6 good things about being a programmer

Even this jaded former coder can find some things he liked about the job

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One thing I liked about programming: the chances of getting thrown from a bull were small

Image credit: REUTERS/Patrick Price

No doubt about it, I’m a glass-is-half-empty kind of person. Ask my wife, ask my kids, ask my friends and they’ll tell you that I love to complain. It’s one of my favorite hobbies and, dare I say, skills. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is agreat song, but advice that I’ve never chosen to follow. Nothing beats a good bitch session, I say.

Not surprisingly, then, when I look back on my career as a programmer, I focus on the negatives. That leads me to write posts like the one I wrote last week, 7 frustrating things about being a programmer. It’s the annoying things that I remember most.

As they say, though, it’s never too late to change, right? So, in effort to be one of those eternally positive people (the ones most of us want to throttle), at least for a few minutes, I thought I’d follow up last week’s post with one that focuses on some of the things about being programmer that I actually liked (yes, there were some such things):

Good compensation - As is pretty well known, programmers tend to get compensated well, and I certainly didn’t complain about the money I was paid. It wasn’t doctor, lawyer or weak-hitting Major League Baseball utilityman money, certainly, but it was always more than enough to get by.

Getting to do lots of (non-code) writing - If you like to write, and I mean with words not just code, programming can, believe it or not, give you lots of opportunities to channel your inner wordsmith. You won’t be writing the next great American novel, but there’s usually no end of specification documents, user documentation, white papers, technical opinions, etc. that you can be called on to compose. This part of the job I really liked. Of course, whether anybody will read your documentation is another matter.

Ability to work in almost any industry - Just about every business needs programmers these days, whether to build a web site or an app or some internal software. So, if you like finance or education or gambling or whatever, you could usually find a programming job in that industry, and not have to be stuck in an industry that you didn’t like. Me, I liked working for media companies, from print to online to broadcasting, which is where I spent almost my entire 15 year programming career.

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