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Jobs with Barriers to Entry

http://www.crazyontap.com/topic.php?TopicId=54253  is a good thread.  Lets lift the discussion to jobs that have some sort of protection or barrier to entry.

What are some good jobs with some level of barrier to entry?  I think most of us techies would be smart enough for many of these sorts of jobs.
Permalink GoodStuff 
September 6th, 2009 9:56pm
Accounting - Master's level accounting coursework/credits plus pass the CPA exam.

Medical techs - you have to be granted a slot/placement in schools with scarce room (radiology, anesthesiology techs, etc.)

Fireman - physical requirements and in my city, you have to be put on a wait list for years.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 6th, 2009 10:02pm
Finish cabinetry.  You've got to spend a lot of time learning the trade under somebody who already knows it.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
September 6th, 2009 10:16pm
Occupational licensing, or other legal requirements, are the standard barrier to entry for most jobs.
Permalink Peter 
September 6th, 2009 10:17pm
IT, computer-programming.
Permalink lorb 
September 6th, 2009 10:25pm
Sorry, lorb, but IT and programming have really, really low barriers to entry.

You're all missing the most obvious two:  doctor, lawyer.

Yes, those are covered by "license required", but also need a lot of painful schooling as well.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 10:41pm
Ah, shit - sorry, sharky, you did say med tech, so that sort of includes doctor.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 10:42pm
I was trying to stay true to reality.  Not many of us are going to be able to drop everything for the years that medical school requires so no, I wasn't including doctor.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 6th, 2009 10:47pm
Ah.  True.

Changing careers that radically is an enormous pain in the ass, large enough so that unless you start out in life aiming for that, very, very few people are able to go through all that at the same time as maintaining a life outside it.

I suppose that's sort of the point, though.  For there to be a huge barrier.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 10:53pm
I would love to change career but it would have to be something that appears on such a list (high barrier to entry) before I would even consider it.

Sure, I could "drop out" and go work in an art shop or flower store. But I would get bored in months.

When programming and studying programming has been your hobby for years as well as your profession, it is difficult to think of change for a "lesser" career.

The only other thing I think would be moderately interesting is brain/neuro in the biology or medical field, but I don't have the chops for it. By that, i mean, I'm not going to sit and memorize lists of anatomy, effects of medicines, etc., so that proves I just don't find it all THAT interesting.

I would need a logical field that you can spend the time deducing by logic, not memorizing. Seems most fields require you to prove yourself by memorizing a bunch of facts. Law is another one like that. It seems like it is logic, and sure, there's some of that. But most of it is memorizing black-letter crap.


I'm just not going to do that.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 6th, 2009 11:00pm
Here's the kicker:  We've already chosen the world's most interesting career.

The depressing part is that no other career measures up to it.

Once you hate development work, there is nothing else to do.

The only other interesting thing is writing books on various topics.

Other than that, yeah. Programming is at the top of the heap for smart people. There is nothing else.

I'm serious about that.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 6th, 2009 11:02pm
Well, there's scientific research.  That might be the only thing to equal it, to me.  That also has a pretty high barrier to entry.

And you're right - writing is where I want to move to.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:05pm
"Well, there's scientific research.  That might be the only thing to equal it, to me.  That also has a pretty high barrier to entry. "

Yes, artificial, bureaucratic and reputational barriers that aren't worth it unless you have a specific talent or interest to overcome it.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
September 6th, 2009 11:07pm
Law is about research and precedence.  Logic takes second place to reason.  Persuasion, debate, presentation are important if you're a trial lawyer.  Precise use of a constructed language is essential to law, too, so in a way creating contracts might be similar to writing software.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:08pm
"...artificial, bureaucratic and reputational barriers..."

There are those, certainly, but it's also a genuine pain in the ass to find something new to do, and to build up enough of a framework to demonstrate that your new thing is both a) actually new, and b) hasn't been disproven despite multiple serious attempts to do so.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:10pm
"writing is where I want to move to."

I'd love to do tech (or even other types of) writing, but that is a very tough area to make a living at.  Still, you never know.  Someone has to do it.

It just seems like it requires a lot of luck or knowing the right people.
Permalink GoodStuff 
September 6th, 2009 11:24pm
"Once you hate development work, there is nothing else to do."

I don't hate development work, but I hate the industry.  The industry is awful.

