2013 May 26 Sunday
Cabinet Maker Or Web Site Maker?

How much do you earn? What would you be willing to do to make more money? A cabinet maker in Pennsylvania pays from minimum wage up to $30 per hour for masters who can work as foremen.. That's an occupation you can work yourself up in if you have enough innate skill, motivation, and are near a source of demand for your skills.

By contrast, and also without a college degree, you can teach yourself web site construction and earn about $30 per hour on average. Really skilled people can earn 6 figures, and as the example in the article shows, without a college degree.

The people who get up into 6 figure earnings building web sites are likely very bright, motivated, work at it for several years for long hours, are detail-oriented, have good UI intuition, and probably live in a major metropolitan area with the demand. Silicon Valley is probably the top paying place for these skills.

Do you find yourself stuck in a job without much prospect for advancement? Ever think about going down a different path where you can learn and advance? What holds you back?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 May 26 05:49 PM 

Gunnar Tveiten said at May 27, 2013 1:30 AM:

What you "can" earn is seldom relevant -- there's hairdressers who earn 6 figures, but that's not good indication that cutting peoples hair is a likely shortcut to upper-middle-class.

More interesting is what people *typically* earn in different jobs.

I earn about $55/hour creating the software that other people use to build websites. I do have a degree though.

The main thing holding me back from making more of a career or earning more is that I've got so many other things I want to do with my life, and my current income is sufficient. I.e. I could earn more, if I was willing to sacrifice a lot to get there, but I'm not.

Randall Parker said at May 27, 2013 9:07 AM:


Well, according to the article the average for web site builders is about $30 per hour. Though some people try to become web site builders and eventually give up. It would help to know the IQ distribution of successful web site builders so that people could learn enough to know whether to try in the first place.

Lono said at May 28, 2013 12:46 PM:

I used to make $21 an hour (plus good benefits) to make web sites in 2000. In 2001-2002 I made $60 an hour to do smaller and easier website projects as a contractor. Now I can't even get a job as an friggin' entry-level application tester in my area. (And I am in Mensa). Dafuq is wrong with corporations these days?

BTW networking in Mensa needs a hell of a lot of improvement - which I intend to help reform once I have a decent paying gig again.

Randall Parker said at May 28, 2013 9:05 PM:

Lono, Think this is due to the geographic area you are in?

How about creating a great web site as an advertisement?

Lono said at May 29, 2013 2:07 PM:

My area is not too bad - I think I am just sick of the game. The leadership at most public corporations are now far too incompetent or corrupt for me to abide these days. I do need to do some web development for a few of my own entrepreneurial experiments so perhaps those sites could double - I suppose - as a resume builder as you suggest.

Any suggestions of what language to leverage for optimal interactivity with the user? I used ASP and Coldfusion (with HTML 4) back in the day. I hear MySQL is out and PostgreSQL is now in?

Randall Parker said at May 30, 2013 8:14 PM:


PostgreSQL versus MySQL: My impression is that MySQL still has far larger usage. It would not surprise me that PostgreSQL has improved a great deal. You can read this Nov 2011 discussion comparing PostgreSQL versus MySQL. My guess is you'll run into more jobs where MySQL is used.

UI coding: Have a look at AngularJS. It is written in Javascript and provides a templates extension for Javascript/HTML for binding JSON to tables and other page controls. I never use totally GUI design tools for web pages.

Back on the server you could consider Javascript as well with Node.js. I haven't used it mind you. But I work on really large systems written in bigger languages. I've used C/C++ the most. I've used Python, Java, Go, Basic, DSP assembly, assorted scripting languages, and yet other languages.

Leadership at public corps: They seem irrelevant for most coding work. You've got a system to build. You build it. What CEOs are thinking rarely enters into it.

My advice: gravitate toward pure software companies. I've worked in manufacturing and other industries where management had little understanding of software. Now I avoid it. I should have avoided it much sooner.

Randall Parker said at May 30, 2013 8:23 PM:


You ought to learn how to solve much tougher problems. You are, as you say, in Mensa. Well, step it up and learn harder stuff. If you step it up you will work with smarter people. You will solve problems that fewer people can compete with you to solve. The more able you make your brain the easier becomes the ride.

Lono said at May 31, 2013 2:20 PM:


I have had a much more enjoyable time working for pure software development companies in the past - but I have no recent experience developing enterprise level software. I spent the last decade or so investigating the events of 9/11 - increasing my understanding of evolutionary biology - and finally determining how to best organize Humanity for the coming intelligence explosion. As you can imagine my mind was largely occupied with those pursuits and my career suffered for it. I have solved the singularity problem to my satisfaction, however, and am now building institutions to implement my solution over the next 1000 years.

During this beginning phase having an additional revenue flow would help speed up my time table so that I may sooner transition full-time into my new position as the executive director of my foundation. I am taking a multifaceted approach towards my own personal wealth building - but I have not yet achieved my goal of becoming financially self-sufficient.

What challenge would you recommend that I undertake for maximum profitability? I see entrepreneurship as a difficult path at this time with my extremely limited existing resources. I am certainly not looking for a mindless or meaningless job, however, I must be free most nights to operate my foundation and I would prefer to avoid any unnecessary entanglements with lawless corporate or governmental entities. I am very open to any ideas you may have as your blog has been very influential in my personal growth over this last decade.

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