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Programming The Almighty Buck

Should Younger Developers Be Paid More? 785

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-deserve-a-raise dept.
jammag writes "A project manager describes facing an upset senior developer who learned that a new hire — a fresh college grad — would be making 30 percent more than him. The reason: the new grad knew a hot emerging technology that a client wanted. Yes, the senior coder was majorly pissed off. But with the constant upheaval in new technology, this situation is almost unavoidable — or is it? And at any rate, is it fair?"
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Should Younger Developers Be Paid More?

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  • Keep up or shut up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:33PM (#34920498)

    While I agree that experience should, of course, count towards salary--I've also encountered a *LOT* of IT staff in general and programmers in particular who stubbornly refused to learn anything new after they left college (or shortly afterward). They fell further and further behind and became more useless every day. I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who works in a field as fast-changing as a computer-related field and refuses to learn new skills (including, *GASP*, on your OWN time). These are not professions in which it is cute (or acceptable in any way) to be the old curmudgeon.

    Would you want a doctor who still exclusively used surgical techniques from the 50's to perform your open-heart surgery? Would you want a mechanic who hasn't learned anything new in 20 years to work on your Prius? Well, the IT world changes *way* faster than either of those fields.

    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:41PM (#34920632) Homepage Journal

      the IT world changes *way* faster than either of those fields.

      Things change fast sure, but by that token, not all of the changes are permanent or important. I'm not averse to learning new stuff if it's proven, but I don't go running after new stuff simply because it's there. Old programming languages still work fine for new tech if they have appropriate libraries, etc.

      • by bhcompy (1877290) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:46PM (#34920708)
        But that doesn't mean that you won't get left behind monetarily, at least until there is no one left to support it, then they'll hire you back after you've retired for big bucks like defense contractors have done for people with arcane language knowledge that is not taught in schools anymore.
        • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:03PM (#34921020) Homepage Journal

          Eh, I'm making enough money already, and I enjoy my job. I'd rather have a job I enjoy than always be chasing after bigger bucks, and having to spend all my evenings learning new stuff rather than just having a life. Like I said, I'm happy to learn new stuff if it's proven and useful, but since going to University and then starting work, I have lost interest in doing my own home projects. I really enjoyed having my own projects at home as a teenager, but I have other things I want to spend my time on right now.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:46PM (#34920716)

        Well, ask yourself this. If your boss came to you and said "We're working on a new project and I want you to learn how to program for the iPhone" would you argue with him for an hour on how the iPhone sucks, or would you embrace it as a new opportunity to learn something new?

        That's the difference between someone who's intellectually curious (and always looking to better themselves) and someone who's dug their heals in and is becoming more a liability every day.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          I would just get a toolkit that turns a language I already know into something that will run on the iPhone. We call that lazy and smart.

        • by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:56PM (#34920880) Homepage

          The big problem is...you're presuming that the Senior isn't intellectually curious and they're basing the pay discrepancy on just that alone. Neither of which are likely to be correct a assumptions.

          • by mellon (7048) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:35PM (#34921416) Homepage

            Be that as it may, it's nearly always the case that you can increase your salary faster by keeping your skill set current and job-hopping than by staying in the same job, whether you keep your skill-set current or not. When you get a response like this from your management, the right thing to do is to figure out how to make yourself more valuable, and *change jobs*. Your management already knows what you're worth, and the only way they'll ever learn otherwise is for you to decide to leave. When you do that, they will either correct the discrepancy or let you leave.

      • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:01PM (#34920966)

        not all of the changes are permanent or important

        So true.

        The industry is full of fads, new names for old concepts, and hucksters selling the same snake oil. All too often the new kid comes in all gosh and golly about something the old fart has known under a different name since the Pleistocene.

        Still you have to lean about these things to even make that assessment. The older programmers have to at least be conversant with the newer languages, IDEs, file systems, databases, or platforms to be able to exercise all of that accumulated experience. You can't judge what you refuse to learn about. You can't delegate the acquisition of knowledge.

        It is virtually NEVER worth while changing programming languages via a re-write. More bugs will be introduced in the re-write than utility gained. But the same can not be said about platforms or database technology.

        If the senior staff have an education allowance in the company budget, and fail to use it, shame on them.

        If on the other hand the company is just getting the latest techniques and theories by hiring kids with no real world experience, then they will probably pay dearly for the privilege.

        Someone else paid for that whipersnapper's education. It looks cheaper to HR. But the company already paid for the old goat's experience, scars and all. He walks, and the kid is at sea.

