Changing my profession

Posted on:April 06 2010

It's no secret that we programmers and software engineers are constantly underpaid. I've been told that other jobs like those of lawyers, investment bankers etc are not that complicated compared to for example writing complex vector graphics rendering engines or debugging ancient DOS assemblers. But we software guys are used to this. We don't earn the big bucks.

I am working as freelance software developer from time to time, and charging a pretty average amount of money. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the job, but from my work with other freelancers, I know that's pretty average. But last week I've learned the hard way the fact that even painters earn more than we software developers do, at least here In Vienna.

A painter, who simply painted 2 walls for me in simple, white color, charges about three times as much per hour than I do. And after my initial shock and checking back, it appears that all painters in Vienna do this.

I think I have the wrong job. Going to think about opening a painting business.


You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view
2010-04-06 17:46:00


Calm down. Seems that you are so annoyed, that you are mixing up the words "Going to thinK about opening a painTing business":-)

But I have the "same feeling" about our profession.
If you got any serious plans and ideas how to make more money - if not for millions and billions :-) - PLEASE let me know.
Contrawise, I'll also let you know :-)

Martin Zwigl
Martin Zwigl
2010-04-06 18:08:00

thanks, corrected
2010-04-06 18:20:00

No surprise, developers from the east are decreasing price of our work. That's how I lost my job. If you want to work as one man band, work as consultant/manager. Otherwise, prepare yourself for really tough incoming years.

I tell ya, we have to all join together to beat competition. Bloody capitalism fist separated us all, and now is attacking each single developer using army of underpaid eastern developers.
2010-04-06 19:27:00

Come to america, the land of opportunity. Then you'll be making the big bucks.
Joe the brave
2010-04-06 19:39:00

Maybe you should try if you can get away with charging more for your work.
2010-04-06 20:19:00

I'm too old to go to US now, although green card lottery is attacking me each day, some operator wanted to chat with me there on USAGC.

My point is: it is less and less profitable to be developer, labor is getting very cheap after outsourcing became popular among big companies.

Now I'm thinking to use similar method, by designing software and outsourcing it (only parts) somewhere to India, Vietnam, Philippines ...

@Matthias, how is Lightfeather progressing?
2010-04-06 20:53:00

I wish i could have my own business, like an indie game developer, but i realise more and more there is no money in such things.

I guess i'll just continue my day job as developer/electronics engineer. But a day job doesn't make you rich, and when we retire, we'll be only alowed to do so at 70 years or something. Then what's still left of your life...

Nah, still searching for the chicken with the golden eggs, but they fly high! Money doesn't make one happy, but no money doesn't either! :-)
2010-04-06 21:10:00

Consultant would be a great job. It's the reverse of "don't talk, just do it" - "don't do it, just talk". Blame the workers who did not understand your instructions when your advices don't work...

Capitalism ruins us all, sooner or later. Where is the exit?
2010-04-06 21:14:00

@Lenx, don't say it twice, imagine your simple game sold on the mobile market. Let's say you collect 1$ for each copy. Multiply that by some number you can find here
2010-04-06 21:26:00

But painting doesn't scale up - the painter can't resell the same paint job over and over again with only minor adjustments. Programmers can.

Painters can't become millionaires by just painting walls. Programmers CAN become millionaires by just writing code.
Voice of Hope
2010-04-07 01:36:00

Working smart is better than working hard. And you work smart.
The painter won't be able to paint better, but you'll be able to work smarter and eventually make more money in total.
Just don't forget to eat enough pizza while programming.
2010-04-07 03:00:00

Are you nuts? You got at least one great product, imho an excellent budding rival to something such as Unity3D, _especially_ when WebGL kicks in.

Im sure if you just gave it a real push, you sir, would be laughing!
2010-04-07 05:01:00

My comment on outsourcing-to-the-east:

in a major german electronics company I worked a couple of years ago we were told we had to give a little part of the project to the indian department. It was like this:

- if one of us had done it it would have been done in 3 to 4 weeks, including testing
- our colleagues from the indian department needed 2 month
- about three weeks of this working time one or two of my colleagues in our local department had telephone conferences with the other department to "introduce" the new developers to ... well ... the project, Java and HTTP programming

don't get me wrong - I don't think that developers in India don't know their jobs. From what I found out (by telephoning with another developer over there) the developers in the indian office came directly from school, took the chance to work for a big german company to gain some knowledge and then leave for a better paid job.
2010-04-07 07:31:00

Yes, Brainsaw is right, the Indian developers in all probability would have even given money to work on that job for work experience of 6 months for a big german company. India is overcrowded by population and Unemployment is great(even getting in BPO takes 9 rounds of interview). Getiing out of college means nothing if one does not have money or money paying job. People keep here only talking about money and the person getting 1000USD per month is considered very respectable here as it is equal to 45000 Indian Ruppees which is very good money. So by point of view of US, Germany eastern developers are underpaid, but from point of view of Indians they are very well employed(And 45000INr is equal to only 5000 USD regards to purchasing power if say both perosns buy same things in USA and India, It is just that people still donot need lots of luxuries here, for ex. car is a necessity in USA due to weather but luxury in India). India is just exploding right now with population and 80% wealth is in hands of 25% people(like 90% wealth of south africa is in hands of 10% people). I am an Indian, I see, hear live these things every day, people here are just in great hurry for money here(satisfaction or job satisfaction is almost unknown here, 90% people here just work for money and never care about what they want to do).
I am also MCA(Master of computer application) direct from college :) and never got any decent job due to 66% marks(It is all going to people with above 80% marks, like people you tell about, they just are not taught java in college and lot of them are total dumb)

I am myself writing novels(It is my no.1 preference for making money) I am happy and am making lot more money than software developers here(heck I would have been double happy even if was making half of there money, as I love writing)

I predict 20 years more for happening some thing really nasty in India, like riots, crime, Communism, Dictatorship, plain breakout, Invasion by China(they want it so badly) or anyother "Unforseen Consequences" due to overpopulation. Oh great I should probaly start thinking of more ingenous ways for Green Card.
2010-04-07 10:36:00

@Niko, You should really have done MBA also as it is very good addition for a experinced software developer if he thinks he is underpaid(which he generally is).
2010-04-07 10:40:00

Oh yes, MBA enables you to calculate better prices, if nothing else...
2010-04-07 11:19:00

Yes, if I become a plumber I can earn 2x or 3x what I earn as a programmer. But when I as a plumber get home at night and think of the day's work, would I have done something worthwhile? (Not that I have anything against plumbing or painting).
The Irrlicht library let's us create beautiful things. It is standing on the shoulders of others that humankind progresses. It is not going to change the world, but it is a legacy nevertheless. What legacy has the house painter or plumber left humankind? And don't forget Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Mark Shuttleworth, and even Linux Torvalds who have done well for themselves. So whatever profession one is in, if one loves it, and is good at it, one will be successful. And there are programmers in the defense and space industry who earn a lot of money, deservedly so. I think for the programmer it is to become the best in your craft, and if you are amongst the best, sooner or later you will reap the benefits, if not monetary, then in legacy.
2010-04-08 02:30:00

@Willem, Unarguably true.
2010-04-08 18:16:00

Let's all become painters.
2010-04-11 02:35:00

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