Do you program professionally?

Just wondering if anyone here programs as a job. At the end of the year I’m going to have to make a choice on what I want to study. I was wondering if programming would be a rewarding profession and how good the pay would be.
I know it’s not my business but if you do program as a job could you tell how much you earn a week? If you don’t want to thats ok… Thank you!

I retired from programming after 38+ years. The pay will vary greatly depending on what you do and where you live.

I know at least one or two do, can’t remember which ones though…

Caps are not needed to get people to look at your discussion. If it’s interesting, people will look at it. Anyways, the threshold between job and no job is very blurred now and days. Would being 14 and having an app on the App Store count on a job if I work at it a certain number of hours a week?
There are also all sort of CS degrees, so saying I want to major in “programming” is not going to do the trick. But it’s a very rewarding job, if you do it right (I believe). I wrote a repot for school about the worthiness of a computer science job. The statistics are quite amazing. Sadly, I don’t have the paper with me.

It depends if you class professional as Dave1707’s case (over 10000 hours of learning a subject suggests you mastered it) or someone who works on the endorphin physics engine who is in a known professional company. The pay of programming varies too much depending on the project at hand. I personally have never professionally programmed in any of those circumstances, but I have heard from family members and many others that it can be a hard line of work if you don’t like sitting on a seat for hours on end, but if you’re a free coder you can decide your hours as you like and still get the same amount of money as a professional if you’re known well, obviously this is self employed only.

Please do not use all caps. I fixed it for you.

That is really a broad question as there are so many forms of programming. I consulted for 20 years mostly in business database and information systems. My background was business not programming. It was a hobby I leveraged into a business. Keep in mind that it is difficult to keep the enthusiasm when it is your livelihood. My forte was understanding and delivering what the clients wanted more than elegant coding. In this forum I am very much (hate the term) a noob. There are kids in this forum that amaze me both with their skills and their maturity. It seems the sky is the limit for them but the world has changed. The competition is fierce and the marketplace is open to everyone.

I found my niche and did very well. This is now strictly for fun.

No one can truly answer your question because “rewarding” means different things to different people. “Pay” is one measure but loses it’s glow real quickly if you are unhappy.

I’ve programmed professionally for about 35 years now (yikes), ranging from writing games and utilities for the first generation of home PCs in the 1980s to leading big corporate projects and ERP solutions (I don’t care what anyone says, SAP and ABAP suck).

Pay has been all over the board, with corporate coder pay being very sensitive to markets. If there’s a push on (as in “oh no! Y2K” or “everything needs to be the web”) then having the appropriate skill set can net you some nice paychecks… at least until the current fire is put out. In between, positions can be hard to find and pay rates move up slowly.

One thing no one has ever asked me about is a degree. My degrees are actually in geology and aquatic biology (and information science, but I only got that one after years of working in IT). Coding is an area where talent will stomp paper every time. Heck, I hired a guy coming out of high school for $70K back in 1998 because the guy was just an ace at a particular skill I needed at the time.

It can be rewarding depending on the company and your bosses that you work for. I was fortunate enough to be able to choose what I wanted to work on. So while I was enjoying what I was doing, there were others who hated everything they did. Was it because I knew what I was doing and my code worked. I didn’t have to come in evenings to correct code that blew up while other did and they hated it. So there are a lot of variables that you will have to consider before making your decision.

I manage a small team of database developers, providing user interfaces, ETL packages and reporting solutions to internal teams and similar solutions to my company’s clients. I am more in the same mould as Pops; I can understand and write code, not to a proper professional level, but well enough to understand that a technical implementation matches the functional requirement for a project.

I have found the job very rewarding. If you are a talented and creative coder, with all the tools out there these days, you have a much better opportunity to go it alone and publish your own apps and games. If you have a specific interest in a particular area, such as website development, or even database related work, there is still satisfaction to be had from providing a great solution and pleasing your users.

Earnings will depend on your talent, dedication and the sector you are in. Move into consulting or management later on and you can earn very well. If you think you’ll like it, go for it. No reason why you can’t succeed at it and keep iPad app development going at the same time!


I’ve worked in the field for about 10 years. If you enjoy programming and solving problems I can recommend it. It can become a bit boring if you end up in large organizations with a lot of bureaucracy rather then developing, but I guess that can happen in most job areas.

If you have a talent you can probably get a job without a proper education, but personally I found it interesting to study computer science (and teach a bit) since you stumble upon areas and techniques that you might not look into otherwise.

I mostly use Codea in my free time to play around with some code ideas, haven’t been writing that much graphics code.

Irrespective of whether you want a career as a hard-core programmer/developer, I think over the next 20-30 years coding will become as pervasive a skill as reading, writing, surfing the web and driving a car, especially as education advisers in governments are realising that I.T. skills at school don’t just mean learning MS Word and MS Paint anymore.

