RIP Philo

Musings on Developer compensation

How is it possible that programmers are paid so well without these other barriers to entry that similarly remunerative fields have? One possibility is that we have a shortage of programmers. If that’s the case, you’d expect more programmers to enter the field, bringing down compensation. CS enrollments have been at record levels recently, so this may already be happening. Another possibility is that programming is uniquely hard in some way, but that seems implausible to me. Programming doesn’t seem inherently harder than electrical engineering or chemical engineering and it certainly hasn’t gotten much harder over the past decade, but during that timeframe, programming has gone from having similar compensation to most engineering fields to paying much better.
Permalink B B 
February 9th, 2018 7:10am
Because Software Engineering is a bi-modal occupation.

On the bottom, you have "mere programmers", people who've picked up Java or C++ or Perl or Python at a community college.  They enter code other people have designed.

On the top, you have "Software Engineers", people who've gotten bachelor's or Master's in Computer Science, people who design large systems -- which use Java or C++ or Perl or Python or C or whatever language seems appropriate, but it's the scale of their solutions that makes the difference.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
February 9th, 2018 8:03am
The article “I’d say that while the dispersion in programmer compensation is increasing, it’s not bimodal, but I don’t really have the right data set to conclusively say anything. Please point me to any data you have that’s better.”
Permalink B B 
February 9th, 2018 8:25am
"Another possibility is that programming is uniquely hard in some way, but that seems implausible to me."

Luu seems kind of retarded to make such a statement. That's obviously the answer. We have tons of morons graduating boot camps and lousy overcrowded CS programs. And we have a very very small number of people who are very good. In nearly every case, they are self trained and had inherent talent.

Do we also say it's absurd to think that being good at basketball is a completely learned skill that anyone can do and has nothing to do with inherent talent? Why not brainy work as well. Oh I know the answer - because if minorities are bad at it it's the schools and society to blame.
Permalink Reality Check 
February 9th, 2018 8:35am
Agree. Author fell into the "All programmers are equivalent" fallacy.

I once watched a guy spend 2 days on an If statement.
Permalink Send private email xampl9 (Moto phone) 
February 9th, 2018 10:11am
There are many factors:

- The tech companies with monopolies (Amazon, FB, Google), earn huge revenue per employee, driving up salaries.

- The marginal cost of software is almost zero.  A top lawyer only serves one client at a time.  A great program is used by thousands as easily as millions.

- Even though there are huge variances in productivity, employers aren't that great at identifying such people.  If you've had a past "top" job, it's easier to get hired at another "top" job.  If you haven't had a "top" job, it becomes much harder.  People on the "hot" career path are one bump of the distribution; everyone else is the other bump.
Permalink FSK 
February 9th, 2018 11:22pm
Good points FSK

Also the wage suppressing do-not-poach cartel was ended by DOJ action [1]

Permalink asssdddffgb 
February 10th, 2018 6:59pm

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