Programming Career Question

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by macuser1232, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. macuser1232, Jul 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012

    macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #1
    Hey I was wondering if it is possible to be paid over $100,000 a year if you go to a college that is in the top 10 and receive a Master's in Computer Science. Also I am talking about specifically OS programming and cross platform languages like Java, C, C++ etc. Also I am not really looking for a Windows Programming job because I prefer to Code on Mac or even Linux.

    Thanks
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    Catfish_Man

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2001
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #2
    Yes. It's also possible to be paid that much if you don't do those things.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #3
    oh wow, a while ago it the salary was between 30,000 and 88,000. So what would be some examples of business to work for?
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    #4
    Ya know. I am wondering something about this topic.

    It seems more and more people are getting in to this field (including me). I went to film school from 90-94'. back then there was no youtube and when you bought video gear it was an expensive investment. People were paid well because the industry required skill labor and there was not that much.

    Today you can buy a Mac with editing software on it. Your smart phone comes with a cameras built in. If you are lucky you get a job making $25 an hour. A local cable company I work with pay there guys around $18 p/h.

    So today if you want to make a lot money in video / film you need to make the next best low budget movie that is a hit. That is your Angry Birds app for example. The more people enter the programming field the more saturated it will be just like I saw what happened to the video production world.

    The only certain thing that I see is that everything changes.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #5
    So are you saying the pay of this job is raising or decreasing?
     
  6. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #6
    It's also possible to do all those things and not be paid anywhere near that much.

    ----------

    I'd say it's "spreading". At the low end especially.

    There continue to be some highly paid positions. Some of these are at big companies. Some of these are at startups that happen to have a hit.

    There are also more positions that pay less well, or don't pay at all. Consider all the folks who don't even make back their iOS Developer fee, or intentionally don't charge anything for their app. Basically, the App Store gives more exposure to infrequent developers, or single-app developers, or hobbyist developers. Many of those would be invisible before, unless they somehow managed to make a splash and have a hit.

    And there's still the big middle ground, where you make decent money, working for any number of different-sized companies, with or without a degree from a big university.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    #7
    What college you go to, what degrees you have and how many languages you know have little to do with how much money you'll make. It's more about your experience, whether or not you are considered an expert in a certain field, who you know, what part of the country you work in, whether you work for a big or small company, are you just a programmer or can you be more of a software architect for a large project, etc.

    In general though, given maybe a decade or 2 of experience and you are considered to be at a senior level, you can make close to or more than $100,000 / year. It's also possible to be paid a lot more than that but that's more rare.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #8
    Hm. Well I know for a fact that The West and North East(I live here) are the two regions that have the highest paying jobs associated with Computer Science and Programming. Um, I do plan on aiming high because I know I have the potential and I also have very good education ahead of me so I think with the experience I will have in the end, I may be able to work for a big software engineering company. Unfortunately, even though I love Apple and Macs I however, do not enjoy IOS developing :( . Some of the things I am interested in programming are computers(don't know much about it, but hope to learn), operating systems, and software/applications for Mac or Windows. All of these I hope to do on a Mac computer. I really hate using Windows and wish to stay away, but I do like Linux.
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    lee1210

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #9
    I know of people making that much or more without all of the stated criteria. Why do you want/need to make this much (or is this just academic?)? Why set that as a bar? Are you considering cost of living? Are you expecting/hoping to make that much right out of school or make that 10 years down the line? Do you have a BA/BS in CS already? Do you have professional programming experience? Are you willing to work in a niche language/field/location? Are you considering base salary only, or bonuses/equity awards?

    To paraphrase "The Social Network": $100,000 / year isn't cool, $1,000,000 / year is cool. Tell me what school I need to go to for that.

    -Lee
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    #10
    I'm going to speak in general with a programming slant since this really isn't a software developer specific question. Most of this is simply food for thought since a career isn't really just a question of making the biggest salary possible.

    Like most careers, the matter of pay comes down to what you know, how much they want/need you, and how well you negotiate. If you can make your employer feel like you're worth $1XX,000 v.s. $XX,000 you're going to get the bigger pay check. Just having a CS degree in and of itself is as useful to programmers as having a drivers license is to race car drivers. Some of my coworkers have a Masters in CS and others never went to College at all. I have an AS in CS and an unfinished bachelors and have done fine for myself so far. There are certain jobs I will never be able to get until I finish my bachelors because the people who hire are either told, or firmly believe themselves, that you must have a Bachelors of Masters from a highly ranked university to work there. I've been told that Google has that policy. From what I'm told, Apple and IBM also seem to have that policy unless you're damn good and don't mind being a contractor.

