Software engineering is a much better career path than everything this community talks about

I'm not sure whether people in here are not aware of this so let me say it as explicitly as I can. You work more hours and you get paid less than people in tech companies. It's true for graduates, it's true after a couple of years, it's true for people at the end of their careers, and it's even true for crazy outliers (look at the richest people on earth, tech beats every other industry).
 

Why are you guys slaving away for a worse life and less money when there are better career options out there? I'm not judging, I'm just curious what is going on in your minds. I must be missing something.

[Edit]: So to summarize all your comments: you are aware that you make less money and work more and that your life is worse than your tech equivalents, but you simply can't do anything about it. (I mean, you could, but the career switch would take so much time and effort that it's practically impossible). I'm not hating or bragging, you know it's true.

Comments (86)

 
  • Intern in CorpFin
Feb 3, 2021 - 5:22pm

OP acts like there aren't several detailed posts about this "why banking?"/ there aren't all types of personalities and backgrounds out there.

 

I'll refrain from the monkey shit though - feeling generous today

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 3, 2021 - 4:41pm

:

You work more hours and you get paid less than people in tech companies

That may be true for top software engineers working at GAFAM, but what percentage of all software developers work there?

 
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Feb 3, 2021 - 4:48pm

The earning trajectory after several years in finance is totally different than that of someone in software engineering. SWE salaries on the average, tend to have very steady gradual growth. In finance your income could move up quite substantially over short periods. Not sure if the odds are better or worse to land a solid top paying SWE role than they are for a role in finance paying similarly. Those top paying swe jobs are still small in number, but there are lots of SWE roles that pay more in the middle income range.

 

Edit: I'll also add, personalities are also very different for that in swe compared to finance. Not everyone will fit to this argument, but looking overall it's just different people.

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 3, 2021 - 4:52pm

Honestly it's because my school is a top target for finance but I'm not sure how strong their tech recruiting is. Also, I want to become a master of the universe like Bill Ackman where the market literally moves with my words. Sure you could become a big deal in tech through entrepreneurship, but what are the chances of coming up with a million or billion dollar idea?

Edit: I understand becoming a MOTU like Ackman is also difficult but there seems to be a more well defined path to get there.

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 5:03pm

I've spent summers working in both IB/HF and SWE. The intuition is that IB has the best risk/reward profile of any career path. Founding/joining your own startup in tech can be massively profitable – but the denominator (risk) increases disproportionally more than the numerator (reward) given the high failure rate. In his books Nassim Taleb talks a lot about how the most successful path is the one least susceptible (or most resistant) to randomness; if you ran a Monte Carlo Simulation a million times for an IB/PE career and a SWE/tech career, the former would yield the highest number of stable successful outcomes. I was in SWE at a FAANG-sized company; yes it's true that you may make more per hour working at the junior level, but the IB/PE comp increases much more and much faster as you progress. I also personally love the puzzle of investing (as I know others do) so the private equity path is enticing. Hoping to also be able to apply my passion for the quant stuff though; in the process right now of creating a machine learning sports betting algorithm as a bit of a side hobby lol

Array

  • 2
 
Feb 3, 2021 - 6:51pm

I'm not talking about Startup founders (that's obviously very risky and unpredictable). I'm talking about jobs at big tech companies. These jobs make more money, you work less, AND they are safer. The only reason why you think finance jobs are more predictable is a lack of knowledge about the tech industry. And what I'm saying isn't just true for junior people, it's true for all stages of ones career (early, mid, late, everything).

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 9:34pm

While this is and has been true, I believe something people shouldn't discount is the potential increased scrutiny, regulation, and anti-trust issues we may see with big tech in the coming years. If these companies were to be broken up and highly regulated then I believe you would see changes in compensation (perhaps not stability), as the sheer scale they operate at is one of the main reasons they are so profitable and can afford to pay employees so much. I'm not saying finance or tech is better, but it is a mistake to believe that the golden age of tech we currently find ourselves in will last forever. 
 

Edit: And by tech in this case I specifically mean internet companies. I believe biotech, agritech and renewable technology will eventually be the next new and shiny thing.

