Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Career Path for Programmers.

There are people with varied years of experience in this forum; I would be interested in all your answers.

What kind of path has your career taken from the time you took up your first job (programmer/ support/ any) to where you are currently, in terms of:

a.) Number of years you have been working?
b.) What were you initially working on, and what are you
    working on currently (technology & industry)?
c.) What is your position (Project Manager/ Architect/
d.) Increase in salary over the years (% amount would be


Prakash S
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) 6 years
b.) Initially: web page development for Faculty Student Association at the univeristy I attended.
    Now: Windows application development for a company that creates public safety software.
c.) current title: Sr. Developer
d.) 460% increase

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) 4
b.) Trying to find my own ass with both hands... Trying to find it with just one hand
c.) Owner/Developer
d.) 1/0

Brad Siemens
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) Number of years you have been working?


b.) What were you initially working on, and what are you
    working on currently (technology & industry)?

1995 - mathematical visualization software and 3-D simulation software (C++, OpenGL, unix)
1996 - scientific data processing software (C, unix)
1997 - didn't work, finished college
1998 - web software, database (oracle, unix, perl, java, etc)
1999 - web software, database (oracle, unix, perl, java, etc)
2000 - web software, database (oracle, unix, perl, java, etc)
2001 - web software, database (postgres, python, C++ etc)
2002 - web software, Mac OSX, (postgres, python, C++, java, Obj-C, R)
2003 (predicted)  - no more web software, OpenGL, Cocoa, python, C, R, lots more matlab than I ever predicted (moved into biomedical research support)

c.) What is your position (Project Manager/ Architect/

I don't have a job title, and never really have.  "Programmer" if someone asks, I guess.

d.) Increase in salary over the years (% amount would be

1995 (in college, math degree) $20/hr
1996 (in college, math degree) $20/hr
1997 didn't work, finished math degree
1998  $60,000/yr (salaried)
1999 $85,000/yr (salaried)
2000  $120,000/yr (indy consultant)
2001  $120,000/yr (indy consultant)
2002  $70,000/yr  (salaried, back in school again (PhD program  in quantitative biology))
2003 (predicted) $100,000 (in school still, salaried, side consulting)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a) 1.5 years
b) Start with: Lotus Notes/Domino Development
    Now doing Notes/Domino, web app dev, .NET
c) Application Developer @ Consulting firm
d) $30k to start (1 year before graduating)
    $38k today.

23% increase in a year and a half.  That sounds alot better than the story my paycheck tells ;-)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) 5 Years
b.) Started out doing websites and CD-Rom work. Now doing software app created with Macromedia Director and it's internal programming language (Lingo). For the next version I will be moving on to C++.
c.) Senior Developer
d.) 250% salary increase

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a) 10 years

b) Then: test software for manned-flight systems; Jovial, 1553 Assembly, Turbo Pascal
Now: Systems Engineering for a shuttle upgrade project

c) Systems Engineer

d) ~250%

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) 5 years
b.) white-box QA then jumped the fence to Win32/C++ app dev
c.) Software Engineer (not senior, they tell me)
d.) 86% increase (over three jobs)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

27 years in a really big communications company

5 years writing accounting programs in assembly language and writing accounting methods and procedures.

5 years managing programmers and "systems analysis" for accounting programs and procedures.  This was my burnout period for dealing directly with programming.

5 years managing personal computing (beginning in 1982, until whatever was needed by 1987 - that was a wild ride) survived a downsizing

5 years in writing and managing computing standards (how we did things and what tools we used) survived 2 more downsizings

7 years as technical architect (An inside IT bureaucrat/consultant who goes to a lot of meetings, whose value, in theory, derives from breadth of IT and business knowledge) survived 2 more downsizings This was a truly great, yet scary job.

Got a retirement "offer" during a downsizing and took it.

On to the next thing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

1). 19 years as an Electrical Engineer.
2). Projects:
RF and microwave hardware and test systems. 1983-1989
Digital Video ASICs 1990-1992
DirecTV embedded client software 1992-1994
MMDS embedded client software 1995-1997
DOCSIS cable modem embedded software 1997-1998
MSTV 1998-2000
Linux device driver development 2000-present
3). Member Technology Staff.
4). 440%

Nat Ersoz
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a) Almost 5 years.

b) Initially working on small scale web sites/applications (Java, Cold Fusion, SQL Server, HTML).

Then work on web-based content management application (Java + DHTML).

Then technical non-programming role for "new media" in the music industry.

Now working on web applications (Java, XML, SOAP).

c) "Application Programmer" -> "Software Engineer" -> "New Media Technical Manager" -> "Software Engineer".

d) +33% -> +40% -> -15% (overall +80%).

