Programming is the best job ever

This article is available in Chinese.

I’ve been a developer for the past 16 years. Recently an intern asked me what are the coolest things about being a programmer and here is my answer:

  1. You are the actual doer. In a country like Sweden where worker class is well protected, doing the actual work is more valued than leeching on other people’s talents. “Boss” is a dirty word.
  2. The salary is quite good. It’s a high demand job and companies go the extra mile to lure and keep the best talents — fruit basket, free breakfast/drinks/lunch, mobile phone, massage, flexible work hours, dry cleaning, gym card, computer glasses, parties, trips, latest gears, you name it. I’ve worked with talented musicians, journalists and failed sportsmen who chose programming because of these irresistible perks.
  3. You mostly deal with predictable creatures (i.e. computers). This is far easier than dealing with people although no product is made in abstraction and if you don’t have a team, at least you have some customers to keep happy.
  4. You get to work wherever you want (home, beach, mountaintop, etc.). As long as you deliver you’re good! Linux, one of the biggest software projects was made by people scattered all around the world working remotely. Many top companies embrace this practice of loosely knit teams to let the developers work from wherever their brain performs best.
  5. You can do it whenever you want (night, weekend, etc.). If you’re a night owl or an early bird, you’ll love working as a developer. Since it’s a brain job, it really doesn’t make sense to work the regular 9–5 hours because when the brain is not in its best shape, you need to refresh.
  6. You can do it however you want. Few people actually understand what you are doing so micromanagement is almost impossible. If someone is good enough to understand your code, chances are high they are not your manager.
  7. As we transition from the paper-world to the digital world, many industries are adopting software or going through various iterations and rewrites of their current software. This has created an excellent market for people with programming skills.
  8. Since the technologies (languages, frameworks, tools, databases, operating systems, etc) changes every few years, you don’t need many years of experience to get a job as a programmer. All you have to do is to understand a modern stack and you’re good to go. Programming is one of those things you learn best by doing. No one becomes a good programmer by reading a book or attending a bootcamp.
  9. You work in a safe office possibly with stylish furniture, latest gear and air conditioning. Doctors and nurses face patients, fire fighters risk their lives, ticket controllers walk in the train and beggars sit in the cold to make money. There is hardly any other job that involves less risk.
  10. It is relatively straightforward. If you are not the questioning type, all you have to do is to implement the idea and collect your paycheck.
  11. You get good support from your company and manager to keep your brain in shape. They know your “muscles” are your brain, so they don’t usually do something that may upset you or puts you in too much pressure.
  12. You choose your pace. Time estimates don’t mean anything because of the nature of the software development process and many modern workplaces gave up estimating. The task is done when it’s done.
  13. You are considered smart. Programming requires abstract thinking and persistence to fight with problems. Many people are scared from or hate computers. Your ability to deal with them is considered heroic and you’re judged to be smart (don’t worry you earned it).

So programming is the greatest job ever. What’s the catch? Read here.

Read what you can find out about a programmer’s personality by reading their code.

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