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Ask Slashdot: Life After Software Development?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the would-you-like-fries-with-that dept.

IT 416

An anonymous reader writes "I've been writing database apps for various industries as the senior developer or tech lead on a given project for most of the past 20 years. The last few years have become particularly taxing as I struggle to reiterate basic concepts to the same technically illiterate managers and stakeholders who keep turning up in charge. While most are knowledgeable about the industries our software is targeting, they just don't get the mechanics of what we do and never will. After so many years, I'm tired of repeating myself. I need a break. I need to walk away from it, and want to look at doing something that doesn't focus heavily on the IT industry day in, day out. Unfortunately, I'm locked to a regional city and I've just spent the majority of my adult life coding, with no other major skills to fall back on. While I'm not keen on remaining in front of a screen, I wouldn't be averse to becoming a tech user and consumer, rather than a creator. Are there similar Slashdotters out there who have made the leap of faith away from tech jobs and into something different? If so, where did you end up? Is there a life after IT for people who are geeks at heart? Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?"

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Fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080415)

Surely you should have been promoted to your incompetence by now. Maybe you already have.

Epic Fail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080659)

Apparently you've reached your level of incompetence. And it consists of posting AC comments on /.

Write or teach. (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080419)

If you have experience on a given subject, coding or otherwise, there is a market for books and teaching. I happen to like coding and plan on keeping at it till my mortgage is paid off. Then I'll retire.

Re:Write or teach. (4, Funny)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080865)

He's already demonstrated that he "can", which means he's ineligible to teach.

Nope. (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080425)

You pretty much shot yourself in the foot when you said

Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?

"On a whim" is exactly what you're talking about doing: leaving what I assume to be a well-paying job, with absolutely zero skills outside your current position, to find something new (which, incidentally, is a process you're obviously sufficiently clueless about to be unable to figure out for yourself).

My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

Re:Nope. (4, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080607)

I have to agree. I've seen too many people quit jobs 'on a whim' and screw up their lives (and their family's) permanently.

All jobs suck at one level or another. Grow up, suck it up, and keep working. You need to learn to work to live, not live to work.


Re:Nope. (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080743)

What kind of advice is that?

You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by. And if you're married, you can divide the labor between you two.

The thing is that what he want's it to be his own boss, or something like that. There are always incompetent managers, so you can't escape it just by changing jobs. But you can choose who you do business with.

It's a choice. Either you want the house in the suburbs with the stable income, and the shitty job that goes with it, or you don't.

Re:Nope. (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080845)

You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by.

Not when you have a mortgage and kids, unless you're desperate enough to go the arson route.

Re:Nope. (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080977)

That's silly. You don't want the house so stop paying your mortgage. Then go find an apartment, or move in with you parents. There are a surprising number of options if you can get out of the mindset that you have to own a house and you have to have good credit and you have to do whatever it is you think you have to do.

And most people have no idea what it really takes to raise kids well. I'll tell you one thing it doesn't require, a whole lot of money. And another thing you don't need to do it is a house.

Re:Nope. (3, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080861)

You'd be surprised how much it costs to get by.

FTFY. You don't live in California, do you?

To the OP, I knew a COBOL programmer that didn't show up to work one day at 74. He died suddenly in the night. While that was sad for all of us, I can tell you that he was really happy and thought he would be depressed if he retired (probably true). I definitely lean more this way.

Re:Nope. (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080927)

I just moved out of Orange County. Like I said, you have to make choices. Living in California is not a good one if you want to have a flexible lifestyle. There are places where you can rent a 2 bedroom apartment for 500 a month.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080967)

Your advice to move somewhere shitty is better?

Re:Nope. (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080885)

You'd be surprised how little it costs to get by. And if you're married, you can divide the labor between you two.

"Getting by" is OK when you're single or married without kids is one thing. It's not when you have kids, and have to consider their expenses, health care, college, what happens if you die, etc.

Re:Nope. (2)

CaptainJeff (731782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080921)

And, you'd be surprised how much it costs to get by when you're the provider for a family. Once you're married and you have kids, your decisions are not yours...not should they be.

Re:Nope. (4, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080987)

Exactly. Work is what I do to pay for the things I like to do. I can afford nice things.

My brother's a jazz musician. He loves it, but he doesn't make much money and he STILL HAS SHIT TO DEAL WITH. All jobs have shit to deal with. Find one you like that pays well. At work play the part.

Re:Nope. (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080695)

My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

You can also start looking for new opportunities but don't quit your day job until you have something solid lined up.