        Experience is all too often undervalued. Inertia has its place. Its the older staff that can distinguish opportunity from pitfalls. But opportunity does knock. Softly.

      • FORTRAN (Score:5, Informative)

        by mangu (126918) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:09PM (#34921108)

        Old programming languages still work fine for new tech if they have appropriate libraries, etc

        I have a perfect example on how wrong you are: Fortran.

        I do a lot of engineering software and a lot of that is in Fortran. A few years ago I migrated a system with 400 thousand lines of VAX-Fortran code to Linux, using g77. Recently I had to install this system in a new computer, running Ubuntu Lucid. To my dismay, I learned that Lucid doesn't have the g77 package anymore, the gcc compiler suite has been "upgraded" to gfortran. And gfortran does not support the VAX extensions that g77 did.

        Luckily there's still a way to install g77 in Lucid using the Hardy repositories, but how long will this last?

        Had the old engineers said, "OK, Fortran is dead, let's just keep a legacy compiler to run old code" everything would have been fine. But no, they insist on "improving" Fortran by putting C language features, e.g. pointers, into it. Why can't they just learn to program in C and let the old compilers do what they are good for, which is running legacy code?

        I once signed a petition to retire Fortran [fortranstatement.com], where the best reason why experience isn't always welcome is stated: "In order to best serve future generations of scientists who rely on numerical simulation, we propose that FORTRAN be retired, allowing its successor(s) to evolve in the absence of the legacy FORTRAN juggernaut. Until FORTRAN is formally retired by the J3 Committee, institutional inertia will prevent alternatives from being adopted by science and industry"

        The current Fortran standard is the worst of all possibilities: unable to run legacy code which is stable and tested, and unable to compete with modern languages in either execution speed or programming ease.

        (And before anyone comes with some contrived benchmarks "proving" that Fortran code executes faster than C, let me point out that the legacy Lapack code is optimized in Atlas by compiling key functions in C+Assembly code)

        • Re:FORTRAN (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mattack2 (1165421) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @07:14PM (#34921806)

          Luckily there's still a way to install g77 in Lucid using the Hardy repositories, but how long will this last?

          Umm, forever(*), at least if you're willing to work at it. Isn't that one of the big features the "open source crowd" crows about? Get it and compile it yourself if necessary.

          (*) presuming the CPU architecture itself doesn't change.

        • Re:FORTRAN (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @07:35PM (#34921984) Journal

          Let me see if I've got this right - somewhere in the mists of time, someone at your organisation decided that it would be a good idea to write programs which relied on proprietary extensions not actually found in the F77 standard. Eventually, when you were forced to migrate to different machines, the compilers didn't recognise the attempt to use non-compliant extensions.
          Therefore, F77\F90 are both evil and should be done away with in favour of C.

          This makes sense... how?
          Your quarrel is with the original design of the program, not with the standards. Compliant F77 still compiles perfectly in an F90 compiler. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's no fault of Fortran that you've tried to bring bad code with you.

          • by mangu (126918)

            Compliant F77 still compiles perfectly in an F90 compiler. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's no fault of Fortran that you've tried to bring bad code with you.

            No, the fault of Fortran is that the standard needs so many extensions to work in the real world.

            For engineering work in the 1980s, VAX-Fortran *was* the standard, it was what everybody used.

        • Had the old engineers said, "OK, Fortran is dead, let's just keep a legacy compiler to run old code" everything would have been fine. But no, they insist on "improving" Fortran by putting C language features, e.g. pointers, into it. Why can't they just learn to program in C and let the old compilers do what they are good for, which is running legacy code?

          C does not have true multidimensional arrays. Fortran has also historically produced faster numerical binaries than C.

        • by jmv (93421)

          Actually, one major reason why FORTRAN has been around for so long is not because people liked it that much but because for a long time (don't know how true it is now), FORTRAN code ran faster than C. The reason is simply that some details of the language (e.g. aliasing rules, no pointer arithmetic) made it easier for compilers to produce fast code. If it weren't for the more efficient compilers, FORTRAN would have been dead a long time ago.

    • by Matimus (598096)
      Agreed. There are developers who continue to learn, read and hone their craft. Individuals who pick up new technologies and strive to improve at what they do. Those developers should be rewarded. They should be given every opportunity to advance and get more pay.

      All of that being said. A market is a market. The article makes it sound like they did look at training individuals internally, but decided to go with hiring some outside developers to help them jump-start the process. If that is what it costs fo
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...who stubbornly refused to learn anything new after they left college (or shortly afterward). They fell further and further behind and became more useless every day.

