none
IT Career ? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello. I'm thinking about switching careers into IT and would like to get some input on where IT is at and what the future looks like. I'm particularly interested in security, networking or possibly medical related IT.  Is this the right forum to post such a question?  If not, please direct me to the best forum for this inquiry. If it is, then here are some questions I've been thinking about:

    1. What is the current state of IT? (Pros/Cons of IT as a career.)

    2. What does the job market look like? (I here different stories: “We can’t find people with good IT skills” while also hearing "stay away" from IT because finding a job is very challenging because jobs have been off-shored and H-1B visas are "killing the job market.")

    3. What's the current view on degree vs certifications vs experience?

    4. Are most IT people working longer hours (i.e. more than 55 hours/week?) given the current demands of IT environments. Obviously this varies.

    5. Are companies currently typically paying for continuing ed (certs, etc) or do most IT pros pay out of pocket?

    6. If you were deciding on a career path right now, would you choose IT again? why/why not?

    7. Pro/Cons of choosing IT security?

    Thank you so much for any help insights you can provide!

    Saturday, March 1, 2014 8:21 PM

Answers

  • Hi, ITmonk-88.

    I will try to answer your questions here. Note that many of your questions may get different answers from different professionals. I have worked as a software developer for 20 years and am now a full time trainer. Everyone's experience is different. I will share my opinions here.

    1. In most countries, there is still a great demand for IT professionals at many companies. To be sure, simply open your favorite job hunting website (for example, Monster.com, Indeed.com, and Dice.com) and see the number of jobs available. They are rarely listed in the newspaper today. Search for IT jobs or even certification titles (MCSE, CCNA, etc.) You should see a surprising number of opportunities in your area. As well, you can go to the website of a potential employer that you want to work at and see what opportunities they are offering. As you become more experienced in IT, the money will follow, eventually giving you upper middle class income. So long as you remain valuable to your employer, keep your skills updated and keep them marketable based on the current IT needs of most employers, you will also have great job security.

    PROS:

    • Good money.
    • Several opportunities at good companies.
    • Not a dangerous job.
    • Doesn't wear out your body.
    • Fun if you love computers.
    • Remains interesting because computer solutions are always changing.

    CONS:

    • It requires a lot of sitting. You'll need to exercise outside the job and eat right.
    • For the first few years, it often requires you to jump to a few different employers annually until your pay is up to what it should be. Initially, your pay raises don't typically follow your real value. Your first year of professional IT experience can double your value, or more but you'll typically only get a small percentage increase.
    • If you don't like computers, you'll hate your job and you'll suck at it. People will not want to work with you. The money won't follow and you'll lose your job security.
    • If you don't embrace and enjoy constantly learning new or different ways to do things, you'll hate your job.
    • You must love troubleshooting and being able to share problems with other experienced professionals to find solutions fast.
    • No matter how good you'll become at computers, many times the final decisions for promotions are granted to those with better interpersonal skills or degrees. Sometimes, it can be based on unfair factors (such as nepotism) as well.

    2. Already stated above, the job market is great for IT professionals. The hardest part will be getting your first job. That's your foot in the door. Once you land it and invest one to two years into it, you'll have the skills to get a another job for more money. There are employers that hire many junior engineers. Perform a search for junior engineers, apprentice, or entry level IT positions. I think you'll be surprised by how many positions are available. These places can have "revolving doors" with careers constantly coming in/going out. That's one of the many business models used today. I don't agree at all with the last part of your statement about offshoring and H1-B visas. Many companies tried offshoring and it didn't work out that well for many. As well, those professionals in other countries are coming here to get the jobs causing "brain drain" is those other offshoring countries. The only reason that H1-B visas are getting jobs here is because the demand is so great! There simply aren't enough professionals here.

    3. Your experience is always the most important factor when it comes to landing a job where you'll solve computer problems. You will use your experience every day but the same is not true for your certification or degree. Having a degree may be a determining factor of whether or not you can even work at some employers (old-fashioned thinking) or whether you should be considered for a promotion. There may be a glass ceiling without one. Certifications can help land you first interviews over other potential employees. Maintaining your certifications can remind your employer how valuable you are while also keeping you more marketable in case of job loss.

    4. It really depends on the employer and the job. While there can be longer hours, many IT professionals also enjoy partial telecommuting (working from home). There's nothing quite like skipping the hassle of traffic, sitting down at a computer in your boxers after just getting out of the shower sipping your favorite coffee with your dog at your feet. Some jobs do require longer hours. However, this also add to your experience. Besides IT, many other jobs also require longer hours. It seems to be becoming the norm.