Are you tech skills solely limited to coding? Even if you can't get out of the IT field, you might try a different area. I retired from the Navy (I was an Electronic Technician) at age 39 and got a job as a Network Technician. I got my CCNA, which got my foot in the door. Within three years I'd been promoted to Network Engineer, and now, six years after retiring, I'm the Lead Site Engineer of a network with some 1200 devices and 15,000 users. It's still IT but it's very different from coding.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080749)

Yep. I went from a software developer to working in a fancy foods grocery for a while. It was fun and a big boost to my ego (i.e., you meet many more woman making modest money behind a counter than making lots of money in a cubicle), but he traded that kind of flexibility for his wife and kids. OP, just remind yourself that you've got a great home life when work is shitty because anything other than finding the same work at a different company is going to entail less income or time off for education or taking some other chances. I'd like to have a family, too, and there's even a girl I want to get serious with, but I'm off doing another risky job with an unknown payoff in the end and I can't even afford to live in the same city as her at the moment. Few people really get the great home life and great work life, although it helps if you have loose criteria for either.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080753)

"On a whim" is exactly what you're talking about doing: leaving what I assume to be a well-paying job, with absolutely zero skills outside your current position, to find something new

Zero skill might be an exaggeration. I used to work as a programmer in a company's IT department and something I noticed is that I and the people I worked with knew a lot of the business rules regarding how the company operates. Whenever someone pointed out a corner case that we had to account for we would joke that all that knowledge would be useless if we left the company.

A couple of my co-workers made the jump to the business side, working on the day-to-day work and sometimes automating little things (excel, access) or interfacing with us on a project. They had an advantage over other applicants as they wouldn't waste a couple months learning the inner workings of the company. If the users of your systems are generic engineers or college graduates you might be able to become a user rather than a developer. Granted depending on your sector you might need some additional training (accounting, PR, management, etc.), but in some cases you might relocate within your company fairly easily. Don't expect your current boss to like the idea, though.

If you've been working as a consultant, going from company to company but not learning the business, you're fucked.

Re:Nope. (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080793)

My advice: move to another place. Moving to someplace new can be like a breath of fresh air and a real change in pace in life, plus it'll give you a whole new pool of employers to choose from. I gathered from the question that the submitter doesn't have a lot of choice for employers, and that's likely because he's in an area with few potential employers for his skillset; the only way to change that is to move.

He says he's "locked into a regional city", but I think that's BS. No one is really "locked into" anyplace, unless they choose to be. Tell your spouse to suck it up and find a new job in the new area, tell the useless extended family members you're moving and they're welcome to follow you if they want. I've seen way too many examples of people who've gotten screwed over in life because they refused to move from some particular area, usually for some stupid reason like "my family all lives here!". If the family wants you to stay, then the family needs to cough up a bunch of money so you don't have to work any more. Otherwise, they need to shut their faces when you go looking for better opportunities elsewhere.

Re:Nope. (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080843)

I was forcibly pushed from a 'pure' development role into management. This came gradually, first being labeled a 'project manager', they 'promoted' into an office where I spend all of my time meeting customers expectations, compiling reports to upper management, working to keep my developers comfortable enough so that they do not take other job offers and rarely (oh soooo rarely) having an opportunity to help debug a program and demonstrate my skilz

This can be accomplished in a gradual manner that does not put significant risk on your income or your children's future, but you will have to live with your (and your staff's) beliefs that you must be completely worthless since you are yet another manager...

My advice... get to know some managers, maybe even work to establish relationships at the executive level in order to identify opportunities to move into management and learn how to look like the sort of fellow they would like to work with

Re:Nope. (5, Insightful)

joebok (457904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080877)

Wow - how can such a shallow thoughtless answer be modded "insightful"?

If the question was "I've just quit my job coding 'cause I can't stand it any more, how can I feed my family?" - yes, that is "on a whim" and I agree, not a good way to proceed. This person is examining his life and looking for other options. That is not whimsical. He's asking for experiences of like-minded people, hoping to find inspiration. Absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

I completely identify with the question, and have been having thoughts on the same lines. My conclusions so far is that I still actually do like coding, I just don't like coding (or doing anything) for the pointy haired bosses who are not in charge where I have been working for 18 years. So I'm trying to retrain myself a bit, see if I can cash in on iOS apps or something like that. It is interesting for me to learn new things, and exercising creativity to ends of my own choosing is very refreshing. Even if I never made a dime from an app, changing my attitude and finding a creative outlet makes life tons better. I endure the idiots at work, bring home the paycheck to feed the fam, AND I'm in a better state of mind so the time I spend at home is quality time. Maybe that will be enough, maybe I will want to make a change in the future.

It is a 100% valid question and the answer is most definitely not "nope". A good programmer is a good problem solver - the problem of living a satisfying life of joy is worth solving.

Debt serfs don't get to walk away. (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081019)

Apart from staying in my current job, is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?"

There's a reason the monetary system is debt based. You just found it.


You may have more skills than you think (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080443)

Can you say "do you want fries with that?"

Game Developement (3, Insightful)

stackdump (553408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080451)

Try a different kind of development? - maybe Game Development? You man still deal with the same issues - but at least it's more light-hearted and the business rules of the app are still arbitrary but more fun.

