Retiring from a career in tech

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gravlax
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Retiring from a career in tech

Post by gravlax »

I am a 54 year old married with no kids tech worker. I work in a devops/sysadmin/sre type role, make $160K a year and live in the SF Bay Area. I have just over $1M in saving and am starting to think about retirement.

Here is the problem:

While I love the work I do, and I love the high (to me) paycheck, I am getting tired. I still feel very young and healthy and I have many interests (cooking, music, hiking, reading, the arts, etc, etc) and rarely get bored. The work I do in my current career is just one of my many interests.

However, my peers are very different. Most of them are interested and enthused about their work to the exclusion of everything else. They work 50 hour weeks, participate in on call schedules, and take so little time off they end up in a situation where they need to take PTO or they will lose it. They end up taking the PTO, but I will receive emails, ticket updates, and other indications that they are still working on their PTO days. This phenomenon seems widespread in the industry (at least in the Bay Area) not just at my current company.

It would be easy for me to get another job at a similar company. I'm fortunate enough to have many of the in demand skills, but...

Every role seems to be for the full-time-and-then-some enthusiast type I described above. I'd really love to take a position with benefits and a 30 hour work week - even for significantly less pay. But I am having trouble finding such positions or even determining whether they exist. Is anyone else here in the same or similar situation? And tips/advice or insights would be appreciated. I want to enjoy the fruits of my last 25 years of labor a bit more and have a more balanced lifestyle.
CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by CascadiaSoonish »

Devops might be one of the exceptions to the ageist tendency in the industry to marginalize people once they hit their 50s but I'd still consider that a factor in your decisionmaking. Contracting might be an option, you'd have more control over our schedule that way.
Normchad
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Normchad »

Good on you for thinking about this!

I’m guessing you might be underpaid. I live in a cheaper place, and 160 for a devops engineers seems about market rate here.

It’s all about creating a life you can be happy with. Some folks want zero work, others want 60 hours a week of it.

Does your employer offer part time work? Mine lets folks work 30 hours/week and still get benefits like medical, etc.

But, if you’re paid below market, that could be good here. Tell your bosses, hey I’m paid under market. I don’t want or need more money, but I’d like to try addressing this through a revised work schedule. Maybe they’d let you work 4 days a week instead of 5?

If they know it would cost a lot more than 160 to replace you, they might go for it.
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gravlax
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by gravlax »

CascadiaSoonish wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:23 am Devops might be one of the exceptions to the ageist tendency in the industry to marginalize people once they hit their 50s but I'd still consider that a factor in your decisionmaking. Contracting might be an option, you'd have more control over our schedule that way.
Thank you for your response.

I believe there definitely is still ageism in the devops field, but I think it is at least partially mitigated in my case by the fact that I look and act younger than 54 (maybe more like 45, which is till old in tech) and I have a lot fo the currently marketable skills. I've only been at my current position for about 6 months, having left my previous position when the company relocated. That most recent job hunt confirmed that I can get multiple offers of employment even in this climate. I feel so very lucky and grateful for that.

But after taking 4 months between this position and the last, and now being back in the work force I'm just questioning whether or not it is worth it for me to continue in these types of positions. I feel like I am unable to enjoy my other interests in a balanced way. I grew up in a poor family and never had any money in my 20s and 30s, so I realize what a luxury even contemplating the idea of working less is. I don't foresee myself not wanting to work at all at any time in the near future, only working less.
visualguy
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by visualguy »

How about simply doing less work in your current job? What would happen? Push back and refuse any work beyond the amount you want to do. I see people doing that to maintain WLB without dire consequences.
lws
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by lws »

You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
btenny
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by btenny »

Think about changing your life plan. You could just quit tech work completely and find a more "relaxed play job". Look around, I bet there are 100s of openings for fun jobs that suit your style like ski instructor or swim coach or museum docent or non profit worker or xyz.. Get one of these jobs for low pay and then work 30 hours per week. Supplement this low salary with 3% or so from your portfolio. Then when you are in your 60s maybe take SS and retire completely.