 
  • Business School in IB - Ind
Feb 3, 2021 - 10:07pm

This is where your math is wrong. They don't make more. If you want to compare top companies like FAANG to finance, then make sure you compare that to MF PE, top IB or even the HF thread. Take a look at those HF bonus numbers and tell me what mid level tech guy on salary is beating that. And remember, don't move the goal posts, you said FAANG SWE jobs.

Classic virgin looks at an As1 at UBS making $250k and comes on here talkin shit. And what a stupid ass approach. "Hmm I think I make money than these guys and work less, I'll go ask them why they do their jobs instead of mine." After you take a look at those comp numbers fuck off and go back to blind.

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Feb 3, 2021 - 6:53pm

1) Sure startups are riskier and less resistant to randomness than good IB, but wouldn't an SWE at a FAANG or equivalent have a similar success rate over the course of a career compared with BB/EB analyst? Sure, not all SWEs make it past L5 or whatever and get stuck at 400k/year, but lots of IB analysts exit to corp dev or something else too.

2) Have you factored in work/life balance and life satisfaction (over the entire course of career, since PE hours aren't really that much better than IB hours when you're comparing to tech) or is this purely a monetary measure of "most successful path"?

 
  • Intern in VC
Feb 7, 2021 - 6:39pm

That's a nice take! Re quant stuff: do you think this is something you could see yourself doing full-time if it worked out?

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 5:15pm

Why do some people like chocolate ice cream while others like vanilla?

http://www.series65examtutor.com
 
Feb 4, 2021 - 2:29pm

Fuck you I will put my thumb through your eye you little bitch

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

  • 2
 
Feb 3, 2021 - 6:42pm

I see so many people hating both. It's totally fine if you do finance because you like it more. You do you. The people I don't understand are those that complain about their finance job and say that they hate it. They say they do it for the money only, but then the question is why aren't you going somewhere where there is more money like tech?

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Feb 3, 2021 - 6:49pm

cuz tech is hard. Finance is just knowing accounting, getting a decent gpa, and talking to a lot of people to get the job. Tech is actually knowing how to code and understand a bunch of other stuff like how github's stupid fucking interface works

 
  • VP in IB - Ind
Feb 3, 2021 - 5:15pm

You need to be at the absolute top of your game to be making 500k in your mid-20s at FAANG whereas people of average intelligence can make good, predictable money in IB as long as they don't get fired (source: me). You are glossing over the fact that there are plenty of $150k SWE gigs just like there are plenty of $150k AM roles. Sharp people in finance (PE, HF PMs) will also undoubtedly make more money than their non-founder counterparts in tech. 

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 6:55pm

You don't need to be a genius to make more money in tech than in finance. Jobs at these large tech companies are pretty safe and predictable. Sharp people in tech make more money than sharp people in finance (and in any other industry).

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:03pm

Where do you work? And how long have you been studying CS / coding? How many projects did you do in undergrad and how many SWE internships did you have? What was your college workload compared to business majors?

 
Most Helpful
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:15pm

Being able to invest your own capital at very very healthy IRR is far more important than anything else - and IMO the real benefit to working in some types of finance is that you learn how to invest capital. Many in finance don't really think about it, but it really is the only reason to get into finance...

As Taleb says...

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary."

Once you start making over $200k - $400k depending on if you have a family to support you'll fast fall into the bucket of, "where do I invest this". And your only option will be at 8% IRR lol.

Do some basic math around compounding and LMK how much salary matters when one person can invest their personal capital @ 40%+ IRR but the other is stuck at 8%.

  • 4
 
Feb 3, 2021 - 8:01pm

I could not agree with you more. Think if you are entering finance the end goal should be an investing role, otherwise it is as OP says there are better career paths from an hours / comp adjusted standpoint

Personally I've been able to compound my own capital in public equities >40% CAGR in past 3yrs. I'm sure this will normalize but I have a high degree of confidence I can - over a 30yrs time horizon - compound my capital at 18+% (potentially even low to mid 20s in an upside scenario). Compared to some poor sap getting HSD index returns I'll be able to retire way earlier or otherwise end up with way more money in 30yrs.

Of course, end goal is not just about money. But ceteris paribus, you want to get the highest $$ / hour of your time and investing can get you much, much farther than just earning a high salary in tech. 

