Model turned software coder triples salary

Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 20:01:04-05

A man who used to make his living as a model is tripling his salary thanks to skills he learned at a special training program in San Diego.

Jeff Ward used to make his living in style, but that didn't necessarily pay the bills.

"I soon realized there was no money in modeling," he said.

Selling insurance on the side, Ward took home about $45,000 a year. Next month, he's changing jobs -- not clothes -- to get a much bigger paycheck. His new post as a computer coder pays $110,000 a year.

"Your life and your future is really in your hands, and if you want to put in your hours, then you can definitely achieve that, too," Ward said.

Ward spent the last three months at Origin Code Academy in downtown San Diego, where he learned languages like C# and .NET.

A new study by tech job recruiting firm Hired says the average salary for software engineers in San Diego County is $115,000 a year. However, Ward only got offers for $70,000 to $80,000.

The study also said moving can command more money, and Ward's new job is in Los Angeles.

"If someone is moving, it means they are more committed to the position, therefore they naturally could demand more or get offered more," he said.

The San Diego Workforce Partnership says software jobs are expected to grow 10 percent locally in the next five years.

Original Code Academy costs $12,000 for the three-month program. However, the state offers up to $7,000 in reimbursement for a whole host of retraining programs. Those can be accessed at

"The reality is that any age can start developing, because the reality is the demand is so high," said Jeff Winkler, founder of Origin Code Academy.

Ward retrained at 25, but he's not about to go out and spend all of his newfound money.

"Because of my past careers I do know the value of a dollar," he said.