My best recruiter Greg has discussed java roles with me many many times, in depth. Greg really listens and understands me. He showed me that java roles can pay on par with c++ if not higher.
I also agree with you that in financial IT, java is the reining top dog and there’s no credible challenger in sight. I think java will be top dog for 10 more years or longer.
Q: So then why do I turn down all java opportunities?
If java is a wing on my back, I’m not amputating this wing. I am committed to keeping my java skills up to date. I may switch to java in x months.
However, over many years I have invested heavily in c++ as another wing. Finally, this wing now feels firmer and stronger and I am going to test it, again, and again. If I start looking at java I’m going to lose focus.
c++ is harder in projects, and in interviews. It keeps my brain active — anti-aging. If I were to remain in java, i would feel bored and get old faster.
Many fellow c++ developers tell me java developers far outnumber c++ developers, so competition in java field is tougher. Therefore, they feel more secure in the c++ job market. I share that feeling to some extent.
I do feel stronger and more confident after conquering c# and c++. I also feel stronger due to python because I can now add python to my power tools.
As programmers, we all feel stagnant sometimes in our career growth. I tried many paths to break out of my stagnation. After java swing (partial success), c# (success), quant (unsuccssful) and python, C++ is now my chosen path.
I feel your chosen break-out path is data science applied to trading strategy discovery. Just as I sacrifice financially to grow my c++ wing, you may also make a sacrifice for your new career direction. I am sure you will learn something meaningful and your sacrifice will not be in vain.
Lastly, allow me to repeat that I don’t feel the need to earn the highest salary that’s available to me. I am not a slave of pay rate. I don’t have debt burden so I have financial freedom to take on new challenges that are worthwhile to me.
In 10 years I might regret “… not so worthwhile, just another broken dream like quant dream” but at this moment, I am convinced — yes worthwhile.
This is one of my many answers to the titular question. I’m asked the same question repeatedly and have given various answers.