Why Working in Tech Rules
Why software developers earn more than average
The great global economic recession is over and the global economy has bounced back. However, reports on the news about people being dissatisfied with their salaries became very frequent.
There are many professions that have been gradually declining in value for various reasons, for example increasing adoption of automation and new technologies. However there are some professions where salaries have historically been high which shows no sign of change in pattern. Software engineer is one of them.
Many people resent this and believe that it is unfair; however there are perfectly rational reasons that justify higher than average salaries in the software industry.
3 factors that determine your salary
The most popular explanation for variation in salaries between different professions is the law of supply and demand. Although accurate, this explanation is way too vague and isn't very helpful for those who want to know how they can earn more without having to undertake a detailed market analysis. Fortunately, there is a much more useful set of gauging tools, which consists of the following principles:
Your salary depends on the need for what you do, your ability to do it and how difficult it is to replace you.
I have heard this set of principles from a presentation by Bob Proctor, who is one of the most enspiring motivational gurus. These principles are so simple, yet they explain sufficiently well how the job market in the capitalist economy works.
Software is needed
As we have already explained in this post, software is everywhere these days. Even your TVs and washing machines have it. This makes software developers pretty valuable commodity.
However, this factor alone does not explain high salaries of software engineers, as there are many jobs that are in high demand where people are paid not much above legal minimum wage. So, this brings us to the second principle.
Software geeks are usually good at what they do
Most of the people who move into software engineering industry are geeky computer enthusiasts who have spent their childhood playing video games and having fun with various gadgets, so they genuinely enjoy their work. As well as this, many of them can compete with Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory in terms of inflated ego, but in a good way. For them, it is absolutely essential that they get recognised for good quality of work, so they strive to be the best. Whatever their motivation is, there aren't that many software developers that suck at what they do.
However, even this factor combined with the previous one doesn't justify their high salaries. Occasionally, you can meet a cleaner who goes an extra mile in her job. This takes us to the final key factor.
Software developers can't be easily replaced
The paradox is that anyone has access to all the tools needed to become a software engineer. The web is saturated with free tutorials covering every variation of software technology for people of all ability levels. The industry has the minimal level of bureaucracy, as most often employers are interested in whether you can code, rather than seeing a piece of paper proving that you have acquired a particular software-related qualification. I have seen many examples of successful self-taught developers, myself included. I studied biology at university, which is as far from software development as you can possibly imagined, and I have met people who did physics, geography or even history.
However, getting onto the career ladder is not that simple. Even though all information about software development is at people's fingertips, it is almost impossible to learn for those who are not interested in it or who are not dedicated enough to study. It also takes years to become proficient.
Given that those people who are interested in software development and who are dedicated enough to study it represent only a small portion of general population while demand for software is over the roof, they become pretty difficult to replace. This is why in software industry if you tell your employer that you are planning to leave, you are almost guaranteed to get a counter-offer of better compensation. This is why the salaries are kept high in the first place. Software developers don't need to join unions.
What if your salary is low despite these principles?
On rare occasions, developers do get low salaries. This is primarily because most of them are introverts, which is incorrectly interpreted by some people as lack of confidence. So a small number of employers assume that the developers will not be willing to get out of their comfort zone to ask for the pay-rise or to look for another job. This is not always because of employer's greed, as this situation often occurs in businesses that apply "race to the bottom" principle in bidding, i. e. trying to win projects by offering the lowest possible price. Whichever it is, it is your employer's problem, not yours.
If you are in this situation, the good news is that it is quite easy to leave. Software companies are everywhere these days, so you don't have to stay with an employer that doesn't value your skills. The only significant obstacle is stress associated with leaving, but at the end it is usually worth it.
Even better news is that if you don't like your new place, you can change again. Being valuable commodity, software developers don't get penalised for job-hopping. This practice is very common in the industry, so the process of changing job becomes risk-free.
10 Best Reasons to Work in Tech
You may be a young person who is about to start a university course and hasn't yet decided what to do. Or may be you are a professional mid-way through his or her career who wants a change. Regardless of who you are, this article has been brought to you to outline 10 most fundamental benefits of working in tech industry.
1: Tech is everywhere
Have you ever seen an office or a reception without a computer? Have you found many places in towns and cities where you would not be able to connect to either mobile network or Wi-Fi? In our modern world, the answers to both of these questions would be no. Nowadays, technology plays very important part of our life. As consumers, we shop online, talk to our friend on social networks, read news and do many other things with our computers, tablets and smartphones. But this is only a small part of the story. A significant part of our modern infrastructure is based on computers and networks. Every time you withdraw money from a cash machine or let a shop assistant scan your shopping, you are triggering an execution of computer programs.
For this reason, the demand for jobs in tech is enormous. And it is not going to die-down any time soon. As a society, we are getting more and more connected and as a consequence of this, the demand for tech professionals is only going to increase. For this reason, if you get an IT-related professional qualification, you are almost guaranteed a secure career.
2: This is where the money is
In free market capitalist economy, there are 3 factors that your salary depends on: the need for what you've chosen to do, how good you are in what you do and how difficult it is to replace you. As we have seen in point 1, the demand for IT professionals is enormous. Most of tech professionals are highly motivated, which allows vast majority of them to do their job well. Finally, the highly technical specialist jobs require high degree of training and experience, so the employees are not very easy to replace. This makes almost everyone in the industry highly valuable and contributes to their salaries being above average.
