back to article Cost of living crisis less of problem for tech pro retirees than others

Unlike other professions, retired techies may not be beating down the door to return to the workplace to cope with the unrelenting rise in the cost of living, according to a global recruitment agency. A study of 700 tech professionals in the UK and Ireland indicates that the relatively comfortable pay scales means many in the …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge


    IT and 'Techies' have a bad enough reputation for nerdiness and dorkdom, and now we're (relatively) rich, so unaffected by the cost of living crisis, we'll be even less popular.

    On the other hand, why should the 'b'ankers get all the flak?

  2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    49% are paid £42,000? Clearly, I'm one of the 51%. 42K is a distant unattainable dream.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Maybe time to re-skill? The timber lorry drivers round my part of Scotland typically earn £43k.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I never wanted to be in IT

        I wanted to be .... a .... lumberjack

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Leaping from tree to tree......

          Oh, I'm a lumberjack & I'm ok, I sleep all night and I work all day.......

          A very long time ago on an orchestra trip that involved a coach journey from London to somewhere near the old East-German border one of the tapes that was played constantly (that gives you some idea....) was Monty Python Live at Drury Lane.

          We were all singing along.

          Other sketches on the tape

          The Dead Parrott (Norwegian Blue... Beautiful plumage!


          The Idiot's song

          Simply the best.

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Take your IT knowledge and go operate in the "business" world, so to speak.

      As an IT minion at a bank my salary never exceeded £23k in the early 2000s. I did get a stack of qualifications out of them that, for whatever reason, employers seem to value them. More valuable was the couple years experience in a megacorp listed on a CV; which was definitely a gateway to better paid roles. A bit of S390 mainframe exposure in the bank has proven particularly useful; not-so-legacy fortran that won't ever go away, etc.

      These days I don't do the IT stuff directly; I spend more time dealing with penpushers in procurement world. The ability to negotiate to get the technological solution you want for business problem X, Y and Z; and finding the money for them is a different angle on IT. Considerably better pay, and still fun.

      I keep up a home lab to understand how stuff really works; but that's not the day job anymore. Most of that is of course outsourced to poorly paid offshore contractor land these days. Not like the good old days where you could get 100k on contract for being an oracle DBA like it was some sort of wizardry.

      There aren't many rockstar programmers out there, those that are are usually self-employed or own own businesses. Because that's ultimately where the big moolah is.

  3. Flywheel


    I'm due to retire Real Soon Now and have little or no intention of going back to my "developer" job trying to write ever more ingenious software that can make sense of the crap data that clients send in.

    Updating skills and qualifications as a matter of course might be a good way to go. As we pointed out previously, a poster on Hacker News said: "The only way that age becomes a detriment is if you do not grow."

    Ha! Call me sceptical, but when I'm free of the corporate red-tape la-la I'll be growing like a giant - my side-projects will be testament to that.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      I do more and more productive stuff out of employment than I do in employment. If I could afford to give up the job I'd be able to get some work done.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 41k sweet spot

    Posting this anonymously on the unlikely possibility my employers reads it.

    I'm in my late 30s and earn £41k as a software engineer in northern England. I've gradually increased my salary each year from the low 20s when I graduated 16 years ago.

    To the point about "The only way that age becomes a detriment is if you do not grow". This is only true up to a certain point. Where I am at the moment is an excellent balance between work/life balance, and pay. My intention is only to "grow" such that I'm able to maintain an inflation-adjusted salary at around this level until I retire. I have no intention in, for example, trying to earn £70k by spending countless hours "upping my skills", having less of a work/life balance and so forth. Given the amount of legacy crap out there I don't think I'm counting my chickens by assuming I can retain employment at this level for the next 20 years.

    Everyone's circumstances are different. I've already done the maths but am confident that I can retire fairly comfortably at 60.

    For me the marginal difference between my current position and some position involving growth I don't care for simply isn't worth it. Each to their own.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The 41k sweet spot

      >trying to earn £70k by spending countless hours "upping my skills",

      The bad (or good?) part is that you don't - you get £70k by moving to London and working in finance

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 41k sweet spot

        Can I give the average techie some hope in saying that in my mid-40s I'm earning quite a bit more than 70K (as a permie) by moving jobs every few years, trying to be decent to all my co-workers, owning up to mistakes and accepting that I'm often wrong, avoiding deep specialisation, being genuinely interested in IT to the extent that I (mostly) automatically keep my skills current, making my immediate management feel supported, avoiding obviously bullshit technology or projects that are clearly doomed, making sure that all my documentation and presentations look professional and explain themselves sufficiently for the intended audience, ignoring certs completely, learning how to really use MS Office products to their full extent, being willing to do hands-on/presales/costings/design and architecture/whatever, taking calculated risks and remembering that it's just a job and shouldn't consume my life.

        This isn't necessarily a good blueprint, but it's worked for me so far.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The 41k sweet spot

          Sound advice indeed - be nice, be broad, be keen. Keep studying, avoid certifications, avoid bad projects.

          At some point you might want to look at contracting, where the good news is that despite the risks, even because of them, you'll earn more. A lot more, and you'll cover more ground - both technically and with regard to the soft skills, a useful positive feedback element.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The 41k sweet spot

          Dabs? is that you? : )

        3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: The 41k sweet spot

          moving jobs every few years

          That ^ is probly the easiest and most beneficial of the steps on the road to mo money. (if roads had steps)

          I've done it a couple of times , once by accident.

          All have been good moves.