      You wouldn't believe the number of college grads I've encountered with advanced degrees who turn out to be absolutely useless when taken out of the walled garden of academia and need to be carried by the old curmudgeons until the probationary reviews come around.

      IT doesn't change as fast as people think it does. The tools change but the ideas stay the same (case in point: the more I hear about cloud computing, the more it makes me think of the local dumb terminal & remote mainframe architecture of dec

    • by Dzimas (547818)
      By the same token, I've worked with a number of organizations where there was a very strong demand for programmers and IT generalists willing to learn older systems - COBOL, various nasty and quirky Oracle database environments that need to stay running for the next 5 to 10 years, and so on. The truth is that there's a big push to learn and deploy the flavor of the month in IT -- someone gets promoted and all of a sudden everything's being coded by pythons on rails and the entire organization is supposed to
    • by BattleBlow (633941) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:18PM (#34921228)
      Did you even RTFA? Here is a quote: "I felt like I was letting down one of our most promising engineers. He was someone who had the most knowledge about the business we supported and was an expert in the core client-server application. " It wasn't someone sitting in a corner shooing kids off his lawn while he became an old curmudgeon, it was the team lead in the core application. I don't know about you, but I don't always have time to become an expert in every new IT technology that comes along. I have limited time and so I pick and choose. This guy had spent his time working hard and becoming their team lead, which naturally meant focusing on their core business and application. He then finds out they're hiring graduates at a 30% higher salary and expecting him to mentor them in the business requirements because he hasn't also had time to become an expert in mobile applications. Tell me you wouldn't be pissed off in such a situation? Yes, the salary for the graduates was driven by the market, and purely from a fiscal perspective the company did the best thing for it. Let's not pretend though that there aren't people involved and that they weren't screwed.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:25PM (#34921306)
      Senior devs find it difficult to keep up with new technologies because the company is too busy milking the existing skillset. They're not going to excuse you from your current job just because it's a dead-end leading to career stagnation; after all, they really need somebody to do it, for the moment.
      • by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:47PM (#34921552)
        One of the stupid things that this points to is that the companies have no problem spending the money and man-hours to train the new hire the business side of the job, but not the money and man-hours to train the existing employee on the new technology. In all but the simplest of environments, the business side is WAY more complex than the technology side, and you have a proven track record with the existing employee, while you are taking a big risk with the new hire.
    • by GWBasic (900357)

      While I agree that experience should, of course, count towards salary--I've also encountered a *LOT* of IT staff in general and programmers in particular who stubbornly refused to learn anything new after they left college (or shortly afterward). They fell further and further behind and became more useless every day. I have absolutely no sympathy for someone who works in a field as fast-changing as a computer-related field and refuses to learn new skills (including, *GASP*, on your OWN time). These are not professions in which it is cute (or acceptable in any way) to be the old curmudgeon.

      That's not quite the case here. The lead was someone who they couldn't go out and hire; he knew the business, and seemed pretty capable when it came to the desired technology.

      There's something to be said for people who "know the business" in that they're harder to find then people who know the latest technology.

  • by igreaterthanu (1942456) * on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:33PM (#34920508)
    I say yes!
    • Weird... how many enter computer science in the hopes of a career in information technology. It wouldn't be so weird if many entered law school in the hopes of entering the paralegal field, or if many entered medical school in the hopes of a career in nursing, or entered a curriculum of fluid dynamics in the hopes of a solid plumbing career... but this only happens with CS and IT. Hey... I have an idea... why overshoot the Moon, when you can just study information technology instead? I, for one, have found
  • Life is not fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:34PM (#34920512)

    The older developer needs to find a new job. IT raises only really come by switching jobs. For some reason companies rather have high turnover and pay each new hire more than give raises to staff. It makes no sense and is not fair, but it is life.

    • by quanticle (843097) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:00PM (#34920950) Homepage

      IT isn't the only industry where this is the case. This (lack of raises) is a byproduct of the change from the old world, where companies guaranteed raises and promotions and workers promised loyalty in return. Corporations have broken that bargain - promotions, raises, even employment are no longer as secure as they used to be. As workers, then, we'd be fools to give corporations the same amount of loyalty workers used to give in the sixties and seventies.

      Its a new world now, with new rules. As a worker, you're more free to move about and find the best offer. As a corporation, you're more free to hire and lay off workers as necessary. But it is a drastic change from how it used to be, and both workers and corporations need to make adjustments.

