You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Career Growth 101 for the ColdFusion Developer

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career

A student recently asked me what he could do to further his career, and inquired as to how I got to the point I am at on my own. This is a subject generally reserved for informal chit-chat among developers at conference social events and after user group meetings, and is one that is very important to each of us.

It also brings up the fundamental question of whether or not there is a proven, easy-to-follow formula for career success as a CF developer.

The truth is that there is not any set formula to achieving success, as we each define success differently. Success for some is measured solely by their financial compensation and status. For others, success means happiness on the job and with their life - perhaps they place more emphasis on the people and environment they work in every day as well as on their vacation and other "personal luxury" benefits. Still others describe success purely by notoriety and demand - on both their achievements and their reputation.

For most of us, our career objective is in reality a combination of all or some of these goals. Obviously, everyone values their paycheck and most of us are hoping to see our salaries increase over time. Of course, money does you no good without a personal life and liberties to enjoy that hard-earned money outside the workplace, so some emphasis must be placed on quality of life. For many developers their job is just their job, and they don't take any interest in public reputation or pride in their achievements, so long as the money and quality of life is satisfactory. Those who do measure success this way most often do so knowing that a good reputation and great achievements shown on paper also translate to better pay and negotiating power when discussing compensation with employers and prospective employers.

Though the goals and path necessary to achieve these goals may differ from developer to developer, I do have some sound advice and career exercises that will aid you whatever your goals may be.

Financial goals are best determined by evaluating where you are now, and determining where you want to be in, say, five years. If what you want is to retire in five years, then you need to do one of two things. You can work for a company you believe is going to go public, get bought, or do so well publicly that the pay-off will be enough to retire on. You also need to assure yourself that you have an employment contract with a company like this that guarantees you enough interest in the company that your interest will be worth enough to retire on. If you are fortunate enough to find a company and position like this, you are on your way. The other approach is to develop a commercial product yourself in the form of off-the-shelf software or a Web site that will generate revenue through advertising, membership/services fees, and/or being bought.

This is a lot easier said than done, but if you have a good idea, the payoff could be substantial. With either of these approaches you also need to put a value on security. Consider yourself blessed if you are employed by and have interest in a company that not only has a good chance at being bought or going public, but that also offers job security. A very large percentage of these companies are at a higher risk of folding and never realizing their dream. Developing your own product or Web site is an even higher risk if you're completely self-employed, and a good approach would be to keep your day job and work on said project on weekends and evenings until you feel comfortable that the project will succeed.

If your expectations aren't so high that you are planning retirement just yet, there are several ways to improve your worth and command a better salary. In today's job market, a ColdFusion developer who knows object-oriented programming concepts and how to apply them in CF is worth quite a bit more and is in more demand than a developer with twice the experience but who doesn't have OO experience. Learn about OOP and master CFCs and the techniques for developing OO CF apps, and emphasize this on your resume. Knowledge and experience with a framework(s) carries weight with some companies and is another thing to highlight on your resume, though most companies that are looking for a "framework developer" tend to accept inexperience with a framework if the hire knows OO. Learning Flex 2 or Java certainly also helps to make you more marketable - in particular the market for CF developers who also know Flex is a rapidly expanding one. ColdFusion Developer Certification doesn't generally carry much weight in my experience, but it does look good on paper and some employers and contracts do require it - and getting certified doesn't take too much time, effort, or money. Aside from having decent knowledge with whatever database an employer is using, most of the other technical skills that set a developer apart from the pack are more related to management. Knowledge and experience with a source control system like subversion tends to carry weight with employers, as does (in fewer circumstances though) experience with Ant for deployment.

Speaking of management, being in a tech/team lead or architect role generally comes with a higher salary, as well as more responsibility. So does project management, though emphasizing project management and/or looking for project management positions does mean that you are committing to a career path that will most likely take you away from day-to-day coding and into a path of management and executive management. If that is a career path that you find appealing, by all means pursue it - there will always be a demand for PMs, and their pay tends to be really good. If you have experience leading/managing projects or development teams, definitely emphasize this on your resume and in your interviews.

If your goals are more focused on quality of life, by which I mean vacation, low stress, etc., it's a bit more difficult to state a formula for achieving your goals. Be aware that working for an employer as an internal employee who builds internal applications certainly does tend to mean more moderate hours and less stress surrounding deadlines than working for a solutions company where you are developing applications for clients. This is on an employer-by-employer basis, but is a practical piece of advice. Be aware that pay is not always as good in these positions, but again - that's on a case by case basis. Whether your goals are solely financially driven or include aspirations toward public notoriety and other noteworthy achievements, the best way to attain either/both is to work on large, complex applications. Applications that require a large team, that have high public visibility, and/or that require pushing ColdFusion to its limits tend to be the ones that developers learn the most working on, and also carry a lot of weight with employers. Who you've worked with (i.e., being on a development team with a reputable developer) also tends to carry a lot of weight and gives you an outstanding reference. Other credentials that impress employers include community activity - speaking at user groups and conferences, teaching classes, having a popular blog, and writing/tech editing for magazines (CFDJ) and books. When I explained this I was immediately asked why teaching and community activity makes one more desirable to employers since it doesn't really mean you know more. The truth is that I'm not sure (unless the employer values these things) but it does look good on paper and it lends credibility...and for many employers it's a clear sign that you have good written and oral presentation skills...something that many companies look for in their IT staff but is very hard to find. I definitely advise developers seeking to make themselves more marketable to write and present, and if you are offered the opportunity to teach or to become a certified instructor, definitely don't pass up the chance unless you really have no desire to be an instructor.

More Stories By Simon Horwith

Simon Horwith is the CIO at AboutWeb, LLC, a Washington, DC based company specializing in staff augmentation, consulting, and training. Simon is a Macromedia Certified Master Instructor and is a member of Team Macromedia. He has been using ColdFusion since version 1.5 and specializes in ColdFusion application architecture, including architecting applications that integrate with Java, Flash, Flex, and a myriad of other technologies. In addition to presenting at CFUGs and conferences around the world, he has also been a contributing author of several books and technical papers.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Eddie 05/09/07 05:47:39 PM EDT

This is a great editorial and contains some very useful advice. I love the CFDJ and hope to see more articles regarding work/life balance issues, career growth, even a "death march survival guide".

One particular thing that was touched on is the growing divide between Object Oriented CF developers and old-school procedural CF coders. As someone who wears both a coder and manager hat (depending on the day), I would love to get some advice regarding strategies for converting older apps to a more accepted OO/CFC design methodology such as Mach II.

I personally inherited several large scale CF apps with thousands of templates, many of which have gone largely untouched since they were written in the late 90s using CF 2 or 3. It would take many months if not years to rebuild these apps with CFCs given our organization's staffing situation so I would love to hear how other people have pulled this off and sold it to the higher-ups. These apps work fine in their current form so it is hard to justify the time and expense it would take to modernize them.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...