I quit tech at 52 for similar reasons to you. I was burned out and done with my company. So I took a RIF package and quit. I took a full year off and then became a ski instructor each winter for six years. I loved the work and got into good physical shape. This was one of the best decision of my life. This play job kept me busy and gave me enough money to live OK with some money from my portfolio. I could have gone back to tech for several years for great money but that required me to work full time and focus my life on tech work.

Think about this. There is more to life than a job..

Good Luck.
CycloRista
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by CycloRista »

I'm in a similar work situation, with more savings and not looking to retire for ~5-8 years. For the past decade, I've traveled more for pleasure, developed my hobbies/interests (cooking, camping, cycling and playing music) and widened my social circle.

Throughout my career I've made it a point to use nearly all of my vacation every year and mentor others (including those above me) to unplug completely when out of the office. Primarily for two reasons: no one is indispensable and the best way to identify coverage gaps and sort out solutions is when the others we rely upon are unavailable.

Even with taking all of my vacation and pushing back to keep some work/personal separation, I ended up in two jobs that pushed me to the brink of total burn out. I've managed to recover by taking 4-6 months off between jobs on multiple occasions to rejuvinate/refocus and gain more perspective on my direction.

Most companies are looking for "superhuman" people with all sorts of management & tech skills, certifications, advanced degrees, DevOps, Scrum, scripting, multi-cloud architecture, ... that more often than not is for a compensation package not inline with the market (sub $200k per year).

There are organizations seeking seasoned professionals with more realistic work and personal life objectives- it just may take a while to find one that is a win-win for both you and them. I'd suggest you start passively looking and maybe talk to a career coach (~$2-3k engagement) to target your objectives and messaging for prospective employers.

I'd also say that you are probably on the low end of the payscale for the Bay Area.
KyleAAA
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by KyleAAA »

Move out of the Bay Area and work for either large legacy tech or Fortune 500. You could make $160k someplace much cheaper, like Austin, Nashville, or Atlanta. And you wouldn't have to deal with the Bay Area work culture.
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by KyleAAA »

lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
Yes, because there is a shortage. Companies with 35 hour work weeks paying $400k have the same problem finding talent.
Dottie57
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Dottie57 »

I so understand. I retired 2 years ago because of management demands for more and more work in a smaller amount of time. I liked the work in tech but environment was such that I retired with an ulcer.

Find a different job. I wish I had.
rich126
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rich126 »

I can sympathize although in a different way. I'm not enthused about my current work but I am in other technical areas where I've been interviewing and hope to move to later this year. Right now it is just a grind doing tedious, out of date/non-interesting work. and throw in the virus stuff and I'm beat at this job. Ideally I'd like to take off about 3 months and then start a new job.

Maybe you can find a government technical job or something that doesn't require long hours.

I'm within 3 years of retiring and enjoy technical work. just not my current job. I do love working from home but I can't do it full time.

I have zero interest in more than 40 hour weeks unless I was getting valuable stock options/bonuses (i.e, something where I'm benefiting from the extra work/company success other than a paycheck that can be replicated elsewhere).

That salary seems low. I turned down a FAANG interview because it required moving to CA and I had no interest in lowering my standard of living at this point in my life.
tlk59
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by tlk59 »

I hear you big time on this one. I'm a 60-yr-old web dev in Silicon Valley. I've been mostly W-2 contracting (DW carries our health insurance), which makes it easier to get a foot in the door at my age, but also gives me the occasional few months off in between gigs. But when working, yeah, it's "Go, go go".

Not sure what the answer will be when I tire of it, but like many suggest here, I have a feeling it will be downshifting to unrelated work to avoid the all-or-nothing environment in this field. It's not just the work demands either...it's having spent nights and weekends for so many years studying to try to keep up with the changing tech.

But for now, I continue to enjoy learning new stuff and solving problems with code. I think it takes some pressure off knowing that some day soon I could choose a different lifestyle.
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Elsebet »

I'm only 43 and felt a similar way you did. I work in IT also in a similar role. I moved from Seattle, WA to a LCOL area and took a job at a company that only requires 37.5 hours per week, and that's all I work! Feels like pre-retirement compared to my old 50-60 hours per week job.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca
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ClevrChico
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by ClevrChico »

If you like the work, keep doing it, and focus on obtaining the schedule you like.