Re:Game Developement (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080481)

Try a different kind of development? - maybe Game Development?

You man still deal with the same issues - but at least it's more light-hearted and the business rules of the app are still arbitrary but more fun.

Plus you can slip Easter-Egg tips to your friends =)

Re:Game Developement (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080535)

>Game Development

Infinitely worse. The only people who think game development is "light hearted" and "fun" are ignorant people who know diddly-squat about the games industry.

Re:Game Developement (3, Interesting)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081005)

I have to wonder at this. I don't want to try to refute your post, but I hear very, very often that developing games is brutal, backbreaking, 60 hour per week work, and so all the people working in game development are miserable. But I do brutal, backbreaking, 60 hour per week work, and I love it. I run a print shop, and seeing my work roll off the lot, or hanging around town, or as displays at my favorite stores is a source of pride, not misery, for me.

I don't have to be here 60 hours (or more) every single week, maybe only 75% of the time, especially as I get close to completion on a big job, or when I have a very delicate and expensive piece to work with, but I often want to be here even when I don't have to be. When I am, my job's much easier, and I can take real, stress-free vacations when I know all my ducks are in a row.

What is it about developing a game that just seems to break so many programmers' spirits? It seems like putting in the time to make your game perfect would be something to take pride in, but more often than not people in the gaming industry make it sound like programming a game is like working for Foxconn.

Re:Game Developement (1)

Cruel Angel (676514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080785)

Permanent positions in game development are few, and competition is fierce. It is also a high stress industry (ask a game dev about "crunch time") and pays poorly. That being said, your basic concept is sound. Stay in your field, but move outside your industry.

Re:Game Developement (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080811)

Game development may sound fun, but as people who have actually done it for a living are going to point out, this is not the job for someone who has a mortgage or a family as a consideration. It doesn't pay well, it demands long hours, and the risk of losing your job is through the roof compared to basically anywhere else in the computer industry.

Re:Game Developement (2)

netsavior (627338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080881)

Game development has better managers, worse hours, much worse pay, much worse burnout ratio.

Re:Game Developement (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080975)

It has worse managers too. Almost all the managers in game dev are incompetent (at least, I have yet to meet the exception, and I've met a lot).

Tax Preparation (4, Interesting)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080453)

It's a series of rules. It doesn't take much intelligence or creativity and pays pretty well. It can be taught very quickly. Learn to like copying and filling out forms. Bonuys, as a developer, you probably won't forge anything due to your own inability to recognize what someone can or cannot prove via provided documents. As a PREPARER, you aren't 100% liable for validating these documents, so it's pretty much boilerplate.

It's what I intend to do once I lose an important sense/appendage (as long as it's not both my hands and both eyes completely, in which case I'm fucked)

Re:Tax Preparation (5, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080537)

It's what I intend to do once I lose an important sense/appendage (as long as it's not both my hands and both eyes completely, in which case I'm fucked)

Jesus Christ, just how much do you masturbate???

Never give-up your talent, just re-invent it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080455)

A word from the wise; never give-up your talen, just re-invent it!

If you're great at conceptualizing design & integration, pull-out from the hands-on, and go more towards the hand-off kind of roles. There's a huge gap between sofware development and IT (software devs hate IT, and IT hate software devs), and it's a great niche to be in if you're willing to innovate.

But at the end of the day, the trick is to just evolve your talent.

Put it on your resume cover letter (4, Interesting)

glueball (232492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080461)

If you put what you wrote on the heading of your resume and sent it to some startup companies (or VC of those startups) you'll get attention.

Now, if your tired of telling people basic concepts because you're an arrogant ass, well, you'll get attention and be shown the door. If you're a person who has passion for good work, have done good work, and are willing to try something new with a similar passion, entrepreneurs will notice.

Whether the attention is good or bad is up to your attitude but put what you wrote in the header and you'll show you have balls, which is exactly what's lacking but needed most in many of the applicants I see for a startup company.

Re:Put it on your resume cover letter (3, Insightful)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080515)

Unfortunately, most VCs are just as technologically clueless as the management. Plus they don't want seasoned developers with years of experience and the skills to know what to do (and the balls to do it), they want kids who'll work for stock options instead of cash.

Re:Put it on your resume cover letter (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080833)

Exactly. Telling someone who has a mortgage to pay and wants to pay for their kids' schooling to work for a startup is completely idiotic. Startups are famous for paying squat (and also requiring insane hours), because the whole idea is that you'll get rich if the startup becomes a big success and your stock options become highly valuable.

Re:Put it on your resume cover letter (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080847)

That's not a flaw of the startup environment. The whole point of going to work for one is to take salary risk and trade it against upside opportunity in the stock. The only other reason to work for a startup is if you have a moral stake in what the startup is doing.

