Do open source developers deserve a premium?

It's just possible that open source developers make more because they're the people who are most anxious, and willing, to seek new skills and new challenges.

Tom Cruise on Oprah, jumping on her couch
Today we have another one of those reports that tend to drive me crazy.

It's from the Bluewolf Group of New York, located just off Madison Square Park, which calls itself "the world's leading provider of professional services for on-demand software applications."

But it's not about Software as a Service. Instead it's a statement pulled from a survey of IT salaries that open source developers make more money.

This has Matt Asay happier than Tom Cruise on a couch (above), but it's his bosses at Alfresco who are going to have to spread this extra green, and it begs the question, why?

  • Is developing on an open source platform really different from developing on a closed source platform?
  • Are the skills needed to develop for one any different from those needed to develop for the other?

It reminds me of a complaint my lovely bride of 30 years often has, when the skill sets at her employer change. You work on X, we're going to Y, so buh-bye. But, she says, I can easily learn Y, I like to learn, give me a chance and I'll prove it.

Thankfully, said lovely bride has an understanding employer who has given her this opportunity, repeatedly. She started with Assemblers in the 1980s, and is now working with SQL and C++ and other cool stuff.

The point is that good people can learn. Good people want to learn. But many employers are locked into thinking that we hire based on skill sets, and when our requirements change we turn the place over.

It's just possible that open source developers make more because they're the people who are most anxious, and willing, to seek new skills and new challenges.

If you want to make more money, in other words, don't just learn about open source. Keep learning. Enjoy learning. You won't just make more scratch, you'll have more satisfaction, and maybe a better life as well.

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