Most devops teams seem like they run a bit ragged, but if things are setup well, there should be very minimal on call or long work weeks. There are very low-stress environments out there.

As far as salary, I'd say you're in the top 10% for non-FAANG devops salaries from what I see.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
123
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by 123 »

rich126 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:35 pm ... Maybe you can find a government technical job or something that doesn't require long hours...
+1 Government opportunities can exist at city, county, state, and federal levels. Don't overlook school districts and court operations. Many government operations outsourcce many technical jobs to get around government salary caps so there are two ways to get "in" at a government installation, either working for the government itself or to be associated with an outside provider performing work for the government. The government work environment is distinctly different from private enterprise, the driving force to achieve results at any cost (personal or monetary) is often absent.
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Pomegranate
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Pomegranate »

gravlax wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:19 am work in a devops/sysadmin/sre type role, make $160K a year and live in the SF Bay Area. I have just over $1M in saving and am starting to think about retirement.

160k in Bay Area? I mean how many rommates you have :mrgreen: ?
Normchad
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Normchad »

KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:22 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
Yes, because there is a shortage. Companies with 35 hour work weeks paying $400k have the same problem finding talent.
Correct. For the positions I hire for, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. We typically interview ~8 people before we find one to make an offer to. There is no shortage of unqualified candidates out there.....
Pomegranate
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Pomegranate »

lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
rgs92
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rgs92 »

I would be very careful giving up your IT job. I was let go (outsourcing/etc.) after doing fairly high level IT for many years but ran into terrible trouble trying to find another job over 40. Don't quit before you find something secure like a gov't job.

Gov't jobs are extremely difficult to get (at least in IT I found, in fact it was impossible to even get considered), but that is the only job that can last I believe when you are over 40. This is based on the experience of many of my peers in telecom IT systems work (and others in IT in other fields).
Be very afraid of changing jobs unless you are prepared to go the FIRE route.

I know many people in this situation who were let go from IT and never got anything like a decent steady career afterwards.

There are several thoughtful replies to you in this thread about how to cope in your current job. I would strongly consider their advice. And at least if you lose your job, you will get nice unemployment insurance probably.
Last edited by rgs92 on Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Shael_AT
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Shael_AT »

devops/sysadmin/sre type role, make $160K a year and live in the SF Bay Area.
That salary is insulting for living in the bay. My dude. No! Listen. We have Lead people in these roles with 5-15 YOE who make a base salary from 205-235 as a midpoint, let alone bonuses and RSU's.

With great WLB and work to do, too. None of this over zealous "My Career is My Life" 20's and 30's thing going on.

Check out for roles at our companies page or linkedin my friend. We're the Very-Big-Suggestive-Tall tower that's dominating the SF landscape, company name is in there somewhere. One of my buddies is a Sr Director of SRE and they are always looking for really good candidates.

PM for more details if you'd like
tlk59
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by tlk59 »

Well the salary comps depend on if you are at a FAANG, a startup, a contract agency, etc. And I thought the OP's main concern was reducing workload and pressure, not amping up the pay.
Shael_AT
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Shael_AT »

tlk59 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:39 pm Well the salary comps depend on if you are at a FAANG, a startup, a contract agency, etc. And I thought the OP's main concern was reducing workload and pressure, not amping up the pay.
100%. I'm in a very similar position as the OP, but work 30 hours per week, while making more, and having less stress and less of this "My colleague is on PTO but still working" negative vibe nonsense. :sharebeer If y'all can make more money and not be in a hyper competitive race to the bottom, I say, go for it. I wish I knew sooner and am putting the information out there.
medic
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by medic »

tlk59 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:39 pm Well the salary comps depend on if you are at a FAANG, a startup, a contract agency, etc. And I thought the OP's main concern was reducing workload and pressure, not amping up the pay.
it should be commensurate. when salaries are higher, the expectation is that those with lower pay will have lower expectations - you can go from being a SR engineer making $160K to a Jr engineering making $160K at another company.