      • I did a bit of job-swapping back in the dot com days (bay area). it was 'the thing to do' to move up and everyone knew it.

        now, you get questions from companies about your 'short stays' (less than 2 yrs). my question back to them: how much of a guarantee are YOU going to give me that this JOB will still be around in 2 yrs? hmmm??'.

        (crickets chirping)

        yeah, thought so.

        corporate double-standards. they SUCK.

  • maybe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhcompy (1877290) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:34PM (#34920518)
    If the senior programmer knows the language or shows an aptitude for picking it up quick(which many quality programmers can do), then I think it's a slap in the face, particularly if the rookie has no realworld experience and no portfolio.

    Otherwise, if the senior programmer knows BASIC with no ability to learn C# and the rookie knows C# and is hired for C#, I don't see the problem.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      That people have jobs doing nothing but BASIC ?
      That seems like a problem to me.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        It was more of an example of vastly different languages than anything, but, for the record, there are companies that have applications that are actively supported and developed for in DataBASIC
  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash&omnifarious,org> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:36PM (#34920540) Homepage Journal

    There are a lot of interesting issues here. First, the developer could've trained themselves in the new technology outside the company. Would the company have believed they had the skill? I know I routinely teach myself new things when they look interesting to me. I also know that it can be hard to get anybody to believe I actually know it.

    And I don't really feel the developer has complete responsibility for doing this either. A good company will encourage its employees to learn new things and provide training. If they don't, they are basically calling their people disposable. They would rather hire new young college grads, even at a premium salary, than train their existing employees, even if it cost less in the long run.

    Lastly, I really think this betrays a bias for youth over everything. And, to some extent, it's a bias I can understand. When I was younger, I wrote more code and faster than I do now. It wasn't as good, and I'm a much better programmer than I was. But companies frequently prefer code that's 'finished' to code that works well. I think it stinks, and I think companies are selling themselves short and limiting their own lifetimes by doing things that way.

    • by ZahrGnosis (66741)

      Agreed. Training on new technology is both the employer and employee's responsibility, and neither is fulfilling their social contract if they don't keep up.

      The last point, though, is way more important. Good developers are way more than just a coder that knows a particular technology or tool.

      Paying a premium might make sense for someone that has experience with the new hotness, but only if the rest of their experience is commensurate. Knowing how to communicate well, cooperate on requirements, think eff

  • Capitalism 101: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:36PM (#34920546)

    Everything is a commodity.

    If you are easy to replace, then you are worth less. If you are in demand and harder to replace - you are worth more.

    If senior developer doesn't know this technolgy, they are worth less.

    Its not fair. But its expected.

    • Re:Capitalism 101: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:43PM (#34920664)

      I believe the point in TFA was that the senior developer who complained about the new hires being paid much more than him really was as valuable to the company as the new hires, if not more so. It sounds like he just wasn't important for that specific non-critical project and someone high up in the company had decided it was ok to pay whatever it took to get their pet project up and running ASAP (and had already decided it wasn't "cost effective" to pay for training in the necessary tech for existing employees).

  • Shouldn't it be the contribution he/she makes to the organization?
  • The employer is taking a chance in that graduates fresh out of university are a crap shoot. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're useless. Without an employment history to check up on, it's difficult to tell.
  • If they have skills that are in short supply, then yes. If all they know is how to print out "Hello World" in Java, then "no".

    OTOH, 60 year old developer who can troubleshoot the COBOL that glues your organization together should probably make more than any random 22 year-old.

    In other words, age shouldn't matter. An honest eval of what the worker can bring should

    Yeah. An honest eval. Yesterday in the USA we celebrated MLK day, and part of "the dream" was honest evaluation, right?

  • Until we remove ALL legal penalties for senior developers who learn new technologies,
    this situation is and will remain totally unfair.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      What legal penalties are those?

      Is anyone over 60 who learns ruby incarcerated?

  • by Quantus347 (1220456) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:40PM (#34920618)
    Why should a programmer be paid less just because he's younger. In this case the more qualified candidate for the needs of the company is getting paid more, as it should be. Age doesn't enter into it. If the older programmer wanted the higher paycheck he should have kept up with the field. If he had made himself competent in the "hot emerging technology" that their client wanted, his industry experience and seniority would have counted for something. But no amount of general experience will make up for not having the skills his position and company needs you to know.
    • by seebs (15766) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:43PM (#34920672) Homepage

      I don't agree. The good programmers I know are better in a new language after a week than a "fresh grad" who's studied the language for a full year. The bulk of what makes for quality software is not domain-specific. People who have learned five or ten programming languages already are usually fine in a new one on very short notice.

