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If I get paid for programming, am I a real programmer then?

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Well, I started a topic in the Breaking in about algorithm programming possibilities and employment. Guess what? I've got a contract job as an algorithm programmer! It's just a 1,5 month term thing for fair amount of money (at least in Hungary: about 300 euros). The task is interesting image processing stuff, I can't tell you more (privacy). If I do it well, I can get a longer term contract (which I won't accept, because I have other and this time more important plans).

That means I have to put both editor projects on hold, because I'm doing it in my free time.

So: Am I a real programmer now?
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Hey, well done. Was this position secured based on the paper modeller, or just on knowledge at interview?

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I made some 3D modelling stuff for this company earlier, so they asked me if I knew a good algorithm programmer who is local. I said I only knew me. I showed them my stuff (these blogs and my youtube channel), we talked about the task and some interview like things and I got the job. It wasn't a real interview though.

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<P>Are you sure 50 euros a week is fair?<BR><BR>I'm not very familiar with the cost of living in Hungary, but I googled around and it seems that 50 euros a week is just about what's considered minimum wage. As a freelancer, you should be paid more than what your client's regular employees get paid -- remember your role is not to provide cheap labor, but to support regular staff.<BR><BR>This is especially important if you're contributing to an application that will be resold to your client's clients -- assuming you put 10 hours/week into the project, that's 5 euros/hour. Your client could easily resell your time for 20 euros/hour or more!<BR><BR>Be careful not to let yourself get exploited...</P>

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You googled right, it's about minimum wage, but it's my first programmer job and I have a full time - 8.5 hours a day 5 days a week job too. 10 hours/week is more or less right too, so getting that money for this amount of work is not bad at all at least in my country. And the truth is that I don't earn much more with my full time job. Times are hard for young career starters especially if someone aims for career and work experience, and not for money (I could copy excell tables at a big company for twice as money for a year or two. Instead, I design and build machines and design products for not much more than minimal wage).

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Not so bad then :)

I tried to break into freelancing with web development -- about 50 projects over 2 years, give or take... Sadly, I was never able to get my prices up enough to make a living from it... Too much competition from other countries.

That's why I finance my game development with translation contracts now... After one hectic year of working full time as a translator + evenings and weekends at home, I was able to quit my job and start working from home exclusively... This year, I made enough in January alone to live comfortably until the end summer.

If your written Hungarian is good, I would highly recommend giving it a try -- you'd have a whole lot of free time to focus on game dev!

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Thanks for the hint, but I have other plans. Actually, the translator thing was tried by another person in a very similar situation but with a linguistics degree (MSc) and wasn't really successful in that situation. My engineer career goes fine now so I can proceed with "The Plan" soon... Maybe this side project will have a role in it too.

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I don't know what an algorithm programmer means (algorithms are a programmer's daily bread), but the answer to your topmost question is: Yes. Heck, I think you already are. With that tank thingy and your CNC editor you proved one major skill: Figuring out stuff on your own.

Though I can't remember seeing 'programmer' in a job description. It's rather developer or engineer.

So, congrats on that contract. Hope you succeed and it opens doors.

One suggestion though, since you wanna go that route. I don't know what that contract or your plan look exactly. But as I understand, you know C, but mainly/only C. Learn a higher level language (or several). Your C knowledge will prove very worthwhile, and I can image niches where it is enough. But to get more doors open, it isn't. Choosing the right tool for the task is another important skill. Algorithms don't care about languages, and C is definitively a bad idea for e.g. Windows GUI stuff nowadays. It just makes your "programmer's life" unnecessarily hard.

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