Author Topic: Young Person Wants To Become A "Web Developer" - Council Them For/Against?  (Read 2513 times)

ilconsiglliere

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There is a younger guy I am friends with at my gym. He is about 30 years old and has been a personal trainer since getting out of college. He makes decent money at 80-90K but works at lot of hours - probably 60 hours a week at minimum. Though the training pays decently you have to hustle to get clients and spend a lot of time there.

He has heard the siren's call of the streets being paved with gold in IT. A school has told him about how much money there is in being a Web Developer and did the whole pitch of that he can pull down 100K out of school with no experience, blah, blah. We all know the deal. He is tired of the grind and hours of personal training and he does like technology.

I spoke with him the other day and alluded to the H1B situation. I didnt want to come outright and say to him this is a tough racket. I did mention to him that people who are UX (user experience) people do ok but you have to be careful about competing for work with all these people on visas. Like most of the public he does not really understand what I am talking about with the H1B.

I am not sure what to tell him. I dont want to dash his dreams but I have heard way to many people spending crazy sums at these tech schools to never find a job. So now they are out the money and cant find work. I know from experience at my client that UX people do well. They make as much as PM and Analysts and the primary reason for that is their skills is squishy - its all communication skills and art. It requires you to have an eye on what makes things look good and be in tune with how people will use it. Basically you cant make a cert out of it.

As for the average web developer that does not design the UX and just codes the guts behind it I am not sure what the market is like for these people. I dont think its good as all the web developers I encounter are either overseas or on H1B.

I want to hear the rest of your thoughts.

I D Shukhov

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It's a tough call.  I think, being in the Information Age, it's not necessarily a bad idea call to aspire to be a web developer.  Like anything, I'd advise to go into it slow and cheap, constantly testing the waters.

Don't do anything high-priced.  Take classes at a community college.  Try to leverage his personal trainer career, as in doing a web site for a  gym.  Or create a free web and/or mobile app that people use to track their progress and publish it on a site he builds.  He'd do this to get credibility. 
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datagirl

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If getting a cert or degree to get and keep a job were enough, it might be worth paying to get.  The trouble is that a tech career means you can never stop learning new things in a way that is often more work than a job, on you own time and using your own funds.  As soon as you become an expert in a particular thing, it becomes "old" and you must become proficient at whatever is "new."  I see this with other careers, too, but it is particularly true of tech.  As a personal trainer, he might have better luck getting credentials to do physical therapy or something to leverage his existing skillset.

That said, every situation is different.  The decision is up to him.

The Gorn

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As for the average web developer that does not design the UX and just codes the guts behind it I am not sure what the market is like for these people. I dont think its good as all the web developers I encounter are either overseas or on H1B.

I want to hear the rest of your thoughts.

Well, you know at least one web developer who is strictly freelance and independent. He's even developed an ecommerce website for someone on this message board. "He" has.

Anyway, I could take your question two basic ways: 1) does retrenching as a software developer specializing in website backends make sense? or 2) Does web design make sense as a new/separate career option?

This subject is kind of funny that it's come up here on the board because I know a son of a couple from our church (the guy lives in Chicago) who I recently connected to on LI.

He's a full stack web developer with an absolutely awesome array of skills. His portfolio site calls himself "designer, UI/UX, front end developer, writer." In his website he says "I use HTML5, CSS3, jQuery libraries, WordPress, Spring, Bootstrap or Foundation."

He was laid off last fall and has yet to find a new full time job. I want to make some time to talk with him or write him, because I think his presentation of wanting a full time job isn't helping him find freelance gigs.

So, this person I know is someone you can point out to your friend at the gym who HAS all of the skills and cred who can't find work, perhaps because of H1B, maybe because of other reasons.

Freelance (and even corporate) web design is an extremely accessible career option for anyone who has technical skills and the desire to learn about it and perfect their skills.

But the way this guy had it presented to him by a school, as another thing you spend a ton of money to get a credential in, it makes about as much sense as paying for school for any other IT specialization.

If I were you I'd tell him to learn on his own, get a Wordpress hosting account and play with it and subscribe to blogs and learn. If he likes doing it and has made strides after a month, then either keep doing it and try to find some lower level clients, or find a source of funds and go back to school (much less preferred route.)

