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#1 winbacker  Icon User is offline

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Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 27 June 2014 - 06:48 PM

I hesitate to puruse programming as a career because:

Skill erosion, offshoring and low barriers to entry make this career seem extremely

dangerous.

Specifically, I am concerned about

1) Skill erosion: IT changes really fast and skills you work hard to learn can be

rendered obsolete within a few years of learning them. Constantly relearning complex

technical information for your whole career seems daunting. I don't mean to sound

lazy, but just from an efficiency point of view it seems tough.

2) Offshoring: We all know that there are tons of programmers willing to work for a

fraction of the price all over the world.

3) Low barriers to entry. The internet is full of free material that spoon feeds

tutorials to anyone on how to code. I believe this could vastly increase the supply

of programmers and consequently depress wages.

I believe these 3 factors make it very dangerous for someone to pursue programming as

a career.

Can we discuss this.

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#2 Robbss  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 27 June 2014 - 07:23 PM

If you learn a modern language really well, you can easily adapt to the new technologies, knowing how a language works you can very easily change that knowledge into understanding pretty much any new language, so if you're writing with any modern language I'm sure you won't have an issue following new technologies as you'll already know the "complex" part and essentially just adapting to the new syntax.

I can't say much about offshoring, but most of the time if you offshore programming you get a piece of work which is both horribly written and often way over date, good programmers will always be needed, offshoring code doesn't make as much sense than other industries, it's pretty much required that the code you're running is optimized and maintainable, that's not something you get from offshoring your work.

Again, going off tutorials online doesn't make you a good programmer, it can make you a good programmer, but it doesn't unless the programmer himself actually does something, and that goes directly back to the industry requiring "good programmers", if all you've done is watch youtube tutorials and think you're a master programmer then all you are is a script kiddie and those are pretty easy to spot out.

I'm sure the programming business will get more and more crowded, but I'm sure that those who know what they're doing will always be on top, there and so many people who think they know what they're doing, but they don't, slowly they'll be filtered out while those who put work into it rise to the top like most other industries and with the huge expansion of computer enabled devices there'll be more and more to program, requiring more programmers than ever.

In Denmark I've been talking to a bunch of company owners and so forth, and every time I mention that I'm reading up to become a programmer they go "Wise choice, everyone needs programmers, there's never enough so you'll have easy time finding what you want."

This post has been edited by Robbss: 27 June 2014 - 07:25 PM

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#3 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 27 June 2014 - 08:23 PM

I have been concerned with outsourcing as well. But, when you do know what you are doing it becomes less of an issue. I have personally picked up contracts from companies that started with an 'outsourced programming firm' and got what they paid for. I then got paid more to play cleanup.

As far as outdated skills, programming is a way of thinking, not a specific language. Languages have common elements, the only difference is the available libraries and the syntax.

Low entry level because of online tutorials.
Have you seen the questions that pop up on here? Everything from, I am following this tutorial and it won't work, to this is my basic programming homework what do I do? On a daily almost frustrating basis. Those people that do get hired, get fired when there isn't a tutorial that they can copy off of or someone doesn't answer their question by spoonfeeding them the needed code.

If you want to pursue anything, try it out. Hobby it for a while. Doesn't have to pay bills to be enjoyed.
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#4 Sleepwalker87  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 28 June 2014 - 03:03 AM

1. Don't worry too much about skill erosion. Your career will likely focus around a specific technology track that you specialize in, such as Java. So yes there will be a steep learning curve but after you get through that initial learning phase it is relatively incremental, and if you aren't learning something new each day on the job, one or two books a year would be enough to keep up.

2. Every company I know that has outsourced has been burned and quickly brought their development back in the country (3 medium sized companies). Sweatshop prices = sweatshop quality.

3. Skills and experience are really valuable to companies, the fact that it is now quite easy to learn programming doesn't equate to an oversupply of programmers. You are underestimating how lazy the general population is.
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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 28 June 2014 - 09:01 AM

You almost sound like you have made up your mind that its too risky, FOR YOU, and that you want us to change your mind for you. If that's the case then don't pursue it. Nobody should ever do something for 80% of their waking hours that that had to be talked in to. Your career is your biggest investment. Some people take a bold but risky stance on their investments. It can pay off big, or loose big. Some people would rather invest less risky and have smaller but safer gains. Whether we are talking about work or stockmarket its the same thing and the same mentality. If you worry 40 hours a week about your job because its more risk than you handle well, your health will suffer and you will be a miserable person and nobody needs that.

