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I live in Hong Kong.

I just heard one of my friend who studies English in university, just graduated and found a job of 20k HKD as a teacher for English.

I started my career as a programmer with 10k HKD salary, and after a 1/2 year, it is raised to 11.5k HKD. I got my Computer Science degree. I don't understand why there is a gap so big between different types of jobs.

I don't have any ideas about how to change my job and quit to be a programmer. My question is, can we maximum my value quickly so that my salary can be raised to a similar range, respective to other job such as: Teacher, Lawyer, Doctor?

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As an american, I certainly wish our teachers were paid similarly to lawyers and doctors. –  Rein Henrichs Jun 13 '11 at 16:40
Teachers here are generally paid far less than either, and far less than programmers as well. –  Rein Henrichs Jun 13 '11 at 16:43
@gunbuster363: Possibly, or it's possible that America does not value teaching as highly as other regions do. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 13 '11 at 17:04
Maybe Hong Kong has too many programmers? :) –  maple_shaft Jun 13 '11 at 17:05
Based on current exchange rate to US dollars it = $1477.39/year. I am not sure what the cost of living in Hong Kong is but that seems hard to live on in such a big city. O_o –  maple_shaft Jun 13 '11 at 17:10

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Not an answer, but you can't compare your salary to one in another line of work. Doing so if futile and demoralizing. There will always be someone doing what appears to be less work and getting more money for it.

To answer your question, the fastest way to become a highly paid programmer is to learn a business critical, but very unpopular system and become a master at it. You want to be rare and desirable. I don't know about Hong Kong, but in the US right now that means learning SharePoint. The last batch of employment data we got indicated SharePoint developers make 20% more than C/C++ developers of similar experience. (We review this to be sure we're paying our H1B visa holders properly). Figuring out which skill to persue is very tricky and you'd be better off finding a local resource.

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I learned Cobol from my current company, I think this is the reason why my salary got raised so much. –  lamwaiman1988 Jun 13 '11 at 16:43
so that's why sharepoint is so fashionable! I know it wasn't because of its technical merits :) (does this mean sharepoint is the new Notes?) –  gbjbaanb Jun 13 '11 at 16:43
@Christopher: I thought it made sense to compare my salary (actually doing something useful) to that of a professional athlete ... dang! ;) –  IAbstract Jun 13 '11 at 17:12
@IAbstract Athletes are entertainers and that is useful. Middle managers are the ones I question. Serioulsy, I think their job is to make reports for one another (not that they read them). –  Christopher Bibbs Jun 13 '11 at 17:38
@Christopher: I will leave the entertainer/usefulness argument under the table ;) ... and, Middle Management ... hmmm - that's a discussion best left sitting where the entertainer/usefulness argument sits. ;) I agree with your answer, though ... –  IAbstract Jun 13 '11 at 18:51

Salaries are always subject to local influences. From what you are describing, teachers are valued higher than programmers, and that's why there is such a difference. The reason could be (and that's just me poking around in the dark) that there are few teachers and many, many programmers. In which case there isn't all that much you can do other than changing job.

However, salaries are also subject to adjacent skills which will allow you to climb the career ladder. Broaden your skill set, and demonstrate these adjacent skills and I am sure that you will be able to increase your income. If not at your current company, then somewhere else.

BTW, a 15% increase in 6 months is not a bad thing. If you can keep up that pace, it will get you to the teacher's income level quite quickly (in approx 2.5 years).

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It may also depend on what is being taught. Teaching English in Hong Kong might be much better paid (and again that may depend on the level of English being taught - beginner, intermediate, advanced) than teaching other subjects. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 13 '11 at 17:02

Specialize in something with a higher demand and a lower supply. What that is may depend on the locale where you want to work.

Multiplatform tablet and mobile development skills and experience seem to be in somewhat higher demand where I am. Teaching English less so.

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Be patient for now. Develop your own killer applications and who knows in next decade or so you could be the next Bill Gates?

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... all my apps are killer –  IAbstract Jun 13 '11 at 17:12
@IAbstract: You must be Bill Senior? –  Predator Jun 13 '11 at 17:16
sure because waiting for that is a good plan[/sarcasm] –  jhocking Jun 13 '11 at 18:25
no, but I think all my apps are killer (and all my apps are belong to me) –  IAbstract Jun 13 '11 at 18:52
@jhocking: I don't wait or rant, but keep develop develop and develop useful apps until good money comes to my pocket :) –  Predator Jun 14 '11 at 3:59

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