 
Feb 4, 2021 - 12:25pm

Love the Nassim Taleb quote. It's been my footer for a couple of years now

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
Feb 11, 2021 - 8:58pm

It is a pretty good quote. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Feb 5, 2021 - 6:57pm

How important is coding experience (even a little) to an entrepreneur in your space (which are online ventures)?  

I am not in any way connected to the tech space so I speak from ignorance but I continue seeing and hearing stuff that implies that a founder who is not a coder is not as powerful as one with technical expertise.  

This 'theme' is so prevalent that I find myself looking down on founders in silicon valley without technical expertise.  And it DOES seem the vast majority of tech billionaires have coding experience.

Hell, just an hour ago I was listening to Naval Rakivant use that exact quote about the addiction of a steady paycheck but if you listen to him talk he seems to think everyone on earth should learn how to code...

 

 
Feb 10, 2021 - 2:49pm

It's very similar to learning a new language. Like learning new vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. 
 

Coding is the same- syntax, structure, and logic essentially. There's many free resources too. There's a difference between learning for loops and recursion vs actually building out an API running locally vs deploying an API. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
  • Associate 3 in ER
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:20pm

What's the point of this post? I'm not judging, I'm just curious what was going on in your mind when you typed it up and submitted it. I must be missing something.

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 9:12pm

I work less and make more money than you. I just wanted to know why you aren't doing the same thing as me. I'm not hating or bragging, I'm just genuinely curious why you guys do what you do

 
  • Associate 3 in ER
Feb 3, 2021 - 9:22pm

Ah, the original post left out that you work in tech. I wasn't sure if you were an insecure high schooler or an insecure adult. Thanks for the clarification. Hope you get the ego boost or whatever you're looking for from this.  

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:41pm

Bruh have you taken a high-level algorithms class in undergrad? That shit is HARD. Even if I tried, I would never be good at SW engineering let alone pass an interview at FAANG where they only could pay 150k+ reliably. At least I'm smart enough to understand a income statement, balance sheet, etc., and I can make a reasonable amount of money knowing that knowledge 

 
Feb 10, 2021 - 3:03pm

Coding isn't for everyone, but I think nearly anyone can get half decent at easy and medium algos. 
 

It takes a lot of time to get to the "topological sort with integrated cache" problems, but traversing a linked list can be learned within a couple months. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Feb 7, 2021 - 6:48pm

Bro this type of post is what happens when people who aren't self-aware about how they come across are given a public forum. Literally no one gives two shits about any of what you're claiming. Why bother typing up this stuff in the first place? 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Feb 3, 2021 - 9:15pm

can we have one goddamn week without a tech vs finance thread? just one fucking week..

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 10:09pm

For maximum entertainment go on Blind. Every post is about total compensation (posts have "TC or GTFO" even when irrelevant to the topic) and how to get more compensation. They are way more money-obsessed than any IB Analyst I've ever met in finance. Completely insecure.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
 
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Feb 3, 2021 - 10:26pm

I know this is a troll post, but I'll try to answer. If you are purely making a compensation point, in an expected value/risk adjusted way you may be right, the top jobs in finance have high failure rates (I.e. HF/PE). 

But the upside in HF (the one I can speak to personally) is higher with a faster path if you are really good. With that comes volatility, but if you are great, you'll make more. I have spoken to several recruiters for senior positions in FAANG and they can't really match the comp, but again, risk is very high. 

Outside of comp, there are many reasons to prefer one path vs the other, but I won't go into that here as it seems like mostly a post to bait people. 

 
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Feb 4, 2021 - 10:40am

Ok sure:

I was previously in a "tech like" role (not at FAANG). Things I wanted:

1) more autonomy and faster mobility if I did well (less levels, massive firms, etc). The culture at tech firms is pretty different  

2) enjoy markets as a puzzle and wanted to be able to solve the problem start to finish (idea -> trade -> manage the overall portfolio) - didn't enjoy much of the puzzle I saw in tech (optimization, sleek UI, etc), but limited to the places I saw and friends I have

3) be my own customer - not build for others (I.e. here is a new feature for a site) but for myself

4) as I've continued to do well, the pay I've been able to get to isn't something I would get in tech (a lot of this is because what I'm good at isn't what is needed in tech so a HF pays me because it is more valuable to them).

could go into more detail but that's a start 

 
Feb 3, 2021 - 11:27pm

Related question - is finance still viewed as more prestigious than software engineering? To both a layperson and an educated elite

Currently a freshman; I did a bunch of algorithmic programming contests in HS so I'm familiar with computer science theory, but I've always viewed finance as more prestigious (and the best of both worlds, especially in the more quantitative roles)

 
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Feb 3, 2021 - 11:35pm

Just some advice, "prestige" isn't really a thing, especially as you get older. 

