Ready to FatFIRE? Fast-Track Financial Independence By Breaking Into Tech

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While “quiet quitting” by doing the bare minimum at work might be all the rage, the FatFIRE movement promotes the opposite: maximizing income today so you can achieve financial independence and retire early (aka, 🔥). 

Adherents to the traditional FIRE movement place a high emphasis on living frugally to achieve financial independence. The FatFIRE movement, on the other hand, encourages earning and saving more so you can live comfortably and prioritize enjoyment in your financially free life. Essentially, people who FatFIRE need to earn a lot more money throughout their career so they can save enough to live the good life, and not worry about pinching pennies.

Not everyone who pursues FatFIRE intends to quit working when they achieve financial independence. For some, it provides the flexibility and financial freedom to explore a passion project, volunteer or even launch a startup. Achieving financial independence means you’re not tied to a specific job or company just so you can pay the bills – you can do whatever you want. 

Ready to join the movement? A career in tech will help you jump start your journey to FatFIRE. Here’s how.

How much money do I need to FatFIRE?

The exact amount you’ll need to FatFIRE depends on the lifestyle you hope to lead. Some experts offer rules, such as saving 30-50% of your income or setting a goal of $2.5 or $5 million, but the only way to know what amount is right for you is to sit down and do the math. 

What does your life in retirement look like? Do you own a home or will you need to make monthly rent payments? Are you hoping to travel the world, or live in a beach town? Will you spend your days cooking, or will you prefer eating out at restaurants? Do you plan to earn income from a business, rental properties or part-time work? List out all the expenses you expect (and don’t forget healthcare, inflation and emergency expenses) in a year. 

Financial experts often advise that you can safely withdraw 3-4% of your investments each year while continuing to allow them to grow over time. So to understand what the total amount you’d need to have invested is, divide your annual budget number by 0.04 and 0.03, and you have a target savings range for your FATFire. For example, if you think you’ll need an annual budget of $100,000, you would need to save $2.5 million (since $100,000 is 4% of $2.5 million). 

You might be thinking that $2.5 million seems like an incredibly unlikely goal. Fortunately, it’s not out of reach, if you do two things:

  1. Land a highly paid job, such as by switching to a career in tech
  2. Invest wisely so you can realize the benefits of compound interest (aka, growing investments). 

How a Career in Tech Helps You Achieve Financial Independence, Faster

Tech professionals are making a lot more than the average worker, which makes it easier for them to save more and ultimately, FatFIRE.

Tech workers are in high demand as every part of life becomes digitized, and their salaries reflect that. In 2021, the average tech worker made about $105,000, according to Dice’s 2022 Tech Salary Report. If you land a job in a high cost of living (HCOL) area like San Francisco or NYC, you could see two to three times the average tech salary in your paycheck.

Tech compensation is in sharp contrast to the median US salary, which was just $54,000 in Q2, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Retiring early and FatFIRE-ing with a $54,000 salary would be nearly impossible. If you’re not earning enough today to achieve your FatFIRE number in the next 20-30 years, changing careers to work in tech might be one of the smartest financial decisions you’ll ever make.

On top of high salaries, tech workers are often granted company stock that can grow exponentially over time, unlocking financial independence even faster. Plus, they often receive lucrative benefits (such as fully paid health insurance premiums, paid parental leave and fitness reimbursements) that enable them to save even more of their salaries.

In addition to providing more money, a career in tech is an investment in your most valuable asset: yourself. While the economy will always fluctuate, when you have future-ready skills, you’ll have confidence that you’ll retain financial security as your skills will always be in demand.

4 types of skills you should learn to land higher paying jobs 

So what are those future-ready skills that will help you land a highly paid tech role and lead you to long-term financial security and independence? We looked at some of the highest-paid roles according to Glassdoor to find out. 

  1. Data skills: While data skills are becoming critical to any job, some data careers pay better than others. For example, data scientists earn a median salary of $120,000, while analysts make $74,000. Database architects see a median salary of $140,000, while data engineers earn $114,000.
    • If you’re interested in becoming a data scientist, you’ll need to learn how to prepare large data sets and run models to interpret them, using tools like Python, SQL and SAS. You’ll also need to know how to code so you can draw further insights from data, using programming languages like R, Python and Javascript. 
    • In addition to these technical skills, as a data scientist you’ll need to have strong presentation and stakeholder management skills, since you’ll regularly meet with people across the organization to share your findings and make data-driven recommendations. 
  1. Software engineering skills: Software engineers make a median salary of $116,638, but they come in all different shapes and sizes. There are front-end developers, who make websites and apps functional; back-end developers, who design and build servers; full-stack developers, who do both; and quality engineers, who focus on quality assurance and testing. Fortunately, getting started with coding isn’t as hard as it looks. In addition to bootcamps and part-time courses, there are tons of free resources available online. In fact, many engineers today are completely self taught. 
  1. UX design skills: Design is another in-demand skill, with UX designers making a median salary of $97,047 and product designers earning $110,858. UX, or user experience, includes all the ways in which a customer interacts with your website, app or product. UX designers ensure that users find a product easy and enjoyable to use. 
    • Basic design skills are great to have, but UX designers today also need to understand customer research, product testing, storytelling and stakeholder management. 
    • Some UX designers also create content for their products, such as written copy or graphics. Product designers frequently have a more in-depth understanding of color, typography and other design elements. 
    • If you’re interested in a career in UX design, consider learning how to use tools like Figma, InVision, Adobe Photoshop and Sketch, and honing your collaboration, problem solving and analytics skills. 
  1. Product management skills: Product managers are responsible for the success of a product, and they oversee both product development and design teams. It’s an increasingly critical role across all industries, and sees a median salary of $125,317. Engineers and UX designers who have leadership and business management skills tend to ascend to product manager roles. So, if you already have the technical skills required for one of those roles, you could accelerate your move to product management by taking leadership, project management or business courses, or attending a Product Management course. 

Career change can be hard, but worth it

Even if you don’t have a formal degree in software engineering or design, it’s never to late to start your career in tech. There are plenty of examples of people who successfully changed careers to earn six-figure incomes in the tech industry. 

One such example is Peter Cho, a restaurant worker who began as a line cook before graduating from culinary school and working in fine dining. When he lost his job due to pandemic closures in March 2020, he decided to enroll in General Assembly’s four-month software engineering bootcamp and took several online courses to prepare. After completing the bootcamp, he landed an unpaid internship and then, eventually, a fullt-ime software engineering role at Discord, where he makes six figures. 

“Since switching industries, I make a lot more money for a lot less effort,” he told Business Insider. “I now have free time to log off and work out, ride my bike, get my chores done, watch TV, and connect with my friends at the climbing gym. In every possible way, I’ve gained a lot more balance.”

Changing careers can be daunting, but the numbers speak for themselves. A career in tech can unlock a future that’s not only rich in money, but in flexibility, security and the free time to pursue your passions.

If you feel it’s time to do something different, download General Assembly’s Career Changer Guide to learn how to take a confident leap of faith into a tech career, step by step.