Re:Put it on your resume cover letter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080595)

>on a given project for most of the past 20 years

As a 'person of age' I can tell you startups have no time for people of age. You are instantly assumed to be an unimaginitive cobol crunching crankpot. I don't know if it's more or less true for a 'regional city.'

Get a job in Marketing (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080467)

Spend a tour of duty with the Dark Side.

Re:Get a job in Marketing (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080621)

Or become a sales engineer. Effectively you become the liaison between a development team and the customer.

Re:Get a job in Marketing (1)

Almonday (564768) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080873)

But man, talk about having to constantly reiterate basic concepts...don't get me wrong, sales engineers can serve as fantastic bridges between tech reality and business demands, but this sounds like exactly what the submitter is trying to avoid.

Guess what? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080479)

We now live in a service economy. Micky Dee's is always hireing, and front desk jobs at La Quinta might be available in your area. But if you're over 45, look, just move under a bridge and get it over with.

Re:Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080647)

Why should he move under a bridge at 45? So you 20somethings can destroy the internet us 40something's built? Seriously? A lot of 20something's know how to USE tech but have no friggin clue how it works and saying " just put it in the cloud " which I hear often .. is a huge load of shit. The gray beards are needed and to say otherwise is arrogance of the highest magnitude.

Re:Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080705)

Frosty Pee is an old dude, dude!

Re:Guess what? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080869)

Your post reminds me of this video [] . These 20-somethings are the guy on the right.

One possibility: Retire! (1)

hedronist (233240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080487)

That's what I did. Of course I'm 62 and my savings allow me to do this, but I have to admit that it feels good.

Re:One possibility: Retire! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080759)

fucking show off~

Ouch... (2)

tphb (181551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080497)

I'd offer advice, but you mentioned "I've just spent the majority of my adult life coding, with no other major skills to fall back on". That's your problem. If a developer is not continually growing skills outside of just cutting code, they only be cutting code until the day they grow obsolete. Which is usually pretty quick.

Have you learned an industry? Learned how to manage a project? Developers can move into product development consultant or general management. But if you have 20 years experience doing the same thing over and over again...good luck.

Think carefully. (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080503)

If it's time to stop, it's time to stop.

However, it sounds like you're probably not quite a sprint chicken any more, so I'll point this out: there is a definite age ceiling in the tech world.

You can avoid hitting it quite so hard as long as you keep working in the field, but once you switch tracks, it can be a lot harder to break back in. The way a lot of management will see things, you left/got pushed out, and they can hire a younger, naive, and inexperienced dev who will write bad code that is hard to maintain in three times the time for half the price. (Note: all the MBA types will see in that sentence is "younger means energetic for half the price"). And if you haven't been working - they can say that the younger/cheaper guy is "fresh", whereas your knowledge is "dated".

Again - not saying "don't" - just saying, "be aware of the consequences if you take this leap."

Find your passion (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080509)

I've been struggling with the same problem myself. Any change is undoubtedly going to come with a decrease in pretty big income at least at first. There aren't that many jobs that pay as well as a programmer that you can just jump right in to. I recommend you find something you still have some passion about first. Ideas that have come across my mind are writing some books and opening a coffee shop. I've made minor progress towards both and realize its not going to be a change that just happens over night. Its going to take a lot of work for me to change my work but if I don't do anything about it now I'll end up stuck here forever. I like coffee and I like hanging out at coffee shops. Why not make coffee for a living? I like writing so I'm working on writing a book in my spare time to see how it turns out. Ultimately, if you aren't interested in what you're doing regardless of what it is you're going to find yourself in the same situation you're in now so find something you like doing and figure out a way to start a business around it. As a programmer, just think of it as yet another problem to solve and you'll figure your way out of the cage.

Re:Find your passion (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080781)

What I want to do: Open an internet cafe.

I'm just not sure how to get there from here.

You can try to take your boss's position.... (3, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080511)

If you have been with that company for a long time, you might be able to take the position your boss has (well maybe not his exact position, but similar within the company). Being that you are tired of explaining things over and over to your revolving bosses, you could probably become one, and then you would no longer need to explain it anymore to him (though that doesn't mean you wouldn't need to explain it to the boss's boss... but usually at that level you start getting more into the "this is the problem, this is my solution, it will cost X amount of developer hours/$$$ and provides XYZ benefits").

You're fagged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080513)

Sorry, our society is set up with a single option to adulthood. You must choose this option in high school, before you are allowed to drive, vote or drink. Then this single choice will follow you forever. Don't ever change or grow as a person; your debt in the form of the house, etc, won't like it. Never mind that we have tech toys all over the place, we certainly didn't do much to improve our social model. Toys, yes, we have. Catering to people? Fuck that, there are profits to be made here.

