Hello, How are you doing? I am working as a senior software designer and developer in New York for one of the Top 4 IT firms. I had a chance to work with multiple top tier customers at their sites and provided them custom solutions. The best part is the learning of work culture of different firms, level of technical knowledge being used and most importantly the seesaw of technologies and requirements. I have been asked by many people, especially the government sector employees on why we charge high amounts for developing a software system and software engineers/programmers are getting highly paid. What do you think?

☞ Are Software Engineers Over Paid?

Let me tell you my opinion aggregating all my experience at multiple customers and multiple countries/cities. Are Software Engineers Over Paid? – Not at all. You need to understand multiple aspects like job security, duration of each contract, intensity of work, demand in the market, creativity involved and the value being delivered. If you think software programmers/engineers are overpaid for just doing some stuff on keyboards, then movie stars are also overpaid for just telling few dialogues and sports stars are overpaid for just kicking the ball into a net or hitting a ball.

☞ Value Delivered:

Someone told me a short story once. A plumber charges $100 per hour to knock the pipe (and few seconds of work). He got paid for knowing where to knock and where not to knock. Fixing a screw would cost only $1 but the knowledge to know which one to fix would cost $99.

Let’s say, if a government employee verifies some paper work in 5 minutes and gets paid $1 , then programmers develop a system which automates the same work to complete 1 million (or unlimited) such paper works. Most importantly they save 5 million minutes of time and human effort which can be spent on other important aspects of life. Now tell me the worth (not salary) of a programmer. From economics point of view, there is no such thing as “over paid” – it all depends on demand and supply.

Look at the software/apps you are using to understand how much value is being added to your life. You are getting awesome value from softwares like Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber etc. The services comes to your fingertips using these softwares.

☞ Job Security :

Also, the software industry does not always give you 365 days of work. Moreover, it is one of the first industries effected with any recession or market fluctuations. Now tell me where is the security for programmers/software engineers ? People fail to realize the unseen benefits many government jobs offer like lifetime healthcare after retirement, and sometimes even continued salary after 20 yrs service. It is rare for programmers to get such benefits.

☞ Demand in the Market :

The technologies/programming languages , processes and trends in software industry change frequently. You may not even hear about today’s best technology on the same day next year. Software engineers needs to change and adapt themselves every time. Not many people would like to change themselves so frequently. There is a statement from generations that “Change is the only constant thing in the world and all human beings needs to adapt to change”. I think this statement applies to software people the most than any one else or any other industry. The major reason is expectations. The business users and owners who do not know the challenges in creating a technical system would ask us to finish the task. For them, it could be just adding another button on screen. However, what happens on click of that button, UI creation to be supported on multiple platforms, creating an action, changing data or database objects or files as part of that along with the 360 degree implications etc etc. The list can go for miles depending on the complexity of the system.

☞ Agile Systems : 

Agile software systems are one of the biggest challenges for software engineers. The requirements can change at any point of time and that should be incorporated without affecting the other changes. Adding to that pain, the business users always want these to be done in very short time. “Can you complete this by yesterday?” is the most famous liner in our field.

Do not say that software engineers sit in AC rooms, have pizza parties and get overpaid. No Industry pays even a single dollar extra if the value is not being delivered. If you look at how much revenue a programmer brings to their organization, they’re probably underpaid. Programmers deliver a lot of value but it’s hard to quantify directly. Look at Facebook – what do you think is the base of billions of dollars revenue? A software program. Everything else (marketing etc) comes later. What about Uber? You can analyze yourself.

Most programmers would be part of design discussions and aligning requirements. However, you cannot find many requirements analysts who can help you in coding. What do you say? Post your comments.

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