I know, I know, "start your own business".  I'd love to.  I even have a good niche idea, but I already work too much.  And in this economy I can't risk my day job :-(
Permalink GoodStuff 
September 6th, 2009 11:29pm
I think it has a lot less to do with luck than sheer persistence.  Jump on opportunities as often as you see them.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:38pm
The dotBoom and dotBust showed how *low* the entry requirements for IT/programming was - and still is. All it takes is to be able to get past HR. To keep one's job will take skill, but there are still a large number of folks who can Wally their way through life.

As an anecdote, the large financial client may want me to go to their main IT HQ. The project I may be working with is one that has a large bullpen/war_room where the devs work. It holds about 35 programmers: pair programming on ultra steroids. Being side-by-side with other devs means one can't hide incompetence. They call these folks "sleeper agents" in that they've hidden their Wally-ness for years - which typically can only be done in large companies. Out of the 35 folks, they gave the boot to 7 folks who, when measured, showed themselves to be utterly useless as programmers, yet they had hidden that fact for years.

Software development has been moving towards price rather than quality/features/skill. No amount of skill will let you compete in this marketplace against the mismanagers who shop on price alone. That's the inevitability of the walmartization of America: you cannot compete against people who can live on 1/20th what you can and the market is unwilling to pay for things on any measurement other than pure cost.
Permalink Peter 
September 6th, 2009 11:41pm
"Being side-by-side with other devs means one can't hide incompetence."

That has got to be the best ad for pair programming that I have ever seen, bar none.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:46pm
"when measured"

How did they measure them?

Don't say LOC...that would be ridiculous.
Permalink . 
September 6th, 2009 11:46pm
How about when you pair them with someone, the other person either winds up doing all the work, or audibly lets out a "WTF?" when they see that person in action.
Permalink Aaron 
September 6th, 2009 11:48pm
I'm not big on pair programming in the first place.  It works when EVERYONE is a zombie clone that thinks alike has the same way of designing the same way of coding blaugh blaugh blaugh.  That works about 5% of the time max.

But that's just my opinion.
Permalink . 
September 6th, 2009 11:51pm
Maybe I will become a technical management expert.  Write books and articles on that.  Lots of bull and fluff :-)
Permalink GoodStuff 
September 6th, 2009 11:52pm
I've tried it.  In general it's pretty pointless, because a lot of the time the coding itself isn't hard, it's merely tedious, and having someone else watching over my shoulder (or vice versa) isn't going to make it any less so.  Instead, it means you now have two people immersed in the exact same piece of tedium.

If you're going to have two people working on tedium, at least let them stew on different pieces of it.

The only time it's been beneficial for me is when the code has actually been conceptually difficult, and even then it usually doesn't involve typing at that point.  Usually it's a whiteboard to break down an algorithm, and once it's agreed on, it only takes one person to code it up.
Permalink Aaron 
September 7th, 2009 12:02am
It's not technically "pair programming" as written in the agile books - but then I don't know anyone who has followed those books exactly.

>How did they measure them?
Are they working? Or are they fucking off? The person sitting next to them can tell. If you're fucking off, then my burden is greater, so I'm not likely to let you ride on my coat-tails.

Before we found about the large war-room of the other folks, we had tried a much smaller version. It is a large office, and the (large) desk arrangement allows for 4 devs to work [1], with room for another dev to sit beside them. Each dev has their office to retreat to if they need solitude.

We modified this from "pair programming" as it appeared to acomodate our company's culture. It was attempted with one project that had a significant amount of communication needed between several devs, and it was thought that by putting everyone in the team in one large room, the comm burden could be reduced significantly. It appeared to work well for that project, so we've done it again for the latest "bet yer company" project [2]. While some of the guys do play around a lot, we're getting more progress done.

Notes:
1 - The large desk allows for 2 devs to sit on each side of the desk. Each dev has their own workstation. There is room for an additional person next to each workstation. To kibbutz, or to advise. Usually some of each.
2 - We've known about the statutory and regulatory deadline for 2 years and just started getting off our asses this summer. The large financial client has also been blowing it off until this summer. If we blow this, we lose a product that makes 60% of our revenue.
Permalink Peter 
September 7th, 2009 12:23am
Peter,

What is the likelihood of success?  It sounds like you are between a rock and a hard place.

Just another example of how messed up our industry is.
Permalink GoodStuff 
September 7th, 2009 12:31am
... maybe the horse will learn to sing ...
Permalink Peter 
September 7th, 2009 1:51am
>>Sure, I could "drop out" and go work in an art shop or flower store. But I would get bored in months.

I've often wondered if I would have been happier pursuing a less skilled career and looking for intellectual stimulation outside of work.