For example, Amazon works people like crazy and salary tops at ~$180K (rest is variable comp like stock). Switch to google and you'll get $250K for the same role+variable comp topping out higher and a life you actually want to live.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by SmileyFace »

You are getting tired but still feel very young and healthy :?
I think I know what you mean.

Funny how corporate America works. It is hard to find a tech job that isn't full time (and expects 40-60 hours work per week) and on the flip side there are few, if any, non-managerial retail jobs left that will pay someone for more than 30 hours per week (to avoid healthcare costs).
Contract work may be the way to go if possible to work less hours. Or, you could approach your HR/management at current position and see if they would entertain a shorter work-week. If you indeed have skills in demand and that they would have trouble replacing - they may rather retain you part-time than lose you altogether.
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Watty
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Watty »

Retired software developer here, a few points.

1) Instead of looking at the money in dollar terms look at it in terms of the "opportunity cost". This is an economics term where you might have a teenager who has $12 and on a Friday night they can either go out to a movie or buy a pizza but not both. The opportunity cost of seeing the movie is not getting the pizza.

As yourself how retiring now or working 5 or 10 more years would impact your life but don't state the impact in dollar terms. Focus on how it would change your life.
gravlax wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:19 am I'd really love to take a position with benefits and a 30 hour work week - even for significantly less pay.
30 hours a week might be hard to find since that is an odd schedule but 40 hours a week is very possible since some employers can work around that if you insist. I have seem lots of situations where people had to leave work right at 5:00 Pm to do things like pick up a kid at daycare and if the employer knows that in advance then they may be able to structure the work around your boundaries. That will not work with all employers but they are out there. (You may still need to be available for true emergencies a couple of times a year though.)

In one extreme situation I saw someone that was a blatant workaholic that hit his breaking point and he set all sorts boundaries about the hours he would work it took time but he make sure that other people had the knowledge, training, and documentation to handle after hours emergencies. He also made sure that systems were in place to make many "emergencies" just a routine problem handling procedure. This was not a quick process but the funny thing was that he ended up being promoted into management since they saw that the department was no longer working in emergence mode and it was working better.
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by KyleAAA »

Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
visualguy
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by visualguy »

KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
+1

The motivation is not really primarily the cost of a particular employee.

However, the big picture of how things are set up in this industry is relevant to the predicament of many, like the OP. When companies have so many options - foreign R&D centers, visa workers, etc. there is at least an indirect effect on what prospects, conditions, and expectations look like in the field.

I'm not saying it's wrong to do things this way - there may actually be more and better jobs even locally with this approach since companies are more successful, and the pool of entrepreneurs is larger, so more companies get started.
rich126
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rich126 »

Normchad wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:23 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:22 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
Yes, because there is a shortage. Companies with 35 hour work weeks paying $400k have the same problem finding talent.
Correct. For the positions I hire for, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. We typically interview ~8 people before we find one to make an offer to. There is no shortage of unqualified candidates out there.....
How often does the selected candidate decline the offer?

I applied for one position at a FAANG company and went through an initial screening but then declined the secondary interview. The reason being that my application was for a position located back east and this position required relocating in CA which I had no interest in.
rich126
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rich126 »

KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
Interesting. An ex-coworker left to work for a large tech company in the US and in his view he thought companies domestically hired H1Bs because they were cheap labor. He thought overall they were not particularly skilled. I have no first hand knowledge.
Scooter57
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Scooter57 »

If we go into a sustained recession/depression there will be layoffs of people who never expected to be laid off. At that point you might not have the option to work in your field any longer. So be sure if you step away that you really are okay with not having the option to return.

Another option not mentioned here, which is what I did back in the dark ages when I stepped away from a very good tech career, is to use your skills to build something of your own. You might not make the kind of money you made on the corporate world, but I have been writing server side code for my own sites and a family business since 1995. Not only that, but being able to use off-the-shelf software makes it possible to do many things for free that ordinary folks pay through the nose for. For example many authors pay thousands of dollars to people to lay out their books, design covers, and create and update websites, all of which can be done fairly easily, often with open source freeware.

