Java can be quite a money maker indeed, in the right industry and the right combination of skills. I would check out dice.com and see what related skill-sets are in demand right now.
I remember in 1999, in Dublin Ireland, Java consultants with Oracle and “internet experience” would ask for $1,000 a day! I don’t want to use the word ‘earn’ as you have noticed 😉
Imagine, back then in Ireland, where an average mid-range developer would earn about $30,000 a year, the Java consultants would get 1,000 a day! So as you can imagine, after reading that in the newspaper, a few months later I quit my last job and never went back to employment again…and I hope to keep it that way forever 😉
So basically the “take-off recipe” appears to be: the main skill should be “difficult to learn”, be at the right time at the right place (i.e. Ireland in late 90s, tech hub areas), having the needed ‘side-skills’ combination (example Oracle, specific industry insights, etc), and actually being a consultant (i.e. having had at least one project as a consultant). Once you are in, you’re set.
A good friend of mine from back then still lives in Dublin. You wouldn’t believe his amazing story. He grew up in tents in the slums of India. He managed to get a tech job in India, the opportunity came to go to Dublin, so he went and “fled” from his employer to another and got a visa to stay for a few years. His English wasn’t good. He struggled to keep a job due to lack of skills and was without a job for many months, so he moved in with a friend. Dublin is extremely expensive to live in. I worked as a consultant with the company where he was fired and encouraged him to try a few things here and there to improve his skills, then explained how exactly I got into consulting. He studied really hard while being unemployed, wrote various programs so he has something to show as a portfolio and finally got back on his feet. He became a Java consultant in the banking industry, married, had children, now owns several houses in Dublin, he published books, earned an MBA, and all in all is doing really great.
That’s my afternoon preaching for today….a typical “American success story” but having nothing to do with America 😉 But hope it inspires you to keep aiming as high as possible