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Old 07-25-2012, 10:18 AM   #1
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What to learn to make 90k+ a year

Hello All,

Basically Im starting to learn C++. I'd eventually like to vear myself towards a path that makes over 100k or more. I've seen adds on CL for Oracle DB managers and other things that offer starting salaries of 70K+.

Im 24. Have a ton of time on my hands, and really am interested in the technology field in general. I could potentially see myself in the future being a systems developper or a game designer or maybe a software consultant. I look at programs that I use and think "Man this program sucks, It would be so much better if it could do, this this this this etc.. etc.. "

Just wondering what kind of paths I should take and what books etc to learn. Should I just learn as much as possible? Is CompTIA even worth it or should I just stick to the software side?
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

90K+ what? 90k+ forint is pretty easy, 90k+ US dollars is achievable , 90k+ GBP is hard.

Assuming you are talking about GBP or USD. Those figures are not something that you get from learning a specific language. I would say that there are some experts in almost every programming language earning very big bucks, because they have an excellent knowledge of the language and a huge amount of experience. C++ is not going away any time soon, but you will need to be more than just an expert in C++ to earn 90k+.
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

Any comparisons to poker? Easier? Harder?
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:54 AM   #4
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

Its extremely hard to make 90k+ per year playing poker.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:06 PM   #5
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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but you will need to be more than just an expert in C++ to earn 90k+.
I don't know what to write...
Why do you believe this and who is responsible?

OP if you study C++, many languages won't be hard to pick up if you're concerned and just keep learning is probably the best advice you are going to get.

Depending on what your field of interest... is where you should look!

If you really want to work for a game company C++ is what you want to stick with because any serious high demanding game is written with it. Now there are games coded in other languages but I would go with the majority rules and apply that for whatever you decide.

Also your ideas on how you could improve some app so many ways isn't always what companies that hire you will want. Since that is what makes companies go under and I'm sure you don't want to be the type of programmer that just sticks around till the money stops to go find work elsewhere.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Its extremely hard to make 90k+ per year playing poker.
That's encouraging. Thanks for the comparison.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:07 PM   #7
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

36k and great people around you and something super interesting >> 70k entry level pay. If you just look at how much money you can make you're almost surely doing it wrong.

Especially as a self study guy growing/getting better on the job trumps all money you can make.

I mean if you're in it for the max. money take 2 years at some shop where you can improve the fastest, save every penny you can...have a good idea and start your own business.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

You mentioned game design, system development, etc. and you're starting to learn C++.

I take it you're not interested in web development?

Fine if you're not, but IMO the best way to get help with this type of question is to start with zeroing in on what exactly you'd like to do.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:36 PM   #9
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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I look at programs that I use and think "Man this program sucks, It would be so much better if it could do, this this this this etc.. etc.. "
90% of all software users think this.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:23 PM   #10
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

If I understand your goals correctly, forget about learning programming. Spend all your time learning how to interview for programming jobs (completely different skill) and then freelance short term contracts. 3 month contracts are probably safest, 6 months is doable, but don't push it. You'd be surprised how long you can hold a job as a programmer at many companies without actually doing anything... but just don't stay long enough for them to figure out you don't know what you're doing, or it'll get back to recruitment companies and you'll have trouble getting your next short term contract.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:39 AM   #11
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

I'd suggest you grab a copy of The Algorithm Design Manual by Steven Skiena and work your way through it in whatever language(s) you like. Personally I wouldn't learn C++ first, because you'll pick up a lot of bad habits. If you have to use it though, to learn best practice I'd recommend consulting the C++ FAQ Lite website.

If you really just want to write apps, then nice clean languages like python are probably the way to go. If you want to end up doing any complex system work though, then learning a language like C is worth it - the language itself is quite small, and it forces you to learn about memory management, etc. I'd also recommend playing with Scheme or LISP, because they really get you thinking about the best way to solve problems elegantly.

