back to article Over half of software developers think they'll be millionaires – study

IT automation-tool supplier Chef has sponsored a study that it says shows software developers are "emerging as a new power class" who believe their jobs are recession-proof, and that money will flow to them like honey. "Traditionally considered a disenfranchised group that was underappreciated and not well understood in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha

    "and 56 per cent believe they will eventually become millionaires."

    Good to see that self delusion is alive and well :)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

      In this city the average price of all homes is now >$880K so it's not difficult to retire with a "net worth of $1M" - it doesn't mean you are throwing $100 bills out of your Bentley

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. JeeBee

      Re: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

      If they've still got 30 years of career ahead of them, and we aren't adjusting the term "millionaire" for inflation, then it's highly likely that a good portion of them will go on to be millionaires by the end of their career. Of course, that will be a time when 10-20% of the country are millionaires (indeed, most people owning a decent house in or near London could be) and the term is basically meaningless to define someone who is rich.

      Most of that is down to assuming that they buy (get a mortgage on) a £350,000 house by the age of 35ish that appreciates at an average of 4% over 30 years, to be finally worth around £1,135,189 by the time they retire. Getting such a mortgage should be possible for any senior level software developer in London. The only way to make use of that money by then will be to sell the house and live in a camper van (or a bungalow somewhere up north).

      Of course, the story is really saying that a significant percentage think they will be multi-millionaires with fast cars and expensive holiday homes, and (as a whole) those people are delusional.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

        "Most of that is down to assuming that they buy (get a mortgage on) a £350,000 house by the age of 35ish"

        £350k house? A dev on ~£87.5k? What fantasy land do you live in? Even with a partner on equal pay you are looking at a dev on ~£44k and to get that they have to give up on code to become a manager.

        1. JeeBee

          Re: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

          Right, firstly they need to save for a deposit in those barren years between leaving university and being 35. Also their partner will hopefully have done the same. Maybe they will have previously had a small flat rather than renting, and thus have some capital already.

          Secondly, they will need a job in London, they will need to be good at it, and thus get promoted. Yes, they will have management skills and presumably be a team lead. That goes with having >10 years experience as a developer.

          I don't think having a £350k house today is unachievable for a senior software developer in London. Even if that means buying a £300k dump and doing it up, or getting lucky with the housing market. And yes, it will mean a commute, nothing near the worthwhile jobs will be affordable.

          Now in ten year's time, if houses in London and nearby keep rising at 10% a year ... then the current 25 year olds are totally screwed. That £350,000 will buy a 1 bed studio flat in a less salubrious suburb of Croydon by then!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

            "Yes, they will have management skills and presumably be a team lead. That goes with having >10 years experience as a developer."

            I really should come and live in your fantasy world, it's so much better than reality.

            Just about every developer I know has 10 or more years experience. Most are second-rung developers. I am graded higher, but I still won't get any support or training in becoming a lead or even a manager. Why? Because the devs are over-loaded and there is simply no time to do anything else other than bash code (often in unpaid overtime*).

            That's not just this company, that's is every company where I have worked.

            *What am I doing here? I automate the living shit out of my job - all the severs are currently being upgraded.

          2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: @JeeBee

            Have an upvote for using "salubrious", oh and a beer.

  2. Charles Manning

    Getting to be a millionaire

    A millionaire is someone who has a net worth of 1 million $CURRENCY. Let's make that easy-ish by using USD rather than GBP.

    You get there when house + bank balance + cars + savings == 1M.

    A reasonably talented programmer can earn $100k USD without much sweat. Save 10% of that in reasonable mutual funds etc and you will get there easily.

    If you splash it around and live a high-expenditure lifestyle that does not build long-term assets, the chances are you won't.

    1. Steve K

      Re: Getting to be a millionaire

      I think you can only define yourself as a milllionaire if you have >= £1m of liquid assets.

      You can't really count your primary residence or car in that total....

