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Skills to Complement Programming


As I get a little older, I (like a lot of folks here, I imagine) start to think about what it will be like as a 40/50/60 year old programmer.  And then I start contemplating a career change. 

And when I think career change, I think about the kinds of things I could do where having a programming background would be an enormous boost.  I can name dozens that sound good (doctor/programmer, pilot/programmer, engineer/programmer, accountant/programmer, scientist/programmer), but I'm not sure which ones really make sense.

Does anyone else wonder about this?  Any interesting ideas, or anyone with practicial experience combining a non-programmer career (or non-programming domain knowledge) with their programming skills?

Jason
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I kind of think getting into the money management business would make sense, with the eventual goal of being an independent financial adviser.

Interpreting the tax code <=> reading legacy code
Diversfication <=> fault tolerance

Seems like it would play to one's strengths, and not be as hard to pick up as some other things which seem to require HUGE amounts of domain knowledge.

Ken
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Jason, I think the important thing to consider is what you *like* other than coding, or what you commonly solve while coding and would like to continue solving.  If you are doing coding in support of science and like it, get a science degree.  There's a longstanding tradition of science or engineering + coding.

I can recomend against trying to enter the medical profession unless you *really* want it -- that has the tendancy to really destroy your psyche.

Art + Coding is fun, but very hard to actually make money and express yourself artistically at the same time.

I don't see Programming and flying as being especially complementary as professions, you'd end up with one or the other.

Flamebait Sr.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

As a private pilot, I can tell you that flying is an absolute blast and the kind of thing that logically-minded problem-solving gadget-obsessed types like programmers love to sink their teeth into... but I would not expect it to do anything positive for your pocketbook. Aviation is an astoundingly expensive hobby!

And if you're thinking you can make some money by going commercial, think again: If you can get hired at all, you're likely to spend years doing milk runs for a small regional carrier, getting paid something like $10-15 an hour (no, I'm not kidding). To get to that lofty position, you'll first have to acquire a private pilot license, instrument rating, commercial license, multi-engine rating, possibly an airline transport pilot certificate, and lots of flight time -- training that represents likely >$50K in cash outlay and three or four years of your life.

I'm not trying to scare you off something that can be a source of incredible passion, just trying to describe what it might entail if you're considering it from a career standpoint. Do a little Googling and you can get a lot more detail.

Personally, I think biology/genetics/pharma/healthcare is going to be the an ongoing source of major innovation, and there are clearly lots of opportunities for technology to integrate with those areas in ways that can be both profitable and have a direct and literal impact on people's quality of life.

John C.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

People skills complement programming best. :-)

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Check out the thread "Plenty of new jobs for tech experts" for more ideas.

Jim Rankin
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Hah ... I'm already close to those ages already and why should I bother to stop programming? Really. There is so much to learn and do ... I see no end to this career, perhaps because I like it. I was talking to a GenXer programmer who wanted to know what I did away from work and I said I wrote code. He thought I was crazy. I do what I do because I like to do it. I see no reason why I shouldn't keep doing it until I can do it no more.

Me
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I've been fortunate to work on software projects with a number of high-profile "domain experts": portoflio managers, currency traders, ex-fighter jocks doing missile basing studies, emergency room docs, medical researchers. The guy I've worked with who I think best meets your profile was a bio-statistician who worked with doctors to provide statistical rigor to their studies; he was on both the math and medical faculties at the University where I worked. It was fascinating work and a great atmosphere. In retrospect, I should've dropped everything and started a PhD in statistics.

Jim S.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Math, Statistics, Finance, Economics. Just about everything. Look at what people do. It's mostly clerical stuff that can be automated, but they don't know it can or don't know how.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Yea, but after that 4 years dues paying, Pilots make $100k to work 10-14 days a month.  It's a killer racket.  Good money, and TONS of time off.  Best hourly pay out there. 

Bella
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Me:  Do you have kids or a family or personal hobbies?  But, if coding is all you do, you have picked the best profession, b/c it is not work for you.  Congrats!    It used to be that way for me, but after 10 years, I got tired of the imbalanced life, and bailed .  There is a hell of a lot more to me than being a coder.  No regrets.

Bella
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Bella, where do you get your figures for pilots salaries from.

Starting salary for a pilot on American Eagle, the domestic branch of American Airlines, was $16,800 in 2001. Out of that in the first year the pilot had to pay for unifoms and training leaving him with a salary of about $9000. I believe that after the strike at Delta airlines the salaries there increased to $20,000 a year so there was probably some knock-on effect.

Maximum salary on the domestic airlines would appear to be around $45,000 a year, which is a reasonable salary but well below the $100,000 you are talking about. I am sure there are pilots who earn that money, but I doubt if they are anywhere near even 50% of the total.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, October 23, 2003

*If* you have an engineering degree, then Patent Attorney is a possibility. But realize that there's a good chance that when you graduate law school you'll be starting as a 1st year associate with all the snot-nosed 24 year old newbie grads.

Also, a huge note for anyone thinking of going to law school - GRADES COUNT. Just about *any* law firm you apply to is going to ask for your law school transcript.

If you don't have an engineering degree, patent law is unavailable to you.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Landscape gardening?


Friday, October 24, 2003

"Maximum salary on the domestic airlines would appear to be around $45,000 a year, "

Sorry, but that just isn't true. To be fair, Bella is just as much off the mark as well.

The original poster was correct. A pilot will spend years and thousands of dollars working their way up the food chain. If they stay healthy and don't run their aircraft into the ground then eventually they can work themselves into a six figure a year income.

Those pilots that earn the 100K+ salaries are pilots who've spent their careers and most of their money to get to where they can make 100K a year. And they are only one irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure reading away from losing it that nice income, so cut them a little slack. They've earned it.

We now return to the pertinent discussion...

Mark Hoffman
Friday, October 24, 2003


When I mentioned 'pilot' in the original post, I was thinking of a recent news story about how JetBlue was replacing the reams of paperwork pilots had to carry with laptops.  If the FAA allows this to become widespread, it seems like a market opportunity for someone with pilot skills and programming knowledge.

Also, someday, possibly in my lifetime, they will rewrite the Air Traffic Control system.  Of course they'll probably contract it offshore and they'll forget to handle the english/metric conversion, and all the planes will fall out of the sky.

Jason
Friday, October 24, 2003

Jason, you're quite the cynic. :-P

Harvey the Rabbit
Friday, October 24, 2003

tap dancing would complement your OO skill set.

Microsoft all time fan, yeah right!
Monday, October 27, 2003

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