On top of already high salary, tech professionals also enjoy something else that those who work in other industries don't get: counter-offers. The process of changing jobs in tech usually involves a competitor offering you a higher salary or better benefits than you are currently getting. In this situation, any wise manager would realise that it would cost the company more to employ someone else to replace you, so they would decide to offer you a significant rise if you would stay, which your new prospective employer may or may not match. As this is very common in the industry, salaries often rise much quicker than almost anywhere else.
3: You already have everything you need for your training
Because most of the jobs in tech involve a computer and access to internet, they are the only tools you need to get trained as a tech professional. This especially applies to programming, which is the core activity in tech. If you want to start programming, there are countless online tutorials at your fingertips that are available free of charge. Likewise, absolutely any programming language that you would ever use as a tech professional is available to download with its integrated development environment. Absolutely any programming tasks that you would do in an office can be done on your own computer at home.
The downside of it is that this requires a lot of patience. The good side of it, however, is that anyone with a reasonable logical thinking can do it. Contrary to the common belief, you don't need a qualification in IT-related subject to achieve a great career in tech. As the proof, I am enjoying a fulfilling career as a software developer, despite being educated as a biologist. Likewise, I've met other successful software developers who have studies Physics or even English Literature.
4: The jobs are interesting
Since I've started working in tech, I have never looked back. There is so much to learn and it gives enormous sense of satisfaction when you are able to execute tasks that you didn't know how to do just a few days ago. It is also exciting to know in details how things work and feels good when you are able to solve highly technical problems with ease.
Tech is ever-evolving field, so the learning will never stop once you get your foot through the door. As IT is slowly moving into all industries, there is a good chance that anyone will find something that they would be excited to learn and do. No longer tech professional is a geek in thick glasses, sitting in front of a desktop computer!
5: Easy to change your employer if you don't like it there
High demand of jobs in tech ensures that people who work in the industry are really spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing their employer. Although most of the employers would do all they can to keep hold of their employees, there is still a chance that someone may end up working in an environment where they are really not enjoying being in. The good news is that they wouldn't have to endure it and can change their situationist with relative ease. This is especially true for experienced employees.
6: Realistic opportunities to solve problems of your choice
Because of huge increase in computer processing power over last few decades, solving almost any problems nowadays involves tech. Buildings, electro-mechanical systems and even everyday consumer products are designed by computer-aided design software. Flood protection is planned with the help of hydraulic modelling applications. Traffic modelling software is used in planning new road networks and efficiently modifying the existing ones. Geographic information system software is used in satellite navigation and countless other planning activities. And these are only some of the examples of how diverse the tech is.
This allows great choice of the problems to solve. Fed-up with traffic and want the roads to be managed better? You can join a team working on cutting edge traffic modelling software. Want to get involved in helping with economic development of deprived regions in your country? Geographic information system applications connected to variety of data engines will help you to do this. Are you concerned about any other issue in the wider world not being addressed? You can help any organisation dealing with this issue to build a website and make them visible through search engine optimisation. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
7: Your skills will come in handy elsewhere
Regardless of what your speciality in tech would be, any career within the industry would help you to develop great transferable skills, such as attention to details and ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time. Many people who have been working in the industry for a while report unintended positive things in their lifes, like being able to notice a parking spot on a busy street or being able to retain concentration while performing seemingly boring repetitive tasks.
One particularly note-worthy side-effect of working in tech industry is the fact that the habit of learning complex technical stuff extends to activities outside work. For example, people find that instead of hiring someone to fix a car, they are suddenly keen to learn and do it themselves. Of course, you will not become a DIY expert or a mechanic overnight and would still need to hire professionals for more complicated tasks, but you will certainly find that learning many of the tasks that you though were completely beyond you will get substantially easier.
8: You will acquire excellent problem-solving skills
Regardless whether your career is in software, hardware, technical support, project management or sales, your job will consist of breaking problem down into small manageable components and thoroughly test the solutions. Just imagine how good people become at solving problems while they are doing this all day long!
Embedding the best method of solving problems known to humanity deep into your subconsciousness will make you into an excellent problem-solver. You probably haven't met an awful lot of tech professionals whose life is a mess. This is because problems in their lives tend to get solved way before they become unmanageable.
9: You'll get a good chance to travel
Of course, this depends on many factors, but on average, tech professionals are more likely to get opportunities to travel than their peers in most of the other industries.
There are many huge multi-national corporations with offices all over across the world, so, if you've been lucky enough to secure a job with one of them, your chances to travel the world suddenly improve. But even if you are not employed by one of these giants, the good news are that the demand for tech skills is world-wide, so with enough hard work, you will be able to work in a location of your choice.
10: Countless freelancing opportunities
Whether you want to earn some extra cash or even want to take it as far as working for yourself, tech industry provides many opportunities for this. This is especially true for software development.
There are many websites, e.g. Elance, that have been put in place to connect freelancers with clients, so finding opportunities is as easy as ever. Picking up few simple projects at the beginning will build up your rating, which, in time, will allow you to win bids for more interesting and better paid projects. Alternatively, there are opportunities to completely be your own boss and start your own projects. For example, you can use any skills that you've learned during your career to develop and publish smartphone apps or launch your own website.
Fiodar Sazanavets is an owner of MobileTechTracker, a website dedicated to mobile computing technology available at http://mobiletechtracker.co.uk