++ MadraghRua for mentioning bioinformatics. S/he has all technical info - so motivation is what was left for me to talk about.
in reply to Advancing oneself personally and professionally as a programmer (discussion)
I came into bioinformatics from other side than monk MadraghRua: I came from computer science/databases/application development background. And I am telling you, genes/proteins/databases looks like next hottest thing. Think about all gene research coming for designer drugs, and what you need: excellent string matching capabilities (think perl), web-based tools for collaboration between teams all over the planet (think perl and CGI), HTML-based (browser as thin client) database presentation (think perl and DBI), Image procesing (free ImageMagick in perl), web agents, web crawlers, web robots querying/collecting info from other databases (think LWP and perl again), duck tape to link all this together (guess what language), and also language simple enough to teach biologists so they can collaborate, but powerfull enough to handle huge projects (and this one you can guess, too).
Salary might be less in university environment, but quality of life is much better, believe me on that. Basicaly you are doing most of the work in open-source environment.
And after you dig deep enough, you may even get into smart start-up, to retire at...or not.
And I promise you, it will be enough challenging and much more fun that programming Yet Another Accounting System(tm). Check CPAN how much modules are bio-related. Can you see the wave coming? Enjoy the ride!
To make errors is human. But to make million errors per second, you need a computer.