      Age doesn't matter. Experience does, in terms of the actual quality of output you get.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mathimus1863 (1120437)
        Careful... it's not always about languages. I completely agree that time is going to favor the experienced programmer if it's something like learning C++ when you've only worked in Java. However, it's not always like that.

        Take CUDA for instance (NVIDIA-based GPU programming), which is a relatively new technology that is in extraordinarily high demand in my work place (a physics lab). The fact is, learning it is not like learning another language, you have to understand a completely different hardware
    • by glwtta (532858)
      In this case the more qualified candidate for the needs of the company is getting paid more, as it should be.

      He's a "fresh college grad", in other words he's completely and utterly worthless. There is no such thing as a qualified college grad, not in IT, not in any other (professional) industry. Not that this is something shocking or anything; college gives you the skills to learn to do your job, nothing more.

      This sounds like a simple case of someone's nephew getting the right buzzword on his resume.
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:41PM (#34920630)

    This, and many similar workplace situations:

    1. Have zero debt.
    2. Have, in a money market account, distinct from your investments, one year of your carefully budgeted living expenses.

    When these two conditions are true, conversations with your boss will tend to take a very different tone from most people's expectations.

  • What if the employer asked the senior coder to pick up XYZ skill in exchange for a really good raise? I bet you they would have become a subject matter expert in a short amount of time.

  • Life isn't fair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:42PM (#34920660)

    Don't concentrate on what other people have. Life isn't fair. Nobody said it would be. Thinking that it should be fair won't give you anything but an ulcer. Instead, concentrate on what you have. Your position, your skills, your pay.

    If you aren't happy - leave. Get new skills, get a new job, get different pay.

    Basing your happiness on what other people are doing is useless. Concern yourself with your own position. If you have enough, great. If you don't, work on it.

  • It really should be as simple as being paid according to the value you contribute to the company. The old-school paradigm of simply being paid more because you've been there longer doesn't encourage employees to make themselves more valuable (learn new skills, develop capabilities for instance). Software development is one field where it is acutely necessary to continually re-invest in your education. If the old goat isn't doing that then certainly their value to the company is going to stagnate, even er
  • The problem here is that the company lied to its employees. Now they have to face the consequences.

  • Recent graduates should be making just above minimum wage until they've proven themselves to be anything other than completely incompetent.

    Their pay should then rise in accordance with their skills and experience.

    Recent graduates are, in general, absolutely terrible. It's insane to pay some idiot kid a senior developers salary because they managed to pull a passing grade on a few practice exercises in C# in college.

    • by Yold (473518) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:40PM (#34921468)

      Recent graduates should be making just above minimum wage until they've proven themselves to be anything other than completely incompetent.

      Nah, that's what interviews are for. Technical questions and coding exercises are much more fair in this respect.

      As someone who worked shitty programming and IT jobs for ~$10 /hr since high-school, I want to punch you in the face for suggesting that I deserve minimum wage for 2 college degrees, 3 years of (professional) programming experience, 5 years of IT experience, and 10+ years of hobbyist programming.

      Recent graduates are, in general, absolutely terrible.

      I went to a school with a pretty good CSCI program. The breakdown was like 15% - 20% talented programmers, 30% average programmers, and 50% below-average.

      The talented programmers were competent; could probably step into any job and perform at a level consistent with a mid-level programmer, minus the ins-and-outs of the languages. The average programmers were suited to be junior-level programmers. The below-average were suited to helpdesk / QA.

      pay some idiot kid [...] because they managed to pull a passing grade on a few practice exercises in C# in college

      Yea? And its also insane to pay some dumb-ass senior who can barely fucking program javascript just because they have 10 years of experience programming shitty code elsewhere. I worked with dozens of people who were making 80k+ doing just that, how many kids do you know making senior level salary for doing what you described?

    • by buddyglass (925859) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:50PM (#34921570)

      Recent graduates should be making just above minimum wage until they've proven themselves to be anything other than completely incompetent.

      Good luck trying to hire CS graduates from reputable universities at $7.25 USD/hour + epsilon.

    • This of course leads to the horrible side effect-- hiring only idiot programmers that don't have the slightest idea how to bargain.
      By the time programmers have paid their way through school they usually have some sort of usable job skills-> computer tech, appliance repair, electrician, plumbing, welding, customer service headset jockey. If they don't have any real world skills after 4+ years of college do you really want them anyway? As a teenager I was clueless about a huge number of things, including
  • 30% of a year is 3.6 months. The older developer can learn the technology in that period of time, at which point he will know the new technology and will also have more skills than the younger developer in anything else.