I enjoy it now I'm full time on my ISV but was never really happy in full time employment or even contracting.
Permalink Send private email Ducknald Don 
September 7th, 2009 4:58am
>Yes, those are covered by "license required", but also need a
>lot of painful schooling as well.

A lot of unnecessary training too - you don't need to understand the criminal justice system to become an IT lawyer, but you will have to learn it.
Permalink Colm 
September 7th, 2009 6:11am
I'm not sure that we have chosen the world's most interesting career.  Frankly most of my work is tedious in the extreme, and I spend more time dealing with clueless management than I do writing useful code.

Building furniture isn't my career, but so far it seems to be a lot more interesting.  Possibly because there's a shitload more to learn.  But also because I produce a tangible product with an immediately obvious use.  So no matter how dumb my customer, they can still figure it out.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
September 7th, 2009 8:11am
I'm pretty sure it has the POTENTIAL to be one of the most interesting career choices... whether it actually is is another matter.

There's certainly a lot to learn, a lot which changes constantly.

Also, I think software dev belongs firmly in what Nassim Taleb called "extremistan", whereas making furniture (or dentistry, whatever) belongs in "medicristan".

That is, with software dev, you have a far higher likelihood of your work having absolutely no effect at all on anybody (failed projects are still the norm), or having an absolutely massive effect on society.

Making chairs, on the other hand, is unlikely to have no effect (a few people will typically always benefit from your chair), but equally unlikely to ahve a massive effect.

If you like the gamble, with the possibility of living a life where you feel like a total parasite, or "winning the lottery" (even if it's a small win), then software development might be a good choice. If you prefer simple, consistent gains where you create consistent value for society, then making furniture, being a dentist, doctor or nurse may be a better fit.
Permalink Colm 
September 7th, 2009 10:27am
"scientific research"

Interesting one to bring up. With the academic and journal system we have, "science research" is about supporting the current paradigm and kissing the right asses.

If you write a paper that is correct and pushes forward the state of understanding of some field, but contradicts the paradigm of the establishment, it will never be published.
Permalink Cowboy Coder 
September 7th, 2009 3:25pm
In scientific research you have to fight for a tenure position then, and only then, can you publish your more unorthodox or extreme ideas.

Of course by then you are old and don't have much time or energy to follow up.
Permalink Z 
September 7th, 2009 3:35pm
One of the key messages from the book "Death March" is that death marches are not only not unusual in the IT business; instead, they are the norm.

http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?DeathMarch
http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?DeathMarchValues
http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?HeroicProgramming
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/7/12/62459/7742
http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html
http://www.igda.org/articles/erobinson_crunch.php

Part of the problem was that the mismanagers wouldn't let us start on parts of tasks that had to be done. One such, an app that was migrated from vb6 to .net, that conversion was 2 years late, but one of the add-on features could not be started before this Sept because the boss forbade it. We had several months of slack time at the end of spring to beginning of summer - but were still forbidden from starting on certain projects.

One of our key devs just handed in his notice, and another dev that was fired hasn't been replaced due to the absolute hiring freeze. Not all of the problems are with the mismanagers in my office, some go all the way to the top.
Permalink Peter 
September 7th, 2009 7:17pm
I hope you are looking or have some sort of exit plan.  Sounds like they will be looking for anyone to blame.
Permalink . 
September 7th, 2009 7:41pm
Nah, when people resign you simply blame them.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
September 8th, 2009 8:51am
http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

ouch. the us is absolutely mad.
Permalink eek-o-tourist 
September 8th, 2009 9:26am
EA ended up with 2 separate class action lawsuits, each costing EA about $15,000,000. Many of the devs/artists who got burnt out from the pace at EA took 2+ years to recover from their burnout to become productive again. Many others never recovered and had to seek new careers.

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6148369.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EA_Spouse

And where EA Spouse comes down with Stockholm syndrome:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/insidejob/2593-Inside-Job-Why-Crunch-is-Awesome
Permalink Peter 
September 8th, 2009 9:41am
Actuary has a high barrier to entry.
Permalink Synodontis 
September 8th, 2009 12:43pm
You know what has a high barrier to entry?  Being 110 years old, but you don't see them getting paid for shit.
Permalink Aaron 
September 8th, 2009 1:11pm
>> Actuary has a high barrier to entry.

FINALLY an intelligent answer to the OP's question.

Yes, if you can deal with the math, actuarial science is a good career path.
Permalink dave 
September 8th, 2009 1:56pm

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