          Stops you getting "in a rut"

          broadens experience,

          more ops for salary negotiation

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 41k sweet spot

        Absolutely! The bank I work for pays grads who join on the grad scheme £45K, then it's up, potentially way up from there.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: The 41k sweet spot

      I don't think you earn £41K. You're paid £41K. You probably earn much more than that. Which is the fundamental problem with the IT industry. It refuses to pay people what they earn.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The 41k sweet spot

        You earn what you chose to accept for your work. If you think your employer is getting a lot from what you've done, by all means request or demand more from them and consider leaving if they won't agree with that, but just because they turn a profit doesn't mean you automatically earned more. Similarly, if they're not making money, you didn't earn less; the wages you get are yours no matter how badly they've done.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 41k sweet spot

        On that, a single job in an afternoon for me saved a company about £400m of capital investments.

        I'd like my 1% on that. I suppose in real terms I might see 0.25% over a 30-year period... But then what about all the other stuff one does over that time?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The 41k sweet spot

      I was in a similar position at that age and salary. I was never going to earn much more as a programmer. So I made a couple of job moves (internal and external) to get into product.

      I then made myself invaluable to our sales org (had to hold my nose a few times). They loved someone who can talk enough tech with authority but would focus on why the tech was worth the investment and understood commercial realities. As a result I quadrupled my salary without doing specific learning but having the right attitude. I don't feel like I work harder than as a dev but I was perceived as being much more valuable to the right people in the business.

      I did get lucky on the way with having the opportunity to do this but also maximised any opportunity over the 13 since moving away from programming. I still miss the creativity of it though.

  5. Chris Roberts

    I'm in the 51%, but have already given notice for the end of the year, my company has asked if I will stay on part time, which I am open to if they come up with an offer that does not get in the way of things I want to do. As mentioned above I will likely just be working on things I am the lead knowledge source for rather than expanding my remit. I don't really need to work, but staying on for a while may be better than cold turkey and of course there is the social contact which will be nice.

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    " so those coming out of retirement will have to spend some time swotting up"

    Yes if you want to come out of retirement and compete with all the other 19 year olds to be a $VERB$.js developer

    If you want to fight off all the recruiters desperate for COBOL, FPGAs, MFC and even C++ experience - or just any developer that can do maths beyond reaching for a calculator

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: " so those coming out of retirement will have to spend some time swotting up"

      The biggest demands are for back end developers, not front end JavaScript ones. The trouble is, that coming out if retirement is likely to require a lot of learning the cloudy ways of doing things. Although the orthodoxy is that there are supposed to be DevOps folk that take care of a lot of the cloud stuff, there's a need for developers to understand things like "Infrastructure as Code" and architectures like serverless or microservices.

      Frankly, I think serverless and microservices are complete inappropriate for most companies, as the complexity of fully event driven, asynchronous architectures and the need for things like sagas makes them a nightmare. Plus you lose the advantages of a single, consistent database with referential integrity across all data domains and simple transactions - especially since real world systems rarely break down into the simple, self contained domains that the bullshit artists like Eric Evans espouse.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    Is there anyone out there?

    The cost of living in the UK seems on a par with the cost of living in California, that is, quite high. Since the pound and dollar are vying for parity then that's tantamount to trying to live in the populated -- expensive -- bits of CA on $40K or so, which is physically impossible unless you own your accommodation.

    FWIW, $41K here is what you'd earn in many non-tech jobs. It works out around $20 an hour, which is a bit above our local minimum wage -- we've decided that $15 an hour is the lowest viable wage so that's what you'd earn in a fast food outlet or for entry level work in a store. Tech workers tend to get paid somewhat more, developers should be looking at an absolute minimum of $75K and depending on experience level the sky's the limit.

    Not everywhere is the Bay Area / Silicon Valley with its distorted costs and wages. Then there's the entire rest of the US -- outside hot spots such as New York proper its relatively cheap.

    (FWIW -- UK employers seem to like to rip you off; that's how I found myself here. The UK has plenty of charm but if you can't afford to do anything other than exist what's the point of living there?)

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: Is there anyone out there?

      You can't really directly compare. In the US, it's expensive to live, cheap to play. You can buy an outrageous truck for less than we spend on a city car but a broken toe will bankrupt you.

  8. trevorde Silver badge

    Cold day in hell

    Due to sins in a past life, I managed to acquire a lot of expertise in MFC, C++ and Windows SDK. Life has been kind to me and I have been doing C# since .NET was released. I'd rather have beans on toast than go back to MFC.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. itzumee

      Re: Cold day in hell

      MFC was essentially raw Win32 API without the handles wasn't it? That's all the abstraction it provided IIRC

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Earning 40k+? Retiring?

    I must be doing IT wrong, because I'm i my early 40's and trying to work out if I can afford to have the thermostat above 10° this winter and still afford my rent.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Having been only able to afford a pitifully small dwelling , it wont take much to heat : )

      Although more than previously because I now work from it all day.

      Can I claim the tax back on that - no sir! : (

      That bullshit scheme they've got for working from home tax relief amounts to about the cost of a packet of biscuits per week .

      I'm pretty sure it costs more than {amount that would be the tax on} to heat my house all day!

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Same. Hardly left with any money for myself after mortgage and other bills each month. "Move jobs then" people say, easier said than done. You risk going somewhere else and getting booted after the 6 months probation because "We've decided to cut back" or get made perm only to be let go a year later because "We're outsourcing IT".

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