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Is Consulting Right for You?

Sign #5: Doing It for the Money

Consulting does, at least for those who position themselves well, offer ample opportunities to make a reasonable amount of money. Even in bad times, a good, seasoned consultant drawing a salary can make $100,000 per year in the United States in most markets. An independent consultant who manages to land a gig where he or she can bring on two or three colleagues might do two or three times that! Although this isn't prefinancial crisis Wall Street money, it is certainly better than a sharp stick in the eye. In Chapter 9 of The Nomadic Developer I covered how greed can do damage to your career in consulting.The advice, however, in this context is that there are places where greed is a great motivator. If you really want to make money, I would submit that training in investment banking, stock trading, sales, or other more mercenary areas might be a better fit. As you saw earlier, when greed governs engineering decisions, the results can be disastrous.

If you simply want to make a load of money, there are far better occupations for doing that. Being a software developer without enjoying software development is almost certainly a recipe for accute and frequent job dissatisfaction.

Besides the tendency that strict money motivation leads to risky career behavior, if you don't have a strong desire to write code and work for clients, this business can be a nauseating experience. The payoff for most of the important career activities in consulting is brutally a long time coming. You can do something extraordinary, like write a popular open source framework, and not reap the rewards of that effort until years down the road. With such a lag between work and payoff, most people who are strictly motivated by "filthy lucre" will not make it through that gap in time between action and result.


Don't get me wrong: Technology consulting is a great occupation. For people who enjoy software development, are flexible enough to deal with some curveballs in terms of schedule, are able to handle the risks, enjoy working on diverse projects, and enjoy or at least tolerate working with other people, the occupation is ideal. If those things are going to be issues for you, it may not be a bad idea to look at some of the alternatives presented here or at least think very strongly about what you want to do before proceeding down this path.

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