Are You a Blue Collar or White Collar Developer?: Page 2

Posted November 15, 2009

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

Trying to be the peace maker and drawing on my Interpersonal Communication class work, I interjected.

“Everyone is making valid points. But let’s keep in mind that we build stuff, and blue collar workers have historically been those that rolled up their sleeves and either built or fixed great things. That’s what we do.”

Dean laughed. “Yeah right! We build stuff alright. But blue collar implies manual labor and I don’t think any of us have broken a sweat writing software. Well, maybe you have Eric.” He continued laughing.

Joe wasn’t amused. “No, but you are implying that I’m less educated by referring to me as blue collar? You know who I consider blue collar? The techies who run the data center. Many of them are self taught who have administration certifications. They get their hands dirty with the servers and telecom stuff, whereas we design and write complex code – regardless of where we learned how to do it.”

Dean jumped back in. “Oh, so what the folks down in the data center do to keep the lights on isn’t complex? You better not let them hear you say that or your next help desk request will fall on deaf ears.”

Looking back on this, I think we all were acting like a bunch of immature snobs. I’m sure I didn’t recall every word of our conversation, but the gist was still the same. Everyone wanted to make a case for why their software education was better and how we were all a step above techies who didn’t write software.

Perhaps part of it was wanting to feel like you had more job security or upward mobility than the next guy (or gal).

Over the years (many, many years) I learned that there are benefits to having developers educated in different ways. The fact is, despite our differences, all of us worked together really well as a team and we produced some great software.

More important than where we were educated was how passionate we were about writing software. The best developers live and breathe this stuff. They read about the latest software trends at night because they can’t get enough of it, and want to be on the leading edge – even if their managers will only let them look over that edge and not take the leap.

Sure, it may help to be more well rounded, not just for your job, but in life. However, it’s not a requirement to be a great software developer.

ALSO SEE: Are Software Developers Naturally Weird?

AND: Bjarne Stroustrup on Educating Software Developers

AND: Developer Salary Levels, 2004-2009

Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.

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Tags: software, programmers, developers, IT Jobs/Salary

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