We stumbled into our most profitable business when I put together some very easy to use software that created a PHP -based online store in a format which fit what was then a very small side business with an unconventional inventory model that didn't work with off-the-shelf solutions. I supported that for 14 years until it became successful enough that customers could be moved to other options that had emerged overtime that let me finally "retire." But that same software made it very easy also for me to support something of my own that was a hobby at the time but eventually earned me mid six figures. The great part is that I could work on all this stuff when I wanted to and had long periods when I could do other things.

So what I'm saying is consider that your tech skills will enable you to do things you may not even imagine now in other of your areas of interest, once you have more time and mental energy.
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by visualguy »

rich126 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:33 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
Interesting. An ex-coworker left to work for a large tech company in the US and in his view he thought companies domestically hired H1Bs because they were cheap labor. He thought overall they were not particularly skilled. I have no first hand knowledge.
You can find such cases, but this is not generally correct. Over half of Silicon Valley company founders have been immigrants, and many (most?) of them were H1B at some point in their immigration journey. You see a similar picture among executives and top management. At the companies that I've been involved with, H1Bs were not paid less than domestic hires, and they actually cost the company more because of legal and other fees as well as immigration-related hassles. We sometimes had to jump through some crazy hoops to get them/keep them when there were issues with their visas. They were worth it, though, because so many of them were extremely capable.

It's not all roses in my view, but not because of abuse or "cheap labor" (even though those exist to some extent). The problem is that the ability to recruit foreigners here, or hire them in their countries, reduces the incentive to improve conditions in the US and nurture more such talent domestically. If we can piggyback on the investment of other countries in their people, there's less of a necessity for us to make such investments in our own population, and create the right conditions here.

Hence, the brain drain is a bit of a double-edge sword. We're lucky in the US to be in a position to attract so much talent, but relying to such an extreme degree on foreign talent in our universities and companies enables us to care less than we should about making the right changes to improve prospects for the US-born.
rich126
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rich126 »

visualguy wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:13 pm
rich126 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:33 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
Interesting. An ex-coworker left to work for a large tech company in the US and in his view he thought companies domestically hired H1Bs because they were cheap labor. He thought overall they were not particularly skilled. I have no first hand knowledge.
You can find such cases, but this is not generally correct. Over half of Silicon Valley company founders have been immigrants, and many (most?) of them were H1B at some point in their immigration journey. You see a similar picture among executives and top management. At the companies that I've been involved with, H1Bs were not paid less than domestic hires, and they actually cost the company more because of legal and other fees as well as immigration-related hassles. We sometimes had to jump through some crazy hoops to get them/keep them when there were issues with their visas. They were worth it, though, because so many of them were extremely capable.

It's not all roses in my view, but not because of abuse or "cheap labor" (even though those exist to some extent). The problem is that the ability to recruit foreigners here, or hire them in their countries, reduces the incentive to improve conditions in the US and nurture more such talent domestically. If we can piggyback on the investment of other countries in their people, there's less of a necessity for us to make such investments in our own population, and create the right conditions here.

Hence, the brain drain is a bit of a double-edge sword. We're lucky in the US to be in a position to attract so much talent, but relying to such an extreme degree on foreign talent in our universities and companies enables us to care less than we should about making the right changes to improve prospects for the US-born.
Thanks. And please don't take my comments above as being against immigrants or H1B. In the latter case I don't have any direct experience and in the former I have had mostly good experiences. Since much of my work involves security clearances there are no non US employees around.
random_walker_77
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by random_walker_77 »

Normchad wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:23 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:22 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
Yes, because there is a shortage. Companies with 35 hour work weeks paying $400k have the same problem finding talent.
Correct. For the positions I hire for, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. We typically interview ~8 people before we find one to make an offer to. There is no shortage of unqualified candidates out there.....
Yes, many of the largest companies paying the most money want to hire "top 10%**" talent for EE/CS. There is definitely a shortage of top 10% talent, and H1b's both expand that pool by pulling in from other populations, and, by increasing supply, help to keep the cost reasonable for companies. The general population is mostly unaware that most engineering grad students are foreign students. I think, to that extent that the best students stay in the US, it strengthens the US overall, but it does increase the competition for our domestic graduates.

