Techies In The Money

from the what-bad-job-market? dept

While some techies still seem to be complaining about a tight job market, that doesn’t seem to square away with two separate studies that came out today — both suggesting techies remain in high demand. First comes a study looking at the hourly salaries of many different tech related jobs, which found that salaries have reached a record high in the last quarter of last year. And, in case you’re wondering, the best paying job is being an “SAP Functional Consultant,” paying a decent $75.09 per hour. Meanwhile, another survey found that IT contractors are at record low unemployment levels and salaries are rising. Turns out, as expected, offshoring hasn’t killed off the tech industry just yet.

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Comments on “Techies In The Money”

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WHO? says:

Re: Sucker Born Every Minute

Hmmm. So do Computer Science majors (programmers), not get included in the study? Our programming jobs are getting moved to places like india where they get payed less and offer the same crappy buggy product. I think I should be fine, I realized when I was 18 that being in just 1 area dosn’t cut it these days, I work in EET, programming (mostly web), and media production. I get payed low but thats because I’m still young and need to build my knowledge and reptoir before I charge fees like $500 a day (my current suporvisor gets that much else where for video and audio)
The great thing about media services is that anyone can do it or try it, but it takes someone with enough concetration and training to make an event move flawlessly. People who know this pay a lot and those that don’t quickly learn.

Jonathon says:

Re: Sucker Born Every Minute

I for one have an issue with job security. To me, job security is being better than the next guy not sitting around watching the clock knowing that even if you don’t do your job well then you will still be asked to come back tomorrow. There is a whole new wave of employees and employers who both demand, deserve and receive high hourly wages. If you are lucky enough to be one of these people, then you either have to put out or get ready to start the job search again. If you get lazy and don’t stay on top of the ever changing tech market then you get left behind, plain and simple. I think that it is the best business model for all sides.

Survival of the fittest, the way that it should be.

Also, I hope that the business market starts moving to the same mentality, so that going back to grad school isn’t a way to get a piece of paper that says you deserve more money for the rest of your life just because you did something several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, higher education is a very important aspect of the business culture, the academic setting allows for learing and advancement of ideas that are rare at best in any other setting.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Sucker Born Every Minute

It’s interesting how techies punish themselves with talk of “survival of fittest”, “global competitiveness”, or “overnight obsolescence”, while plenty of people in other professions take job security for granted, with pay at least as good as techies. I guess our society has set up techies to be the cannon fodder, so people in other fields can sit back and enjoy the benefits of new technology, while techies are thanked for their labor with a pink slip.

Jonathon says:

Re: Re: Re: Sucker Born Every Minute

I understand where you are coming from, but the hope is that other industries start adopting this paridgm. I am a techie, I take pride in what I do. However, as I interact with other people in other industries I have great disdain for their apathy concerning their own career and personal and professional improvement. Dilbert continually makes fun of the execs that are dumbfounded by technology, innovation, and well basically change. We aren’t being masochist for wanting survival of the fittest, we just see the effects of those that can have the “job security” that you speak of that is completly misplaced.

On a brighter techie note, tech in general is becoming more integral to more and more business areas, thus more jobs, etc. Hopefully the survival of the fittest approach to hiring and firing will be incorporated into these other areas (ok, maybe getting a little too carried away).

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sucker Born Every Minute

Some parts of the economy probably could use more competition. On the other hand, technology will not necessarily lead to greater job insecurity in other professions — it could just mean that the other industries/professions will temporarily hire techies to improve the infrastructure, then fire them. Technology is not a substitute for well-trained health professionals, lawyers, policy analysts, chefs, welders, firemen, etc. We can have all the information technology we want, but there is still only a finite supply of people who can perform the other jobs.

Jack Sombra says:

Re: What I want to know is..

Don’t know about the states but here in the UK majority contractors work to an hourly rate

As to these reports, rates might be going up but got a feeling that is because the amount of contractors still working in IT is going down.

Vast majority of contractors i knew during the dot com boom times have now either left the industry or gone permie

So basic market forces come into play, same or more jobs, less contractors = Higher rates

Eeep, Eeep says the Monkey says:

Re: What I want to know is..