In the end you need to consider the domain you really want to work in, everything involving data at the moment is where the big $$ are, but it's not for everyone. As far as I'm aware, game programmers don't earn a lot of money (I can't imagine it being interesting work either).
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Old 07-26-2012, 11:32 AM   #12
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Personally I wouldn't learn C++ first, because you'll pick up a lot of bad habits.
Explain this for me please because I usually only hear this for people that want to learn C and then move to C++ as the other way around.

You're right about getting paid poor by most game companies when starting. I do hear stories that the pay becomes reasonable as you progress in the industry but that is true for everywhere.
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Old 07-26-2012, 11:38 AM   #13
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

The best way to make 90K+ a year for a developer.
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Old 07-26-2012, 01:01 PM   #14
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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I'd suggest you grab a copy of The Algorithm Design Manual by Steven Skiena and work your way through it
Jesus. That sounds like a fate worse than death. And I like computers.

My two cents, fwiw:

-If your goal is money, I'd avoid game dev. Only a few companies create video games. But there are TONS of companies that need an online store, a mobile app, new feature on the web site, etc.

-Hopefully you're not too far invested in learning C++. Drop it immediately and start learning PHP, Python, or Ruby. This has nothing to do with "picking up bad habits" -- no one cares about that. It's about being able to quickly make progress and create results. I know you said you have time. It isn't as much time as you think.

-I love PHP, but my advice is to learn Python or Ruby. Lately it's become fashionable to complain about PHP. I disagree with nearly every point, but that doesn't matter. Only the perception matters. If the complaints persist, it seems reasonable to expect the demand for PHP coders to fall as companies move away from it.

-Learn Javascript and CSS. Seriously.

-For the love of God, please do not read that algorithm book this dude mentioned (no offense man). Instead, build something. Start a project that you can make progress on as you learn. It doesn't matter what it is. The point is that when you're finished you can actually show something to prove what you can do.

And since it can be anything, I'd suggest building the project you've been dreaming about lately.
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:56 PM   #15
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Don't mean to hijack thread, but quick q:

How hard is it to write a program that takes info from a certain website and pastes it into excel?

I've been manually typing out all available players daily for my fantasy games and I want to automate the process. I just know Python basics fwiw but obviously am gonna have to learn more to get this done.
This should be in the LC thread.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:33 PM   #16
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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This should be in the LC thread.
Done. See here.

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Old 07-26-2012, 06:51 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by sdturner02 View Post
Jesus. That sounds like a fate worse than death. And I like computers.

My two cents, fwiw:

-If your goal is money, I'd avoid game dev. Only a few companies create video games. But there are TONS of companies that need an online store, a mobile app, new feature on the web site, etc.

-Hopefully you're not too far invested in learning C++. Drop it immediately and start learning PHP, Python, or Ruby. This has nothing to do with "picking up bad habits" -- no one cares about that. It's about being able to quickly make progress and create results. I know you said you have time. It isn't as much time as you think.

-I love PHP, but my advice is to learn Python or Ruby. Lately it's become fashionable to complain about PHP. I disagree with nearly every point, but that doesn't matter. Only the perception matters. If the complaints persist, it seems reasonable to expect the demand for PHP coders to fall as companies move away from it.

-Learn Javascript and CSS. Seriously.

-For the love of God, please do not read that algorithm book this dude mentioned (no offense man). Instead, build something. Start a project that you can make progress on as you learn. It doesn't matter what it is. The point is that when you're finished you can actually show something to prove what you can do.

And since it can be anything, I'd suggest building the project you've been dreaming about lately.
No offense taken, I'm a computer scientist who works in quantitative finance, so it's my idea of fun ;-)

Seriously though, having a sound theoretical flooring is useful if you can afford the time. I agree re learning js, it's actually an elegant language once you're aware of the gotchas.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:37 AM   #18
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Instead, build something. Start a project that you can make progress on as you learn. It doesn't matter what it is. The point is that when you're finished you can actually show something to prove what you can do.
This imo. (c++ dev here)
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:20 AM   #19
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Are you purposefully thrusting your values on him?
It's my way of saying long term money >> short term money even if you take into account that you can invest more upfront money and so it's of course not horrible to go for better upfront pay (alas most people really don't inest well enough or even think about it for this point to matter).