**Arguably, at most places, that "top 10%" is more realistically "top 25%", but an awful lot of engineers graduate each year from less prestigious US engineering programs. I suspect that the bottom 25% have a hard time getting a job in their field, and many in the bottom 50% never make it into well-paid positions.
knightrider
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by knightrider »

A lot of these 60+ hour workaholic types are just busy doing nothing. They are obsessed with details and are unable to see the bigger picture.

If you understand the bigger picture, then you can easily coast by at 20-30 hours a week and still create more value for the company than your peers.

As they say, work smart, not hard!
KyleAAA
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by KyleAAA »

rich126 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:33 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
Interesting. An ex-coworker left to work for a large tech company in the US and in his view he thought companies domestically hired H1Bs because they were cheap labor. He thought overall they were not particularly skilled. I have no first hand knowledge.
They aren't cheaper at all. And actually tend to be more skilled, IME. What is true is that non-managers without access to actual compensation data often think they are paid less when they aren't. The H1B offenders are mostly the consulting shops. Companies hiring FTE directly pretty much never pay less for H1Bs.
jimmy2040
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by jimmy2040 »

Try to find work at an European company. It can be very different.
bloom2708
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by bloom2708 »

Never too soon or too late to start thinking about what "out" looks like.

The OP lives in a very expensive area. High tax, high cost for everything. $1 million would provide ~$35k/year at 59.5. Then you have to determine when Social Security makes sense.

Healthcare between retirement age and 65/Medicare must be considered.

Then there is what the spending looks like. If you spend $125k now, adjusting to $50k might be a shock to the system.

My only advice would be to start checking spending trends. Start piling more away. Utilizing Roth IRAs (back door if necessary).

Spend a lot of time here reading threads about retiring and using FireCalc and how long your money has to last.

If "out" means a lower cost of living area and part-time work or the other various options.
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
Faith20879
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by Faith20879 »

Dottie57 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:28 pm ... because of management demands for more and more work in a smaller amount of time.
Hear, hear.

I believe these tight deadlines and due dates destroy the humanity in us.

I have a good relationship with my coworkers. Some of us even hang out during weekends or holidays.

Several years, we had a project that had fallen severely behind and everyone was under tremendous stress. Unfortunately my mother passed away right in the middle of it. I had to take a couple days off to take care of her affairs. Some of my usually very well mannered coworkers made it sound like my mother died at the most inconvenient time. I couldn't believe my ears.
randomguy
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by randomguy »

Normchad wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:23 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:22 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
Yes, because there is a shortage. Companies with 35 hour work weeks paying $400k have the same problem finding talent.
Correct. For the positions I hire for, there is a shortage of qualified candidates. We typically interview ~8 people before we find one to make an offer to. There is no shortage of unqualified candidates out there.....
Then you are not paying enough. Up your base salary from 400k to 800k:) Short term there can be shortages. Long term shortages tend to be a result of people not wanting the job for the pay being provided. If a software developer was a solid path to making 500k/year (not just when you are a top 1% person working at a FANG), a lot of border line people in college would go into software. Of course as the salaries get elevated, some business cease to be profitable. Thats life.

I have no clue if the OP is over or underpaid (roles and skills are too vague. Same thing with talent level and so on). But if you had a bunch of job offers and they were all in this range, that might be about right. It is worth looking into but you might not expect much.

That being said, at most tech companies I am aware of, 50 hours/week is pretty close to part time:) I know a ton of us expressed the same desire as the OP but the opportunities are really limited for anyone not doing consulting (which is hit or miss depending on your skill set). And even there a lot of people find things like 4 months on (i.e. you work on a project) and then 2 months off often is easier to do. The reality is that for most jobs 3 people working 150 hours, is more efficient than 5 people working 30.
framus
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by framus »

Some of the expressions here are counter to my experience working in Silicon Valley in tech for ~ 30 years before retiring at the ripe old age of 71. While the hair on fire 60 hr weeks were my experience working in startups early on, during the last ~ 15 years of my career I worked in a mega corp that is renowned for graphics and GPU compute engines. I never experienced, nor did I see, any ageist dynamics. My managers facilitated work/ life balance. I set my own deadline for my retirement and left at my own behest. Clearly YMMV but tech culture is not as monolithic as some might presume. I LOVED my job and the companies I worked for.
-Pollyana :happy
IngognitoUSA
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by IngognitoUSA »

Spend time on blind or levels.fyi to figure out where to 'rest and vest'.
tedgeorge
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by tedgeorge »

If your manager isn't pointing out you need to work more then I wouldn't worry about it too much. Talk to them about it and see if it's an issue if you are really worried. Just a "how am I doing question" may bring that to the top. A lot of times, they'd rather keep a good employee than replace them as long as they are doing quality work.

