Programmers Under-Bill, Often By Greater Than 10%
It is a well known generalization that lawyers tend to over-bill their clients. I don’t suggest that they really do over-bill, only that it is generally believed that they do. It is a well known fact, in the development community that developers often under-bill their clients, and the do it in amounts usually greater than ten percent and sometimes as high as 50%. The higher percentage of under-billing is usually from the foreign workers.
Does that make developers less smart than lawyers? Not necessarily however it does make the argument that there are too many developers and not enough lawyers. Maybe developers need a voice because we are obviously not in a very good bargaining position.
Foreign Developers Often Under-Bill By Up To 50%
Speaking of not being in a good bargaining position. I have talked to foreign developers that work 80 hours and bill 40. Why would they do this? Because they are held hostage by their sponsoring firm. A foreign worker has a sponsoring firm that handles the lengthy green-card process. If the developer leaves the firm a year into the process, they need to restart the green-card process from beginning.
Foreign Developers Have No Bargaining Power
Once a firm has a foreign developer started in the green-card process they lose pretty much all bargaining power. The firm knows that the developer will likely not risk the green-card process and it puts them in a very poor bargaining position the further they are into the green-card process. And while being in this poor bargaining position, the foreign developer has to deal with the fact they left their home country to make a living.
Developers Expected To Fix Problems, Despised When They Occur
When something happens to a computer system, we are expected to respond, no matter the date or time. We do this without complaint, and put in one hundred percent plus some. We actually enjoy solving problems, we take pride in our work, and we like to help other people.
- Despised by a good portion of end-users when systems change
- Predestined to failure. When we deliver a year-long project to production and it has a 99.9% success rate, we are scorned because there were a few minor problems.
- Pushed to work on more projects, complete them faster, and more accurately. We are also expected to have high levels of availability and complete projects in minutes not hours or days.
- Manipulated by firms that have them held hostage because of long green-card processes. The manipulation of foreign workers affects citizen developers as well, because we see our counterparts working sixty hours and billing much less, so we often do the same due to a survival instinct.
- Under-Appreciated often using inferior equipment compared to our end-users that work in profit centers. We will be found working on a laptop, while our end-users are working on a powerful system, with more than one monitor, and comfortable offices. Developers often work with less than a cubicle.
- Necessitated to spend dozens of hours per week or more of their spare time learning new technologies to stay competitive.
Are There Too Many Developers?
I think the answer is maybe, it depends on who you ask. The corporations would say no, and the developers would say yes. I think most developers would agree we are compensated fairly well. It is true that we work quite hard for our handsome salary but we enjoy it and take pride in it.
I want to add one VERY important point. Most developers love their careers in spite of all the challenges. We generally enjoy the career and make a nice living doing it. This article was intended to provoke thought on a few important things not complain about our jobs.
So, what do you think? Do you agree, or disagree with anything I’ve said? If so I’d love to hear it.