90k is pretty measly in my opinion and quite frankly many people that try to max out upfront never advance much beyound their initial pay level.

If you're really just in it for the money the path is a very different one anyways. Build "throwaway" quick sellout or maxout companies and build many of them over and over. Or for a tad bit higher risk/reward gamble on a long term company...alas OP only asked about fixed pay jobs.

Really the key thing to grasp about the industry from a moneymaking POV is that non personal cost is ridic low compared to other industries. On top of that developer skills can be very different but pay usually isn't even close to mirroring that divide. So if you're any good you should probably think about gambling on the fact that you are way more productive than other devs and also use the fact that your startup costs are really low i.e. pretty much your opportunity cost.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:02 AM   #20
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

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Really the key thing to grasp about the industry from a moneymaking POV is that non personal cost is ridic low compared to other industries. On top of that developer skills can be very different but pay usually isn't even close to mirroring that divide. So if you're any good you should probably think about gambling on the fact that you are way more productive than other devs and also use the fact that your startup costs are really low i.e. pretty much your opportunity cost.
Definitely agree.

Up until the point that I have children and my family comes down to one income (when income variance becomes really important to me and I'm much more willing to sacrifice income EV) I think I'll be working for startups or my own company. TBH, I wish I'd known this a few years earlier.

Edit: It didn't come out very well, but I just meant if I have kids and some circumstance, whatever it is, puts me as the only person making money for the family then I'll look for a steady job at a stable company.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:22 AM   #21
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

Forgot to add...another great thing is that you can actually have another job for steady income and build something on the side. This is really hard/impossible in other industries. Not so in software...you can invest some time, build something, offer it and scale up (and scale down on you other job) once it becomes viable.

Granted I'd much rather have a fund to draw from and work full time (especially if you get some customers right away it's usually better to provide excellent support from the getgo).
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:39 AM   #22
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

I'm skeptical of part-time-build-your-own-thing approaches. There are obviously cases where it works but I think they're the exceptions and generally its just a waste of time.
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:18 AM   #23
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

Thanks everyone for the imput. I appreciate the feedback.

So I guess my learning material would be something like: Python, PHP, Javascript, CSS.

Are there certifications for all of these? I guess for interview purposes you could say like: "Well I built this program and helped code for this startup." . Im wondering what the difference is from learning these on your own and taking courses for them. Im pretty skeptical of schools and degrees already cause I find that its a huge money sink. Especially in the technology field where from my understanding most of the stuff you get is certifications anyway.

Im working now at a decent job and have a fairly decent CV in the office//data entry//cs field so not too worried about finding something entry level if I switch in the future. Ive never been not called back after an interview.. well maybe once or twice for jobs I didn't really care about to begin with. I may even be able to switch deppartments once I show how much Ive learned.

Any other advice would be appreciated!
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:23 AM   #24
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

My general advice would be: forget certifications

I know some people even mentally downgrade you if they see you got a bunch of certifications (and not much else). My first thought if I saw someone with a JAVA certificate or something would probably be "WTF...where's the JAVA project...why did he spend time getting a cert instead of writing code" (I used to be part of the programmer hireing process)

Also the recruitment process is pretty different at some big companies. They tend to be more ABC university degree please with good grades. I'm thinking of "old IBM" but I hear they have changed their recruitment a bit in recent years (for the better)
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:48 AM   #25
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Re: What to learn to make 90k+ a year

I dont understand.... So you go through a whole couple of years for a university degree but you downgrade someone if they have certificates?

Whats the difference... In school you're learning and doing homework and showing that you can complete tasks but isnt the point of certificates to show you understand the material just the same?
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