch of verifications, and then created scripts to run on the source and destination servers to disable the IPs/virtual-interfaces on the source and create them on the destination. It took me some days to write the script, and the execution time for each phase was under a minute.

However, the customer was doing a 6 server migration of 400 websites in different groups at different times over a 3 day weekend with a large, multi-shift team. So, I had to spend a minute to run my scripts about every 3 - 6 hours over those 3 days as each group of websites was being moved. Plus we had website-monitoring changes. That left me with no free time and interrupted sleep. (They didn't want to run it themselves in case something went wrong, and since they were focusing on the website content.)

So what I had to do was easy, and I did get some hours of OT that weekend, but it left me w/o a life. Also, I remember days about 20 years ago of working so long that I had to tape mouse-pads on the arms of my chairs since I was getting sore. I also slept on the floor of my cube some nights back then, writing a Windows software/DB installation program that hadn't been assigned a resource even though the ship date was approaching.

All the customer website migration folks were contractors out of India.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 03:19:07 PM by hdatontodo »

ShaneD

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2015, 08:33:49 AM »
All great answers here.

I think you could totally learn and do the coding/programming job you'd enjoy, and your art background would serve you well. When you go it alone, many people expect you to be able to do multiple parts of a project that may not generally sit inside the same head, so all non-dev experience serves. (Arts and humanities major turned web person here.)

Others have mentioned the many advantages of starting with a salaried gig in this situation. Another to add to that pile, to emphasize what iamlindoro has said: contacts. Sure, we all have friends and family and people we've met over the Internet, but they're mostly self-selected and often unhelpful when it comes to getting work. What many day jobs offer is a network of people who are in the business of needing your services that you wouldn't normally know. These are your future clients. In addition to giving you clout and experience, the day job gives you a wide network of people who know and have actually seen you work, and have done so because they do something that relates to it. If you make a good impression, those people will come calling later, either from that same day job or from the new day jobs that they themselves have moved on to. Unless you've got just an amazingly appropriate circle of loved ones, your friends might know some guy that might need a thing or or your family might know vaguely that you do "something with computers"; but those co-workers can send you actual, tangible work, without (or minimizing) the need for cold-calling or trolling the Internet.

I'm back to freelancing after a few years in a day job, and probably the best thing that that day job gave me is the likelihood of future work based on the contacts I made there. I've already gotten work from the company I left, as well as other companies that colleagues had moved on to. In the freelance/consulting business my husband and I run, our regular clients right now are 100% referrals from people we've day-jobbed with in the past, some we've worked with through various jobs for more than 10 years. If someone likes you, they keep you and take you with them to whatever job they go to. Makes going solo a whole lot easier.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 08:35:20 AM by ShaneD »

ender

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2015, 09:01:13 AM »
Quote
At 24 years, I'm one of many millennials recently out of school with little-to-no marketable skills (an art degree but at least Uncle Sam paid for it). I think I have the constitution for coding because I'm enjoying the limited troubleshooting in my entry-level support job. Also, like many Mustachians, I love micromanagement and streamlining efficient processes/systems. I think it would be a good complement to my existing creative skills as well. As I job search, development jobs (both web and app/software) seem to be ubiquitous and well-paying.

There is a reason why they are well-paying and in-demand. They require the ability to think very abstractly.

Quote
Optimally, I would like to design my life to include the following, most of which are interconnected:
1. Self employment (business owner or contractor)
Others have addressed this well.

Quote
2. Location independence. In this case, the freedom not to move. I would like to own a home in a medium-sized city (~100,000) and not have to worry about running out of employers. I believe remote internet jobs would be good for this lifestyle and there seem to be many remote developer gigs.

I would not recommend this until much later in your career, or at the very least, after you have a solid skill set. You will benefit so much more working with someone directly who can mentor/guide you. Junior devs do not have the experience to work remotely effectively unless they are ridiculously good.

100k is a somewhat small city. Networking will be incredibly important for you there.

Quote
3. I'm hoping the remote/contract jobs will allow me time for my life. Ideally I'd like to work hard 20-30 hours a week instead of working 40+ and spending most of the time looking like I'm busy.

Your expectation of having tons of free time is completely wrong if you are a programmer at an even remotely decent company. There is almost always a huge backlog of "we could do X" or "we could eliminate tech debt" project ideas in nearly all companies. A 40 hour week should be easily filled for most developers should they choose.