    5. The better employers will pay for training. It's not always about the size of the company either. I have had big and small employers who willingly paid for training, tradeshows w/travel expenses, certifications, books, and tools while others who have just asked me suspiciously why I felt the need to become certified or learn about another IT tool. As a trainer, I have worked with big companies and small companies. The better employers want their people to grow because it ultimately costs them more money to hire contractors or new employees to do the work.

    6. I would jump right back into computers. I love working with computers! The only time they ever fail is because of something a human did. Whether it is bad coding, a badly designed hard drive, or badly installed capacitor, computers are perfect. The money is good and I get to exercise my brain with daily challenges that I find fascinating. My skills are cutting edge, marketable, and the money is good. I enjoy constantly learning creating new solutions. I also enjoy knowing that if I really don't like where my company is headed, I can still go get a job somewhere else.

    7. I believe I have already answered this in my previous answers.

    Good luck!


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Sunday, March 2, 2014 11:54 AM
    Answerer

All replies

  • Hi, ITmonk-88.

    I will try to answer your questions here. Note that many of your questions may get different answers from different professionals. I have worked as a software developer for 20 years and am now a full time trainer. Everyone's experience is different. I will share my opinions here.

    1. In most countries, there is still a great demand for IT professionals at many companies. To be sure, simply open your favorite job hunting website (for example, Monster.com, Indeed.com, and Dice.com) and see the number of jobs available. They are rarely listed in the newspaper today. Search for IT jobs or even certification titles (MCSE, CCNA, etc.) You should see a surprising number of opportunities in your area. As well, you can go to the website of a potential employer that you want to work at and see what opportunities they are offering. As you become more experienced in IT, the money will follow, eventually giving you upper middle class income. So long as you remain valuable to your employer, keep your skills updated and keep them marketable based on the current IT needs of most employers, you will also have great job security.

    PROS:

    • Good money.
    • Several opportunities at good companies.
    • Not a dangerous job.
    • Doesn't wear out your body.
    • Fun if you love computers.
    • Remains interesting because computer solutions are always changing.

    CONS:

    • It requires a lot of sitting. You'll need to exercise outside the job and eat right.
    • For the first few years, it often requires you to jump to a few different employers annually until your pay is up to what it should be. Initially, your pay raises don't typically follow your real value. Your first year of professional IT experience can double your value, or more but you'll typically only get a small percentage increase.
    • If you don't like computers, you'll hate your job and you'll suck at it. People will not want to work with you. The money won't follow and you'll lose your job security.
    • If you don't embrace and enjoy constantly learning new or different ways to do things, you'll hate your job.
    • You must love troubleshooting and being able to share problems with other experienced professionals to find solutions fast.
    • No matter how good you'll become at computers, many times the final decisions for promotions are granted to those with better interpersonal skills or degrees. Sometimes, it can be based on unfair factors (such as nepotism) as well.

    2. Already stated above, the job market is great for IT professionals. The hardest part will be getting your first job. That's your foot in the door. Once you land it and invest one to two years into it, you'll have the skills to get a another job for more money. There are employers that hire many junior engineers. Perform a search for junior engineers, apprentice, or entry level IT positions. I think you'll be surprised by how many positions are available. These places can have "revolving doors" with careers constantly coming in/going out. That's one of the many business models used today. I don't agree at all with the last part of your statement about offshoring and H1-B visas. Many companies tried offshoring and it didn't work out that well for many. As well, those professionals in other countries are coming here to get the jobs causing "brain drain" is those other offshoring countries. The only reason that H1-B visas are getting jobs here is because the demand is so great! There simply aren't enough professionals here.

    3. Your experience is always the most important factor when it comes to landing a job where you'll solve computer problems. You will use your experience every day but the same is not true for your certification or degree. Having a degree may be a determining factor of whether or not you can even work at some employers (old-fashioned thinking) or whether you should be considered for a promotion. There may be a glass ceiling without one. Certifications can help land you first interviews over other potential employees. Maintaining your certifications can remind your employer how valuable you are while also keeping you more marketable in case of job loss.

    4. It really depends on the employer and the job. While there can be longer hours, many IT professionals also enjoy partial telecommuting (working from home). There's nothing quite like skipping the hassle of traffic, sitting down at a computer in your boxers after just getting out of the shower sipping your favorite coffee with your dog at your feet. Some jobs do require longer hours. However, this also add to your experience. Besides IT, many other jobs also require longer hours. It seems to be becoming the norm.