    So they could justify paying him the salary of the younger employer, minus 30%, plus some percentage for extra skills, and only for the first year. After that, pay him a salary equal to the younger developer's plus more for the extra skills.

    Paying him 30% less, with no accounting for extra

  • by LucidBeast (601749) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:50PM (#34920776)
    even if they are good on paper they might be crap in practice. If you need young hot talent then pay for it, but prepare yourself for disappointment. Cheaper coders might be just as good. Paying for good track record is probably worth the money. Worst thing that companies do is to promote good coders to be managers instead of paying them premium salaries. My analogy that I throw around is that when your guitar player finally learns how to play you don't "promote" him to be a manager and pick new "talent" to fill vacancy.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:54PM (#34920838) Homepage

    I don't have a problem with younger people earning more than older people in general, I know I've passed quite a few people on a fairly steady rapid climb and is making a pay that would be respectable for a guy 10 years my senior. However, I would be very surprised if a guy straight out of college - no matter how hot the technology he knows is - could command a higher pay than a senior developer. There are after all fairly many college graduates and they've yet to show much real world coding skill. Starting salaries are typically low all around - for relative values of low - that reflect that. If the wage structure is so flat that giving new hires a bump puts them 30% above the team lead, there's something very wrong with what he was paid in the first place. Sounds to me he's the kind of guy who'll work for peanuts and should have asked for more or left for a better position somewhere else long ago.

  • by sugapablo (600023) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:11PM (#34921136) Homepage
    Fair? What is this? (In the monotone of Deep Space 9's wormhole aliens...yeah, I'm that geeky.)
  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:12PM (#34921156)

    You are competing for money. Either do what will pay best or leave for greener pastures.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:16PM (#34921196)

    They can pay each employee whatever they can get them to agree to (well modulo minimum wage laws, overtime laws, etc, etc).

    Chances are the experienced developer can pick up the new-whiz-bang-flavor-of-the-month in less time then a new guy to get set up and productive in the company.

    The again, maybe this particular developer hasn't demonstrated that ability. Maybe he has made himself indespensible in whatever role he has now and hence they can't have him do other things.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @06:50AM (#34925550) Journal

    I use the following classification:

    • Beginner: Doesn't know an IF statement IF (get it, if, for an if statement, Oh I kill myself... what do you mean "yes please") it hit him in the face.
    • Junior: Can code but needs a lot of hand holding on more complex problems and work needs to be checked for common errors such as SQL injection. Needs to be guided to avoid re-inventing the wheel or trying solutions that have been proven not to work.
    • Medior: Can code but cannot yet be trusted entirely on his own. Has some experience to avoid common pitfalls but has not yet encountered the one in a million bugs enough to know how to spot them and deal with them. Typical sign of a medior is: lets turn of logging to improve performance... gee I can't trace that error, if only we had logging available.
    • Senior: Has seen it all, fixes a bug before it ever appears. The engineer who knows a tap in the right place keeps the entire machine from collapsing. The master, the wizard, the legend. He however doesn't code. Not much. A line here, a single character, that is his magic. Churning out code is the work of juniors, you just change the tiniest bit and that is the difference between buggy code and non-buggy code.

    You might have noted that at no point did I say anything about their skill at coding, the level of their code. The senior might well do top down programming and the junior use the latest OOP or whatever is the flavor of the day, but the juniors code is full of security holes and 1 in a million occurences cripling bugs and the seniors ain't.

    Think of Terry Pratchett's, Cohen the Barbarian. It is not that they are better at fighting perse, they just got so much experience at not dying, they don't do it anymore.

    Now the problem with all this is that age has NOTHING to do with it. You can be a senior straight out of school if you spend all your time coding and dealing with real time issues. Can, but it won't often be the case. This is why iPhone apps, being the latest in tech, still have the same old errors and flaws as apps from 20 years ago. The people who program them might know the latest tech but they lack the years of experience to avoid common flaws older people already encountered.

    Trust me on this, I seen code well above what I could write but filled to the brim with fairly basic security and performance issues. Think of an old farmer watching a young farmer plow. The old farmer might not understand the tractor or know how to drive it, but he does know the plow blade is going to break soon because he knows the field is filled with unseen stones. Experience != skill. Both are valuable and the wise employer makes sure he has both available.

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