The posts previous to this one reflect my personal feelings on the subject:


There will always be outsourcing everywhere. China manufactures everything, does that mean we shouldn't manufacture here? You can buy anything on Amazon.com, does that mean you shouldn't open a retail store in your hometown?

If you're looking for an excuse to NOT do something you will always find 1,000 of them. You have to ask yourself what you really WANT to do. What are you really passionate about? Then do whatever you need to do to follow that dream.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 28 June 2014 - 09:02 AM

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#6 BeenThereAlso  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 04 March 2015 - 11:42 AM

Your question has 3 parts and really needs 3 answers.

In spite of the replies below or above from young people keenly coding and getting paid for it, your concerns are valid in some areas and maybe need further qualification so here goes:

1. Skill erosion. This is the major objection to programming as a long term career. It is only short term (5 or 10 years at the most. Maybe even shorter in the future) see http://mltan100.blog...ramming_01.html After that you are expected to move into management or sales. The replies above and below saying "programming is fun - go for it" are probably written by people in the peak of that short cycle with their current "hot" languages/technologies. Some will go on to be still coding in their 50s if they are lucky. (There is still a lot of COBOL running in various places). However, if you are still in the game in your 50s you will be permanently married to your current employer until they finally phase out their legacy code then it is all over. As for retraining as the new tech comes along, the IT industry is notorious for not wanting to train anyone in anything now days (it did happen 20 years ago when I entered the game). If you do retrain, it is on your own dime and in your own time. Then no one will look at you until you have 3 years full commercial experience on the latest "hot" language/technology.

2. Offshoring. This one is an unknown variable. A while ago everything was being offshored. However, much of this work is now returning onshore again. The IT industry is more fashion driven than women's clothing and constantly undergoes cycles of insource/outsource, inhouse/bureau, thin client/fat client etc etc etc. For now, offshoring is probably not too much to worry about.

3. Low Barrier to entry. On the whole, this is true. Consider the fact that about 50% of software on istore is never downloaded once. There are now good programing tools available for free on the internet and heaps of good support groups for most popular languages thus more people are coding than ever. Therefore the oversupply of programmers for writing code for SMEs and consumer software is huge. However, if you are in the top percentiles of IQ and can understand very complex algorithms and business processes easily and fast, then there will be a demand for your services with no oversupply because of the natural limitations of the number of people who fit into those top percentiles.
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#7 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 04 March 2015 - 11:45 AM

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 01:42 PM, said:

Your question has 3 parts and ...

& was asked in June of 2014.

The OP has only one post (this one that you replied to) & has not been back online since July of 2014.

While your input was of value & on topic, I'm just pointing out that the question is now out of date in comparison to your answer, & the OP is never going to read it.
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#8 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 05 March 2015 - 12:42 AM

Yes, it's an old thread, but this bares some refuting....

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

Your question has 3 parts and really needs 3 answers.

In spite of the replies below or above from young people keenly coding and getting paid for it, your concerns are valid in some areas and maybe need further qualification so here goes:


Bad assumption mate. Not everyone on here is young.

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

1. Skill erosion. This is the major objection to programming as a long term career. It is only short term (5 or 10 years at the most. Maybe even shorter in the future) see http://mltan100.blog...ramming_01.html After that you are expected to move into management or sales. The replies above and below saying "programming is fun - go for it" are probably written by people in the peak of that short cycle with their current "hot" languages/technologies.


This is a load of garbage, plain and simple. Management and sales are not the end of the road for programmers, it's a completely different job path. Companies that believe this are not worth the time of day. Go to any major engineering firm worth their salt and you'll notice a fork path, one leads to management and the other leads to technical leadership. They're different things and both are valuable.

I get tired of hearing this nonsense that you're doomed if you can't be a manager. Have you talked to some programmers? Brilliant, but you never want them to try managing anything other than a project architecture. Does that make them worthless? Of course not.

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

Some will go on to be still coding in their 50s if they are lucky. (There is still a lot of COBOL running in various places). However, if you are still in the game in your 50s you will be permanently married to your current employer until they finally phase out their legacy code then it is all over.


Assumptions again. Not all of us get married and very rarely does a tech stick around long enough to see legacy hit. We're not all lifers, that's a bad assumption to make. I know a few 50+ peers which are still insanely on their game and could school any under 30 coder without breaking a sweat. We're talking mythic greybeards here, and those people are not ones to relegate to legacy concerns.

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

As for retraining as the new tech comes along, the IT industry is notorious for not wanting to train anyone in anything now days (it did happen 20 years ago when I entered the game). If you do retrain, it is on your own dime and in your own time. Then no one will look at you until you have 3 years full commercial experience on the latest "hot" language/technology.