    5. The better employers will pay for training. It's not always about the size of the company either. I have had big and small employers who willingly paid for training, tradeshows w/travel expenses, certifications, books, and tools while others who have just asked me suspiciously why I felt the need to become certified or learn about another IT tool. As a trainer, I have worked with big companies and small companies. The better employers want their people to grow because it ultimately costs them more money to hire contractors or new employees to do the work.

    6. I would jump right back into computers. I love working with computers! The only time they ever fail is because of something a human did. Whether it is bad coding, a badly designed hard drive, or badly installed capacitor, computers are perfect. The money is good and I get to exercise my brain with daily challenges that I find fascinating. My skills are cutting edge, marketable, and the money is good. I enjoy constantly learning creating new solutions. I also enjoy knowing that if I really don't like where my company is headed, I can still go get a job somewhere else.

    7. I believe I have already answered this in my previous answers.

    Good luck!


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Sunday, March 2, 2014 11:54 AM
    Answerer
  • Mr. Mickelson,
    Thank you for such a quick and insightful response. I really appreciate it!  Your response was certainly much more positive and encouraging than many I have seen.  

    3 additional questions:

    1) Would you say there is more demand for developers (programmers) or support personnel (Network admins, Routing specialists, security, database, email, etc)?

    2) What would you estimate are the 3 most sought after areas of expertise (e.g. network admin, security, database, app developers, etc)?

    3) Is a lot of the IT work contract now?  It seems like many IT support roles (admin, routing, database, etc) are contracts rather than full time positions, whereas programmers seem to hold regular, full time positions.  Is this your experience as well?

    Thanks in advance.

    best regards,

    Jamie



    • Edited by ITmonk-88 Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12:24 AM
    Sunday, March 2, 2014 3:58 PM
  • Sorry for the late response.

    These follow up questions are tougher to answer because employees from two different companies could give you completely different answers. You should perform some "armchair analysis" with IT employment reports and statistics to get the best answers.

    1. It's tough to say who is in more demand. I suspect programmers are more in demand and the reason I suggest this is because they generally make more money. As well, there are a lot of crappy programmers out there but companies want the best programmers. It's been suggested that a great programmer is worth ten times, even 10,000 the value of a crappy programmer due to increased productivity and skills in getting it done correctly the first time. When a great programmer leaves a company, it can be much harder to replace that individual with a new hire and get them up to speed to become as productive than for a quitting network support member. At the same time, there may be more network support positions available simply because there are so many roles involved. Check out these interesting articles concerning a great programmer's value and note the famous quotes: http://www.devtopics.com/programmer-productivity-the-tenfinity-factor/ and http://www.construx.com/10x_Software_Development/Measuring_Productivity_of_Individual_Programmers/

    Your decision of choosing to be a programmer or a network IT specialist must come from the heart or you will fail. It should never be based on money. You'll find out quickly if you like programming just by learning and developing (programming) some simple software projects. Was the best part writing the code, testing it, deploying it, or supporting it? I found myself in a analysis role and was excitedly writing all kinds of scripts to automate my job simply because I am a programmer at heart. Meanwhile, other programmers love to install software, install updates, and figure out problems for others rather than "cut code."

    To be honest, it is never fully "cut and dried" that you'll only be doing one or the other. In the off hours, I find myself helping others with computer problems such as installation issues, viruses, reimaging machines while I enjoy programming on the job. I like to keep my hands dirty is both areas so I can better understand the complete process. As well, both are hobbies of mine.

    2. Depending on where you live (country and locality) and what companies you want to work for, I suspect you can get these answers using a job search engine. There will probably be less programming positions available at a particular company than IT roles simply because there are more IT positions/roles than just programmers.

    3. There is always a lot of IT contract work available. Dice.com offers the one of the finest lists on contract work. As well, some positions may require you to prove that you are valuable by taking you on as a contractor initially with the option to hire you after the contract ends. Some professionals prefer contract work over being an employee because the work changes more often. Changes keep the work interesting while also helping to hone new skills. Myself, I prefer full time employment with the security (comfort) of knowing where my next check is coming from, how much it is, and that I have health care and taxes taken care of. It's a matter of personal preference, though.

    To the contrary of your statement, I see a lot more contract programming positions than for IT support staff. Programmers are more expensive and may be only needed for a particular project. IT support staff are needed for day to day operations (Email, computer support, etc.) and usually are more permanent roles. I could be completely wrong about this, however.

    Good luck!


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014 1:42 PM
    Answerer
  • Mr. Mickelson,

    Thank you again for helpful info.  I know those were "gray area" questions. I agree about not choosing a career because of the money and that is not my aim. I want something I'm interested in and that matches my natural abilities and talents.  I appreciate the comments on contract work.

    best regards,

    Jamie

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:43 PM