All us monkeys. That’s standard practice in IT consulting. It lets the company tell the IRS that you aren’t its employee, but rather the employee of Initech Consulting Agency. That’s a bold face lie as you will very clearly meet the IRS’s definition of an employee rather than a consultant because

1. Your hours are dictated by the company where you do your job.
2. You have little to no creative input on what gets done.
3. You are told what to do.
4. The company directly determines whether or not you personally will continue working there. That is, the company is actually making the hire/fire decision instead of just contracting out the work to the consulting company who then could put whoever on it.

If any of the above are true, the IRS can reclassify you as an employee of IniTech, which means IniTech has to give you health benefits (which you buy on your own as a contractor) and can’t fire you at a drop of a hat for no reason.

In practice, IniTech gets to use you as a regular employee but not give you benefits because the IRS just looks at who is filling out your W2 form. That’s why IniTech loves consultants. They are just like permanent employees, but without the cost of benefits.

Wizard Prang says:

No Subject Given

My understanding – and it might be flawed – is that changes in tax regulations in the UK led to a lot of contractors leaving the business. If so, this might create or contribute to a shortage of contractors.
This whole “survival of the fittest” mentality has some merit, but it has its flaws.
The Consulting industry owes its existence to shortsighted managers who are unable or unwilling to keep their IT people. Too many personnel jockeys think that Geeks are disposable and should therefore work for peanuts, and are amazed when said Geeks pack their bags for greener pastures. The managers then hire consultantants for 3-5x more and congratulate themselves because the money is coming out of a different pot…
Outsourcing is also an issue – companies go after percieved cost cuts only to find that there are communication and quality issues in both IT and Customer Support.
Another major issue is that Western cultures have a far higher esteem of people who “manage” stuff than they do of people who build stuff. Those in the Far East have no such illusions.
I have been a contractor/consultant since 1989, and will probably be one until I die/retire. I love what I do, and I am good at it. I make a good living, but I am worse off than I was ten years ago.

Reality Checking In says:


You will never, EVER get paid $75/hr even if that’s what the consulting agency your going through is charging.

When you start talking about a job with either a company or a consulting agency, they will make ask you how much you expect to make. If you ask first, they WILL NOT answer first. They will just ask you what you are making now.

They are not asking to see if your expectations are in line with the actual rate, they know they will try to lower your expectations if it is not. They are asking SOLELY to see if you are dumb enough to state a rate that is LOWER than the ACTUAL rate. In which case, they will say, “I think I can get the client to agree with that.”

NEVER state the rate you are willing to work at. Always state a ridiculously padded rate. The agency or employer will then state the real rate they will give you. It will NEVER be $75/hr. It will be between $35/hr and $47/hr for a SENIOR developer/architect or team lead in most areas. In San Francisco or New York, where the cost of living in 50%-100% higher, it might be $55/hr to $60/hr solely because of the cost of living.

Either way, it will not be enough to afford the mortgage payments of a 30 year loan for a standard, middle class house. You’ll need to marry someone with a descent job to be able to stop renting an apartment. For example, in south Florida, you have to have an income of at least $120,000/yr to afford the mortgage on a used middle class home.

The real income of developers has not gone up since 1998. In fact, it has plummeted. I would not let my children enter this field as there simply will not be ANY jobs for American or European developers in 20 years time.

I tell you, I WISH I could get a $75/hr rate. It ain’t happening. And it doesn’t matter how many years experience you have, how great your skills are, or how much you have proven your worth at EVERY SINGLE job you EVER had. Each time you apply for a job, they look at you as meat and they lowball you. They will promise that after 3, 6, 12 months they will increase your compensation after you’ve proven yourself to them, but they only need you for 3 to 6 months anyway, so they won’t.

Also, if you get paid by the hour, most companies will not let you work overtime (except for the ones that illegally don’t compensate you for it). If you get paid a fixed salary, those same companies will DEMAND that you work 60 hours a week. I prefer to work at an hourly rate simply so that I don’t have to work unpaid overtime (usually).

Don’t believe the rates quoted in the article. I have over 10 years of real-world experience and have been developing software since I was 9. I’m damn good at it, but that doesn’t matter. Your income is determined by the market, not by what you produce. The market is saturated with Chinese and Indian workers, so Info Tech is a bad industry to work in if you live in an industrialized (i.e., not third world) country.

Remember, IBM has just replaced 40,000 American and European programmers with Indians. Every other company (even the small ones now) are doing the same.

