Although the title may seem provocative and aimed at stirring up unnecessary controversy, there is no doubt that earning PLN 15 thousand net, and much more, is not only possible but quite common for a programmer, and in the case of seniors it could be an underestimation. However, it's not just experience that plays an important role here. You can get closer to your desired salary level by making specific choices about your career path and plans.
As you might easily guess, there is no single magic trick that will make anyone start earning several national averages overnight. Nonetheless, using our own experiences and the opinions of programmers with years of experience, we have compiled in one place the tips that a young developer can follow to earn anecdotally 15k in the future. This does not mean, however, that it is a one-size-fits-all path that will satisfy everyone or work well regardless of circumstances. Some of the insights are driven by current labor market dynamics, while other insights will not be applicable to more niche specialties. However, if you are looking for a path for your career growth and the most important factors to pay attention to in order to achieve a rewarding income, then you are in the right place.
Choice of technology
Probably for many people the most important factor in the whole process may seem to be a skilful choice of a promising programming language or intuition based on knowledge of current realities in the matter of trending programming tools. After all, one can count on the fact that Microsoft will not abandon C# overnight, and Python will invariably be used for data processing.
But practice shows that following current dynamics does not necessarily result in higher earnings in the future. Perversely, one could even say that the choice of technology is a secondary issue and a language that today may seem to guarantee a bright future will be overshadowed by another tomorrow. While today a safe choice that may result in high salaries in the future may seem to be working as DevOps, knowledge of .NET, Java or Python, in a few years the situation may change. In addition, keep in mind that the choice of broad technologies is not a one-time thing, and people who enter the job market with knowledge of any programming language or framework in the vast majority will quickly learn another. For this reason, among others, it is difficult to see this factor as critical to achieving our set goal.
Even the most talented developer won't get the job they're interested in if they perform badly during an interview. The problem is that this is often a factor that is ignored, while technical competence is considered the most important. This is a mistake, and it's fair to say that problems with interacting with people, collaboration, and the communication skills to clearly explain what you mean can effectively sabotage even the most promising development career. This is often pointed out by the lecturers themselves, who note that despite adequate education, graduate students are highly lacking in interpersonal skills or, as we might call it provisionally, in work skills. That's why it's so important to develop the right attitudes, such as letting go of toxicity in interpersonal relationships, sexism, etc.
An idea recommended by experts to programmers with little experience is also going to job interviews frequently so that they are familiar with the rules by which these are conducted. These interviews do not have to be focused on employment in a given company, on the contrary - the lack of pressure of this type and typical nervousness in such conditions allows to notice elements which in other circumstances might have escaped attention. In addition, it's a good idea to keep up-to-date by reviewing recruitment assignments that appear online. In this practical way, you can effectively develop so-called soft skills on the basis of real situations in which we may find ourselves during an interview for a job we actually care about.
Image and your own projects
Let's stay a moment longer on the issue of recruitment. Recruiters are constantly using social media in their work to find the right candidates for lucrative positions. In the IT industry, this is perhaps the most common practice, so it's important to build your image accordingly and share innovations that are valuable to hiring companies. The most important role here is undoubtedly LinkedIn, where you should keep active, or publish things, but most importantly - provide as much detailed information as possible about well-known programming languages and technologies. It is also very important to build an image of a person who does not change jobs every few months: at this moment, a developer who changes his/her job more often than every 1.5 years will be of little interest to recruiters.
Also on social media, you should promote something that can make a very big difference in your success in the job market, which is a portfolio of your own projects. There will be no exaggeration in saying that for a person who wants to be relatively successful in recruitment processes for lucrative positions such a portfolio is an absolute must-have. Suffice it to say that after presenting the code that you've worked on independently and for your own use, recruiters often abandon recruiting assignments altogether. It is also a clear signal that the candidate shows commitment and even passion in programming, and this can be a great incentive for many employers to hire him.
The matter of education is a very common topic raised for people who are on the threshold of a developer adventure but have ambitious plans. Diploma of computer science or even a technical university will certainly be welcomed in the eyes of many employers; however, we should not generalize here and claim that this is a necessary condition to find yourself on the IT job market. Apart from a few niche cases, it is virtually unheard of to require a specific university, and employers also very rarely expect to be interested only in candidates with a state university degree. Reputable courses and, of course, participation in certification programs are also valued. In the vast majority of cases, a communicative knowledge of English is required, sometimes German is welcome.
Place of work
One of the most important factors on the way to satisfying salary is, of course, the skillful choice of the place of work - both in the organizational and geographical sense. As is the case in any other industry, IT jobs are most lucrative in major Polish cities: Warsaw, Cracow, Gdansk or Wroclaw. Of course, you can significantly increase your earnings by targeting foreign markets with your applications. However, practice shows that the demands on the programmer's skills then increase, as well as the necessity to work hours that take into account the time difference.
A separate issue is the profile of the companies to which we will be targeting our applications. There are two approaches to this issue because quick profit may soon turn out to be an insufficient return for participation in unambitious projects carried out in a moderately friendly working environment. Certainly, a tedious, maintenance job in a software house will be financially rewarding, but in the long run it may turn out to be simply not satisfying, even despite a good salary. In many cases, a longer but more interesting, experience-rich and challenging path to reach your financial goal may be a better choice.