Anyone who is decent at website design can make a living doing it as a freelancer. As a permanent job, I don't think it's the greatest, and the perm job market for website people is as broken as the rest of IT.

Does that help?
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The Gorn

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Also, web sites >> apps. There is a LOT of market demand for websites. Apps are more like traditional IT software development, but they are difficult to monetize, either as the author/vendor, or as a contractor hired to write them.
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One other thought. Your friend knows how to hustle and find clients. PERFECT for an independent web design business. That lack of hustle has held me back.

It would probably pay a hell of a lot more than what he's doing now.

Yes on web design.

Learn on your own, with books, through Udemy/other online courses. Explore his talent and interest in it first.

Absolute flat no to ripoff commercial trade schools.  These places are bondage for proles.
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ilconsiglliere

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As for the average web developer that does not design the UX and just codes the guts behind it I am not sure what the market is like for these people. I dont think its good as all the web developers I encounter are either overseas or on H1B.

I want to hear the rest of your thoughts.

Well, you know at least one web developer who is strictly freelance and independent. He's even developed an ecommerce website for someone on this message board. "He" has.

Anyway, I could take your question two basic ways: 1) does retrenching as a software developer specializing in website backends make sense? or 2) Does web design make sense as a new/separate career option?

This subject is kind of funny that it's come up here on the board because I know a son of a couple from our church (the guy lives in Chicago) who I recently connected to on LI.

He's a full stack web developer with an absolutely awesome array of skills. His portfolio site calls himself "designer, UI/UX, front end developer, writer." In his website he says "I use HTML5, CSS3, jQuery libraries, WordPress, Spring, Bootstrap or Foundation."

He was laid off last fall and has yet to find a new full time job. I want to make some time to talk with him or write him, because I think his presentation of wanting a full time job isn't helping him find freelance gigs.

So, this person I know is someone you can point out to your friend at the gym who HAS all of the skills and cred who can't find work, perhaps because of H1B, maybe because of other reasons.

Freelance (and even corporate) web design is an extremely accessible career option for anyone who has technical skills and the desire to learn about it and perfect their skills.

But the way this guy had it presented to him by a school, as another thing you spend a ton of money to get a credential in, it makes about as much sense as paying for school for any other IT specialization.

If I were you I'd tell him to learn on his own, get a Wordpress hosting account and play with it and subscribe to blogs and learn. If he likes doing it and has made strides after a month, then either keep doing it and try to find some lower level clients, or find a source of funds and go back to school (much less preferred route.)

Anyone who is decent at website design can make a living doing it as a freelancer. As a permanent job, I don't think it's the greatest, and the perm job market for website people is as broken as the rest of IT.

Does that help?

Hi Gorn,

I know you are doing it, thats why I posted this here. I think what you are doing as a freelancer with web site design is viable if you target certain certain slices of the economy.

As for being a web developer in a medium to large company, I think its a dead end. All the web developers I encounter are on the H1B or overseas. The horde of web developers that I working with now are in Russia. These people are competing for those same jobs here in the US. Personally I think going to school and spending gobs of money to get the certs is a total waste of $.

The only way to do this is to be independent like yourself or do something these people cant do. From what I can see as I see all the billing rates for everyone - UX people get top dollar. Now I am not talking about web developers per say but rather people who DESIGN the look and feel of a web site. Just like you Mr. Gorn :) . It requires you to have an appreciation for art, line, color and fonts. This is beyond the normal developer. I started college as a fine arts major and I get it but many do not. It requires a special skill set.

I am not sure how to tell him this as it needs to be handled with finesse. I dont want to crush this guy as he is very nice but I also dont want to see him get reamed by the school either. These schools as we all know are in it for the $. They never mention the offshoring and H1B.

Maybe I will suggest that he get a wordpress site, start playing with themes and stuff. Become really proficient with Photoshop or equivalent. Because thats what you really need to do.

ilconsiglliere

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One other thought. Your friend knows how to hustle and find clients. PERFECT for an independent web design business. That lack of hustle has held me back.

It would probably pay a hell of a lot more than what he's doing now.

Yes on web design.

Learn on your own, with books, through Udemy/other online courses. Explore his talent and interest in it first.

Absolute flat no to ripoff commercial trade schools.  These places are bondage for proles.

