Dear Mr. Tagbo
My name is Jose Perez. I am currently in the 12th grade of High School and I plan to be a programmer. I would like to hear from you since you have a blog on helping computer programmers.
I live in Miami, Florida and I’m planning on going to the University of Florida to get a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I would like to know if being a programmer is a good idea.
I’ve researched upon the subject and I have found that as a programmer I would receive a good starting salary and workplace comfort.
I also like to know what languages are predominant out there and what I will need to learn in order to get the best out of being a programmer.
Just for the record, I like computers and becoming a programmer is a choice that I decided on a long time ago, however, I want to know if the cons outweigh the pros or vice versa.
Dear Mr. Perez
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about your career.
I will be glad to share from my personal experience, the pros and cons of computer programming. I will start by telling you a bit about myself.
I studied chemical engineering and worked for a year as a Process and Technology Manager? in a Fortune 500 company.
I left the firm because I disliked working as an engineer. Fortunately, while in college, I spent a good deal of time fraternizing with computer programmers, researching their tools and learning about their jobs. So, I was able to transition out of chemical engineering into computer programming, when I needed to.
In high school I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer because I was very good at math, physics and chemistry. It seemed that I should become an Engineer or a Medical Doctor with my educational background. Looking back, I realize I should have observed Chemical Engineers at work, socialized with and quizzed them about their careers. Had I done due diligence, I would not have spent years studying and preparing for a career I was not suited for.
Jose, your question is right on the money. Why should you spend $30,000+ and 4 years in college only to end up with a career you dislike?
You don’t want to make the wrong career choice and become trapped working a job you dislike, when you could have made a better choice.
You are asking the right questions, at the right time and here is what I am going to tell you about the pros and cons of a career in computer programming. I hope this helps you make an informed decision.
Learn Five Cons of Computer Programming Careers
- Fast Paced Career: Programming languages, tools, books, and technologies are constantly being released. As a programmer you have to be comfortable with learning lots of new information quickly and competently. For example, in the last 5 years, I have had to learn several new technologies including .NET Framework 1.1, .NET Framework 2.0 and SQL Server 2005. Currently, I am preparing for the release of .NET Framework 3.0. This rapid pace of change can be disorienting, because it feels like when one technology is mastered, another new technology takes its place.
- Hardcore Reading: You have to read several books articles each year to keep up with new or upgraded computing technologies. The volume of reading material can feel overwhelming if you don?t have a good plan for staying ahead of your reading list.
- Technology Driven: Programming is driven by the latest or most popular technologies. Your career, office discussions and relationships may revolve around how much technology you know. Also, your career advancement may be determined by how technical or technology obsessed you are. If you are not passionate about technology at heart, you may become unhappy over the influence it exerts on your values, career and lifestyle.
- Low Barrier to Entry: Anyone who is interested in programming can learn programming. You are not required to have a college or computer science degree or professional computer programming certification to get a job as a programmer. You may compete for programming jobs with candidates that have fewer educational qualifications than you or with nationals from other countries or candidates with less industry experience. This can become a bigger issue as you get older and you realize that seniority counts for little in computer programming.
- Health Problems from Geek Lifestyle: If you spend lots of sitting time and typing away on the computer or reading technical literature, your eyes, wrists and back may suffer. You risk experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome with your wrists, eye sight deterioration and increased weight issues from your sedentary lifestyle. If you become obsessed with technology or you become an internet junkie you may start losing sleep because you are always tinkering with code or surfing the web when you should be sleeping.
Learn Five Pros of Computer Programming Careers
- High Job Satisfaction: As a computer programmer, you get to use your mind and your creativity. You will not be doing mindless, boring or repetitive tasks and your individual software development efforts get to count. You have the power to visualize non-existing software and become the first person to create it. You have the ability to contribute a meaningful service to any organization by creating quality software. Programmers find the task of developing software products that solve real world problems personally rewarding and fulfilling.
- You Determine Your Destiny: There is no career limit for talented and hard working programmers. You can develop your own software product, distribute it over the internet and become The Next Google or Microsoft. You can work in a startup and become vested with stock options because you play a pivotal role in the development of a software product. You services and skills can be in high demand as a contract programmer. You can earn a six figure income early in your career because of your drive, competence and hard work. You can find well paying computer programming jobs in any reasonably sized city (I once found a job as a software development manager in a city of about 10,000 people). You can find work in most industries including health care, education, manufacturing, security or services industry. You can move from one country to another and find immediate employment because your technical skills are relevant to software development efforts in any country.
- Technology Centered: If you love technology or are obsessed with leading edge technology you are likely to enjoy being a programmer. Programmers develop websites and have to keep up with the rapid pace of change of both internet technologies and web development. Programmers develop applications that run on computer desktops and mobile devices. Programmers develop games for personal computers. Programmers have to learn new technologies that promise better, faster and more efficient ways of doing things.
- Multiple Career Options: A career in computer programming can prepare you for careers in other related technology fields. For example, you can become a data analyst, a data warehouse engineer, a database developer, a project manager, a software development manager or perhaps an Information Technology director. You can stop programming and move on to technical recruiting or information technology sales. You can also move on to careers in web design, search engine optimization and internet marketing. So, your computer programming experience can come in handy in several other careers.
- Well Paying Jobs: As a computer programmer you can earn from $60,000 to $100,000 and more! Also, you have the option of working on paid consulting projects in the evening or weekends to increase your total billable hours. If you are a contract programmer, you can count on 40 hours of paid work per week until your engagement ends. With some projects you can bill 50 or 60 hours per week. You also receive medical, dental and 401K benefits whether you are a contract or full time programmer. In some corporations you can participate in performance bonuses or stock options. Generally, if the overall economy is in good shape and you have marketable skills with good industry experience, you will be well paid.
Jose, only you can decide what career is good for you. To make the right decision, you need as much information as possible about the process of becoming a highly skilled, competent and marketable computer programmer. So, please subscribe to my Free computer programming career newsletter and get your own copy of ?The Street Smart Guide to High Paying Computer Programming Careers?.
If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact me using the contact form on this website.
Kingsley Tagbo, IT Career Coach