I have earned 489% more money as a programmer in nine years, than I earned in the previous eighteen doing all kinds of jobs from sales to fast food. Does that sound great? Does it make you want to know how I managed to get into programming?
Well, a former coworker once told me, “You could talk a starving man into skipping a free meal.” That was not a compliment. This coworker watched me turn one potential sale after another into a walk away. Want to know how I could successfully ruin sale after sale? What about becoming a programmer?
I stayed up late, got up early, and put in all kinds of unhealthy hours learning to code. It was also a tremendous amount of dumb luck. I was working for an employer who saw me do a couple mildly impressive things in his business: I hooked up two computers to a single keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and built a simple file server using about a dozen dead computers and Ubuntu Linux. After impressing him with those things and demonstrating that I was learning to write code in C#, he decided to ask me to build an application for him.
I did not know that I could do what he was asking, but I figured it could not be too hard. It took me a year of working seventy hours a week to build a simple Windows desktop app that connected to QuickBooks as a data store. If you think becoming a programmer is a promising idea, you need to embrace working hard and depending on dumb luck. Don't forget survivorship bias either. Maybe this is not the way to become a programmer in your 30's without a computer science degree.