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How to get a job that pays $50/hour or more

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posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:16 AM
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This thread is intended as a simple step-by-step guide for all those of you worried about the state of the job market, and how there are "no jobs that pay well enough" blah blah blah.

The truth is the job market is changing. Yes, many types of jobs are being outsourced, replaced by machines, etc, especially in manufacturing. In many other sectors, however, jobs are being created at a rate companies can't even keep up with because the demand for labor is so high. Let's look at the Information Technology sector:

Burea u of Labor Statistics: Information Analysts, Web Developers

Now I don't agree with the BLS lumping Information Analysts, Web Developers, and Network Specialists altogether in one, as they are very different occupations that attract very different types of people. But as you can see, the growth is expected to be very high over the next 10 years, and the median income is around $75,000. That's more than what a Vice President of a large bank makes, and many associate lawyers fresh out of law school.

Anyway, my background is in developing applications in PHP and SQL, so let's focus on that one single occupation. Here's a recent job listing I came across which inspired me to create this thread:

Craigslist: Contract PHP and Wordpress Developer

In case the ad expires, here's a quote:

Position: Contract PHP/Wordpress Developer
Location: Downtown Seattle
Starts: ASAP
Rate: Up to $50 Hour DOE

Our client is a great digital design firm in need of strong PHP talent with wordpress. This is a client with big name brands that will look outstanding on any resume. This person must be very strong in PHP. HTML, CSS and JavaScript is a huge plus of course, but not necessary. The right candidates will be working on multiple client needs. If this is something you are interested in, please send your resume and examples of websites you have worked on for consideration.


Craigslist is literally littered with these types of ads, although not all of them pay as highly, they all pay pretty well. There are things to take note of about the above ad, which generally hold true for most others like it:

1. Nowhere does it require formal schooling or a 4-year college degree.
2. They're interested in examples of things you've worked on before. These could be projects you've done on your own for fun, open source codebases on the web you've contributed to, etc. Notice they don't ask for employment history, but rather, samples of things you've created.
3. The skills required can all be entirely self-taught.

The thing that sets web development apart from most other professions is that you can learn it entirely on your own, without any need for formal schooling, and still be able to become employed based on your skill set alone.

All you need to acquire these skills is a computer with an internet connection. If you can post on ATS, you can acquire these skills via the web. Unless you have absolutely zero free time whatsoever, when you come home from your undesirable job at the end of the work day, spend a few hours (even one hour is better than nothing) working on learning these things.

So here is a step-by-step guide for what should be learned, in what order:

1. Install WAMP server (free). It's a web server you can run from your computer so you can develop live web sites in any of the languages of the web.
2. Install any lightweight free IDE. I prefer Komodo Edit 7, but there are literally dozens to choose from that are all similar.
3. Learn HTML and CSS. There are dozens of free e-books all over the web as well as resources like W3C that will teach you.
4. Learn Javascript, jQuery and AJAX. Do this after you know (3) like the back of your hand.
5. Find an e-book on database design and normalization. This will be mostly conceptual and should be learned before learning the SQL language. Do this concurrently with numbers 1-3.
6. Learn SQL.
7. learn PHP, up to and including object-oriented PHP and how to interface it with a relational database. Make sure you learn this thoroughly as it will be your bread and butter. Do this concurrently with number 6. Nearly all sites that are driven by user-contibuted content are written in PHP and have a relational database backend. ATS is one such site.
8. Make something cool, publish it on the web, and publish the source code.
9. Contribute to an open source project on the web. You can do this concurrently with number (8).
10. After you have published enough material, start looking for jobs that require the languages you learned. There is way more demand than supply, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

You should be able to do all of the above in under two years. Some people may even be able to do it all in under one year, if they work dilligently enough. There are lots of communities dedicated to helping people learn and answering coding questions, my favorite is Stack Overflow, a site where you can ask a question and people will rush to answer you because they get points if they answer you correctly.

Anyway hopefully this will inspire at least some people to start teaching themselves a new career if they aren't satisfied with their current one.




posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:22 AM
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This is something I've been looking into teaching myself in my free time, but I'm also enrolled in the local community college as well and have to settle on a major soon. Do you know which major could help me out with these things, or something along the lines of that?



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:26 AM
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Originally posted by Brandon88
This is something I've been looking into teaching myself in my free time, but I'm also enrolled in the local community college as well and have to settle on a major soon. Do you know which major could help me out with these things, or something along the lines of that?


Computer Science will, but it won't necessarily be geared towards the web, it will be more general. It's a major that can be taken in many different directions though depending on your specific interests.



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:39 AM
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First of all, thanks. I need to think about this one, I might try it.