You must work for some really crappy company mate. This is not the case in tech hubs at all. Your employer will send you to conferences, get you training, pay for books, and the works. That's common out here.

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

2. Offshoring. This one is an unknown variable. A while ago everything was being offshored. However, much of this work is now returning onshore again. The IT industry is more fashion driven than women's clothing and constantly undergoes cycles of insource/outsource, inhouse/bureau, thin client/fat client etc etc etc. For now, offshoring is probably not too much to worry about.


That I can agree with to a degree.

View PostBeenThereAlso, on 04 March 2015 - 12:42 PM, said:

3. Low Barrier to entry. On the whole, this is true. Consider the fact that about 50% of software on istore is never downloaded once. There are now good programing tools available for free on the internet and heaps of good support groups for most popular languages thus more people are coding than ever. Therefore the oversupply of programmers for writing code for SMEs and consumer software is huge. However, if you are in the top percentiles of IQ and can understand very complex algorithms and business processes easily and fast, then there will be a demand for your services with no oversupply because of the natural limitations of the number of people who fit into those top percentiles.


IQ is irrelevant. There's an abundance of junk coders who have no idea what they're doing and assume they're a coder after getting through w3schools and friends. No, the barrier to entry is insanely high for good markets, and it keeps getting higher as you want to climb. You want to play the game you're going to have to keep an edge. That's what makes programming hard is that you're always moving and learning.
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#9 BeenThereAlso  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 05 March 2015 - 11:37 PM

<Removed giant block quote with no responses>

This post has been edited by xclite: 06 March 2015 - 05:48 AM

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#10 gibbie99  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 24 March 2015 - 09:53 AM

In my field, finding qualified folks in the U.S. is really hard, so I'm in demand alot. We have people in India but it's really hard to communicate with them because of the time lag. So that right there is a barrier. Plus the experience thing. I have experience in things that they just wouldn't, because it's specific to the U.S. So, I think i'm pretty safe. I thought about that when I started but now I'm seeing the other side and am constantly turning down jobs/work. So, if the industry changes (ie if we remove insurance companies and go to socialized healthcare), i'll be in bad shape, but that probably will never happen.
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#11 JeremyBenson11  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:38 AM

It really depends on who you are. There are programmers trying to make $5 bucks and hour, some that wont take less than $80/h. With work like this skill talks. Someone like me it would be a risk, not only that, it would likely leave me homeless, lol. I'm not too good. Good enough to be functional on the web, and say string programming, but other than that I think I'd be living in a boot. I'm just not professional...

Then you look at products. If you become a web programmer and make the next Facebook you could be a multi-billionair inside a couple years..

so really, whether or not it's a risk, is how honest you can be with your own skill level. If you're above average, and can prove it to employers, by saying look at this super cool thing I can program... or look at this function I can make on the fly that does n- degree permutations in sorting wotcha-macallits...

I'm sure you'd be okay :)

When it comes to work now in IT you're not limited to employers in your city, or even you country. There's Elance, Freelancer, Craigslist, Job monster, and tons of other employment websites to fire a resume off from...

This post has been edited by JeremyBenson11: 26 March 2015 - 04:42 AM

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#12 gibbie99  Icon User is offline

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Re: Is a programming career risky to pursue?

Posted 26 March 2015 - 08:29 AM

View PostJeremyBenson11, on 26 March 2015 - 04:38 AM, said:

It really depends on who you are. There are programmers trying to make $5 bucks and hour, some that wont take less than $80/h. With work like this skill talks. Someone like me it would be a risk, not only that, it would likely leave me homeless, lol. I'm not too good. Good enough to be functional on the web, and say string programming, but other than that I think I'd be living in a boot. I'm just not professional...

Then you look at products. If you become a web programmer and make the next Facebook you could be a multi-billionair inside a couple years..

so really, whether or not it's a risk, is how honest you can be with your own skill level. If you're above average, and can prove it to employers, by saying look at this super cool thing I can program... or look at this function I can make on the fly that does n- degree permutations in sorting wotcha-macallits...

I'm sure you'd be okay :)/>

When it comes to work now in IT you're not limited to employers in your city, or even you country. There's Elance, Freelancer, Craigslist, Job monster, and tons of other employment websites to fire a resume off from...


I get the risk. What many do is have a 'real' job and do things on the side for Elance. I have a main job and a side consulting business which I foundn to be hugely helpful (all my new real jobs have been due to the experience earned on my side job.) Good thing about a side business is that there is no real risk. If they don't like you, you get fired, but you already have a steady income stream.
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