If you are in your 30’s-60’s, then it’s probably too late to change careers. If you’re in your 20’s, I think you’d be much better off finding something else. If you are majoring in C.S. now, then for the love of god switch majors! You’re not invested yet. Don’t think that just because you like programming, that you’ll like the work you do as a developer. Companies don’t care about quality or innovative code. They just want grunt work done, interfacing with free software they can download from Apache or expensive software they buy from Oracle/IBM/Microsoft/PeopleSoft/etc.

Program as a hobby, not as a career. That’s the best advice you’ll ever hear in techdirt or slashdot.

Joe says:


Ive been a self employed consultant contractor since 1997 and have never had trouble finding work, you must be doing something very wrong or have bad skills. The lowest rate I have taken is $125p.h when I started, I usually get $200p.h, even with government contracts.

Ive never worked more than 3 days a week, Ive paid off a million dollar house, raised a big family with my wife at home and have taken years of time off between jobs.

Dont listen to this negative view. He sounds like a sore looser.

If he complains and is as negative as much as this with his employers as he does in his email, its no wonder he has trouble.

Im a network security consultant/software developer in the SF bay area.

Get real Joe says:


Joe doesn’t sound like a real guy. Sounds like a 15 year old kid pretending to be a 35 year old guy.

“Ive paid off a million dollar house” but I haven’t figured out how to type an apostrophe. I hate to break this to everyone, but there is no way a programmer is owning a million dollar house unless he was lucky enough to get in with a Microsoft, Apple, or Amazon — which isn’t easy because you never know which companies are going to be successful and which ones aren’t.

Typical pompous flamer trying to blame the messenger. Don’t believe a word he says.

Fine, don’t listen to me. Listen to the literally tens of thousands of people who leave software development each year. Each one has a story. The idea that I’m making this up is ridiculous.

As I said, it doesn’t matter what skills or experience you have. All that matters is the market. If Joe were a real hot-shot business guy, he would know that. Yet, he’s suggesting that you can ignore the market if you have real talent. Hey Joe, want to bet that million dollar house of yours that I can produce code both better and quicker than you? Thought not. ’nuff said.

Joe says:


I wish I was 15 but im 41. Sorry but I also know plenty of other consultant/contractor here in the bay area that have done the same.

I do not bet that you cant write good code, but you obviously have trouble turning your talent into money. Is that not the real talent that counts?

Building good contacts and providing a skill that solves real world problems are the key. Any monkey can code, its what you do with it that counts.

Stay in denial if you want, but dont forget that this whole story is about how the consultant biz is booming, not crashing!

Hector says:


If your just starting out your career and reading this with a view to consulting or independant contracting in the future, dont not let these negative views discourage you.

An independant consultant is the single best job in the world. Better than a CEO or high pressured exec any day.

The pay is better and you can choose your work schedule. You have all the tax rightoffs of a normal biz and you can keep your own work.

Its not for everyone, you must have full confidence in your abilities and have insight to what the market needs. You need to roll with the punches and ignore negative comments from regular employees and contractors that work thro agencies.

Form your own sole proprietorship in your town and open a biz account at BofA and start looking for work. Work 1099 directly with customers and prepare to sweat it for the first few years.

Then sit back and enjoy life. There is nothing even close.

The catch? You need to have a real skill thats in demand and be a likeable person that people want to work with. You can work by yourself and are willing to do all aspects of a job without complaining. Always be positive, talk to everyone about any ideas they have and never put people down.

You know if you have it, you dont need me to tell you.

See you out there ….

Bongo the Monkey says:


> Any monkey can code,

I have yet to see a monkey code. I have rarely seen a human code *well*. Whoever posted that doesn’t know crap about coding.

Writing software is something that less than 1 in 10,000 people in the world population can do at all. Writing software *well* is something that less than 1 in a million people can do. Still think monkeys can write code?

I suppose there are a lot of people who can write a simple for-loop. But if writing new, innovative software is so damn easy, then why isn’t there a technological breakthrough everyday. Rarely does something come along like the WWW, napster, RMDBS, OO programming, a secured operating system.

Perhaps Joe meant that any monkey can write trivial code. When was the last time a company was interested in writing trivial code?

On an unrelated note, there seems to be a strong primate theme going on in this thread. Monkeys have been brought up more times than one would normally expect in a discussion of coding.