    2. tony2heads

      Re: Getting to be a millionaire

      if $CURRENCY == ZimbabweDollar:

      then I= trillionair

      else I=pauper

      Actually if I remember it was worth about $33 USD at the time

  3. southpacificpom

    Who wants to be a millionaire?

    Over half of software developers think they'll be millionaires

    The other half want to be like John McAfee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who wants to be a millionaire?

      s/John McAfee/Hunter S. Thompson/ and I could agree with you... :)

  4. Ketlan

    Bonkers McAfee

    "The other half want to be like John McAfee."

    What, a complete nutjob?

    1. Thorne

      Re: Bonkers McAfee

      "What, a complete nutjob?"

      No. A rich nutjob.....

      (Most have got the nutjob part down pat already)

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Bonkers McAfee

      What, a complete nutjob?

      I think it's probably the hookers and coke "bath salts*" lifestyle that people aspire to ...

      * I dunno. Maybe the hip people are doing "alloy wheel cleaner" these days.

  5. John Tserkezis

    I've had my fair share of delusions, but this was not one of them.

    I want to stress that most of the developers I know are not like this, but some of them have their minds in such a twist, it would be sacrilege to mention they won't be the next Gates, or McAffee. Worse still, some of those live their lives up (well, make it LOOK like that) but don't tell you they're living on bulk rice every day to make up the cash shortfall.

    1. dogged

      Re: I've had my fair share of delusions, but this was not one of them.

      Most developers I know regard it as just a job. They go home and play XBox or cycle or go to the pub.

      I'm one of the rare ones who still wants to code his own stuff but childcare pretty much kills all ambitions in that direction. Shame. The good ideas keep coming but the time is simply not available.

  6. John Savard


    A bit of optimism, even if unwarranted, is needed to motivate people to make the kind of effort without which success is definitely impossible.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Optimism

      I'm a software developer and I'm a millionaire. Mind you I didn't get rich from my day job other than being a geek with no social life left me money to invest.....

      Mind you, millionaire really isn't a very high bar these days.

      1. TopOnePercent

        Re: Optimism

        Mind you, millionaire really isn't a very high bar these days.

        That would surely depend upon your age at which you make your first million?

        Do it in your 30s is still difficult (Uni -> Contracting in the City) but to do so by your 60s is far less tricky.

        Its also significantly more difficult as a permie than contractor due to taxes. Your wealth will be influenced by the percentage of your income you retain each year as much as it is your gross earnings.

        1. Thorne

          Re: Optimism

          Did it in my twenties. It really isn't that hard. Buying the first property is the hardest but once the bank owns your soul, they will happily lend to you again and again.

  7. veti Silver badge

    Survey of 1000 *US* devs

    "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." - John Steinbeck

    This whole "you'll be rich One Day" spiel is the core reason why Americans put up with their system, why they consistently vote for politicians who promise to help the rich and screw the poor. What this survey tells us is that software developers, as a class, are as gullible as everyone else.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Survey of 1000 *US* devs


      It beats the career plan of a number of girls from the school I went to- get knocked up, get given their own council house as single mothers, get paid by the tax payer to bring up the child.

      For those who failed to get knocked up by their last year of school had to do a few months work. But how happy they were when they finally reached their goal.

      That system is as delusional but also removes motivation to do anything. Probably should add I am in England.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Survey of 1000 *US* devs

        I did both. Got knocked up AND became a software developer. That's versatility for ya.

  8. David 49

    I think I will be a millionaire

    It does involve high inflation and waiting a while, but it will happen. And if not, I'll just take a holiday to Indonesia and visit an ATM.

    Either way - easy!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh. Been there done that...

    A others have posted, being a millionaire isn't a high bar these days.

    You get a good job, live on a fraction of what you make, and invest well.

    Take an undergrad who gets a job at Facebook.

    Cost of work wardrobe? Nothing. Jeans and T-shirts.

    Get an apartment in the valley with a couple of roommates.

    Don't have a real social life. Hanging out with friends at home playing video games doesn't cut it.

    Invest your paycheck.

