[RndTbl] User to Super-user to career change

Mark Campbell nitrodist at gmail.com
Wed Oct 20 14:05:41 CDT 2021

I largely agree that with small employers and local employers, you're going
to see ranges from $50-100+ per annum and it's been true for a number of
years. Especially in Winnipeg.

Anyone worth their salt has looked to remote work and it's been a god-send.
I know of at least 10 people who work remotely that achieve great returns
and even more than myself. Even Bold doesn't compare TBH and I would
probably rate them below any remote work offers I've seen. The going rate
for remote Canadian work for senior software dev seems to be somewhere
between $100-300 p.a. depending on your skills and the companies you're
working with, etc. etc.

Remote work has changed that though, and much of the skills of 'linux
admin' and 'network admin' are very valuable when applied to businesses
where those skills are put to use as the revenue stream instead of the cost
side. Hence, dev work is inherently valuable and you can be compensated for
it. Alternatively, you can unknowingly fall into a job where you're
pigeonholed into maintaining a few servers to keep the lights on and the
pay won't be generous. Which employers you work with, the skills you
develop, and the networking you do all factor into what kind of
compensation you can seek.

Is the company's revenue rising? Good. Can't hire fast enough? Great! Good
tech? Great. All of these factor in to a job where they will compensate you
highly and keep it high to keep you there at the company.

Stagnant business? Only one position open? Low pay? Working by yourself
without a senior developer because they can't afford it and the senior
left? Red flags, but might be worth it if you're looking for your first

There is a lot of nuance to this discussion, especially getting the first
job when you lack credentials or <insert your situation>.

To Adam's point, I _did_ move to Toronto which greatly helped my salary,
yet I'm a victim of circumstance/history too because of the emerging
revolution of remote work and well-paying software development jobs in
general in North America. I've known people who remained in Winnipeg and
took advantage of remote work that was well paying. No travel necessary
these days it seems, haha.

A career path where you can reliably get a job at a major software company
like GitHub, GitLab, Microsoft, et al (literally thousands of companies it
seems) is something you should think about when it comes to your personal
situation (if that interests you) because to get that kind of job, you need
specific experience to jump through their hoops. If you work backward from
employers you want to work for or jobs you want to do, then you can plan
out how to get that first job that's relevant to you.

I could write a lot more, but here's an interesting article from a few
years ago where the compensation for software development can be considered
bi-modal in its distribution in much the same way that lawyers are (some
are paid a lot and some are regular Joes).

On Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 1:22 PM Troy Denton <trdenton at gmail.com> wrote:

> As for finding what's available, try reaching out to a recruiter e.g.
> https://www.aplin.com to help with your search.  They get paid by the
> employer.
> It's worth keeping an eye on https://remotists.com/,
> https://www.flexjobs.com/, etc for remote jobs.  If you can find a
> position in a data center or similar where you can leverage your trade
> skills, you can probably do better on the salary front.
> As for adding business value to your skills - DevOps is a good buzzword to
> have on the resume. You might consider learning AWS or a similar cloud
> provider, it's a very employable skill.
> -Troy
> On Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 12:33 PM Adam Thompson <athompso at athompso.net>
> wrote:
>> [not using your numbering scheme]
>> 1. Unless you move to a different city, (Silicon Valley, Boston, Toronto,
>> *maybe* Vancouver) you will - VERY generally speaking - never even come
>> close to reaching what you could theoretically make as a self-employed red
>> seal electrician.  (If you're a non-union employee right now, then it's a
>> lot closer.)
>> There are specific niches where you can make more, but good luck finding
>> them and getting into them.  Alternately, there are some very high-pressure
>> networking jobs that make really good money here, I wouldn't touch them
>> with a 10' pole.
>> Switching careers mid-life is HARD, and very financially painful for up
>> to 5 years on average (AFAIK).  I don't know any way around that.  What
>> I've read suggests you take a up-to-10-year hit to get back to where you
>> were, unless you get lucky.
>> If you have your LPIC-1 and some sort of certification as a programmer,
>> that gets you a junior programmer job.  It *might* get you a junior
>> sysadmin job, but there's not that much Linux sysadmin work in Winnipeg -
>> and definitely not at the junior level.  All the jobs I've heard of in the
>> last 5yrs are mostly-Windows with some Linux and some networking.
>> The place I left 2yrs ago was paying junior sysadmins somewhere between
>> $40k and $50k, intermediate ~$50-55k, and senior ~$60k.  Granted, the owner
>> was a !@#$% scrooge, but from what I can tell, that's about normal for
>> small shops in Winnipeg.  (Ther are a lot of them.)  I don't know what they
>> paid the programmers, but I do know that everyone who left that firm, left
>> to get a substantial raise from much-larger employers.  I've heard BOLD
>> pays well, but no actual numbers.
>> 2. Programming and sysadmin are classically an either/or choice, but...
>> I'm a network engineer who still does a ton of sysadmin stuff, who used to
>> be a programmer for the first half of his career.  That used to be a fairly
>> common career path.
>> Nowadays, though, programming + sysadmin = DevOps, which has been the
>> buzzword-du-jour for most of the last decade.  The focus is still on
>> programming, essentially it's programming while being expected to know how
>> to do your own deployments and manage the servers your code runs on.
>> (There's no single definition of DevOps.  Google for yourself, it's a mess.)
>> Everyone and their dog claims to be doing DevOps now, and ... almost
>> no-one really is.  IMHO.  Kind like everyone's "Agile" now, and it's mostly
>> just B.S., a new word to slap onto existing processes to make the VPs feel
>> better.
>> But DevOps would potentially give you a slight advantage if you go the
>> programming route.  And being DevOps, IMHO, lets you delay choosing one
>> path or the other as long as you want.
>> 3. Restating what I said in #1, differently:  DO NOT go into tech, at
>> least in Manitoba, to make money.  Go into it because you love technology,
>> and programming/sysadmin/networking makes your brain happy.  Aim for the
>> largest employers you can (typically insurance companies) if salary is
>> important.  Those big employers will kill your soul and your brain and your
>> skills, but they'll pay you reasonably while they do it :-).
>> YMMV, that's just my experience.
>> Just a thought: what about more slowly pivoting from electrical to
>> network cabling, then to network switching/routing/firewalling?  I don't
>> really know if that's feasible here or not.
>> -Adam
>> On 2021-10-20 10:41, Chris Schick wrote:
>> Good day,
>> I'm interested in making a drastic career change and want to get a better
>> feel for where I fit. I'm a Red Seal electrician and an instructor at RRC
>> but have always wanted to work in tech. The tricky part is that I'm 42,
>> married with 2 kids, 2 cats and a mortgage. And the cats eat a LOT. I
>> either need to get in at an intermediate position or at least have the
>> opportunity to rise to that point fairly quickly.
>> I've been studying Linux Sys Admin courses in my evenings and am close to
>> getting my LPIC-1 certification. I also have a strong programming
>> background. At this point I could go either way, towards software
>> development or system administration. The friends I have spoken to suggest
>> that it is either-or, that programming and sysadmin do not go together in
>> most regular jobs.
>> I'm putting together a portfolio of projects I've worked on at home,
>> raspberry pi stuff, messing with my network, and also my GitHub profile.
>> My two questions are:
>>    1. What's available to me and what is a reasonable expectation for a
>>    first job?
>>    2. What else can I do to add business value to my skills?
>> Thanks in advance, I feel awkward  asking this here but after
>> slow-burning this idea for 3 years I need to make a change before I spend
>> another 25 in the wrong job.
>> CS
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