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80$ per/hr access programmer - 2 year contract

just heard from a friend working at an utility he's on such a contract.Is it possible in this market?

Rob
Friday, August 29, 2003

Some CEOs pull in $140 million a year.

Anything is possible, particularly if you know the right people...even in this economy.

Mister Fancypants
Friday, August 29, 2003

That can't be true.  I've been listening to the news reports and I'm pretty sure the entire nation is in danger of starving and/or losing their homes


Friday, August 29, 2003

that is pretty close to one of the contracts i'm working on.

rz
Friday, August 29, 2003

Maybe not for everyone, but maybe he's really good at what he does and, in contrast to a "normal" access programmers, he works twice as fast?

Mickey Petersen
Friday, August 29, 2003

Our "access guys" are currently billing at just that -- $80.00. It's a bit high for our area but they do quality work and our clients are willing to pay. Some of them got burned by the $20.00 an hour nephew of the CEO's brother-in-law who "knows Access", and are now darned glad to pay 4 times what they used to. FYI, going rates for this type of work in my area are $45 to $65, but we bill what we can get away with, what our market will bear, and we'll stay at $80.00 until market conditions either force us to lower it, or (*please!*) allow us to raise it.

Sgt. Sausage
Friday, August 29, 2003

Sgt. S - which area are you in?

FWIW, I was at an Access user group meeting last week in Portland, OR, and we did a little anonymous poll.  The mean billing rate for consultants in the room was ~$71, with a mean experience level of about 6.5 years.  So $80 doesn't seem unreasonable, but the 2-year part sounds pretty sweet.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Friday, August 29, 2003

The real question is ... if they're willing to pay $80 per hour, why settle on mere Access?

NoName
Friday, August 29, 2003

Managers like Access, because it's something small they can understand. It also has the benefit of being the wrong solution for the job. If the app is important enough to justify paying that kind of money, surely it's important enough to cough up for a real application instead of a set of macros.

Clay Dowling
Friday, August 29, 2003

Clay, it's been a long time since Access only offered macros.  For most applications Access' VBA is sufficient.  The lock file is a pain in the ass, but that's another story.

Bck on-topic, 80/hr doesn't seem out of line for an Access programer who is building a large app.  Also, most of the "Access" jobs I've had have used Access as the client and the actual data repository turned out to be SQL Server or Oracle - dealing with either of those systems requires a slightly more broad skillset, and a commensurately higher bill rate.

For reference, my bill rate has varied from $65 to $99 an  hour over the past few years, many of those projects involving Access.  So $80 is appropriate if the developers are good.  Of course, since moving out to the agricultural capital of CA my rates have been cut almost in half, but that too is a rant for another day...

Norrick
Friday, August 29, 2003

---"If the app is important enough to justify paying that kind of money, surely it's important enough to cough up for a real application instead of a set of macros. "----

I don't know how many times we hear this ignorant drivel.

There are two entirely separate parts to Access. The first is the IDE. The second is the Jet database engine.

The fact that Access by default uses the Jet engine (which incidentally is the database engine for Exchange Server) doesn't mean that an Access developer is developing solely for Jet. Access works as a front end for any database (it is the second most common tool for Oracle development after Oracle Developer) and is especially tuned to write access projects for use with SQL server (the MSDE engine is otherwise known as SQL desktop server and is a crippled version of the full SQL server, so any Access developer doing an outside job should be using that instead of the jet engine, best left for single user stuff).

As Albert has often pointed out Access VBA is considerably quicker to develop database applications with than straightforward VB, and VBA is to all intents and purposes the same language as VB6.

If your idea of a "real application" is one that delivers the same functionality but must be written in a language that takes four times as long, and costs eight times as much before cost overrun, all to bolster your ego and make you believe you are a real programmer, then don't moan if you get unemployed or your job goes to India!

Stephen Jones
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Many firms don't know the difference b/w Access and C++.  (Programmer == Programmer)  And it's all supply/demand.  Many people ditched their Access skills in favor of bigger and better things.  So those who stayed behind, can cash in on the niche.  Unless, of course, it's not a niche, and everyone knows Access.  But I doubt that's true.  As in any language, there's people who've coded complex stuff with Access, and there are "Access in 21 days" people

Bella
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Of the Windows development frameworks I've worked with (VC++/MFC, VB, Access, FoxPro, C#/Windows Forms), Microsoft Access is the only one that let me create the user interface I wanted quickly and easily. There are certainly many work-arounds that were necessary, but all other environments have user interface support that leaves a lot to be desired--and requires a lot of custom coding to get exactly what you want.

<Venting>Simple example: Why the hell doesn't the Windows Form combo box support a) auto-complete, b) multiple columns, and c) an event that tells you when the user types an entry that's not in the list.  Why don't Windows Form controls have a cancelable equivalent of Access' BeforeUpdate event! I'd put the designers of the Access control library against ANYONE, especially now that I've had extensive experience with the latest and so-called greatest Windows Forms controls. I wish the Access team members switched over to the Windows Forms team when they were designing the class library. </Venting>

Here's a case study: our flagship application, which sells for US$6,000 a seat, was written entirely in Microsoft Access 97. Although now, after 6 years of aggressive development, we are re-writing the application in C#/Windows Forms, the end-user really doesn't care what it's written in, as long as it works and gets the job done.  (And by the way, there is one macro--the one that calls Main() to get the application started.)

Sidebar: Yes, I know, never re-write your product! But for us to serve our client base and continue to add more features and functionality, we need to get to a framework that supports a little bit more than Access. We evaluated upgrading to a newer version of Access, but we decided to bite the bullet, continue to move the existing product forward, and have another team re-build the app in .NET.

