With Software Development topping 2014’s top jobs list, I thought I would share how much it cost me to become a web developer, and what my monthly expenses look like nowadays.
If you’re new to the industry, you’ll need this stuff. My philosophy is that it is OK to spend money to make money, especially when it comes to getting proper tools. You have to have fast, reliable equipment or your productivity will be adversely impacted.
- Used Apple 17″ MacBook Pro with 4GB RAM, via Craigslist – $1,500
- Apple iPad 2 – $500*
- Second screen – $250
- Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, for talking with clients or associates, and for working on the go – $200**
- Books – $500
- Sublime Text Editor – $70***
- Tower Git client – $59
TOTAL START-UP COST: $3,079
* Mine was a gift
** Cost with a two-year contract
*** Free for evaluation
What about training?
My advise is to skip the college thing. Don’t waste your money, and more importantly, your life.
A few books and online resources are all you really need. Google is your best friend. Read up, then go build a real, live project. That is the best way to learn.
As you struggle through, you’ll be learning to think for yourself and figure problems out on your own. This will by far be your most valuable skill.
- Toggl, for time tracking – $5/month
- Harvest, for invoicing – $12/month
- Adobe Creative Cloud, for Photoshop and cloud storage – $49/month
- Rdio, for getting in the zone – $10/month
- Smartphone – $110/month*
- Internet connection – $39.99/month**
TOTAL RECURRING COSTS: $226/month
The best part about software development today is that many of the tools you need are free! These are tools I use every day. Your list may vary some, but these have been very solid in my experience.
- Gmail, for email and IM communication
- Google Drive and Dropbox, for cloud storage
- Skype, for voice and IM communication
- Join.me, for screen sharing
- Apache web server with PHP and XDebug, installed via Homebrew
- MySQL database server
- MySQL Workbench, for designing and visualizing database schemas
- Sequel Pro database client
- ImageOptim image compressor
- OpenOffice for document editing
- Todoist, for keeping track of stuff you need to do
- VirtualBox, for virtualizing various operating systems for development and testing
- Windows and Internet Explorer testing images for VirtualBox (IE8/XP, IE9/Win7, IE10-11/Win8)
- Vagrant, for creating or consuming standardized development environments
- Composer, for installing PHP packages
- Xcode, for compiling packages via Homebrew, and simulating iOS devices
- StackOverflow, for finding answers to questions and hosting your resume online
- LinkedIn, for networking with employers, fellow developers, and recruiters
Never before has it been so easy to get such a well-paying and rewarding job. Anyone can do it, if they are interested, but it will take drive and commitment. For about $3,000 in up-front costs, you can become a web developer. My monthly expenses run less than many student loan payments.
It will take about 4-5 years and 10,000 hours of practice and resume-building to command a 6-figure salary. Think about it: would you rather have a 4-5 year college degree and no job, or a 6-figure salary?
While many people are struggling to find employment, employers are struggling to find good software developers (emphasis on good, since mediocre devs are a dime-a-dozen).
It is a great year to be a software developer!