[/quote]4. Finally, I want to make enough money to get a good 'stache going--keeping my student lifestyle and living in a medium city, that means at least $50,000/year
[/quote]

This will be easy.

Quote
Do these goals seem realistic to achieve in the next 3-5 years? Anyone doing something similar? General advice for the industry? Could I have all this from a single employer instead of contract work (which I'm assuming is tiring to chase down)?

I would set the following goals:

  • Spend lots of time learning to program something, better if it's at your current employer (sounds like you have tons of downtime)
  • Find a need you can meet with automation/web interface/something requiring programming
  • Do it, recognizing it will be hard and a huge mess
  • Try to find an entry level junior dev position at a decent company
  • Be and become damn good over a few years
  • Once you are damn good consider changing to contract work

If you are damn good and have a reputation for that, finding contract jobs will be a lot easier.

Now, if you want to do more with your creative skills, I would look into UX types of roles. Those have many similar benefits to what you are seeking but may be far more relevant to your interests. Nearly all require a portfolio of previous work so if you can't do stuff with your current job find local organizations (churches, schools, city government, volunteer organizations, etc) needing redesigns and offer to do them. Maybe even for free.


The general vibe I read out of your post is that you dislike your current job, feel it has no real career possibilities, and want to transition into an easy, high paying career. I don't know this is the right interest level for development work.

mm1970

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2015, 09:37:17 AM »
OK, so let me say that I love being a self employed developer, and it is undoubtedly *good* money, it is far from "easy" money.  There are a lot of things to take into account here, and a lot of different paths by which people become self employed developers.  It's possible that the rare few have both light workload and plenty of money, but at least at first, finding legitimate high paying contract work is HARD. 

Let me step back a few years.  First off, I have about 20 years of experience in the IT field, and over a decade of that as a developer.  I worked for most of that time as a regular W2 employee.  This is my first point:  Being paid well (or hired at all) as a developer requires credibility.  You develop credibility over time, and there's no way to skip to the front of the queue.  You command a high salary because you bring a breadth of experience that others lack, not just by virtue of the job title you put on your resume. 

This also plays into my second point:  You need to build relationships.  At least at first, and probably for a long time thereafter, you will get your best work through professional relationships you have built by showing others what you can do, and being easy to work with.  This, again, requires that you put in the time to build these things.  Often, it will mean being flexible and willing to go the extra mile-- but people remember who was easy to work with and relentlessly optimistic just as much as they remember their credentials.

Third, enough work to make a real go of it takes time.  Even with credibility, relationships, and the skill to back up your work, it still may take months or years of slogging at it before the pipeline starts to fill up.  It'll be some small one off jobs here or there after six months of looking, or a half time thing balanced with your W2 job, or whatever, but it will very likely take time.

The summary of my thoughts above is that most people who want to be highly paid developers working on more or less their own terms need to first earn the right to do so.  There are exceptions to every rule and I'm sure there are some people out there who fell into a viable self employed situation with little to no skill or effort.  Generally speaking, though, you are a business owner and that means taking responsibility for busting your ass all day, every day, odd hours, on the customers terms, and usually as someone else's employee for a good while, before you can make a go of it by yourself.  Alternately, this means innovating from the ground up on your own, which while certainly possible, is not where I've made my money and carries more inherent risk.

Don't take this as discouragement, though.  I freaking love it.  I recently got what a few years ago I would have considered an impossible-to-pass-up W2 offer, and had to negotiate the ability to work it as 1099 because I don't want to give up the tax and retirement benefits of self employed status.  I don't have all the flexibility you mentioned; I live in a high COL area and pretty much have to stay here and make the occasional appearance in an office, but I'm also saving at a rate that a same-pay W2 developer couldn't hope to match due to tax benefits and retirement vehicles that only the self employed can... employ.  I just think you're probably in for a few years of groundwork first.

This probably works universally.  I'm not in software (semiconductor engineer), but at my point in my career (I'm 44), I'm likely to get new jobs because of the relationships I've built at my last 3 jobs.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2015, 09:49:28 AM »
Consulting/contracting is where the money really is in developing.... you may need to hold a full time position but it isn't ideal. A full time job may pay 50k->110k while contracting may pay 50->110 dollars an hour. (or 110k to 220k PLUS OVERTIME)

There are few people who can handle the stress or requirements though, judging from what I have seen...

