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While searching ELance.com I noticed that companies from developing countries, such as India and Pakistan, were snatching up a lot of the freelance jobs at a low pay. How are foreign countries affecting web design and development jobs in general?

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Part of the reason why I ask is because I'm going to school for E-Commerce Technology and it's not to late for me to switch fields or concentrate on a certain aspect of the field. I can't afford to pay off my loan by working at the same pay rate that these foreign workers are. –  Ein Doofus Jun 17 '11 at 20:39
You live in a foreign country. –  Marcelo Jun 17 '11 at 20:42
“Foreign country“ means a differnent thing to everyone. For me, it includes the U.S., a country that affects the web in too many ways to enumerate them here. –  user281377 Jun 17 '11 at 20:45
Clearly the OP is referring to developing countries. I have editted the question to be more clear. If a better word applies, then please edit. –  Morgan Herlocker Jun 17 '11 at 21:01
FrustratedWithFormsDesigner: I meant that everyone has a list of "foreign countries" depending on where he lives. Therefore, missunderstandings are inevitable when we talk about "foreing countries" without stating which countries we mean and which not. –  user281377 Jun 17 '11 at 21:13

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The bottom line is this:

If you love programming, do it regardless of the economics involved.

If you are only interested in programming to make big coin, there are lots of other profitable careers out there that have the potential to make you happy.

Above all, stop stressing about what is happening in Ukraine and India. Find your bliss in the work, not the paycheck.

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-1: The economics involved do matter. –  compman Jun 19 '11 at 3:31
Do sonething you love. You'll be doing it for 40-50 years –  user1249 Aug 21 '11 at 7:43

There aren't foreign countries, or we all live in foreign countries. I prefer to think of us as of one global community.

Now your dichotomy is obviously rich vs. poor countries. To this matter the following applies.

The kind of work which requires mechanical execution according to a plan is often outsourced as you well know.

The complex work where a variety of competences is needed in one individual including social and communication skills is not going anywhere. That is what you must target. If your only selling point is some PHP coding skill then you won't be able to compete.

Broaden your services portfolio.

Try first on a technical level. While some people only do the frontend and have fear of coding and the others are hardcore coders but dislike databases you can learn to become well versed in all of those areas. You'll master the frontend, get advanced knowledge in programming languages and then good understanding of relational databases.

Then you take it on to the next level. Learn time management, quality control, process, visit customers, learn to deal with their requests and keep them happy. You'll learn an industry you're developing software for.

Then step after step you'll accumulate skills and experience making it impossible for elance coders to compete with your entire package.

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How can I do that if I can't even develop my skills through "mechanical execution" work? –  Ein Doofus Jun 17 '11 at 20:58
What prevents you from joining a local software company? –  user8685 Jun 17 '11 at 21:03
Lack of skill to get employed. –  Ein Doofus Jun 17 '11 at 21:03
@user786621 So snatch up freelance jobs at a low pay. –  Marcelo Jun 17 '11 at 21:09
@user786621, you could try to get into a role where limited experience may be acceptable like technical support or testing and then transition into more of a development role for an idea. –  JB King Jun 17 '11 at 21:27

How are [low wage] affecting web design and development jobs in general?

A lot of it is a decoy. It's not necessarily cheaper to hire code monkeys in India, and eLance is a place where you're going to get the wrong impression.

On eLance, you go hunting for a dirt cheap code grunt to deal with a very specific task.

If you rely on it or similar sites to build a complete application from the ground up, expect a big ball of undocumented spaghetti that is full of security holes. I wouldn't even know where to begin with, were I to elaborate on my horror stories or those of relatives.

The simple fact in my experience is this:

There are good coders in developing countries. There really are. Those that do charge real money for their work. It might be slightly less than what you'd make in a developed country, but keep the overhead of communicating with a non-native English speaker in different time zones in mind.

The rest of them are unimpressive. They deliver code ranging from very ugly to absolutely atrocious. Working with them is akin to pouring money down a bottomless pit. Don't take my word for it, just peek into SO's recent PHP questions: scan for questions from new users whose name make it obvious they're from India or Pakistan, and shed a tear for the poor souls who hoped to save a buck.

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My personal take on the matter is that the whole question of developing/developed countries is going to be moot very soon (in fact, I think it already is, even though the old idea is still clinging), so your question, for me, has more to do with how to react to the constantly changing landscape of the web (& politics). I will try nonetheless to answer the question as originally asked.

I live in a developing country. We are snatching jobs at 50% (possibly much lower) than what you would charge your client in the US (Unrelated side note: Note that even with that, we aren't making good money at all (even compared to the GDP here), but it allows us to live).
The bad end of outsourcing: You do not have a direct contact with the client. You communicate digitally, which means a cold relationship. You can never intimately understand the client, thus you revert to something that looks and feels like a template, because being edgy would be too risky, and feedback is too difficult, unclear, or incomplete.
In other words, if a client wants anything that is not a template, then he/she should really look for local designers/coders. However, if the client is only looking to produce another corporate website at a low price that works well, then outsourcing is a very viable option.
There are exceptions of course, I have worked with clients with whom communication was real smooth although we never met irl, and we ended up doing really nice projects together. But for the most part, the above holds true.

What does this ultimately means for developing-countries coders? Only good things, I guess:

  • You don't get the boring jobs, only ambitious projects
  • If companies & freelancers want to stay competitive, they will have to work faster, which means research on best practices, production of frameworks, etc. It make things go forward instead of stalling in a comfortable environment.
  • When you get a job, you get to outsource it too! Do your math: instead of accepting one job at 100%, you can take four at a time, price them at 60%, outsource them at 50% and reap benefits while yourself work on a bigger, more interesting, better paid job.

Hope my answer provides some insights.

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This may not be the answer to this question, but it may be an answer for the user786621. Dont tell like "Lack of skill to get employed". First try to learn a programming language very well if you have any doubt ask in stackoverflow. And try to get a job in any local companies. Dont think that Indians and pakistanis are working for low wages. It may be a low pay for you but with that pay they can be able to live a luxury life.. So dont think anything about the developing countries, try to get a job as soon as possible. all the best.

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From the perspective of developed countries, developing countries are doing two things in this space:

  1. They're backfilling open, low-paying (and often low utility, low complexity) design and programming jobs in the U.S.
  2. They're augmenting the workforce at existing companies.
    1. For instance, suppose that Company 'X' has a large project and estimates that it will need to add an additional 7 developers and 3 QA engineers to its existing workforce. If it can't afford to pay the going local rate for 10 additional employees, it might look to an offahoring concern to fill those seats.
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