I've learned through layoffs and other activities that working all the time doesn't necessarily save you from anything. I've seen plenty of people who thought sitting in a chair 16 hours a day and missing life was really really important to the company and then they get laid off. I've also seen workaholics quit and then be replaced by two or three people because management knew it was too much to ask of one person but they weren't interested in saving that person.

If you must go, consider other sides of the tech business too if you are burned out with parts of it. Technical project and program manager roles are good transition roles. It can depend on the situation but a lot of that is planning and scheduling that you can dictate. You are not necessarily on-call and many times can do things like work from home.
core4portfolio
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by core4portfolio »

i got idea to move to consulting or do something else you like.
think if retirement is a good idea. you can move to LCOL area and lead retirement
Allocation : 80/20 (80% TSM, 20% TBM) | Need to learn fishing sooner
core4portfolio
Posts: 577
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by core4portfolio »

KyleAAA wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:50 am
rich126 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:33 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:58 pm
Pomegranate wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:27 pm
lws wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am You will hear these same employers lamenting about a shortage of engineers and programmers in America?
They do it as justification for more H1Bs. Nothing personal - just business :dollar :moneybag
That doesn't reflect reality, in my experience. For example, several companies I've worked for have large engineering offices in China and India. The company would MUCH rather hire locally in those countries than hire H1Bs domestically, because it would be far cheaper to do so. The financial incentive runs counter to more H1Bs.
Interesting. An ex-coworker left to work for a large tech company in the US and in his view he thought companies domestically hired H1Bs because they were cheap labor. He thought overall they were not particularly skilled. I have no first hand knowledge.
They aren't cheaper at all. And actually tend to be more skilled, IME. What is true is that non-managers without access to actual compensation data often think they are paid less when they aren't. The H1B offenders are mostly the consulting shops. Companies hiring FTE directly pretty much never pay less for H1Bs.
HR knows how to low ball if they are h1b. Its very true that H1B employees have less power on that area
Last edited by core4portfolio on Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Allocation : 80/20 (80% TSM, 20% TBM) | Need to learn fishing sooner
bogledogle
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by bogledogle »

gravlax wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:19 am Every role seems to be for the full-time-and-then-some enthusiast type I described above. I'd really love to take a position with benefits and a 30 hour work week - even for significantly less pay. But I am having trouble finding such positions or even determining whether they exist. Is anyone else here in the same or similar situation? And tips/advice or insights would be appreciated. I want to enjoy the fruits of my last 25 years of labor a bit more and have a more balanced lifestyle.
You may look at a similar roles (DevOps, Sys Admin, Network engineer) in a different industry.

Healthcare jobs (work for a hospital, not healthcare tech)
Academia (non teaching jobs in a university)
Government jobs?

Worst case scenario I would start slacking at work and see what happens. Would you be fired? Put on a PIP?
MathIsMyWayr
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Location: CA

Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

framus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:22 pm Some of the expressions here are counter to my experience working in Silicon Valley in tech for ~ 30 years before retiring at the ripe old age of 71. While the hair on fire 60 hr weeks were my experience working in startups early on, during the last ~ 15 years of my career I worked in a mega corp that is renowned for graphics and GPU compute engines. I never experienced, nor did I see, any ageist dynamics. My managers facilitated work/ life balance. I set my own deadline for my retirement and left at my own behest. Clearly YMMV but tech culture is not as monolithic as some might presume. I LOVED my job and the companies I worked for.
-Pollyana :happy
Not all the "tech" jobs are the same. While deep knowledge and understanding (hard core EE, physics, math) and experience are important in some jobs, they are not of much value compared to "new" stuffs in other jobs. Hardware, circuit, systems, and RF belong to the former, and IT and software belong to the latter and ageism is unavoidable. It is a difference between a build-up of knowledge and the migration of platforms. When I need help in computer use/setup, linux, computer languages, VB, python, .net, or scripting in simulation software, I prefer younger guys over older ones and younger ones are often better. Young people are more up-to-date and quick. However, when I need help/discussion on EM fields, microwaves, circuits, or systems analysis, I look for experienced engineers.
rich126
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by rich126 »