    Keep this lifestyle for 15 years, then move out of Silicon Valley to somewhere else in the US where they will pay you $$$ because you have Google, FB or some other major brand name on your resume, even though your friends who went elsewhere made more contributions and actually did full SDLC projects.

    Again, find a house, car in a moderate neighborhood, wife and kids are optional and keep investing and keep your wife working so you have two incomes coming in while living off of one.

    You will be a millionaire before you know it.

    Assuming of course your investments don't tank. Your wife doesn't divorce you, and your kids don't want to go to colleges like Brown, Harvard, MIT and or other schools where it costs a fortune to get a 4 year degree...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly how are you....

      going to keep investing when there are brats to support and put through school (University for those of us fortunate not to live in the USA). I remember reading a study a few years ago that put the cost of raising a child at around $500k.

      Have kids and your grand plan gets thrown out with the bathwater. Unless you get some tasty stock options you ain't (IMHO) gonna get to be that millionaire.

      Then there is the Divorce to consider. How many marriages end up this way today?

      When the ex & I split up 10 years ago our net worth was close to the 1M GBP mark. We didn't have kids.

      With my home, savings and pension I'm worth around the $1M. (650K GBP) so I'm probably there. Roll on next Jan and my 65th so that I can retire. Yippee....

      anon for bleedingly obvious reasons..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh. Been there done that...

      "Take an undergrad who gets a job at Facebook."

      Not a typical dev then. A typical dev gets any coding job wherever they can (possibly working a second job too) in order to make ends meet.

      It's very easy to say "being a millionaire isn't a high bar these days" if you only use the elite, top-flight coders as samples.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh. Been there done that...

        Given how in-demand software development jobs are, the ones that are desperate for any coding job are doing something wrong (i.e., they're so crap they can't even get past interviews).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meh. Been there done that...

          "Given how in-demand software development jobs are"

          And there is massive supply to boot. Also, moronic recruiters just doing word-matches are no help.

  10. Eponymous Cowherd

    Stick a pony in me pocket....

    I'll fetch the laptop from the van.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, I'll be working until I'm around 80 or so because I won't be able to afford to retire, that's another 40 odd years of inflation getting me gradually closer to millionaire status.

    Yeah, I'll probably make it, certainly a dollar millionaire.

    It might even be enough to pay for a coffin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Millionaire

      /\ This is an average coder, people. This is reality.

  12. Bernard

    Re: many of the comments above

    It's worth noting that most analyses of net worth ignore the primary residence precisely to avoid skewing the figures too far in places like London.

    Still, people are right that you need quite a reasonable number of millions before you can say Foxtrot Oscar to the world of work and live in any kind of luxury. It's a relatively modest aspiration compared to scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final or punching David Cameron in the face.

    1. JeeBee

      Re: many of the comments above

      Yup, I'd say to be able to say "FO work" and live in luxury you need around a million quid (up front) for every decade you intend to live the luxury lifestyle. Super luxury will still not be an option, but you might have a nice houseboat and holiday home in a warm place (and you'll need them to occupy yourself for 52 weeks of holiday a year).

      Get rid of the luxury aspect, and you can probably get by with £250k for each decade, paid upfront of course so you get the house, car, pension, etc all done and then live on what's remaining. Maybe a spot of contract work would make it far easier too. Plenty of lottery winners come in this category, blow the lot early on, and then have no spare cash to live on after a few years because they overestimated what that money could do for them. You might still need to downsize/move at retirement time to unlock money though. Overall it's probably still worth it, work's work after all.

  13. The BigYin

    A millionaire?

    I am just glad when I survive a round of redundancies!

  14. Faye B


    Americans have always been an optimistic people. Plus software developers really are appreciated in a lot of big American multinationals (just look at the effort that is made to improve their work environment). Try doing this survey over here in the UK and see what answers you get to things like job satisfaction, pay levels and the prospects of becoming millionaires. Over here software developers are seen as an unnecessary evil to be paid as little as possible by threatening to outsource their jobs overseas.

