Six Figure is a biweekly PiggyVest series that focuses on how real Nigerians achieved dramatic income growth, making them millionaires.
For this week’s episode of Six Figure, we spoke to a senior software engineer who makes around ₦5.4million monthly. He talks about his motivation for choosing this career and leaves behind a few nuggets of advice for aspiring software engineers.
When was your first actual job?
It was in 2017, during my NYSC. I interned with a tech firm in Abuja.
What did this role entail?
I was a part of the team responsible for building enterprise software.
How long were you with them?
I was converted to a full staff at the end of my service year, and I stayed for a while.
That’s amazing. What were you making at the time?
As an intern, I was earning ₦25k. If you added the ₦19,800 allawee, everything summed up to ₦44,800. After I was retained, my salary grew to ₦50k. I stayed with them for 2 years, and in that time my salary grew to ₦90k and then to ₦180k before I finally left the company.
What year did you leave?
What do you do now?
I’m a senior software engineer at an IT company in Abuja. I also have a similar role abroad, which I do remotely. Then on the side, I do some consultancy.
[Laughs.] It’s not easy at all.
I can imagine. What do all these roles entail?
I’m a backend developer with Tech Stack, Java and Kotlin. I also do a bit of DevOps and Project Management, and I’m the Scrum Master for my team.
That’s impressive. How much do you make monthly doing all these things?
My foreign job pays around $6k monthly. So in terms of earning, you can say that’s my main job. Then my company here pays ₦800k monthly. Consulting gigs don’t come all the time, and the pay also depends on the nature of the project. But it’s anything between ₦1 to 3 million per job.
What skills will you say you had to build to get to where you are now?
At my first job, everybody was sort of winging it and figuring things out on the fly. So I was doing a lot of the basics. I needed to brush up on my skills by working with much more advanced and experienced engineers, and that’s why I joined my current company.
Here, I was able to take up more responsibility while learning from seasoned engineers. I was hired as a mid-level software engineer, and I grew in my capacity. And since 2019, I’ve moved up two levels to become a senior software engineer and scrum master.
What struggles did you have?
The job was challenging at the beginning because I was not at all familiar with the Tech Stack. It wasn’t easy, but the nature of our work means you keep figuring things out every day. And my colleagues have always been supportive. Whenever I was stuck, I would always ask for help and learn from my mistakes.
What inspires your career?
To be honest, when I started this I had no idea what would become of it. I just jumped in. I did my industrial training in a government office and all I did was run errands. As a student of Mathematics and Computer science, that was quite disappointing. I started to worry about what I would fill in my logbook. How would I defend my IT? The most technical thing I was doing at that time was photocopying documents. Was that what I would tell my lecturers on defence day?
I had to look into NIIT, and I found a few affordable courses which I could do on the weekends. During the week, I’d resume as usual at work and on Saturdays I would take my computer courses. I didn’t know whether it would be useful in the long run, but I liked having to think critically and use my brain for something other than running errands for civil servants.
But as time went on, I couldn’t keep up with my payments because I was a student. So I dropped out. However, I gathered a bunch of useful materials so that I could continue studying after I left. When school resumed I kept up with my learning in my free time.
When did you decide on this path?
I think the path just chose me. During our service year, all I wanted was to be posted anywhere else but a school. Luckily for me, a company came to camp to assess corps members in order to find software engineers, and I was picked. I was invited for another interview after camp and I passed that as well.
But if I really think about it, the simple answer is that it was destiny. Because I didn’t know how lucrative it would turn out to be.
Speaking of lucrative, how do you put your money to use?
I save a lot. I’m a bit prudent with my spending, but once in a while I tend to make spontaneous spending decisions. That’s why I make it a priority to save a good amount so that I can confidently make spontaneous purchases when the urge hits.
Body no be firewood, so I also make sure to enjoy myself. I buy clothes, see movies, and hang out with friends too. But I try not to spend carelessly because I know it is difficult to make the money back.
Wise. Have you made any purchases you really like?
Ah yes. I bought a car. And also a bunch of landed properties. Those are the most valuable things I own. And I was really proud and glad because they were a product of my own sweat, no freebies.
What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring software engineers who’d like to earn six figures?
The number one thing I tell people is that, when you start this career, do not focus on money. I think if I had realised at the beginning that people were making a fortune out of software engineering, I probably wouldn’t be here. I might have gotten so carried away that I wouldn’t have been able to learn the basics.
But I was patient even when I was earning ₦25k. And I stayed two whole years to grow, even though I was struggling financially. But I didn’t let that get to me. So please stick around and learn. Be patient. Don’t be discouraged. You’ll get there, it’s just a matter of time.
It will also help if you’re passionate about it. It’s a very challenging career and so you have to be sure it’s what you want to do. Money chases value. So build yourself to the point where you’re invaluable to your team and everything else will be added unto you.