He does know the hustle already. Thats for sure.

BTW - he does 80-90K right now which is not too shabby but if you factor in the hours its not as much as it appears.

I think taking the cheap way out is the answer as opposed to spending 50K on a school.

I already suggested that he focus on UX as opposed to pure web developer.

The Gorn

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I believe:

Hustle+energy >>> talent (including the elusive eye for design.)

If he can hustle and find clients, he can just hire out the design. And everything else, for that matter.

Yes to taking the cheap way. No to incurring huge debt from a ripoff we-take-anyone commercial school. 
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I think what you are doing as a freelancer with web site design is viable if you target certain certain slices of the economy.

As for being a web developer in a medium to large company, I think its a dead end.

I want to call out the notion of certain slices of the economy.

It's more like - target smaller and medium sized businesses. Not so much certain vertical markets.

There are HUGE NUMBERS of small businesses, one and two person startups, and actually, other freelancers, coming online all of the time. They ALL need websites.

The current gold rush is all of the people in the economy groping for small business opportunity on their own. They are the 49ers. The web developer who can work with them is selling shovels, buckets and picks to the miners.
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ilconsiglliere

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I think what you are doing as a freelancer with web site design is viable if you target certain certain slices of the economy.

As for being a web developer in a medium to large company, I think its a dead end.

I want to call out the notion of certain slices of the economy.

It's more like - target smaller and medium sized businesses. Not so much certain vertical markets.

There are HUGE NUMBERS of small businesses, one and two person startups, and actually, other freelancers, coming online all of the time. They ALL need websites.

The current gold rush is all of the people in the economy groping for small business opportunity on their own. They are the 49ers. The web developer who can work with them is selling shovels, buckets and picks to the miners.

I agree with what you say about selling the shovels. Thats who made the most $ during the gold rush, not the miners.

And I also agree its the micro/small/medium size companies is where the action is. I have watched a number of big companies in NJ try to target these people. I have seen a ton of ads on TV advertising - easy to build web sites, blah, blah. Those companies include Verizon/ATT (coasting off their yellow pages days), IBM and others.

But as for being an employee of IBM and servicing giant companies as a web developer. Thats a dead end as the IBMs of the world just want the cheapest labor they can find.

I D Shukhov

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Has your friend considered becoming a physical therapist?   That would be a natural for what he's doing.

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Physical_Therapist_(PT)/Salary  says the median salary is $66K, which would probably be for 40 hours a week, so at 60 hours a week, that's more than your friend makes.

The key *is* entrepreneurism  IMO.  So if he could find an employee-owned company he could keep all of the fruits of his labor and make a lot more.

Also, I like any business where the model orients to the aging population.  It's a can't-miss, I think.
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The Gorn

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The key *is* entrepreneurism  IMO.  So if he could find an employee-owned company he could keep all of the fruits of his labor and make a lot more.

Another idea is using his knowledge of training, and learning web design, and setting up as an information marketer of some kind of self help for training. Or even just "hiring himself" to write a web site that promotes his own training.

Yeah, the discussion it sounds like the guy started about web design as a commercial school track is too narrow. There are a multitude of things you can do to create a business using websites.
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I D Shukhov

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I think we're bringing our IT career biases to this discussion.  We've been doing it all our lives and don't want to throw away our investment.   This guy has *never* done IT, and I'm of a mind to advise against getting into it. 

Maybe he's not going to like sitting in a chair all day fiddling with code.

Nah.  I say get into physical therapy and start his own business with partners whom he trusts.  There is a huge PT market for aging baby boomers who are recovering from surgeries, strokes, etc.


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ilconsiglliere

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I think we're bringing our IT career biases to this discussion.  We've been doing it all our lives and don't want to throw away our investment.   This guy has *never* done IT, and I'm of a mind to advise against getting into it. 

Maybe he's not going to like sitting in a chair all day fiddling with code.

Nah.  I say get into physical therapy and start his own business with partners whom he trusts.  There is a huge PT market for aging baby boomers who are recovering from surgeries, strokes, etc.

Oh its development. He described the program to me - ASP, Javascript, Java, CSS, HTML, blah, blah.

I think you are right about targeting an aging population. Someone I know started a car service for the elderly. He drives them around and makes great money. Basically he is a taxi but ONLY for the elderly.