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:52 AM
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Before I even started reading your thread I thought it would be a scam, but thanks a bunch for the information! Is this type of programming something you can do at home? Is it not too math heavy?

Thanks for posting this! I'm actually feeling a bit inspired because I've been losing hope in finding a decent job. The problem is, it's somewhat easy for many people to acquire skill sets, but if your resume is crap, it ends up filed in the trash can.



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 02:57 AM
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reply to post by SilentKoala
 


I too have been trying to find a decent job to no avail. This definitely helps! I already have some training in Web Design so learning the other stuff Like PHP and OOP shouldn't be too difficult.

Thanks a whole lot!



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 03:26 AM
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Originally posted by Drew99GT
Before I even started reading your thread I thought it would be a scam, but thanks a bunch for the information! Is this type of programming something you can do at home? Is it not too math heavy?

Thanks for posting this! I'm actually feeling a bit inspired because I've been losing hope in finding a decent job. The problem is, it's somewhat easy for many people to acquire skill sets, but if your resume is crap, it ends up filed in the trash can.


If you're completely freelancing, you would be doing jobs from home, but the client will still want to meet you, and certainly see your past work. If it's a job with a company, most likely it will either be entirely on-site or a mix of on-site and from home.

What I do on my resume is list prior programming projects under 'Experience' which can substitute for employment if you're relatively new to the field. You can also have a 'Skills' section listing the languages you know if you didn't have formal schooling.



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 04:21 AM
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Posts like this scare me... they trivialise an occupation that is nowhere near as "easy" as it's made out to be. Yes, most people could pick up one of the multitude of books floating around and learn enough to hack together applications, and pick up enough to code a basic database driven website in 2years. But it's a little mis-guided to believe reading a book and building a basic website will net you a $75k job in 2years.

Starting salaries in Australia are only $30-40k, and that's with the expectation of 1-2years experience (even if it's just an open-source project) and some form of university IT degree. For any non-trivial application you need to be familiar with at lease the basics of cryptography, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, design patterns, XML, jQuery, CSS (and all the 'fun' browser incompatibilities that come along with it), database design, SQL (+ stored procedures, triggers etc), you need to have enough experience to know when a framework is/isn't appropriate for your particular situation, you need to know all the little tricks used to improve performance, minimise memory leaks, the list goes on.

For many serious developers, out of necessity programming is a way of life. Most positions require a large amount of overtime, you're almost always under the gun to push new applications/patches out with tight deadlines and you never stop reading new books, studying new languages etc because it's the only way to keep yourself employable.



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 05:02 AM
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reply to post by LordGoofus
 


I agree with this statement by LordGoofus. I graduated college with a degree in graphic design close to 20 years ago. Back then they had us use computers if we wanted to, but the courses were about the design, not the method you used to make said design. A paste board that could be photographed and converted to press was enough then, not so when job hunting these days.

So after graduating I taught myself HTML, CSS, animations, multi-media, and SEO because the job listings were including these type of skills. Of course the industry is always evolving and hard to keep up with and the new skills are being added to the old. I've come to the understanding that I could never keep up with the changes without going back to school for a year or two, but what then? How many new skills will they pile up on the ones they want now? I cannot be just a designer without knowing about everything that is being done on computers and all the languages used. I'd have to be a computer science wiz-kid with a huge skill set to keep up these days.

They want someone who can do it all, and if the staff is small or downsized, they would probably have you answering phones for customer service and cleaning bathrooms too! You'd have to be a super computer jack of all trades these days to land a job doing graphics, there is no one who can specialize in one area now and have jobs available in today's market. You have to have the desired skills and do the work of three people once you land the job.

Edit to Add: They want designers to know phone apps now as well too.


edit on 21-5-2012 by MichiganSwampBuck because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 05:32 AM
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reply to post by LordGoofus
 


I think you misrepresented my post a bit... I by no means intended to tell anyone to pick up just enough knowledge to hack together something basic and then never learn any more... It was intended as a starting point to break into the industry; of course a programmer should constantly be updating their knowledge and skills after finding work.

Aso, any PHP book worth its weight will teach you how to defend against XSS and SQL injection, CSRF and the many other common exploits...



posted on May, 21 2012 @ 06:42 AM
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Something else to consider is once you have obtained the proper education and have the desired skill set, you're probably going to need enough money left over to relocate at your own expense because the competition is so high, its doubtful you'll find work in your area.

Also after paying for two years of school, or working a crap job for two years to survive until you teach yourself, or both, you are now two years behind in experience.

Once you get that job, you can forget getting anything over $15 per hour to start with, regardless of the level of your experience. Then you'll have to bust butt to get any mobility in the company you're with, if that is even possible.




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