Shajenko

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2015, 06:23:18 AM »
I really want to know how to break in to programming because even with a master's in CS, I was never able to break in.  Graduating right into the middle of the dot com bust in 2001 certainly didn't help, but I haven't encountered any positions where they didn't require years of previous experience, and I looked relentlessly for quite a while.

seattleite

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2015, 09:08:03 PM »
I really want to know how to break in to programming because even with a master's in CS, I was never able to break in.  Graduating right into the middle of the dot com bust in 2001 certainly didn't help, but I haven't encountered any positions where they didn't require years of previous experience, and I looked relentlessly for quite a while.

What have you been doing since? Have you been honing skills?

As somebody who has hired a lot of developers over the years I'll give you a few pieces of advice:

* A BS in CS is way better than a Master in CS with a BS in something else, I'm not sure why, but that's been my experience
* A degree is really only able to get you into the door for the interview, you'll need to prove yourself in other ways
* If you have a degree and haven't practiced your craft in years then it's as if you don't actually have the degree to me
* Programming is the *easiest* job in the world to get experience without actually having a job in the field, you already have a computer and an internet connection, you just need to commit to doing something with it

That last point is the most important. Seriously. Spend time on Stack Overflow answering questions. Make a few web apps from scratch with Django or Rails. Write an iPhone or Android app. Fix bugs in open source projects submit a pull request (code review) and let the project maintainers rip you a new one. That's how you learn. That's how you get better. That's how you get experience.

A Masters in CS, with no professional experience in programming, but a few years of open source projects might not get you into the door at Facebook but it will at least get you into the door at a smaller company. But a well made app in the App Store might get you into the top companies, though at that point you might not need them. :-)





Shajenko

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2015, 09:21:59 PM »
seatteite, your second and last point has run exactly counter to my experience.  First, my degree hasn't helped me get in the door (BS and MS in CS).  Secondly, I've heard it many times that I should do open source, volunteer, etc.  Hiring employers have said they don't count any of this - paid, full-time, professional work only, usually in something very specific.

I'm barely looking anymore - it's been over a decade without the slightest chance of programming work and I got into an entirely different field quite a while ago.  Since my degree has been almost entirely useless, I wouldn't recommend it to anybody.

This isn't something I say lightly - even thinking about this makes me want to vomit.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 09:47:21 PM by Shajenko »

Grid

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2015, 09:47:51 PM »
I really want to know how to break in to programming because even with a master's in CS, I was never able to break in.  Graduating right into the middle of the dot com bust in 2001 certainly didn't help, but I haven't encountered any positions where they didn't require years of previous experience, and I looked relentlessly for quite a while.

* A BS in CS is way better than a Master in CS with a BS in something else, I'm not sure why, but that's been my experience


Can you give any kind of reason why this has been the case?

seattleite

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2015, 10:08:17 PM »

* A BS in CS is way better than a Master in CS with a BS in something else, I'm not sure why, but that's been my experience


Can you give any kind of reason why this has been the case?

In general I've found that people with only a masters in CS don't have as good of a grasp of the fundamentals.

I don't have a masters in CS and I don't know the curriculum so I can only guess. Maybe the classes required for an MS don't have the same prerequisites as the upper level undergrad classes?

Or maybe it has nothing to do with the curriculum, maybe it's just that people who got a degree in something else and went into CS for the MS aren't interesting in computers so much so what they know is mostly academic and not live-it-breathe-it geekdom like the others?

Or maybe you really are getting something from 4 years of less intense study rather than 2 years of intense.

Or maybe it's just that our interviewing process is focused on questions that people with a BS in CS can answer but people without one can't. Honestly, this could be the reason.

Sorry I don't have a better answer. I've thought a lot about this in a past but have yet to come up with anything solid.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2015, 10:15:51 PM »
It is good money but you max out at $250k or so (maybe $270k with bonuses) unless you get lottery luck with your company stock.

Sales/management is the path to real money.

Grid

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2015, 10:24:12 PM »

* A BS in CS is way better than a Master in CS with a BS in something else, I'm not sure why, but that's been my experience


Can you give any kind of reason why this has been the case?

In general I've found that people with only a masters in CS don't have as good of a grasp of the fundamentals.  Very possible as a result of less time to do so.

