How To Decide Which Tech To Learn Next Without Wasting Time

The coding world is constantly evolving. If you think you’re going to just learn one tech stack and you’ll be sorted for your entire career, you’re in for a shock!

So you need to learn new tech every now and again, but there’s hell of a lot of tech out there to learn. Which do you pick so you don’t waste your time.

Let’s clarify some things first. In this context I’m purely talking about learning new tech from the perspective of aiding your career. If you’re just doing it for your own amusement, then there is no concept of wasting time. Learn whatever takes your fancy regardless. I suspect this is why no one ever learns Haskall.

Since what we’re talking about here is stuff that will aid your career (give you more opportunities / higher pay), then wasted time in this context would be learning a technology that you end up never using commercially. If you never use it, you spent time learning it and the career pay off never happened.

There are two main ways you could end up learning something that you never use:

  • You learn a technology that dies (goes out of popularity)
  • You learn a tech that is too big a jump from your current stack

The first is obvious. Now is probably not a great time to learn any technology that won’t be useful, for example.

The second one is where you learn a tech such that you are unlikely to be able to easily transition from your current stack to a stack that uses the new tech while maintaining or increasing salary. The tech is just not a good partner or complement to your current stack. You can’t monkey branch between your stack and the new tech easily.

So we need a tech that isn’t on the way out, and one that works well with your current stack. In addition to this, there should also be something positive about whatever tech you pick. The main possible positives are:

  • Jobs with this tech pay more than you currently make
  • Without knowing this tech your skills could become obsolete
  • It is a stepping stone to a new stack that could pay better

This is all a little abstract at the moment, so let’s get specific. We’ll use me as an example.

 

Current stack include but not limited to:

  • JavaScript
  • jQuery
  • React
  • Vue
  • NodeJS
  • Express
  • And still learning more of the JavaScript stack

Obviously there is an almost infinite amount of other stuff I could learn, so let’s talk about some things I have considered learning.

First, there is Python.

Why Python? Well within some fin-tech industry, for example banking, Python seems to pay better than JavaScript. Python seems to pay slightly higher per month than  JavaScript(Frontend). Nice jump!

There’s a problem though. This is not an easy monkey branch though. The chance of someone paying a Senior JavaScript developer who has learned Python in his own time the same money to come and do Python as he gets doing JavaScript is low. Learning Python and whatever the related stack is would be a huge time investment. Not liking the looks of the ROI which would at first is negative!

So what techs can I easily monkey branch to from my current stack? Let’s take a look:

  • Gatsby: Won’t give me any pay advantage
  • TypeScript: Would keep my skill-set relevant, maybe minor pay advantage
  • DevOps: Would increase my pay slightly

I’m not saying this or that is not good. I mean is of great advantage to your personal development.

So it’s a no to Gatsby. DevOps would see the biggest pay bump, but would also take the most effort. All in all I have decided on TypeScript (if I ever get around to really getting started on it). I learnt it a little before, but will learn it super quick and well enough to put it on my CV for maximum hireability. I perceive that the better paying JavaScript jobs out there are asking for this with more frequency, so I can get the best possible rates (maybe more than now). I also think this is becoming the defacto standard for most industries, so my skill-set could be obsolete if I don’t learn this. Clear winner.

I can already guess your next question. How do you know which tech is a rising star?

This is simple. You should be adding every recruiter on Linkedin who requests it, and looking at the job specs they send you. Every week you should devote a few minutes to scouring the job sites in your country and looking at which skills are being asked for. In other words, basic market research!

If you’re seeing a new tech being mentioned more and more often, or an existing tech being mentioned more often in the specs for jobs that pay more, you have a winner!

If you can jump on a tech when it’s just starting to take off, you could get a great bump in salary. There are always new techs coming out with developers going wild about them in blogs, but many of them are never widely adopted commercially, and so worth your time. This is why you should wait for job specs to tell you which are the rising starts, as appearing in lots of job specs — gets you paid. Appearing in hipster tech blogs — gets you paid.

The great thing about jumping on new tech is there is a double whammy effect:

  1. There aren’t yet many people with the new tech in their skill-set, but demand for it is rising. The lack of supply and rising demand mean more money.

 

  1. Since not many people have commercial experience in the tech yet, you can completely ignore the “Must have previous commercial experience in…” stipulation in the job spec. So few people have used this tech at this point, that your tinkering around at home puts you ahead of the market. Back in 2018 if someone said to me, “Do you have previous commercial experience in React?” my reply would be “No, but who does? I have spent a lot of my own time learning it, though”.

The result of the double whammy is more cash and easier to land the job!

Finally the thing is Keeping Your Eye On The Job Market!

 

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