Lower Your Costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080545)

> who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim
If you have expensives to meet (and exceed for savings) then you can't drastically change your job/life without already knowing you'll succeed (too risky). What I, as a random internet user, suggest is to go frugal. Basically, reduce your spending as much as possible (at whatever rate your family can handle). Once you need less money, your savings will increase faster and you'll be able to meet your lowered expensives much easier. At that point in your life, switching careers on a whim becomes easier and less risky.

As for staying at your job, why do they need to know all the mechannics, that's your job not theirs. With your 'never will' attitude, you're already setting yourself up for failure on that front. Stop repeating yourself: think hard and come up with different ways to explain things. I know you can do it, you know the topics, find different words and make stories.

Re:Lower Your Costs (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081001)

When the bosses are morons, it doesn't matter how you explain it, they still won't understand, probably because they don't want to. They think that because they're the boss, they know better than everyone else anyway. The only way to really deal with this is to quit and find a new job (better done in reverse order of course).

Try a more iterative approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080547)

Maybe instead of quitting IT try reinventing your career within the CS domain...try a different sector of the industry, build your own product, switch languages and/or disciplines. The kind of work environment you're describing is not bound to working with software. You can code for a living and not be lorded over by non-technical people.

Tried day trading? (0)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080555)

Trading in securities and options is mentally challenging and (potentially) profitable. You can spend as much or as little time on it as you like, and when you come across someone who doesn't understand the market, instead of tolerating them and repeating yourself, you can make money from their ignorance. There are brokerages that allow software developers to automate their trading too, such as Interactive Brokers [] and TradeStation [] .

A tad risky (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080661)

You missed the part where he doesn't want to risk the mortgage and kid's college fund.

Re:Tried day trading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080909)

Trading in securities and options is mentally challenging

Emphasis mine.

I left the city for the country to try and do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080557)

I lived in a major city employed very handsomely as a System Admin. My family and I decided that the city was not providing some of the things that we said that we needed. We left, toured around the country for awhile, and then landed on a ranch in the mountains. We have exactly what we asked for but I find myself in the position of having to make ends meet and I am finding myself very grateful that I spent so many years employed in the tech industry. The ability to only work part-time days as an independent contractor really helps me find time to do other things that I want to do with my life like raise animals and grow food and still afford to do this.

I feel like I grew up a bit sheltered by the tech industry to how hard it truly is to make a living without some sort of corporate backing (and therefore, usually, corruption, incompetence, etc). I really wasn't aware of just how much money I was making and how far it went. I am beginning to understand that I am very, very lucky to have the experience that I have. It is now on my shoulders to use that experience as courage for striking it out independently. :-)

Good luck.

Start a company? (3, Insightful)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080571)

If you're tired of listening to idiots, why not start a company. Then you're in charge. There are many downsides to this but it solves your immediate problem.

You could also get into mobile app development. That can be done as a solo gig.

Re:Start a company? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080741)

The number 1 downside is then you will be the idiot.


Become a Porcine Engineer (4, Interesting)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080593)

Been there.
Done that.
Now I raise pigs on pasture.
Shepherding pigs is more fun.
Love it.

Re:Become a Porcine Engineer (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080733)

Funny, that's what I call my management managing skills. Pig Wrangling.

Learn to manage you managers.

Re:Become a Porcine Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080961)

And they smell less than your average programmer

Teaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080599)

I've seen technical school classes being taught by guys straight out of industry with no prior teaching experience.

Adapt and continue doing what you love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080613)

There's the cliche about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over even though it isn't working.

Why not try to stop explaining technical mechanics to managers so much? if it's frustrating to you, I would guess it's frustrating for them too, especially if they are perceptive enough to sense your contempt. if they knew what you know, they might just be in your position or working for you instead of being a manager.

Part of the job of a technical lead is to communicate with non technical folks, in my experience. There is something driving you to feel the need to give explanations despite their not being received; find that root cause and look for a different solution.

Or you could start an adventure sport company, that would be kind of fun and there are more people getting active all the time.

Translation: (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080643)

Dear Slashdot,

I've spent my entire life doing one thing. I have no marketable skills except doing that one thing. I like doing that one thing, and that alone. I hate my job because it also involves doing something other than that one thing.

I want to stop doing that one thing, or anything related to it, but still make the same safe, secure, decent amount of money doing something else. But I have no idea what that something else is, and I don't want to take any risks finding out.

What do I do?

You're fucked.

Seriously, open your horizons some (management or technical sales is where many geeks go when they reach this point), or be willing to take risks. But the magical safe, secure, job you are looking for does not exist.

Find your other passions.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080655)

What do you like to do as a hobby? Find some way to make that into a job. You'll have to start "part-time" at first until you can build enough cash flow to not risk the mortgage and kids education. It takes time. Check out a few books:

48 Days To the Work You Love
What Color is Your Parachute?

Landscaping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080657)

You get the entire winter to vacation. The rest of the time you hang out watching MILFs jog past. And the immigrants you work with can always get weed.

management (2)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080663)

Up not out. You can be the manager who excels at the technical side of things.. And try to learn not to suck too bad at the social side of it.

