<caveat>I'm certainly the wrong person to ask.</caveat>
Terry Donaghe writes:
> However, I'm not so sure that Visual Basic programming skills will be
> worth a damn in 5 years or even 3.
I personally never understood what it was that made VB big. Delphi always looked much nicer to me.
> Here's my question: In order for me to break over into the next level
> of income generation or at least stay in my current salary window, what
> sorts of skills should I be adding? I hope to be certified as a MCSD
> (yeah, yeah, hiss boo) before winter, but what else should I be
> learning/doing? What will the Next Big Thing be?
Sticking with M$ should remain to be cushy yet for several years to come. Linux is definitely on the rise, however. It is overhyped, it is not there yet, but you need to move now to accrue the skills in time.
> I have fiddled with Visual C++, but I get the feeling that C++ may not
> be so hot in a couple of years. I thought at one point that Java might
> be the NBT, but it still seems immature and very few recruiters are
> looking for Java skills around here (mostly they want VB, VB and more
> VB with maybe some Interdev/ASP stuff thrown in for good measure).
Java is definitely not something that can be ignored on the long run. If you're interested in increased productivity I definitely recommend Python http://www.python.org here. It is not nearly as good in painting GUIs as VB or Delphi are, however.
> I've recently installed Linux to play around with, but I see very
> little need for Linux programmers (I'm in the Raleigh/Durham, NC area)
Ah, but you asked about the NEXT Big Thing. People should pay you for solving their problems in the best possible way. I have no idea how to prevent your clients from dictating particular OSses/development platforms. I personally detest Microsoft enough not to pick up a job requiring using their products.
> I have no formal programming training - I have a degree in worthless
> Journalism and with a family I don't have time to go back to school
> right now...
Python is very easy to pick us. Internet support is excellent, too.
> Any advice? Comments? Etc?