I don't have a masters in CS and I don't know the curriculum so I can only guess. Maybe the classes required for an MS don't have the same prerequisites as the upper level undergrad classes?  Not true for my school

Or maybe it has nothing to do with the curriculum, maybe it's just that people who got a degree in something else and went into CS for the MS aren't interesting in computers so much so what they know is mostly academic and not live-it-breathe-it geekdom like the others? 

Or maybe you really are getting something from 4 years of less intense study rather than 2 years of intense.

Or maybe it's just that our interviewing process is focused on questions that people with a BS in CS can answer but people without one can't. Honestly, this could be the reason.

Sorry I don't have a better answer. I've thought a lot about this in a past but have yet to come up with anything solid.

It's good to hear what's you're coming up with, because I'm trying to counteract any disadvantages I may have even though I have a Master's in CS and BS in biology.  I honestly think my biggest disadvantage is not having as much time in front of a computer screen working with code.  With each algorithm one actually sets into working code, there always seems to be an "Aha!" moment that extends understanding a bit, and I feel I've just had less of those due to rushing through my degree.

I've bolded above where I think my primary disadvantage is.  I'm doing quite a bit of self-study, so I hope I can go against what you've seen in the past.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 08:56:47 PM by Grid »

seattleite

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2015, 10:28:31 PM »
seatteite, your second and last point has run exactly counter to my experience.  First, my degree hasn't helped me get in the door (BS and MS in CS).  Secondly, I've heard it many times that I should do open source, volunteer, etc.  Hiring employers have said they don't count any of this - paid, full-time, professional work only, usually in something very specific.

I'm barely looking anymore - it's been over a decade without the slightest chance of programming work and I got into an entirely different field quite a while ago.  Since my degree has been almost entirely useless, I wouldn't recommend it to anybody.

This isn't something I say lightly - even thinking about this makes me want to vomit.

I'm sorry that this has been your experience. That really sucks. I feel for you.

I've never been in your situation so I'm grasping at straws here. But, again, as somebody who has hired a lot of engineers over the years at a tiny start-up and at some of the world's biggest companies I can say this: A big fat awesome project at the top of your resume trumps everything else.

Maybe not at IBM (do we still use IBM as the big faceless corporation anymore?) but it's certainly true at just about any company hiring software engineers on the West Coast.

So here's the rub: If you have a full time job programming then you can spend your time doing bad-ass projects while you get paid for it. You are basically being paid to make your resume better. But if you don't have a job programming then you're going to need to do it on your own time. And it's going to take time and commitment. And in the end that's going to be a gamble, is it worth that time. Maybe, maybe not. If you don't actually like programming I would probably say that it's not worth your time. If you do like programming, then what are you waiting for!?!?

Shajenko

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2015, 11:30:03 PM »
I can tell you what's stopping me from trying - years of rejection coupled with chronic depression makes me feel horrible whenever I even think about trying to restart my entire career. 

I've done a few things here and there - nothing like a "big fat awesome project", but whatever I can manage to do before falling into despair.

 

Two9A

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2015, 04:43:32 AM »
It is good money but you max out at $250k or so (maybe $270k with bonuses) unless you get lottery luck with your company stock.

Sales/management is the path to real money.
Heh, a year of that and I could FI ;)

To answer OP, I've been programming in some capacity since I was perhaps four years old, continuously. The old adage about ten thousand hours of time making you an "expert" in something has a grain of truth in it: I was probably around that level of time invested when I started landing the occasional paying gig, and then three-month contracts, and then full-time jobs.

I've been "professionally" (getting paid for) programming for around ten years now, and only recently have I been able to both look for and land location-independent jobs. So it's definitely not easy money, but the money is there if you're willing to put the time in.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Is coding/development "Easy Money"?
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2015, 10:54:34 AM »
It is good money but you max out at $250k or so (maybe $270k with bonuses) unless you get lottery luck with your company stock.

Sales/management is the path to real money.
Heh, a year of that and I could FI ;)

Perhaps the rates are not that high in the UK, but here on the west coast USA it is fairly typical after 15 to 20 years in the industry for a senior level dev.   The signing bonus can get huge too when one company tries to steal devs from another.   $250k signing bonus is not unheard of.  (Apple, Google, Tesla)