My idea. (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080673)

I'm 55 and have been involved with software development since the late 1970's.

I'm done!

I'm thinking an ice cream truck.

well (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080715)

YOu arne't going tlo take a leap AND keep the mortagae and college..unless you have someone who is willing to support you. Rich uncle? investors into a private business?

In the mean time, take a pay cut, get a city or state programming job.
It's boring, the tech is boring, but I work 40 a week. This has finally given me time to pursue other interests. Currently I'm learning to play the bass with the goal of getting a gig after a year.

BY boring I don't mean I'm not doing anything, I'm actually quite busy but there isn't any real challenges since it's older tech.
Also, I get actual vacation time and sick time and no one whines that I took time off.

Alternatively, you can get a coding job in a completely different industry. I have worked in pretty much every major industry. Finance, health care, avionics, robotics, tape libraries, etc...

More general question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080723)

I understand and certainly sympathize with the O.P., but I have a more general question. First, some background. I have spent my entire career in IT in one capacity or another (programmer, o.s. maintenance, vendor support, systems engineer, a bit of hardware design, and more).

The O.P. wants to escape programming; I want to escape IT, but I still want to do something technical. Has anyone escaped from IT and still had a rewarding technical career?

All jobs suck! (2)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080731)

We are lucky that we have one that pays well! The grass is always greener. I bet your bosses deal with the same BS that you do, maybe a different day or different topic, same BS. The grocery kid at the store has the same problems, just a different set of glasses. Gotta make paper. I'd suggest that you go out and buy yourself a BMW, maybe that will cheer you up. At least you get to use your brain, unlike most of the rest of the working world.

I smell midlife crisis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080737)

I had a quasi midlife crisis and thought the same things. Bought a car cash, spent years trying to save up what I spent on it and am having a hard time dealing with that fact. I feel like leaving my job because I've hit the ceiling, and it sucks. I can't afford to quit however, it is slavery eh? I've contemplated suicide to end it, that didn't seem like an option. I don't know what to do but keep working and getting enough energy to do it again the next day. It's miserable a circle of horrific torture, and I eat which is the saddest thing, there are many in this world that starve. It's no wonder these prescription pills help me deal and is a reason why so many people go to shrinks now. I've searched for spiritual answers, searched for a purpose of it all, and it's just really really bad. But it could be worse, it's not worse though. It could also be better and it's not better either.

I don't know what to tell you man, you have a responsibility now. I don't have a mortgauge or kids and I am basically hopeless without those responsibilities. Just do it again and again until you die, rest peacefully in your grave knowing that you kept the machine going, an imperfect machine that takes the lives of people and turns them into disposable economic units. It's hell here.

Don't be a dumbass (1)

PimpDawg (852099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080747)

You can't go through life as a condescending a-hole thinking everyone is an illiterate this or an idiot that. People skills are part of solving problems for people. It sounds like you're in the wrong career. You need to be in something where you will not come into contact with other people.

Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080751)

Why not give a shot at being a technically competant manager. Sounds like your company could use one.

Risk (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080773)

I used to be an IT guy. Went from phone jockey to DB developer over about 8 years. After seeing what happens to people who are in IT for a long time, decided that I didn't want to turn into one of those people, so I dropped out, and started my own business. But with it came a tremendous amount of risk. I'm glad I did it, but with the qualifier, "is there any advice for someone who can't really risk the mortgage and kid's education on a whim?", I've gotta say that you probably should just stay put. Any career change is going to come along with a significant amount of risk.

Or, you could do what I did, and radically change your lifestyle, reducing your risk. If you're willing to give up the trappings of the typical consumerist lifestyle, you can get by on significantly less than most people in the US think they need to live comfortably. Get rid of the mortgage, fancy cars, overpriced gadgets and new clothes. Learn to be happy living with much less, and suddenly, the possibilities expand greatly. Of course, most people don't do it, but if you do do it, then you can really do whatever you'd like to do, and not worry about "risking" your lifestyle, since you would have already thrown that out the window.

Give up. (1)

warrax_666 (144623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080775)

Kill yourself. There is no life after software development.

burn out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080777)

Dude you are just burned out, I am int he same boat where I realize that I just don't want to spend my life in a cube in front of a computer under artificial lights for 8 hours a day. I am sticking it out now, but slowly educating myself on other careers, plus I think the IT industry is about to shrink like a mofo over the next 10 years.

Keep the job (5, Informative)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080803)

Been there, done that.

A few years ago I quit a good job because I was tired of the same thing, day in, day out.

Decided to try my hand at different things, collapsed economically, got depressed, felt I was useless and then...

I got me a job (lower paying) as IT Manager again. Guess what, I'm happy because I know what I'm doing, I feel good because I know the ins and outs of the job and it is, frankly, a piece of cake.

