The Graying Software Industry

Sahil Malik has a great post on the aging of the people in the software industry.  The gist of the post is how the ambition and drive of the developer changes as they get older.  I had posted about this and Information overload back in September 2005

I am a software developer and have been for over 20 years now.  I started with a software company while still in high school writing Microsoft BASIC business applications.  I didn’t understand most of the business logic I was implementing but it was fun and I was getting paid to do something fun.  I work 60+ hours a week and when not getting paid I still played around with BASIC on my Kaypro "portable" running CPM.

I am now 39, as of this writing, and I struggle with many of the same issues in Sahil’s post.  It is difficult to gather the energy to work long hours any more and the stress of trying to keep current is sometimes overwhelming.  I have a family and like to spend time with them and to enjoy some of my other hobbies which include backpacking and working around the house.

At the time of the dotcom bubble bursting I was laid off from my employer and for the first time really looked hard at whether I wanted to continue with the career I had laid out for myself.  I still enjoyed the technology but found the constant drive to keep-up was very stressful.  The brutal realization is…it is difficult to make as much money in most other careers as I can easily make in software consulting.  Yes, money is not everything but if you are used to a certain level of income and you think about changing careers and realize you are lucky to have half your current income, then it makes you think.

I am currently working on an eCommerce solution for a company in Sturbridge, MA and doing it from the ground up in C# and Visual Studio 2005.  I am the lead with a couple other people and a consultant on the project.  I find it harder and harder to compete with younger and more ambitious younger folks.

Where do we go from here?  I cannot imagine chasing technology even 10 years from now and trying to learn whatever the favorite language of the day is, be it C# 10.0 or Ruby++. 

The simple answer is setting your sights on a manager position in a company and do that until retirement, creating a software product and support it for my income or becoming the "tech prostitute" like in Sahil’s post.  I certainly can’t imagine the first or later options.


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