Is the tech transition worth the pay cut? Was it for you?

I’m currently a city government employee, and I’m reaching a point where my interests no longer match the work I’m engaged in. I put full stack development for the side for several years (although I’ve continued to apply Python and R language skills for analysis), and now I’m contemplating getting back into it. My question is this: is it reasonable to expect to be able to make $85,000 immediately upon transitioning into full stack development from another field? For those who got into programming later in their careers, did you have to take a pay cut to get into the industry? Was it ultimately worth it?

What would be a reasonable starting salary depens on a lot of things. The biggest factor is where you live, but your level of experience and relevant non-coding expertise are also significant. The only way to find out is to talk to recruiters and to apply for jobs.

“Worth it” is always going to be deeply subjective. I’ve sometimes been willing to take a pay cut just to work at a job I like better, but I’m in a very fortunate situation where lower pay just means fewer luxuries.

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One thing to consider is what is the average salary for your area, for the job you transition to.

Using a tool like Stack Overflow’s Salary Calculator can help at least get an idea if the “pay cut” is reasonable to the career or not. If its reasonable from your previous job to a new one is more a personal decision that depends on you.


Like others said, location matters. Whether it’s high vs low cost of living.

There’s also another factor, the spread of tech salary is really wide, tech workers in different industries come in vastly different pay bands with solar opposite career outlooks. Depends on the technical domain, location, and industry, you could start your career by getting a pay cut to double or even triple the salary you mentioned.

You are unlikely to find the compensation reports of the top of the band pay with conventional average data set from glassdoor, indeed or bureau of labor statistics. There are some good insight you could get from, or blind. Do your research on this subject of matter and take that factor into your consideration on whether it’s worth it or not.