Walter Rumsby
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A) 3
B) Started as a Tech Writer for a Windows Server Application. Now I develop VB desktop apps as well as Java Server apps and Java servlets.
C) Software Developer
D) orignalSalary*1.75

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Degree in mathematics, 13 years developing software, the first 5 in the airline industry developing in C, Clipper, Mapper, Fortran.

8 years as a contract developer, C++, VB, Oracle, SQL Server, stuff that I forget, avoided the web like the plague.

The web was, and still largely is, a wank.

Moving forward, I'll be doing .NET development, possibly some web stuff as the web and associated development tools are now almost mature enough to bother with.

1989 (about $30k p.a)
2001 (about $120k p.a)
2002 (about $90K p.a - stinking bloody market)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a) 2+ decades

b) Then: FORTRAN programming for science applications.
Now: C++ for satellite network control systems.

c) Sr. Software Engineer

d) +85%  with inflation taken into account

e)  Effect of the bubble: still employed but had to find new employer.  Effectively about a 15 year setback in career advancement.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

(a) 17 years

(b) Started from solid state physics, simulation, numerical methods, etc.  Spent 5 years of my life on Ph.D. in EE (it was hard; not sure if I would do it again), and finally moved away from physics to programming.

Now: Client/server solutions for digital imaging industry.

In between, worked on many other things, like industrial control software, mobile agents and even e-commerce.

(c) Most recently: Architect / Engineering manager.

(d) I moved from country to country many times. In USD equivalent, my salary increased about 50 times, but it means nothing. These countries had very different cost of living  / life style, so one can't compare salaries directly. Settled down in Silicon Valley in 1996, my position was Sr. Software Development Engineer. Since then, my salary increased approximately 2 times.


Now,  à week ago a part of our company was sold to a new owner and I got laid off, as a result of reorganization. So, at the moment, I'm unemployed, for the first time in these 17 years...

Well, the carreer path takes many interesting turns :o)

Igor K.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

a.) 26 years

b.) Initially programs for DOS; currently .NET and cool new stuff

c.) Currently Architect for company

d.) Initially $10,000, from memory. Nowadays most income is from stock. Total remuneration about $2 billion per annum.

Call me Bill
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Really Interesting guys, thanks.

Prakash S
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

a) 8
b) The first project I ever did was in Borland Object PAL, the database scripting language used in Paradox. Blowed if I can remember anything about it! Nowadays doing a mix of VB and C++ with a bit of databases thrown in. Oh, and documenting other people's code....
c) Never been anything more than "engineer" or "programmer"
d) 300%

Better than being unemployed....
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

a) I've been working for 4 years full-time; 7 years if you include part-time work.
b) I started as the webmaster for an online business, so that'd be web-based IT.  I'm now a technical writer, so I'm still in IT, though right now I'm working on a flight simulator project (a physical simulator, with motion control).
c) My current position is as chief technical writer, managing two other technical writers.  It's sort of management, but I do all of the actual documentation of the system (the other writers do formatting, cleanup, tweaking, etc.).
d) I went from $10/hour part-time, to $41K at my first full-time job.  I'm now making about $43K, though that's a fluke (I mis-estimated the difficulty of this job, and quoted a lowball figure; I can't change that until my current contract ends in February).  I should be making about $60K, based on my skills and the current job market.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A) 8 Years

B) Started developing small VB apps for my company (label printing, signage, etc).
I'm current working with Progress (4GL/DB). I will be moving to more .NET (VB/C#) in the next year. Yes I know, you've never heard of Progress....

C) Director of Development

D) 7 years ago: 18,000, 4 years ago: 38,000, Today: 80,000

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

a.) Number of years you have been working?

uh, 7

b.) (technology & industry)?

Started out 1995 doing vertical market C/S software for the medical sector. Oracle & Delphi used. From 1999 Oracle stuff, first web-based things now in-house bank systems.

c.) What is your position

No title really, but Lead programmer / Architect type guy I would say looking at my current work tasks.

d.) Increase in salary

In 7 years I tripled my salary

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Are you nosy kinda guy?

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

> a.) Number of years you have been working?


> b.) What were you initially working on, and what are
> you working on currently (technology & industry)?

Originally: COBOL/DB2/CICS on mainframe
Current: C#, VB6, SQL Server

>c.) What is your position (Project Manager/ Architect/
>    Intern)


>d.) Increase in salary over the years (% amount would
> be fine:-))

424% from first job to current job.

Anonymous Coward
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

"Are you nosy kinda guy?"


Prakash S
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

So perhaps you should choose to be detective as opposed to programmer.

Have you done any programming at all?!!

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Investigators are hired on a freelance basis by insurance firms.  You do "stakeout" type of work.  Good if that's the lifestyle you want.  It pays a respectable rate also.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home