How software development is a dead-end job and though we can argue let me share reality of the developers after the age of 40
Generally, software development is a dead-end job when one considers the career growth. However, we can argue sighting examples of a few awesome programmers coding even at the age of 60 it doesn’t happen to most of us (the developers).
If you start your job at the age of 25, with 15 years of experience and at the age of 40 your salary will quadruple if each of your increments for 15 years is just 10% and it will be 8 times if all your increments are 15%.
In India, more than 15% increase in salary is quite normal for new developers. When I started in 2004 my CTC was ₹96k and it was 6 times when I left after 4+ years in 2008. As your salary multiples, you have to make sure your productivity multiplies at the same rate as well.
How is software development a dead-end?
I am in touch with many of my old colleagues and 4 of them I know were fired. All had awesome development and debugging skills and I looked up to them to become as good as them.
Few of my college friends foresee a similar issue now.
Normally the reason is performance but there is nothing much that can be done about it either.
As your salary increases, you won’t be allocated to many projects to keep the cost of the project under control.
If you keep your salary under check, it is not possible either. If you don’t get satisfactory increments and remain under the same salary bracket for long, it can mean your performance isn’t good either.
In either case, you lose the job.
What is a possible solution?
1. Switch Often
Keep switching jobs every few years. Move to a different technology. If you are doing the same job for the same company for 5 years, you should definitely consider switching because your learning curve has topped out and you are still trying to play it safe which can lead to disaster.
2. Quit Job
After a couple of years of experience as a developer, any time is a good time to quit your job. Aspire to be a self-employed freelancer at 40, because you aren’t too old either to be self-employed.
If you don’t quit your job, jobs can quit you.
If you want to quit your job here are 6 steps I used to quit my job.
3. Un-hike Salary
We always switch jobs for better pay. However, opt to move to a better technology even at the cost of lower than your current salary. It can help many folds. You learn new technology but it also means your hikes are not making project cost skyrocket and with past development experience you can excel in new technology and can move from being a developer to business development where there is no dead-end.
Let me share a Story
I was having a debate with an old buddy about being part of his project and vision. We had a discussion where I had a feeling that it will not work out. So I did not want to be part of it.
After a few convincing counter-arguments, the discussions went in a direction about winners and losers. Winners don’t quit and I was quitting without even trying and blah blah blah.
The end result was I couldn’t convince him to quit and he couldn’t convince me to be part of it.
In such a debate, we always have examples of people who just went on with what they believed and this discussion was no different. We had an example of Henry Ford in our conversation.
His argument was he failed so many times before he made it. What if he would have said no just before the ultimate time.
But I look at things from a different perspective.
He did not quit his idea but then he did quit all the partnerships that he formed with people that were not allowing him to work like he wanted to. So you can always quit and quit early but not give up and try things differently.
Just think about it.
So should you be quitting or you should be sticking to something that is not working and make it work for you?
We all quit many things.
I did quit sites like CFanatic.com (merged with go4expert now), club-google.com, GlobalDevelopers.net, and many others. Moreover, I had numerous partnerships that did not work. So, I did quit them. Some quite early and others too late.
I did quit my job which was paying me well over 6 Lacs Rs as yearly compensation in the midst of the 2008-financial crisis.
I did quit windows and moved to MAC.
Recently and the most important one, I did quit Kolkata (and moved to Surat).
And the list can be quite long and go on and on and on.
If you can’t increase your productivity, with every salary hike you are increasing your risk of being fired. No company will be more than happy to pay you more for the same work that can be done by someone else at a lower cost.
So you try doing something, and if it is even working for you doesn’t mean it will continue to work for the rest of your life.