Jobs are what you do to make money, people make money many different ways, there isn't something magical that happens because a small percentage of people think something is prestigious. Nothing changes, and speak to 10 different people and you'll get many different answers. 

Focus on doing the things you enjoy, while balancing the other priorities you care about (money, work life balance, etc). But know that this "prestige" thing is a bunch of BS

 
Feb 4, 2021 - 1:41pm

Here's one thing nobody else here has mentioned. Tech has stable mid-level salaries, whereas IB does not. In IB, you don't just sit at VP forever. After a few years, if you can't start pulling in revenue, then you end up leaving and making less. If you can't put up with the stress and long hours anymore, and say that you want to start a family, for instance, then you end up leaving and making less. You can't put up with the hours and go to CorpDev in a F500, then you're starting out at Manager or Senior Manager level at $110K-180K, and promotions are somewhat hard to come by compared to IB or FAANG. In FAANG, if you make L5, which everyone who's half-decent and sticks around for 5 years does, then you're going to be making about $340K and working 35-40 hours a week. You will pretty much sit at this level forever really. If you ever want to switch to a different FAANG, you will come in as L5, and see the same type of compensation. If you're a competent coder or product manager, then you don't really have to worry about getting fired unless you really fuck up. What role in finance offers you stable mid-level salaries? Pretty much none. The people who said you have to be the best of the best to receive these salaries are delusional, because those who are the absolute best are looking at a lot more money that isn't even worth mentioning. 

 
Feb 4, 2021 - 2:12pm

Companies outside of FAANG also pay well. Much like boutique banks can pay very well (and sometimes better) than BB banks. Your statement is accurate 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
  • Intern in VC
Feb 7, 2021 - 6:50pm

Good take. A lot of people on this forum think that by entering this industry, they will automatically end up as a partner in HF/PE. The number of spots there will continue to fall whilst those in tech (albeit slightly lower pay) will continue to rise. Heck, if your only consideration is money and not having a life then go for HF/PE. But for most people, on a comp/hours/stability/lifestyle basis tech wins. Great comment Guy. Great comment.

 
Feb 4, 2021 - 2:46pm

A post exactly like this seems to come up every few months. Both careers are lucrative - each has different risks, rewards, and bonus structure. 

For me, I really hate software engineering and coding, but think finance is interesting/cool. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
 
Feb 7, 2021 - 8:34pm

Tech people are literally the worst. They think they're superior than everyone else. With their stupid "casual" work attire and shitty Mark Fuckerburg-type attitude. You probably made this thread because you think you're morally and intellectually better than us.  Fuk you. 

 
Feb 10, 2021 - 3:06pm

This made me laugh. I think these people are the exact equivalent of hardos in finance. I've found the people who really take the show Silicon Valley as a prescription of how to be, tend to be insufferable. Most people (at least in my experience) aren't like that. Most people show up and code and admit they learned a skill for the high paycheck. I'd imagine it's roughly the same for finance (some sort of standard deviation between douchebags and cool people, most being average) 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
  • Works at Goldman Sachs
Feb 11, 2021 - 11:22am

Post is too vague "work less, make more". Can you please list: hours worked, comp per annum by tiers of experience, and restrict to the cos you noted i.e. FAANG? 
 

It's fairly standard to make 500k cash and 500k equity (carry) at 29 in pe. SWE make 1m per annum at 29? What about at 33 by the time you're a principal clearing ~700-1m cash + triple to quadruple the equity over multiple funds? 

Thanks. PE and (to a lesser extent) Hedge funds remain the lowest risk way to become pretty rich. Agree tech has higher upside for the extreme geniuses. Although I would call that entrepreneurship, not tech. I.e. you need to found a company

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