    One thing I've found has helped me is to try my best to be indispensable but not irreplaceable... i.e. be such a valuable asset you're always wanted but don't pidgin hole yourself into a job where you can never move up or sideways. Two perks I've found to this strategy are: A. your employers make sure you're happy. And try to find interesting things for you to do, and B. If your company is going under, and someone asks your boss or manager "hey, do you have anyone good?" they'll tend to mention your name. At my current job I started as a Perl developer but then moved into iOS dev because I'm the only one on the team that knew the basics of the platform. As a result they paid me to learn iOS dev and they didn't have to pay a head hunter to find an iOS dev. Mutual win!

    On the other hand Some people find a level and development stack they're comfortable with and try their hardest to stay there. I'm not one of those, so I can't really comment on how well that works. However, what I have seen is that people who are slow to change usually get left behind and out of a job. Another thing I can't comment on but seems to work for some people is finding your way into management as quickly as possible. I've met managers with only a couple years of experience. I've met people who started as interns and became managers because new interns came in and the old manager quit. At my first internship I was offered a similar position (I'd be the #2 manager) but turned it down because they wanted me to remain an intern for a few more months until more budget was freed up. I had another offer from a startup and took that instead.

    Some places, usually mega-corps, ad networks, and naively run startups with too much cash on their hands, simply higher whatever grads they can get from whatever top schools they can attract because they know that for however many people they get, a certain number will be great programers, another tier will be just ok, and then they figure the six months of salary they spent on the rest was worth the investment in finding the first two groups. If they're really lucky, they'll land a super star and be able to retain them. If you're a really good negotiator, you can get into one of these places and from there flip work places and make a great salary while all along you know absolutely nothing about developing software. I went to school with one guy who does this (completely unaware of his incompetence) and met another from India who has been doing it since the .Com boom years (and is completely aware of his incompetence).

    Huge pay checks are nice, but working in a friendly environment with good perks and competitive pay is better IMO. I'd rather make $70K and be happy than $120K and miserable... but at the same time I have very few material wants and am single. If you have an expensive hobby (say a race car) and/or a family, perhaps your case is different. If you can get paid > $100K while working in a fantastic environment, then you're set.

    Another thing to look at is stock options. Obviously this is not a sure thing, but if you can find a competitive salary at a start up the stock options could end up being worth more than the difference in salary you'd get while working at a mega-corp. Again, kids, mortgage, expensive taste might make you prefer the safer more secure approach.

    Finally, if you fancy it, you can be a contractor for most of your career and do pretty well. My cousin taught himself electronics and programming in the 80s and got his start in Hollywood building lighting computers and PLC based stage controls (an example of something he worked on include stages that move and reconfigure themselves during the Super Bowl). He branched out into other areas and got to do some work for military contractors, an early IMAX competitor, the Luxor casino, and a now defunct F1 team. He made a lot of money, saved most of it, and retired, comfortably, at 50. This is a guy who was totally self taught.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #11
    Timing is a huge issue here.

    1. Years ago I was a true expert in DOS, people were moving to Windows and it was hard to find a DOS programming job.

    The point is that the market (supply/demand) is a huge issue.

    2. Way back when Microsoft said Visual FoxPro was _THE_ development environment for business apps on Windows. Computer Associates said CA-Visual Objects was the path to go.

    The other timing issue concerns the years needed to get a job. Look at the ads and you'll see 2 years for iOS, 5 to 10 years for C++/Java/C# etc... 2 years from now, they'll be asking for 4 or 5 years iOS.

    The point is that unless you get in near the start (first year or two) of a wave, you might not ever catch up.

    Consider: If you decided to develop in C++, you'd compete against people with 5 to 10 years over you.
    If you decided to develop in ObjC(iOS) you'd be about 2 years behind the curve and next year you'd have 1 year while everyone already underway, would have about 3 years.

    You might end up going down a path that is popular now, only to find out it's not popular when you get the 2 years under your belt.

    Not too much demand for Y2K COBOL hot-shots any more...

