Why We Should All Buy A Scalpel


Recently, a lot of websites and blogs started suggesting that you should learn to code. The reason? Developers earn a lot of money and you can easily learn too how to code. That is bullshit! That is f##king bullshit!

Why You Should Buy a Scalpel

Surgeons earn a huge amount of money. It is you chance, buy a scalpel and start cutting people around: the kitchen is as good as an operating room.

According to the May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, after you sort the table by median wage/hour, 6 out of 10 of the top payed jobs are in medicine:

Occupation title Median hourly wage Mean hourly wage Annual mean wage
Internists, General $88.06 $90.97 $189,210
Psychiatrists $81.90 $83.73 $174,170
Family and General Practitioners $80.29 $85.26 $177,330
Chief Executives $80.25 $84.88 $176,550
Dentists, All Other Specialists $78.01 $80.77 $168,000
Pediatricians, General $76.04 $81.08 $168,650
Dentists, General $68.62 $77.76 $161,750
Petroleum Engineers $58.79 $66.82 $138,980
Architectural and Engineering Managers $58.75 $62.19 $129,350
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates $57.75 $53.34 $110,940

What are you saying? It takes years to become a surgeon. Fear not punk! The 8th most payed job in the US is «Petroleum Engineers». Don't tell me now that you are not good at digging holes in the ground! Everyone is good at that! Even a stupid mole is good at that!

Well... Let me think better about that... Know what? Probably, you can be right. A «Petroleum Engineers» probably does not only dig holes in the ground. Probably, he knows what he is doing and probably it is not only about digging holes but also operating some complex machines that are able to drill down for kilometers to be able to pump out oil.

Probably, if you now think about that as well, being a programmer is not only about writing code as well.

Rant is over. Let's discuss.

Why You Should NOT Learn Programming (Unless You Are Serious About That)

Let's start from a couple of facts.

The first IT related job in the table it is at position 12: «Computer and Information Systems Managers» but, as the name suggests, it is a managerial kind of position. Probably, it is something that you can hope to do to only after some years of work in IT.

A «Computer and Information Research Scientists» is at position 25. As the name suggests, this is something more than "writing some code". It is more about innovating and doing research in the area of computing.

A «Software Developers, Systems Software» is at position 31. A system software devolper is the kind of guy that work on low level stuff: operating systems, database systems, network middleware and stuff like that. The role tipically requires a deep knowledge (both teorical and practical) of how systems and networks work that you usually acquire in years of study and practice.

A «Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects» is at position 76, earning a meadian of $37.49/hour. This is something more accessible but it still relates with mastery in some very specific area, as the title "architect" should suggest.

A «Computer Programmers» is at position 99, earning a median of $34.92/hour. That's not bad after all but it is quite far from what you read in articles like Why We Should All Learn a Little Code: Answer and Infographic.

So, what is going on? Why is everyone suggesting that you should learn coding?

The fact is that a very few computer programmers are able to earn a lot of money but the majority of them do not earn that much in comparison with other jobs. Moreover, the few ones that earn a lot of money are only the damn good ones: they are the people working for Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle etc. They are able not only to program but also to design complex architectures or to write code that is extremely efficient or able to work under incredible workloads.

Plus, there is the "start-up effect". Now, everybody is super excited with this thing of start-ups founded by high school teenagers that make a huge amount of money in a very short time.The newpapers are full of those stories. What the newspapers do not tell is that there is a huge amount of people who tried but did not succeed in creating their own companies. The newpapers do not tell about that because it is not sexy, and does not make them sell more copies, to tell about failed start-ups also if they represent the vast majority of the cases.

From a certain point of view, in the 80s everyone wanted to be in a band and now everyone wants to be in, or better creating, a start-up. I believe that having dreams is good and natural but just look back and try to be honest: how many people that in the 80s started a band and are now rich or, at least, capable of paying their bills playing music? Probably not that many and now you understand the point.

It is more or less the same as cooking: the fact that you know how to cook your own dinner does not make you a chef. I am not a cook but I see many similarities with some of Anthony Bourdain's books: a lot of people, good at cooking and passionate about food decided to buy/open a restaurant or just to become cooks and they failed just because being a cook is not only about cooking.

The fact that you know how to write some code does not make you a programmer just because there is much more than just writing code. Being a programmer is about understanding problems and solving them, finding scalable solutions and maintaining systems written by other people.

Of course, you can probably trick someone and convince him to hire you to make his website... cool and now what? There are a huge amount of kids that are able to create a website for a handful of money. You cannot really expect to be payed more than those kids.

At the end of the day, if you want to learn to program: you are more than welcome. You can try. But let me tell you that it will not be easy at all. The truth is that it takes years to become a programmer, and no one assures you that you will be a good one: one of those programmers that are worth paying $100,000/year.


You want to learn programming because you think of it as "easy money"? It is not true: don't do that.