COMMENT: How computer programming became the worst choice of career

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COMMENT: How computer programming became the worst choice of career

I work as a computer programmer in London and I am beginning to curse my bad luck and stupidity for having chosen this particular career.

Programming is badly paid, in decline, and takes up all your free time just to stay ahead of the game - let alone to also find a new job. 

I've spent six years as a coder. My salary is £55k ($72k). In two years' time I might be on £70k ($92k). I look at how much people in front office banking jobs are earning and it's hard not to feel that I've made a serious mistake.

The problem is that programming is still a cost centre. And as such, we are being continuously squeezed. It's harder and harder to get a pay rise and more of our work is being centralized and automated, so that at some point soon I suspect that pay may even start to fall.

The real issue with programming jobs, though, is the working hours. It's not just the hours in the job - although these can be long - it's the hours that need to be spent programming outside of your working day. 

If you want to stay employable as a programmer, you need to keep up to speed with new techniques and new languages. And if you want a new job, you need to be highly practicsed at what can be fiendishly difficult tests run by sites like Hackerrank, which you have to pass even to get an interview. There are more and more of these sites, and keeping up to date with all of them is a full time job in itself. 

For this reason, it's very easy to plateau in a programming career. - You get one job and simply don't have the time outside of work to practice all the tests you need to pass in order to get a new one. Personally, I've already spent months doing unpaid work on testing sites, and yet I'm still stuck in the same place. 

This is why I'm fed up. I've spent years of my life investing time in this career, which I fear will come to nothing in the next decade. I like coding, but I don't have all day and all night to devote to this profession.  There must be better options than this. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Jordan James is a pseudonym 

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