I used to be a full time employee like you. I had the typical programming job working 80 hours a week stressing about deadlines earning a meager salary getting 2.5% annual raises. Then I learned that you have to actively take control of your career to make money in this game. I have never worked full time for any company more than 2 years and for the last 6 years I have been a contractor. Each year I increased my earnings dramatically. Many people have asked me "How do you do it?"