Scott Hanselman

VB.NET programmers getting screwed? and other thoughts...

April 15, '03 Comments [1] Posted in Web Services
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Eight Ways to Earn More Money

If you're wondering how to make the big bucks as a Visual Studio developer, here are some handy tips to guide you. You can effect some positive salary changes by considering these options:

  1. Learn C#. C# developers earn more than Visual Basic developers—$26,000 more per year, according to this year's survey results.
  2. Pursue certifications in desirable areas. One certification that packs a salary punch is the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD). MCSDs earn about $10,000 per year more than the average developer's salary.
  3. Consider an advanced degree. MBAs earn a highly respectable $98,200 per year, on average. The undergraduate degree you acquire also counts salary-wise—BSCS grads earn nearly $14,000 per year more than graduates with a BA.
  4. Get more work experience.
  5. Switch to a management track. 
  6. Move where the jobs are.
  7. Work for a public or private company. 
  8. Become a consultant.
    [
    Visual Studio Magazine]

Not to be too negative, but I found numbers 1, 2, and 3 to be particularly interesting.  Each of them are the Mob Mentality...some how folks think if enough people say the same thing, people think it makes it right.  Clemens astutely noticed that even if 686,000 people say something, they're still wrong.

1. Ouch, what are VB.NET programmers, lepers?[1] Some of the best programmers I know are VB.NET folks.  I can see how Mort might assume that a curly-braced and semi-coloned language some how makes you smarter, but newsflash - it {doesn't};   I've started mixing code up in my presentations just to remind folks that you can do 99% of everything you need to with VB.NET.  I like hopping back and forth between languages during demos, reminding people about cross language inheritance.  I like downloading samples from GotDotNet and CodeProject without worrying what language it's in.  I even found myself recently working on WSE code for the upcoming Windows Launch (Stop by and say Hi to me in Seattle!) and I was several hours into it before I realized I was coding VB.NET.  Learn one, then learn the other.  There's little excuse to not know both.  Then, go learn Managed C++. Syntactic sugar, people.

2. This is more of the same.  Certification isn't an accurate score of competance in the field.  If you really want to impress me, let's see some percentiles scrores! ;)  Fred Jones, MCSD/99%, MCDBA/71% anyone?  Guess I won't be hiring Fred for that DBA job, eh?  Should I start including my English SATs when I write articles?  How about my Mensa membership?  Certs are nice to have, they were fun to collect when I was an item writer, but an extra $10K a year for a few hours in an exam room?  Oy vay.

3. Sheesh, who doesn't have an MBA these days?  With the proliferation of the Virtual MBA, employers will have to pay more attention to the school.  Do we really think an MBA from Northwestern offers the same skills as the Virtual MBA? (Only $99.95!) 

Also, number 8.  Seems to me that the smart consultant, given this economy, should be looking for full time work, or at least a LONG term contract.  The hussling one has to do as a totally independant consultant must be exhausting.

Seems to be that the good advice is to be had in items 4 and 6.

[1] Interesting Note: As of this writing, searching Google for "VB.NET lepers" resulted in exactly ZERO results.  I shall forever be ashamed at bringing these two words together, but I shall be heartened when a persecuted VB.NET programmer, feeling leper-like, searches Google and finds my words of inspiration.  You go, sir, and you write that VB.NET code that will ultimately be generated into IL, just like your better-paid brother Abel.  It's OK!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2003 8:19:42 AM UTC
Like most salary surveys, this one is utterly worthless. First, just mailing surveys to randomly selected readers doesn't give you a random sample, because people making more tend to respond more. Second, people lie - there's no apparent attempt to verify what they say their salaries are. Third, whoever wrote that list of recommendations needs to learn the meaning of "post hoc ergo propter hoc". Even if the salary numbers were valid, it's likely that C# knowledge, certifications, and degrees all correlate with age and time in job.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.