To all young freelancers in low-income countries: I want to share my experience, of 6 years working for a piss-poor country, and 6 years working in freelance, and then emigrating. Here's what you should watch out for, and what to expect:

My first salary was barely 1.5$ per hour. I lived in a piss-poor country that taught me a lot (like why it's piss-poor).
The main thing to note when you're a developer in such a country, is that you're being fucked. Your employer might scream at you and tell you how bad you are, while barely paying you. That is you ... being ... fucked. Gain some confidence with the help of friends and family, and a great effort from yourself, look at what freelance gigs you can find, and ditch anything related to jobs in your country.

Being a somewhat able developer, but with modest experience, I started my freelance gigs for 5$ per hour. Because I was lazy, and freelance gigs weren't exactly being thrown at me, I was making 100$ per week, AFTER the companies I worked for appreciated what I did and offered themselves to up my pay to 12$ per hour. Yep. I was lazy. You will likely get lazy in freelance too, so be prepared for this.

My luck changed when one of my clients became a full-time employer, at 15$ per hour, with a well organized team where I actually worked for 40 hours per week (I had already amassed 8 years of experience...). For people in first world countries that will seem laughable, but in my country I was king of the hill, getting paid more than government CEOs that ended up in the news as the "most well paid".

That was the top of the pyramid for international indie freelance, as I would later find out.
I didn't do stuff that was very difficult. In fact, I felt like my abilities were rotting while I worked there. I had to change something. So I started looking for better offers. I contacted many companies that were looking for a senior developer, and the interviews went well, and all was fine, except for my salary demands. I was asking for 25$ per hour. Nobody was willing to pay more than 15$ per hour. That's because of my competition - tons of developers in cheap-to-live countries that had the same, or more to offer, for the same rates. Globalization.

So I moved to Germany. As soon as I was legally able to work, I was hunted down by everybody. I was told that it takes a month to pass the whole hiring process in Germany. My experience demonstrated that 2-5 days is enough to get a signed contract with "Please start ASAP".
There is freelance in Germany as well. And in the US. And everywhere else. A "special" kind of freelance, where you have to reside locally. The rates that this freelance goes for is much, much higher than international freelance. I'd say that 100€ per hour is ok-ish. Some people (newbies, or foreigners who don't speak the language well) get less, around 60 or so. Smart experienced locals get around 150-200 or even more.

It's all there. Companies want good developers to solve their business problems with IT solutions, and they'll beg you to take their money if you can deliver that.

So code!
Accummulate experience!
Screw the scumbags that screw you for 1-2$ per hour!
Anyone able to write something more than "Hello World!" deserves more.

Do the climb! There's literally room for everybody up there! There is so much to do, that I feel like there will never be too many developers.

Thank you for bearing with my long story. I hope it will help you make it shorter and more pleasant for you.

  • 5
    great story!

    do you think you'll buy real estate in your "piss poor" country? 🙂
  • 9
    We actually have A HUGE lack of developers/general IT people here in Germany, which explaines the high salaries...
  • 4
    Guess I'm in the wrong country !

    <-- half $1 an hour.

    Now guess which country is both a first world country, and yet living here for many at the bottom is just like a third world country.

  • 4
    @Nanos holy shit I wouldn't even say no for 0.5€/h let alone work. Get out of there. If you are any good try to get into contact with a company in central Europe. Sometimes they even help with moving and getting work permits just to have good devs sign a contract.
  • 3
    Thank you for sharing your story, really appreciate it.
  • 2
    Great story! Congrats!!
  • 2
    I live in Mexico and things are not as fucked as in many other countries. As a junior, I'm making something around 6-7 USD/h; an average senior can make 11-12 USD/h. It's still pretty crap though.
  • 2
    Amazing story
  • 4
    I'm just newly graduated and these low salaries in my country are getting me insane (350$-500$ per month). It's like no one appreciate /or know what you are doing.
    Thank you for the advice.
  • 2
    @heyheni no way in hell will I buy anything there.
  • 3
    @Nanos just an FYI, I had advertisement materials sent to me before, about why it's so great to be in a particular small town in Spain, and a brochure illustrated all of the benefits of working for one particular company. They salary wasn't big, but was OK to earn a decent living in that town.

    Yes, employers are really desperate to find good talent in Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg. Once I was in the EU it feels like every recruiter got a freakin' red alarm ringing in their phone, and I received literally hundreds of proposals and requests (most of them irrelevant). Sure, recruiters don't count as a job, but it illustrates the lack of developers.
    In numbers, that means that large companies have only 60-70% of the developers they actually need.

    Unfortunately most of these positions are for mid-level or seniors with some experience in that exact field, but you get to that rather quickly.
  • 1
    > in central Europe.

    Trouble is, I'm not sure I really want to move to central Europe !

    Having just moved to a low crime area, I'm rather loath to move back to someplace I'm just going to hate living in.
  • 2
    > employers are really desperate to
    > find good talent in

    > the UK

    I hear that, but at the same time, I hear constantly folk who are good, unable to get a job in the UK because the employers are idiots !

    I nearly got an unpaid internship at one company who the CEO was going on about how hard it was to find good folk, and I popped up and said I'd be willing to work for nothing to train in the particular language they use.

    But it would have meant a 100 mile cycle journey every day !

    Which I was working up to..

    When I had to move, and now I'm like 700 miles way, which is a bit too far to cycle every day. :-)

    The other day I saw an employer saying they couldn't find decent staff and what could they do about it.

    I pointed them to a particular jobs forum they could advertise in and they had never thought of that ! (It was right next door to where they are..)

    And wham, they found decent staff that day !

    Seems quite a mixmatch between the two groups unable to easily find each other
  • 1
    Awesome story
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