Summary: I took my current job ten years ago and learned on the job. I lack a formal background and haven't been able to grow new, modern skills -- my job is more focused on getting the current task done than on improvement/growth. I now have the position and salary of a senior developer but fear I would not be able to get that position elsewhere. Due to family obligations, I can't work all day and study all night. How do I recover from this situation and modernize my skills without taking a huge pay cut in the process? Ideally I'd stay in my current position and develop better skills.
10 years ago I joined a small company as their first and only web developer. I was completely self-taught, and had about a year of hobby experience. I literally taught myself everything on the job.
After 5 years, it was eventually just me and another less experienced developer. I had authority over everything dev. I made all the decisions, but was very aware that there was a whole world of dev that other companies were doing that we simply were not.
I decided I needed to learn these things, and fast, to ensure I was keeping up with the industry. I very briefly started, when I could, trying to figure out those things and how we could implement them in the best way.
Then I had kids. And this is where my skills progression just stopped.
Life is so busy, I just don't have time to work on my own skills outside of work. At work, I am so busy I also don't have time, so I just continue on as I am.
Here is the dilemma.
I am still at this same job. I have been here over 10 years. I still work like it's 2010, and yet I earn a decent senior developer salary of almost £60k. For the past 2 years I have been working alone with no other devs.
The way I work is outdated and no other developers are working like this. I feel like the only way I can learn the modern skills I need is by being a less senior developer, at a company which does these things. I need to see how other people do these things because I do not have the literally hundreds of spare hours required to learn these things properly by self-teaching. I have never had a mentor, or anyone to learn from.
On the other hand, I have a mortgage, bills, cars, a family. I cannot afford to simply take a 50% pay cut and change jobs to be in a position where I can learn and be forgiven for not knowing how to do these things yet.
I am stuck. My career has run into a dead end because I should've bitten the bullet and left 5 years or more ago while I still could. There will come a point where I will have to move on from this job, and I won't be able to without taking a massive financial hit which will probably cause severe problems for me.
I have to hire a new developer and I'm dreading it because I know I have to pretend to be senior to them, but at the same time it will be glaringly obvious that they are going to be working on an old school mess. We won't be working like they did at their last job. It will be an embarrassment.
Despite my dev skills being somewhat outdated, I know I have value. I'm pretty sure my boss really values me for a reason. Ultimately, I deliver what he needs and I have traits that he respects and values. I have been loyal and trustworthy for 10 years. He knows he can rely on me. Many employees have come and gone as the years went by, and I have never let him down. There has never been a problem I haven't found a solution to.
Then there are skills I have developed over the years due to the pressures of being in charge since very early on, and from working at a small company where you are required to wear many hats. I sometimes feel like I am more than just a developer.
I know I am, at my core, an intelligent and successful person. I know I could be successful at most jobs due to my personal traits, but I am no longer a young, single person with tons of free time and no financial responsibilities. I cannot simply start from the bottom rung again.
I don't know how to catch up with the industry I'm in, with the lack of free time and energy I have outside of work.
Leaving my current job is a huge risk. I worry I will never be able to get another job at this level again due to my lack of technical knowledge in some areas that are industry standard now.
I have thought about changing career.
I have thought about going freelance.
I have thought about starting my own business.
I am afraid if I don't take steps to rectify my situation now, a time will come in the near future where I have no choice but to get a new job, and I will be hit with severe financial difficulty when I can no longer get into a job at the same level.
What steps can I take in my current position to modernize my skills and get my career un-stuck?