It is clear from posts in this thread and previous threads that careers/jobs in tech vary greatly. From huge hours, stock options, bonuses, start ups, large mega corps, FAANG, etc.

Although I've talked to 2 FAANG companies it never got to the offer phase. In one case I turned down a follow on interview because I have zero interest in relocation (and that position required being in CA) and in the other it was clear I was not a good fit for that company (although it was also in CA so it didn't matter much to me).

Most of my experience has been government and defense contractors, mostly large ones. The hours and demands are different than some of the high tech CA based companies. Honestly the difference between a government job and a job in the defense world (I'm especially talking about the jobs that require clearances) isn't a lot in terms of talent. Government provides better job security, training and benefits. Some contractors pay a lot more but even that varies. I see a lot of bad engineers and waste in large companies and at times I find it maddening to try and improve the efficiency.

In some ways I regret leaving my secure government job but I'm closing in on retirement and am negotiating on a job with a small company that pays more, gives more vacation time, better benefits, etc. I already have qualified for a small pension/health insurance with the government so I didn't lose much by leaving.

Probably my biggest reason to avoid working more than 40 hours besides you can never get your time back, is that companies have taken away any sense of ownership to the employee in my jobs. I know this isn't true in all tech companies but places I've worked have eliminated pensions, options, large bonuses, etc. So what do I get if I "donate" a weekend of work? A slice or two of pizza provided by a manager? No thanks. If things get to that point, it is job searching time and out the door. Now if I was in line for bonuses and a true reward it would be completely different.

I don't mind training or researching stuff on my own time since that benefits me as well.

Bottom line, there are a lot of jobs out there. Keep looking until you find one you like.
visualguy
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by visualguy »

random_walker_77 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:52 pm The general population is mostly unaware that most engineering grad students are foreign students. I think, to that extent that the best students stay in the US, it strengthens the US overall, but it does increase the competition for our domestic graduates.
That's not clear because the size of the pie increases as well, so, yes, more people competing, but they are competing for pieces of a larger pie. Some of these students end up founding companies that create many jobs, or driving the growth of existing companies. It isn't a zero-sum game, particularly in tech.
visualguy
Posts: 2123
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Re: Retiring from a career in tech

Post by visualguy »

framus wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:22 pm Some of the expressions here are counter to my experience working in Silicon Valley in tech for ~ 30 years before retiring at the ripe old age of 71. While the hair on fire 60 hr weeks were my experience working in startups early on, during the last ~ 15 years of my career I worked in a mega corp that is renowned for graphics and GPU compute engines. I never experienced, nor did I see, any ageist dynamics. My managers facilitated work/ life balance. I set my own deadline for my retirement and left at my own behest. Clearly YMMV but tech culture is not as monolithic as some might presume. I LOVED my job and the companies I worked for.
-Pollyana :happy
Agreed - work/life balance is fine in many Silicon Valley companies, including the one you mentioned, but this does vary a lot.

Ageism is complicated. If you find the right role/team, it's not a big issue, but it can be in other cases. It's not just how others perceive and treat you, it's also how you feel. For example, being in a team where everyone is about half their age can be hard for some people.

I personally find it hard, but not because of anything work-related, just because it keeps reminding me of my age, and it's a strange feeling when you're surrounded with colleagues who are around your kids' age. Similarly, I'm sure it feels strange to them too, so it's a complicated issue. Again, the key is to find the right role and team where the situation is comfortable - possibly either a more senior role, or a team with a more diverse age distribution, or maybe you just get lucky and the age differences don't bother anyone (which is really how it should be).
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