Not only is the Internet changing the way we live, it’s opening up a whole range of new careers to consider. One career that’s recently evolved into an option for web lovers is that of the web programmer: the person who actually writes the languages behind the pages you look at on the web.
Demand for web programmers is strong in Thailand. "It’s a hot market at the moment, an employees market, " says internet production manager at eThailand.com, Chana Chantanaprayoon.
So what equips you to become a web programmer? Chana says he prefers programmers to have a bachelors degree with a computer science major, but what’s more important is to have some experience in the real world under your belt. "It’s easier to talk to people, to explain what we need done, if they’ve had some kind of experience."
He also looks for forward-thinking people. "You need to be able to take responsibility, to be pro-active, and to see the future effects of your work. You’re not programming just for now – you need to create programmes that will be flexible in the future."
Roy Chapin IV, managing director of Thai movie portal movieseer.com, emphasises the importance of good communication skills. "If you’re socially inept, if you can’t talk to people, you’ll run into conflicts with the graphic designers. You need to work as part of a team."
He also looks for people who are highly focused. "You can’t be scatterbrained. You have to be diligent to a fine point. You need high concentration levels."
Peter Fischbach, president of Thailand’s largest specialist IT recruitment agency ISM Technology Recruitment, emphasises the importance of English language skills. He says it’s not unusual to find great programmers who can’t be placed easily because employers – including Thai companies – now demand good English language skills from their programming staff. "It’s the de facto language of IT, it’s the way it is. You can’t kid yourself otherwise."
To become highly employable, he recommends seeking formal certification from companies such as Cisco and Microsoft. ‘They’re difficult courses, they’re expensive, they’re hard to get. But they’re a really valuable thing to do because being certified will allow your employers to breathe more easily."
In fact, Fischback notes that web programming is a field where professionals need to be prepared to continually educate themselves. "You have to like learning. Things change very quickly."
Twenty-five year old Jirawat Kitarthorn, an ASP programmer for web design company WebStudio-1 Solutions, agrees. "To be a good programmer, you have to love learning, and thinking." He first obtained a diploma in computer science from the Rajamangala Institute of Technology, and chased it up with a bachelors in Information Technology from King Mongkut’s University of Technology. "I like to find solutions to problems – and in my work, I’m always coming across problems. I like the challenge."
Programmers can expect to see their salaries rise as they accumulate experience in the field. New graduates with no experience can expect to earn in the vicinity of Bt12,000 to 20,000, rising to Bt25,000 to 30,000 after two years experience. More experienced programmers can command Bt40,000, while those who are also managing staff look at earning a maximum of Bt60,000.