This of course has been said before numerous times in the past, but increasingly individuals will want to get software ‘x’ to talk to software ‘y’ (and connect this to hardware ‘z’) things will become alot easier for employees to build their own tools to help them in their everyday jobs. Think about the ‘go to’ guy in a finance company who’s the only one who can write really trixy Excel macros - this should hopefully be a thing of the past with better school curricula , especially when the next generation of intuitive programming paradigms come into being. Discuss. :smiley:

I guess my point is that programming in the widest context will be a useful skill no matter what career route you go down. I work in the VFX industry and write code everyday as part of my job. Im not a developer, but I understand how to write tools for myself and my co-workers to make my job easier to make nice moving images and hopefully, speed up my productivity so I can go home early!

Amen. :smiley:

andymac3d: Coding as a general skill? Ehh, I dunno. Research has been done that implies some because just don’t understand it, they are wired up differently (note, if you’re reading internet tutorials and doing bad, that doesn’t mean you are one of these people. You need to really learn, either for years non-stop or have some tutor).

Even despite that, coding as a general skill seems unlikely. Scripting, perhaps, on the level of command-line linux stuff, but not proper software engineering stuff.

@Causeless - Scripting/Coding/Programming/Macros - surely pretty much the same thing really? :wink:

At its basic form its all simply a procedural way of breaking down a process to perform a set of task(s) in an automated way. As many computer science academics have pointed out, Its really the current set of programming interfaces/languages that are the problem that make things somewhat inaccessible, not necessarily the individuals mental capacity to understand such abstract concepts.

Although, you are right in that not everyone grasps or has the interest in programming per-se - although this could pretty much be said for numeracy and literacy as well. If we cast our mind back 1000 years or so - only scribes or monks had access to the tools and education to express themselves through writing. Similarly, I think what we currently term ‘coding’ will look pretty antiquated in a similar time-span in the future. :wink:

I think more ‘visual’ methods of programming should help. Scratch is a great tool for teaching coding concepts without being too hung up on verbose syntax by using a more graphical approach. Even the IFTTT app on my iPhone allows me to create simple ‘recipes’ for stringing feeds of data together with triggered events really easily . Whether or not ‘Mrs Miggins’ playing around with it at home likes it or not, all shes doing is some very basic procedural coding.

I think this is where the future lies in terms of some degree of basic coding literacy. :wink:

I do foresee there being a widening of the divide between “real” developers and those people who use APIs in a procedural way to achieve things. A widening of skill sets, that is. More developers are creating tools for developers, Codea is a prime example! Whereas someone had to reach a certain level of knowledge and competency to be a developer in days passed, nowadays they can leverage APIs without understanding how APIs work and what they are built on. More and more people will be able to develop using APIs, resulting in more developers as a whole.

I’ve been a developer of software since I was 13. 35 years+ so far. I’m currently a consultant doing SharePoint development. I’ve worked on all sizes of teams as both a participant and as the manager. I’ve managed departments as small as 2 and as large as 20.

I personally find it very rewarding (emotionally as well as financially), but I’ve got a natural knack for analysis and problem solving in a structure within small timeframes. Software languages have never been a problem for me, so it’s been a good run for me.

It’s more rewarding when I work with a group of like minded individuals, but I rarely find that these days. This forum is pretty good for that, though.

If you aren’t comfortable with unknowns, unfair timelines, high pressure scenarios out of nowhere, stay out of the field. If you thrive on challenge and doing the impossible, it’s a good field to get into.

@aciolino - Get out! No Microsoft workers here. :slight_smile: Just kidding. Interesting.

@Andymac3d i want to debate on this

many computer science academics have pointed out, Its really the current set of programming interfaces/languages that are the problem that make things somewhat inaccessible.

Actually i am not sure they are right. In my company there was a paper published internally by the sofware division, focusing one some critical mistake made by people who manage coders or software projects, due to the misunderstanding of what is really the coding activity about. Among that stuff, they pointed out
1/ that coding is very unique among engineering specialities, because the coder has a huge freedom in the choices available to achieve a result. Almost every line of code contain choices that could be different.
2/ the very low level coding do interract at any moment of development with high level requirements, you just cant follow a simple top-down approch and be successful. You have to constantly adapt the big picture due to some implementation details.
These remarks correspond very well to my gut feeling, and they make the coding activity really complex: all this freedom, plus bidirectionnal top down interraction, make the task really difficult per se and a better interface will not solve for that, unless by reducing dramatically your freedom and hence your possibilities (and that’s exactly what those easy-to-code programs do). Just my opinion, in reaction to your excellent post.

@Jmv38 Interesting comment, and I agree. I think it is also quite a lot of personal preference that changes how the code looks like, which can be a bit annoying when working in the same project as a lot of other people. Then it’s nice to have small project with just your own code.

I’ve seen some argument that you could compare illiteracy with programming, that most people can only “read” computers, not “write”. It would be as if most people didn’t know how to write text, only read it. But then, maybe most people can only look at images and barely make something beautiful in Procreate, like me (my current favorite paint program).