Hope this is the place to ask this (from the description seem so); if is not can you pls. point me in the right direction? The question is rather personal but I guess other people may benefit from an answer too.

That being said: I'm a mid-life (around 30 years old) developer (a pretty good one imo). I had a good career so far. Started as a freelancer when I was about 13 years old (made some delphi desktop apps), learned C, C++, C# (but never worked professionally with them except some minor changes to couple of applications made by other people). Then I learned PHP, js and bash and started working professionally as a web developer (did this for the last 12-13 years or so). Also dabbled a bit in swift, ruby, python and tons of technologies and languages just for fun or for specific tasks (I believe there is right tool for each thing, not a "silver bullet").

This brings me to current day. I have a great salary, good benefits and a decent amount of free time. But my problem is... I don't think I can grow on my current setup any more (both financial and psychological - I feel my work became boring). I already earn about double as a senior php dev in my region and no matter how good I am no company would pay me 3-4 times the money someone else would ask for (if they did I would start questioning the company management).

I could go towards the management route (lead->software architect) but when I worked as a lead (two times, two different companies), even though it went well, I didn't enjoy it (I like coding, don't really like organizing tasks for other ppl, taking care of team mood, organizing meetings, evaluate people, etc. and definitely dislike not having time to code myself). So I would rather not do that.

Now the question: Industry changed a lot in last years. I feel maybe is time for me to also pivot towards new technologies. What should that technologies be? I prefer to remain in the web development area (is my comfort area) but if there are other sectors (like mobile software, research software, A.I., etc.) that could provide better opportunities I would give it a try.

  • Why do you feel you need career development? You're a senior level engineer. Those are highly in demand. You can make a close to 200K a year in a tech hotspot or more without a problem, and do it for the rest of your life. If you're happy where you are, just keep doing it and explore tech that interests you. – Gabe Sechan Nov 9 '18 at 0:43

The logical step would be to expand on what you do, lots of other facets that support your job, infrastructure, security etc,. I came from the other side... started with the hardware and security first, made a good living and then added the site building when I'd capped out.

Sometimes the most lucrative are the mundane ones and it's hard to see it at first. For example I can provide a hosting server, it mostly maintains itself, I change the UPS batteries every 2 years, make sure nothing is eating the cables, meanwhile it gives me a steady trickle of revenue for a reasonable initial cost in time and money.

By expanding rather than changing sectors you retain and still use your hard earned skillset.

The fuller a solution you know how to produce professionally, the more lucrative it can be. If done properly you can slog away and make money from client facing services, then also make money while you're asleep from things just ticking over on minimal maintenance.

So one method is to look at all the small things you would normally pay third party to do, hosting, infrastructure, connectivity etc,. and see if you could do it better, usually you can. There is a huge difference between multiple generic solutions cobbled together and a wholistic one specifically tailored for a clients needs. No unneeded bells and whistles or added costs.

Before the specialisation craze, this was the normal progression for professionals and craftsmen, apprentice, journeyman, master etc,. constant expansion of skillset in one big field.

  • this is a really astute post. (Naturally the question was closed) – Fattie Nov 9 '18 at 3:19

Here is the way forward in that situation:

  1. Carefully write down "your field".

  2. Make a clear-minded examination of all the different industries in that field.

  3. Make a note of which of those industries/areas, is, the most lucrative.

You should direct all your energy to breaking in to that "most lucrative scene" of your field. If you specifically don't want to, there must be a very good reason for that. Note that as a bonus, the "most lucrative" field is usually the most technically challenging and personally fulfilling.

An example - say you're a "math programmer". You have many areas open to you: engineering companies, technical engineering for the game industry, simulation engineering (say, aerospace), fintech, and a number of others. the fact is though, fintech is (bluntly) tremendously better paid in the short and long term.

Sometimes people look for the "trendiest" or "hottest" technology in their general area, what's "happening". Don't do that. Sometimes people look for the "most glamorous" (most high visibility, newsworthy). Don't do that either. Clearly look and see the most lucrative field in your space.

I think you mention your area is "web", which is a huge, dynamic area of course. Carefully think it through and figure what is the most lucrative region of your area. Go with that, for the next stretch of your life to 40, where it's absolutely critical you build, well, lots of money in the bank.

  • this is another valid strategy, analysing the market is a always good idea. – Kilisi Nov 8 '18 at 5:03
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    Can you explain why the most lucrative field is inevitably the most technically challenging and personally fulfilling? – Erik Nov 8 '18 at 6:14
  • You might want to state that it's just a personal observation then, you make it sound like it's some kind of rule. (I've observed that's often not the case; the most lucrative software engineering jobs in my area are the dreadful ones nobody wants) – Erik Nov 8 '18 at 14:42
  • Fintech isn't paid better than a senior engineer at Google or Facebook or other big tech companies. Its typically paid less. And you have a strange obsession with money. Money is nice, but its not the only or main factor- after a certain level it shouldn't even be in your top 5. You need a certain amount to pay the bills, a certain amount beyond that to save, and anything over that doesn't increase your happiness. – Gabe Sechan Nov 9 '18 at 0:45
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    hi Gabe! I would encourage you to consider the saying .. "work to live, don't live to work". Every dollar you save in to your retirement account, means you work less days of your life, and that your children are better supported. – Fattie Nov 9 '18 at 3:16

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