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TopCoder prospects? | Reply
Hello folks,

I'm going to be unemployed at the end of October. Job prospects in a small town aren't nearly as bad as one would fear, but there are a lot of unemployed developers around trying to get them, and I kind of like the idea of working on freelance projects rather than tied up in one specific company. Topcoder makes it sounds like a sharp coder can make a decent living working full time on competitions. Does that really work out in practice? Is it worth putting in a couple months coming up to speed on the systems here in hopes of making a decent living at it? Or am I better off looking for a “real” job?

Also wondering where I should start. I'm pretty good at Java and C. My C++ is pretty rusty but I can pick it up pretty quickly. For that matter I am really good at picking up stuff and figure I'll have to get fluent at C# and VB fairly quickly. But what I should start on first?

Thanks for any advice,
Re: TopCoder prospects? (response to post by kencorbin) | Reply
Hi Ken.

I'm sorry to hear of your pending job loss. As for doing TopCoder as a full time job, here are my thoughts on the matter. Yes, there are a few here that do TopCoder full time, and I thought about doing it full time on many occasions. The issue is that we are all "sharp coders", and a "decent living" is relative.

In order to get paid, you have to actually win the competitions. You may put in a lot of hours into something, get 3rd place, and have no prize money to show for it. Also, competitions come in spurts. Sometimes there are a lot, and then there are times when there are hardly any. You may win first place in development competition, collect your $400, and that would be the only competition for the month. Now, $400 a month may be enough to live off of in some countries, and no where enough in others.

Yes, you can make money doing TopCoder. Yes, it is possible to make a living off of TopCoder. But before making up your mind, try TopCoder out. Get up to speed by doing a development competition or two. Worst case, you have some extra experience and skills to add to your resume when you are job searching.
Re: TopCoder prospects? (response to post by kencorbin) | Reply
kencorbin - do basic math.
Take a look on list of current contests here Sum up all prize amounts. Assume new contests are added each week. Divide by $1000-2000 (earnings per developer per week). As result you can estimate number of "full-time" developers who can live on earnings from TopCoder.