If anyone's curious, here's a product page with a few screen shots: http://www.bid2win.com/product/benefits.htm

There is absolutely no reason to poo-poo Access for developing ANY database-centric application. We've stretched Access to the limit and it's held up very nicely, thank you very much!

Dave
Saturday, August 30, 2003

The premise of this thread - that certain tech skills are mundane, so they "shouldn't" pay much - is an illustration of the big difference between technology skills on one hand, and business and marketing skills on the other.

You have to turn it completely around - what's the value to the customer? Did the customer get something hard to understand, not meeting all their needs, but REALLY FAST? Or did they get every single thing they asked for covered, but it's delivered in a language that isn't necessarily L33t?

Many experienced programmers think of compiled languages with baroque APIs as being closer to God and more capable of delivering enduring results than scripted languages with visual IDEs.  I've been in this trap too.  At the heart it's just geek elitism that says that the harder something is, the more valuable it is.  And I've seen that lasting, enduring, "beautiful" C++ get trashed, maintained into cruft, and thrown out just as fast as stuff written in the "lower quality" languages.

Yeah, you wouldn't write a game or an embedded application or a piece of real time code in Access. But if you tried to use C++ to develop a thick client database application you'd totally gag on the ability to respond to the client's changing needs.

Also, many geeks tend to say "gee, Access/VB is easy so it shouldn't be that much in demand, and C++ is really hard so it should be sought after."  95% of the work out there in the marketplace is mundane application development, database screens and forms, and not anything that can take real advantage of C++. C++ and similar tools aren't just wasted, they're not even the right tool for end user based development. 

Product development - the stuff that can take full advantage of tools like C++ - is relatively rare. And not even high paying in most cases, because it contains that geek flattery that it's difficult, so candidates are lined up.

I've worked around ex-EEs who would sandbag for months writing their pwecious widdle assembler routines while Rome burned...

Bored Bystander
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Couldn't agree more with Bored.

I used to get paid around 45$ / hour for PHP work just few months back. This when you can get lot of people who will code for you at 10$ / hour.

But the person selected me not only because I could code in PHP, but because he had trust in me, I was able to offer invaluable suggestions, on-time delivery of code, understanding his requirements CORRECTLY etc etc.

So if you are doing the RIGHT thing, you can get paid handsomely! :)

JD
http://jdk.phpkid.org

JD
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Dave - if you've been doing Access reports for a few years and you're moving to C#, do yourself and your company a favor - buy ActiveReports now. It's the closest 3rd party approximation to Access reporting you can get.

Philo

Philo
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Bella gets the prize here:
    >>Many people ditched their Access skills in favor of bigger and better things.

This is exactly the case.  When a project gets larger, and requires more then one developer, then the design of the application will tend be different. More OO will be used, and even a 3 tier approach to the application will likely occur. Other issues such as source code control will also tend to gravitate large projects out of ms-access. These large projects also have larger budgets, and that also tends to pull out the really good developers from using ms-access.

These larger projects also tend to be more interesting projects, and when you are developing shrink-wrap type software, then again languages like  c++ become more appropriate. Ditto for large distrbutiion, and large sales of a software package.

However, somewhere along the way somehow ms-access gets no respect! Ms-access is a fine development system. For most small business applications, ms-access is a far better choice then is VB (which is a better choice then c++).  In fact, ms-access has a considerably steeper learning curve then does VB anyway (ms-access forms have about double the events and properties of VB forms).

And, really, the programming language in ms-access is VB anyway. I on a regular basis create and use class objects in ms-access. It is not full OO, but for most applications the ability to create class objects seems good enough.

For free lance developers under contract, the pay rate for ms-access is not much different then what most developers can get. (there is also more work in ms-access). You have to bring good development skills and good database skills (sql) to the table.

Those business are paying for solutions (not c++ or  ms-access). In fact, I don’t know of any developers who consult to a bunch of companies doing free lance work, and use c++.  For a good steady job, c++ is going to be a better skill because that company is likely creating products for re-sale.

You are not likely going to be doing business consulting, and using c++.

When you do business consulting, and offer solutions to business, then ms-access is certainly right in the game.

Albert D. Kallal    (Microsoft Access MVP)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Philo - Thanks for the tip. We ended up doing our reports in the current app in Crystal Reports, so the reports could stay "external" to allow customization by client company IT staff.

We haven't tackled the reporting end of things yet in the C# version, however, so I'll definitely take a look.  I really don't like Crystal Reports, (can you say poor usability?) so I'd like to evaluate other options.

Thanks!

Dave
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Of course, I need to keep in mind all of those clients who have run out and purchased and learned Crystal Reports to customize the reports in our app.

There's that dang business end of things popping up again, helping to drive technology decisions!

Dave
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Compare your version of Crystal with what you need for .Net. If they're different enough and it means buying a new license, then it's like a new product *anyway*, right?

Philo

Philo
Saturday, August 30, 2003

Great post by Bored Bystander. 

Bella
Sunday, August 31, 2003

Let me know when they are ready to replace the app with one programmed in a real language with a real development tool.

Hans
Sunday, August 31, 2003

...and are prepared to pay for a development cycle that's three times longer.  ;>

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, September 01, 2003

---"Let me know when they are ready to replace the app with one programmed in a real language with a real development tool. ----"

Better tell them what planet you're on though, or they won't know where to write to.

Stephen Jones
Monday, September 01, 2003

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