Here in Israel (and I assume the situation is similar in the US and EU) hi-tech employees like programmers and electronic engineers start quite high on the salary-ladder (well, at least the ones with a reasonable degree from a good Uni). Much higher than in most other occupations, which leads to a "rumor" that we just burn out at an early age.

The spreaders of these rumors claim that hi-tech workers are like soccer players. Until they're about 35 they make lots of money and are the envy of their friends. But then, they're too old to do the job - a lucky few survive as managers, trainers, consultants but most find themselves without a normal job. They are being replaced by younger people, eager just out of Uni to work hard and for long hours. Usually the "proof" is to see how low the average age in software / hardware development houses is.

I disagree with this concept on several levels. First and foremost, the average age is low because these occupations are relatively new. The computers / electronics field was orders of magnitude smaller just 10 years ago. Not much people at all studied these subject before the 1990s, and quite a lot study them now - so yes, there are a lot of young people. But the average age is steadily rising in the past few years (now it's about 35-37, I think), because the demand for hi-tech degrees has leveled out (after a frenzy in the end of the 1990s).

Second, the good people do survive and rise to earn even more, in senior positions, as consultants, or in management. And anyone should strive to be one of the best.

Some people say - "you as a programmer will earn a lot until the age of 40, but then I, the attorney / doctor / financial planner / real estate agent / etc will surpass you". Even if this were true, so what ? When in his life does one need money more - when he's 30 or when he's 50 ? I think 30 is the answer, definitely. 30 year-olds have houses / appartaments to buy, small children to raise. 50 year-olds often have already repaid their mortgages (especially if they work in hi-tech and earned a lot in their 30s and 40s :-), they already own most of what they need, some of their kids left home and the others are also big and don't need them as much. There's generally less expenses.

This is just a big mess of thoughts, nothing too structured. But I think that occupation-wise, one has to pick a job he likes, and to strive to constantly improve. Doing this, it's hard to see how one can go wrong.