Anonymous Programmer Grunt says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Quit flamming and get the facts

I have no idea where Joe got his numbers, but here are some published numbers (from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, I think). Not bad numbers, but not that great either considering the cost of living in areas where programmers work (Silicon Valley, New York, etc.) It doesn’t sound like there is much opportunity to earn rates about $80K/yr according to these numbers

Median annual earnings of computer programmers were $60,290 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,960 and $78,140 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,080; the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,860. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of computer programmers in 2002 were:

Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers $70,440
Software publishers 66,870
Computer systems design and related services 65,640
Management of companies and enterprises 59,850
Data processing, hosting, and related services 59,300

Anonymous Programmer Grunt says:

Re: Re: Re:4 More hard facts

It appears that the number of “IT workers” is *greatly* larger than the number of computer programmers. Here’s the facts according to the Computing Research Association, an association of more than 200 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government, and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional societies.

Table 2-4 shows the number of IT workers in the United States and the annual percentage change in employment, using data from BLS. 23 Over the period 1988 to 1997, employment in the IT occupations (as they define them) grew from 1,259,000 to 2,063,000 jobs-a 64-percent increase. This can be compared with an increase of 29 percent in all professional jobs and an increase of only 13 percent in the total workforce during this time. Over this period, IT jobs increased from eight to eleven percent of all professional jobs in the United States, and from 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent of all jobs in the United States.

As figure 2-3 shows, the vast majority of IT jobs as reported by BLS are in one occupational category (Computer Systems Analysts and Scientists). Over the period 1988 to 1996, this category has grown much faster (158 percent) than the category of Computer Programmers (9.8 percent), while the category of Operations and Systems Researchers has dropped by 4.3 percent. From 1988 to 1996, the number of Computer Programmers dropped from 570,000 to 561,000, but in 1997 the number jumped to 626,000 (an 11.6 percent increase in one year). This may be an artifact of the temporary demand created by the Y2K problem.


Also, another quote from another source.

Phoenix Business Journal
“Programming jobs decline”
25 March 2005

The number of computer programmers in the United States of America (USA) fell from 745,000 in 2000 to 564,000 in 2004.

–> This quote is really scary. I suspect that there will be fewer people majoring in computer science (excluding foriegn students).

Anonymous Coward says:


> Any monkey can code

That’s a load of crap. Writing decent code is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. That’s why so few people can do it. Heck, most people complain about how hard computers are to use. Image if they tried programming the computers.

People also complain about how hard VCRs are to program, and that they don’t understand them. And let’s face it, “programming” a VCR is much more like setting an alarm clock than programming a computer.

P.H. says:

I agree in many ways it is a crappy field

This field just chews you up and spits you back out. Really in what other job where on average you get paid 28k – 50k a year do you have to take so much abuse, work so many extra hours, be oncall always, have no security, and be expected to always put studying new technologies/ certifications before family, hobbies, or time to unwind?!? Not to mention that in many jobs, the IT person is expected to fix all the home computers also of the company’s employees! OK… but the Accountant isn’t going to pay my bills for me and the janitor isn’t going to clean my house for me… but there is some special exception when it comes to IT. I worked so hard to get my degree in Computer Science to break into the field then I found out that in this career it isn’t enough. If I want some hope of job security or skill marketability, I have to constantly study and work on updating certifications (paying for them usually myself and studying for them on my own time.) Reading your responses to this article and writing my own response makes me realize how truly burned out I am… but oh after over 10 years in this field I have only one week of vacation time and almost no sick time (Thanks downsizing!) so no relaxing vacations for me even if I could find some affordable, god-forsaken-enough place where work absolutely couldn’t reach me on my vacation! Maybe I do need to change jobs? I’ve also noticed that other departments in other companies the workers are much less stressed, get promoted much quicker, and rarely are asked to give up their nights & weekends.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

It’s been said before in this thread, but I’ll say it, too. The problem is outsourcing. That guy was right, there aren’t going to be any jobs for Americas in the near future. See article snippet below.

Consulting company Sand Hill Group last year surveyed executives from about 50 software companies and found that offshore software development has become standard practice. Eighty-four percent of companies said they use offshore developers, an increase from about 63 percent two years earlier.

“Core software development is done offshore, not just maintenance and testing,” said M.R. Rangaswami, co-founder of Sand Hill Group. “These executives said they are more reliant on offshore development than ever before.”

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