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IT Salary Thought

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During the holidays, I check salaries for my students and the IT industry overall. I’m never surprised by the reality, after all salaries pay for return on skills and effort. Here’s my annual look, which some may find unkind but reality is seldom kind.

Before looking at IT salaries, it seems like a good opportunity to first look at the overall job market for Millennials in the United States. AOL provides a great graphic of the median income for Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997), which is $18,000 to $43,000 a year:


That’s a stark contrast to Forbes’ statistics on the top college baccalaureate degrees. In fact, the top five with the highest salary are between $58 to $67 thousand a year. They are:

  1. Computer Science ………… $66,800
  2. Engineering ………………… $65,000
  3. Mathematics & Statistics … $60,300
  4. Economics ………………….. $58,600
  5. Finance ……………………… $58,000

Computer science, applied computer science, and information technology are probably lumped into the first category. Information systems, exposure without real skills, is a management degree and probably opens positions equivalent to the business degree at $50 thousand a year. More or less, that’s a nine thousand dollar difference between having real skills and being able to talk the game and supervise technical resources. (The 10 hottest IT skills for 2015 are listed in Computerworld.)

There’s no surprise that Ruby, Objective C (iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X), Python, Java, C++ are at the top of the pyramid. Starting salaries in the Salt Lake area are higher for programmers college than they are for other computer science skill sets. In fact, my informal contacts peg them as starting at $70+ thousand. That’s higher than Forbes average for computer science. Here’s a visual on experienced programmers by language:


It seems fair to say that a computer science, applied computer science, and information technology degree with an emphasis in real programming skills is the best bet to pay off student loans. However, some will wait for politicians to do that for them, but really that’s quite unlikely, isn’t it?

Reality is always blunt. Reality also seems to frequently differs from what politicians say. After all, politicians pander to audiences, which generally means they say a great deal of nonsense. Nonsense like economics doesn’t matter, everyone should earn the same regardless of their education, skills, or work ethic. Aldous Huxley said it more elegantly when he said, “That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent.”

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December 21st, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Popular Programming Languages

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First of all, Happy New Year!

IEEE Spectrum published a ranking of the most popular programming languages. Computational journalist Nick Diakopoulos wrote the article. While it may surprise some, I wasn’t surprised to find SQL in the top ten.

07dataflow-1403643424680Nick weighted and combined 12 metrics from 10 sources (including IEEE Xplore, Google, and GitHub) to rank the most popular programming languages.

  • Compiled programming languages (Java [#1], C [#2], C++ [#3], C# [#4], Objective-C [#16])
  • Interpreted programming languages (Python [#5], JavaScript [#6], PHP [#7], Ruby [#8], Perl [#11], HTML [#12])
  • Data languages (SQL [#9], MATLAB [#10], R [#13])

I couldn’t resist including Objective-C because it shows how the iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS impact our daily lives. At the same time, Assembly [#15] is actually more popular than Objective-C. Shell [#17] follows Objective-C. While the Visual Basic [#14] programming language still remains very popular.

There are many “why” questions raised by this list of popular programming languages. The “why” from my perspective deals with what are the market drivers for their popularity. The money drivers I see are as follows:

Business Intelligence (BI) software manages most high-level data analysis tools and they’ll continue to get better over time. However, if SQL has shown us anything over 30 years it’s that ultimately we revert to it to solve problems. The conclusion from the reality of BI probably means the programming languages that develop those tools will continue to rise and so will the underlying data languages.

It’s also interesting to note that nine out of ten of the popular programming languages work with databases, like Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQL Server. While JavaScript doesn’t access the database typically, it’s JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is supported in all the databases.

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January 1st, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Bioinformatics Conference

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This week I attended the first ACM conference on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in Niagara Falls, NY. The next conference is in Rome next January. It was interesting to note who’s using what technology in their research.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Databases: MySQL is the de facto winner for research. Oracle for clinical systems, mostly Oracle 10g implementations. That means moving data between the two is a critical skill. Specifically, exporting data from Oracle and importing it into MySQL. Oracle was criticized for being a DBA-preserve and unfriendly to development. When I probed this trend, it seemed to point to DBAs over managing sandbox instances at companies with site licenses. Microsoft SQL Server didn’t find a lot of popularity in the research community.
  • Programming Skills: C#, C++, Objective-C and PHP were high on the list. C# to import data into Microsoft SharePoint and develop Windows SmartPhones. C++ to extend MySQL. Objective-C to develop iPhone and iPad applications. PHP to build applications to manage studies and facilitate input, but there were a couple using Perl (not many).
  • Collaboration Tools: Microsoft SharePoint won handily. It’s made a home in the clinical and research communities.

Overall, they want programmers who understand biology and chemistry. They’d like knowledge through Medical Microbiology and Introductory Biochemistry, and they want strong math and statistical knowledge in their programming staff. They like Scrum development frameworks. They seem to emphasize a chief engineering team, which means the developers get maximum face-time with the domain experts. The developers also have to speak and walk the talk of science to be very successful.

As to Niagara Falls, I’m glad that I took my passport. The Canadian side is where I spent most of my extra time and money. It has the best views of the falls, the best food, and ambiance. Goat Island and the Cave of the Winds are the only two features I really liked on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. The U.S. side is dreary unless you like gambling in the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. Since I’m originally from Nevada, I never entered it to check it out. Technically, when you step on the casino property you enter the Seneca Nation of New York. The New York state government in Albany really needs to address the imbalance or they’ll continue to see Canada score the preponderance of tourist dollars.

Written by maclochlainn

August 6th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Posted in C,MySQL,Objective-C,Oracle,PHP

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Kudos to Joseph

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My son’s graduating with his B.S. in Computer Information Technology next month, moving on to his internship, and today released his first independent iPhone App – Chronos Stopwatch. This link takes you to his blog. He did an awesome job on writing the Bizarro iPhone App under contract, but I’m very happy he and Miles Ponson started writing their own software.

It was amazing seeing him sort through all the myriad issues in balancing analog clocks, the decaseconds refresh rates, and a lap counter. I’m sure a few swimming and track coaches will like this utility if they have an iPhone. Throughout his development cycle, the process has been fun to watch. He certainly loves Objective C.

Just as an aside, it has also been gratifying to know that he finally found major uses for the database, like set operators, inline views, and stored procedures. He once noted they weren’t too useful. 😉

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March 23rd, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Posted in iPhone,Objective-C

Hybrid iPhone Development

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A colleague of mine just dropped by his new book on Developing Hybrid Applications for the iPhone. He covers Dashcode, Xcode, JavaScript, and Objective-C. He also covers how to use WebView and native SQLite database access from the iPhone.

It looks interesting. By the way, his blog is here.

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June 30th, 2009 at 11:42 am