So take a vacation, cool off and get back to the good job you have.

Just get a different job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080813)

Sounds like you need a change of employer not a change of career. After about 15 years in IT I tried my hand at engineering in the medical device field - after 3 years of FDA and ISO regulation I went back into IT. It was a good experience and a nice change of pace but I really am happier in IT. Being at the right company makes a big difference.

Become a decision maker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080819)

I have a similar background. I decided to finish my bachelors degree and get a masters degree and become one of the decision makers so I could be a knowledgeable decision maker rather than a clueless one. I decided to get my MBA instead of a masters in computer science or MIS with the idea of being a manager of programmers rather than a programmer. I'm hoping the ability to speak techno and business and the ability to interact with users and programmers will be advantageous. Good luck!

It sounds like you live in America (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080827)

Go elsewhere. The United States, and the United Kingdom are infected with a style on management that is trained to be incompetent, right from 'management school'. Go elsewhere, and enjoy a whole new lease of life, working for people who are not brain damaged by some oddball right wing management philosophy from a university department of 'management science'. Anyone in management who has not done the job of their juniors, does not belong there. How can you possibly manage people, whos detailed skill set, you clearly do not understand. Having worked all over the world, I have definitely found this phenomenon to be peculiar to the USA (in particular), and also to Great Britain. I am amazed at just how stupid some of these people are. It really is incredible, that anyone should choose to employ people with 'business degrees' in any level of management. These people are incompetent at best, and techinally worthless. A total liability.

Try out the niche your software fills (1)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080841)

I went from managing the GUI and color pipeline QA department for a company that made large format printing software, to managing a print shop. I've never been happier.

I was glad I found a way to use the skills I spent so long developing, and re-focusing my energy in an area I really, really enjoy. The skillsets don't really overlap all THAT much, but enough is similar that it was a comfortable transition. Remember, the software you're developing DOES something, and to be a good developer, you must have a fairly deep understanding of whatever that something is. If you can find a way to enjoy the industry you're writing software for, it's a logical switch.

The one thing I'd strongly suggest regardless of what you leave to do, and that I myself need to be better at, is keeping your old skills up-to-date. You'll always need a trade-skill, and if you can show that you contributed to projects to keep your skills active, it won't be as hard to put on your developer shoes again as it will if you don't even open your IDE for next 5 years.

Sales engineer (1)

java_dev (894898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080851)

for a software company with products aimed at software developers. Your experience provides great credibility in that role. From there move into product management.

That's the route I took. Much more interesting than the daily development grind IMHO.

Re-evaluate your skillset (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080857)

I've always thought of myself as a "programmer", but having worked since '87 with computers for some pretty big companies and ever-larger projects and teams, I found I acquired a few useful skills that I didn't even realize until someone started asking me the right questions.

  • Team management is half of staff management. Just because you haven't given someone good/bad news about whether they're still employed or adjusted their salary doesn't mean you haven't had to deal with the far more common issues of staff happiness, resolving contentious issues, or acting as a liason between your team and management.
  • Designing and documenting processes does not have to be restricted to computer algorithms. Business process improvement is no different than tweaking code -- eliminate redundant effort, streamline the process, maybe even eliminate chunks of it in favour of a completely different approach. It's harder to implement a business process because people need training and will still make mistakes once trained, but "programming people" can be fun.
  • I take it you've done documentation for the systems you've worked on. Good documentation writers have a unique skillset. It takes a special mindset to even try to bridge the gap between business terminology and a software system. That same skillset can apply to preparing to interact with a vendor whose products and services have a terminology all their own.
  • Consider law as a career. The legal systems are like old computer systems, full of gnarly gotos and dead code. If you have the patience to take months or years in court to correct "design errors" in the legal system, it can be an entertaining thing to do. You might not want to be a lawyer, but "thinking outside the box" is how lawyers come up with creative case law, the same as for programming machines.
  • Unless you stuck with programming and never got involved with design and system progress reports, you will have gained some good experience with preparing and making presentations. Don't underestimate the value of good presentation skills.
  • If you've worked on a variety of systems for one or very few companies, you should understand their overall business processes far better than the average manager who only deals with the needs of their own department. IT is everywhere in modern companies, so good IT resources end up learning the business, not just departmental project needs.

In short, you can't interact with businesses and enterprise-level systems development without learning a whole host of skills that have nothing to do with hammering a keyboard to produce or debug code.

switch from technical to people skills ... (5, Interesting)

swframe (646356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080879)

1) Move up the management chain. Stop moving up when you can't take the bs. You don't code anymore. You are still paid well. You have to reduce your reliance on technical skills and switch to people skills. It is messy. I find it hard because the goals are harder to understand. People don't act in their best interests and so doing something illogical (e.g. not allowing an employee to build a better solution because the current solution is owned by someone with more influence than you have) is the better choice if you want to keep your job. It is really hard to avoid becoming the dilbert manager when a dilbert manager decides your fate.
2) Move into sales or marketing. Again you have to tone down your technical skills in favor of people skills. If you move into writing white papers you can keep some of the technical skills but you will need to understand people well enough to influence them. It takes getting used to. I didn't like it at first but so far it has been easier than coding, a little boring but I feel my work is useful to the company and customers. If you move into technical presales you typically get a bonus but you also have to travel a bit more.

