Education

What title is your career goal?

Are you striving to be a Senior Developer, an Architect, a Business Analyst, or some other title? Let us know about your career aspirations by taking this poll.

Every developer I have met has a career goal. Some developers want to remain "in the trenches" and are aiming for a Senior Developer title. Others want to step away a bit from the day-to-day work and are shooting for an Architect role. Some see development as a path towards a more hybrid position, such as a Business Analyst or a Project Manager. While other developers are striving for that corner office, whether it be as a Director, Department Head, or even CIO.

J.Ja

Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

16 comments
shoaeb_cseng
shoaeb_cseng

I want to lead all in coding and want release my own freeware softwares

jslarochelle
jslarochelle

..I am please with "Senior Developper". However, it is not obvious that this will be possible. Athough the company has a technical path for professional progression, the tendency to assign better salary to people with management role is one that is not easily changed. Of course Architect fits the "management" profile so I might eventually have to go with that path and title. Above all I want to keep designing modules and doing at least part of the coding. JS

Justin James
Justin James

For me, I've worked very hard to just just go up the ladder, but to "other ladders" as well, and have fairly vague job roles and responsibilities. I simply don't like doing the same work every day or every week. I'm also working hard to expand my second career as a writer. What are your career goals? J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

I know *exactly* what you mean. It seems to me that "Senior Developer" status effectively caps your payrate. I suspect that a lot of it is tied to a perception that (right or wrong; I see a bit of truth to it and some untruth too) that for a "Senior Developer", there is a constant race between obsolecense and "greybeard experience". For example, the 50 years old who still keeps talking about COBOL and Smalltalk, but who only switched to .Net programming 2 years ago... that person brings an amazing wealth of experience regarding debugging, troubleshooting, project management, etc. to the table, but in terms of the actual work at hand, they are practically entry level. How do you justify paying that person, say, 100% more than what the entry level person makes? It is a VERY hard thing to do as a manager. And I think that is why you end up seeing "career minded" and "salary minded" developers headed for "Architect", even when they are not as experienced as a "Senior Developer", and even when they would still rather be doing day-to-day work. Architects are perceived to have roles that deserve more pay since they are at a "higher level" in relationship to the code itself, and because they do get involved in more management angles. I think that because they have to deal a lot more with customers/the "business people"/etc., that they have more visibility. And having visibility with that side of the work is strongly correlated (in my experience) with getting paid more. No idea why, just an observation. Just some thoughts and such. :) J.Ja

hankeramstore
hankeramstore

I would like to retire at the age of 40. (now 37) this would be my Ultimate Goal. Continued success in our business and in life.

jck
jck

To make enough money to quit working and do something I enjoy 24/7. Programming is okay, but I can't do it all the time. 9-10 hours per day of work, and 1-3 hours per day of reading about programming...it's just too much. I want to go fishing, and hand out meals at a soup kitchen. That's my career goal. lol

sconyers
sconyers

If I could plan out my ideal career, I would continue learning a new language/environment/skill every few years for as long as I continue to work. I enjoy the process of tackling a language I've never seen before and bending it to my will, or working in a new database or environment and learning the new rules that go along with it. I'm a coder now, but I wouldn't mind eventually becoming a DBA, management isn't out of the question, and I think it might be interesting to be a Business Analyst as well.

Justin James
Justin James

... my grandmother and granduncle are the only people I know who are retired, as far as I can tell. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but my hopes realistic. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Sadly, I have not made the sacrifices necessary for that to happen. :( I'd be well on my way to that goal, if I hadn't gone the "family man" route a few years back. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

You are right about the time requirements to be a good programmer and get better. It is not a job where just showing up at the office for 8 hours is enough to eventually reach a high career position, and for better or for worse, few employers allow their developers to put those hours of extra learning, reading, practice, etc., into their workday, and assume that it happens after work. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

I know what you mean, it is nice to get to do something new every few years, even if it is just writing the same "data driven Web application" projects in a different language. :) I did find that management is the same way, you're constantly learning and changing; if you can "abstract out" the desire to learn new things from being specific to technical work, and just simply make it, "I love to do new things", management can be a good direction to fufill that. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

If your goal is to be a developer, and keep developing, like your goal is, you are pretty trapped. You can either do the continued learning route on your own time (which does not appeal to everyone), find an employer that pays you to learn on their time (very rare), or face a slow and steady decline in the usefulness (and market value) of your skill set. Companies just don't want to invest in their people anymore, they don't see it as worthwhile, which I think is a myopic viewpoint. On a pure dollar/hour basis, I agree that it is not a good investment, *unless* you are able to springboard to a different career track. As explained in a different post in here, "Senior Developer" just doesn't pay much. If you can hop over to "Project Manager", "Manager/Director", "CIO", "Software Architect", or a few other related jobs from "Developer", the investment can pay off. Some of those title require you to be a great programmer with an eye to things like variable naming, coding conventions, etc. ("Software Architect"). Others require you to bone up on other things like management techniques, studying for the PMP exam, and so on. At the end of the day, I cannot recall meeting too many people who did really well in terms of career/salary without spending more than their work day on it. Some went to school, some just worked hard after work to learn, others worked long hours at work. But the few people I met who "rose through the ranks" with 8 hour days were usually promoted on seniority, not merit. J.Ja

jck
jck

not to be a really good investment. I like having a personal life. If I want to go to the movies, or the zoo, or a theme park, or a bar...I want to go in my time. I don't see it as the right of any employer to tell or expect anyone to come into the office, work 8-12 hour days, then have to be concerned about going home and making sure they spend 1-4 hours a night reading books, downloading trial software and installing it on their personal computer system to learn what they want us to know on the job. As well, I don't want to be in a "higher job". I want to write code. I want to be innovative and do things that are..."neat". I have been in a management/supervisory role (by the time I was 27 I might add), and it was not for me. I like being technical, not a paper-pushing meeting attender. Slapping together an ASP.NET interface with all the coding conventions that Microsoft says makes a "good practice" doesn't mean squat to me. If I write something and it does things that others who are my peers think is great, I am happy. I don't need to name variables "strText" or "gblnYesNo" to be a good programmer. Sure, it makes it easier for some to read...but any good programmer can look at logic and decipher the action of the code without having to see variable notation of a certain type. Plus, I am just frustrated with the industry. Used to be, you learned a basic language...for instance, COBOL. Every so often, the convention for programming was updated, e.g.- COBOL74, then COBOL85. Now it seems, Microsoft every 3-8 years just on a whim (and a capitalistic drive) goes and whips up new standards and syntax and models for programming to more drive their profits than the technological advancement. I just want to be the technical version of Milt from Office Space. Sit in my corner with my red Swingline stapler and my coffee and program things and get them done well and be left alone to do my job and not worry about what Microsoft is gonna change next. lol :)