    Waves come and go...
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #12
    Wow. Very helpful advice. Thanks!. Yeah there are so many things to learn in this subject(CS)! I guess I will just keep on expanding my knowledge of programming languages.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    #13
    In regards to the video business I saw get watered down over the years. There are still people that get paid very well doing it. Just like people mentioned with programming.

    With the one app in the app store I have, I don't make money with it and I give it out for free. But when I go around selling advertising on my hotel visitors TV program I say, "Now I have an app tourists download for free". This added more value and although I don't make money from the app directly, I make it on the back end with more sales in ads.

    "Think Different" as apple once said.
     
  14. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #14
    Education helps but is not a golden ticket. I could probably fetch $100-130k in some markets with my skill set as a developer, and you want to know what my educational background is? A bachelor's in international studies, from a lowly state school better known for football than academics.

    Experience is just as important as credentials. If development is what you want to do, spend your college years contributing to open source projects (esp. since you don't seem averse to Linux development) and finding a team on campus to develop and release apps to the App Store/Google Play with, anything you can document and fill a resume with. If you happen to be doing it while at a top 10 university... great.

    Don't just shoot for some number you want to see on a tax return, though. Focus on starting a building a career on something you like doing, and the money will follow. Especially in this field.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #15
    Yeah exactly. I'm trying to learn as much as I can right now but sometimes I find it difficult. Currently I'm learning Java and I'm also moving to C, C++, and Python. Along with this I'm not letting my Web Development skills get away either. Also I really need help learning about other stuff like Assembly, the hardware aspect of computers, etc.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #16
    I wouldn't fixate on the payrate alone. In SF Bay Area the average tech job pays $100K, but it's also a pricy place to live. The taxrate in CA either the highest in the nation or close to it.

    I live within commute distance to the Bay Area, and the job postings there are HUGE compared to the ones just a few hours out.

    Something else to think about, it's not just what lang/OS that you dev on. It's also the industry that you work in. Not as important, but still a plus when you're looking for a certain job.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #17
    Yes I agree. Right now, I just need to find a website on the internet or book that will enable me to learn something from each of these topics, computer hardware, OS's, Assembly language, and just general stuff about computers and computer science. I already know quite a bit about programming though.
     
  18. macrumors regular

    DrMotownMac

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Michigan
    #18
    Here is a GREAT book.

    Introduction to Computing Systems: From bits & gates to C & beyond

    Unfortunately, it's not available for Kindle or iBooks, but I read the FIRST edition about 10 years ago. The link above is for the second edition, but apparently there is a third edition due to come out in January 2013.

    It used to be the textbook for the introductory computer science class at the University of Michigan, but then the professors who wrote the book both went to other places. It's great because it really explains the LOGIC of computers, starting with how the hardware works, machine language, assembly language, and ultimately up to C. All of those things about bits and bytes, logic gates, etc., made much more sense to me as I was reading that book. Actually, as I'm writing about it here, I'm sort of inspired to re-read it! But I may wait for the next edition. I sent a message to the publisher (on Amazon's site) requesting a Kindle version, but I'm not very optimistic.

    Check out McGraw-Hill's website on the book.

    Introduction to Computing Systems, 2/e

    They actually have some good downloadable material there, including some PowerPoint slides from lectures given based on the book. If you download the first few PowerPoint presentations from NC State, I think you'll get the gist of what the book's about.
     
  19. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #19
    Depends on the economy and supply-and-demand at the time you graduate.

    During boom times, new and growing companies around my area outbid each other for programing talent with experience competing at top University graduate programs. During the deep downturns, programmers with great educational credentials and far more experience than you might end up working at an ice cream shop... if they could find any employment at all.

    And things can go from boom to bust faster than you can get out of school.

    Enjoy your gamble. It's a bigger one than taking the mortgage down payment and heading to Vegas for some fun. Except some people think the odds are slightly better.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #20
    Oh my gosh thanks so much for the links! Can't wait to read it. I do think i'll wait for the next edition if it's not too long.
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
  22. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    macuser1232

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    #22
    Little did I know that it was $120
     
  23. macrumors regular

    DrMotownMac

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Michigan
    #23
    Um, yeah. Sorry. I forgot to mention the bad thing about it. I was hoping if they released an ebook version, it would be a little cheaper.
     
  24. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #24
    Try Petzold's book "Code". Not too expensive.
     
  25. macrumors regular

    DrMotownMac

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Michigan
    #25
    Thanks for the tip! Just downloaded...looks very interesting!
     

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