Add Skills (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080891)

Learn how to communicate more efficiently. There's potentially opportunities at you company to train to become a process re-engineer. You can basically take what you already know about the company and help other individuals figure out better procedures to do their jobs. Along the way finding areas where your software lacks and fixing those as well.

This takes a step back, because you have to realize that your current processes are not necessarily "normal" and that there may be a lot of insanity in them. You won't see it, because that's how things have been done around there for years, so it's "normal" now. Figure out how to reset yourself and then start building business cases to change things. That'll transition you out of being a coder into something else.

Be an adult about it., (4, Informative)

cshark (673578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080899)

Dude, you're an adult, you're not going to like your job every day, and you're not going to like everyone you work with. I'm working on finishing a project I hate, for a client who is a complete dick right now. But, he's the dick that pays my bills, and I manage to keep the work interesting by doing it different ways, rather than repeating the same thing over and over again.

There's really no way around repeating yourself. It's one of the evils of this industry. The thing I've found that works is talking about things in terms of electricity and plumbing. Some of it doesn't really fit, but it's a metaphor that people can visualize. The problem with explaining software mechanics to people is that there's no pipe to envision, no wire to point to, and the guts of the thing exist in the ether where they're shielded from perception.

Another thing that works is to make yourself less approachable. Not being rude per say, but people won't ask you a lot of questions, if you're not forthright in answering them. Or, if you give them an answer in terms you know they'll never understand. At the company I work for, the team in England is notorious for doing things like that. Even to other programmers. When dealing with technical people, you're asking them, at that point, to rewire something without telling you. But, if you're talking about non technical people, they won't understand a word of it; which means they'll find you less useful for answering questions, which means fewer questions.

If they ask you to do something stupid, do it. If they ask you to do something that will break your product, do it. It's not your job to do the job right. It's your job to do what the idiots in management want you to do, even if they don't understand what they're asking you to do. This isn't art, it's production. And you're not a highly skilled person doing a job. No, you're a very expensive piece of software that delivers what they want. So there's no point in questioning it.

As far as life after software development... there's always entrepreneurialism. You probably know enough to make a fair amount of money doing it. But it's not the kind of thing you can just go out and do. You'll need to find an idea, plan, and execute it. So you've probably got time if you're not in a hurry.

Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080937)

Have you ever thought about job in government ? I took this path some years ago and I don't have any regrets. And even if sometimes the job maybe be boring I have a steady paycheck and can afford some tech toys like Lego Mindstorms and Arduino Kits to keep my nerd side happy.

Find something that you can live with. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080943)

I was a software developer for 6 years and decided that there was no way that I was going to retire as a programmer. I chose to go back to school and am currently in my 2nd year of pharmacy school. I have 5 kids and am piling up student loans - this is not for the faint of heart. I realized that I have a very long time to work before retirement and so I thought that this would be a good plan. Good luck in making a decision.

Alternatives: (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080949)

You could teach. It would give you the satisfaction of bringing up snotheads into a world where they will hopefully contribute. You won't get paid diddly for another 20 years.

Or you could be a technical manager, but if you haven't been one by now, you probably don't have the charisma to cut it.

If you are clever (read insightful), you could write a book, but you'd have to be really special to have it sell, and the peak for computing books was during the late 80s/early 90s.

Or you could go freelance, but that is very risky.

seek out your local fight club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080993)

...or find some other activity that makes you forget about your job

Vacation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080997)

I'd agree with taking a vacation.

Also, I'm always in favor of trying your hand at writing, either fiction or non-fiction. If nothing else, it's a good hobby.

1this is goactsex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081013)

the reaper In a there are some My calling. Now I another charnel conflicts that conversations where counterpart, of Jordan Hubbard faster !than this Contributed code

Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081015)

I am still admittedly young. I left the IT world and entered the fold of industrial technicians after about 7 years of writing software. It's varied work, fulfilling with often time immediate results from my efforts. But sadly I went from explaining capabilities of a platform to explaining the limitations of a given piece of equipment.

Going up-market (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081021)

Been there, done that. My solution was to go after an advanced degree. If you're in a major city, there must be at least one college/university with a decent computer science department that would allow you to take classes on a slow schedule. They would broaden your view, create good outside contacts, make your days tolerable, and give you ideas for new directions that you could actually (not theoretically) go in. You're not trapped any more than you want to be ... your imagination is your ticket out. (BTW, I'm 54 and about to finish a PhD.)

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