  15. Darren Davis

    Ah I remember thinking along those lines back in the day, contracting to fund my ill conceived and not fully thought out ideas. Then I had the rude awakening of the IT crash, unemployment, eventually got a crap job writing crap software in a crap bank and stayed for years - fearful of more unemployment. And now I languish as a FFOF mid-level developer picking up the crumbs (and generally fixing the same mistakes again and again) of those young go getters. Sure there's a lesson in there somewhere!! ;)

  16. localzuk Silver badge

    Make a difference? Sure. Become a millionaire? Probably not

    I definitely agree that I feel I can change the business practices of my organisation, and already have, many times, saving quite significant chunks of money. I also believe that if I try, I could expand some of that outside of my individual organisation and improve other similar organisations. (I work in a non-profit sector).

    However, I doubt it'd earn me enough to become a millionaire. I wouldn't complain if I did though.

  17. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

    I have a ...

    Z$100bn note I bought on ebay, does that count

  18. TopOnePercent

    Dollar millionaire ain't what it was....

    Becoming a dollar millionaire requires GBP 600k. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you have a 40 year career in which to amass it, then its certainly possible. You'd need to save £15k per year, or £1250 per month (assuming no interest, or investment growth).

    Contractors in the City frequently earn 450 per day, so reaching that total should certainly be within their grasp.

    For permies, by contributing to a DC pension such that your investment is tax free, you could save that much at a cost of £750 out of your pocket per month assuming a 40% tax rate. Now that the pension can be drawn down at your prevailing tax rate, it should be possible to make a USD million over a career. Even allowing for fees and slow growth, stock investments should double every 15 years, which should make it possible for many to become USD millionaires.

    Then we come to the public sector. The average public sector salary is £30k, on a 40/60 scheme, that equates to a notional pension pot of £400k using an notional annuity rate of 5%. Thus, to achieve the USD 1M total, including pension, they have to find £417 per month (excluding investment gains) over 40 years.

    Obviously inflation will mean that the lifestyle you can have with USD 1M, 40 years from now will be much reduced over the standard of lviing you could have with that money today.

    So, what income could you be reasonably certain to derive from that USD 1M? About USD 20k over inflation. You'd be secure financially, but you'd probably not feel very rich.

    IMHO the real delusion isn't the money, it's those that feel the profession is recession proof. It ain't, at least not in the UK (mostly due to rampant offshoring).

    Edited to add:

    From the numbers above, you can also deduct the value of your house if you feel so inclined, which reduces the target by about 150k on average, leaving 450k to find.

    An average public sector worker living in an average house would then only need to salt away 50k, or a little over £100 per month excluding interest/investment gains.

  19. kmac499

    Next Year Rodney

    Coming up to my 30th career birthday working as a developer have I left a tad late..?

    Software like music or other creative arts does allow an individual to use very basic tools to write their magnum opus; if they put in the usually massive effort required ,which may make them a million or few.. ( dBase,Napster, Minecraft,Fifty Shades, Harry Potter etc..) But of course in practice most of us never quite hit the window of opportunity with a geat piece of work that is capable of surviving contact with users.

    I do wish anyone working on the next killer app good luck and I wouldn't want to kill the ambition or dream. But guys get real and make sure Plan B is available.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I selected my career as a programmer 25 years ago, I did so cos I thought I'd make a shed load. It's not been bad, to be fair, but I'm well short of the million. The one thing I didn't count on at the time is the tens of thousands of people in India or the Phillipines who can do my job just as well if not better than me, at a fraction of the cost. Example : I was hearing anecdotally the other day that a team of 4 contractors from Manilla cost the same as 1 from London. I think it keeps me from blackmailing my bosses into making me rich. I'm not a ukip voter, I think on the whole it probably keeps costs down, and so may indirectly be responsible for me keeping in work all through the recession, so on balance, it's good. But, as I say, I didn't predict it at the time.

  21. arrbee

    The trouble with any plan that involves "invest for 40 years" is that it usually fails to allow for the 2 or 3 times during that period at which a large chunk of your investment will mysteriously transfer itself to City institutions.

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