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Dismantling the Myth of IT Being a Dead-End Career 649

Lam1969 writes "Robert Mitchell says CIOs and other IT managers continue to bemoan what they claim is a shortage of good technologists. He suggests beefing up salaries and convincing young people that IT is a viable long-term career path would help to change this sentiment. Mitchell also says the threat of offshoring is overstated; rather, the problem is industry and the media have been 'complicit in propagating the myth that IT is a dead end.' From the story: 'First, the dot-com crash shattered the illusion that those in high-tech jobs would always emerge from economic turbulence unscathed. Now, students are hearing that a four-year degree in programming or engineering doesn't matter because all of those jobs will eventually go offshore to foreign workers at very low wages. A generation has been dissuaded from pursuing what is in reality a very promising career choice.'"
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Dismantling the Myth of IT Being a Dead-End Career

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  • No different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:37AM (#14970307)
    Surely this is no different from any other career? I.e. if you're good, then you'll do well - if you're no good, it's a dead end.

    Oh, and first post!
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:44AM (#14970319) Journal
    You have to ask yourself - is the job you're doing/going to do - does it require your actual physical presence? If not, then it can be offshored.

    The trouble is, in IT, all the jobs that require your physical presence are generally 'IT technician' jobs - pulling cat5 through walls, swapping out hard disks in PCs and that kind of thing - the lower paid end of the IT spectrum (although there are higher paid network engineering types of jobs). All the high paid jobs that do NOT require physical presence to be possible to do are things like software development - which CAN be offshored. It's the very jobs that need a 4+ year degree which are the ones that can be offshored. The jobs that someone could leave school at 16 and be trained to do by their employer tend to be the ones that can't be offshored.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:50AM (#14970331)
    If your idea of "making it" is babysitting servers or approving the purchase of new computers, then IT is absolutely not a dead end. It's the peak, baby!

    If, on the other hand, you want to run a company, running the servers may not give you the best perspective of your company's business model, so you'll likely be passed over time and again for promotion to COO in favor of the top sales guy.

    What's your goal?
  • soul sucking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:52AM (#14970338)
    They should tell them the truth - bosses will want you to constantly work overtime for nothing, you'll burn free time keeping up with your specialty, you'll be expected to be on call _every_ weekend and holiday.

    You'll jump a foot in the air when your pager goes off because the idiots who own the production system that you don't have authority over (but some-fucking-how are still totally responsible for) can't understand why there are nightly issues moving data between 6 different vendor and legacy systems - and you not only get to diagnose and solve the problem via a conference call of useless IT management idiots but then you'll have to re-live every painful detail before the tribunal the following morning and write up a post mortem and a "root cause analysis" and still try to get all your other work done.

    Yeah, promising career... only if you are one of those assholes who walks around doing nothing but saying "I only do J2EE".
  • Yeah yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:04AM (#14970375) Homepage
    I've heard it all before. Managers scream 'skills shortage' whilst lots of good IT workers sit on unemployment queues.

    There is no shortage. Never has been. It's because managers want to define the exact skillset... '20 years Java version service pack 2, and preferably 17 years Visual Studio 2005' they refuse to believe that people can actually learn new stuff (and their requirements are sometimes completely ludicrous - I actually left an interview when someone said I didn't have enough java experience.. they wanted 8 years - in 2000. That manager is proabably still screaming 'skills shortage' today).

    Now I'm involved in hiring I've found completely the opposite... the market is *full* of good people... if you factor in a few weeks for them to get up to speed they're fine (that's just training budget - remember when companies had those?).
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:09AM (#14970392)
    If you want to work on real computer science, get a Math degree. Computer Science programs have been steadily inching towards Software Engineering programs for a long time. While the basics of Computer Science are still taught at the undergraduate level, the primary focus now is on correct software implementation. Take a look at the previous thread about the ACM Dissertation of the Year. A CS dissertation on improving software quality through statistical analysis. That's not computer science, it's simply advanced software engineering.

    Not that there's anything wrong with Software Engineering as a field of study. The world needs better Software Engineering programs that can identify and teach best practices and expose students to a wide variety of software disciplines. Beyond that, a Computer Engineering which encompasses both Software and Hardware engineering is another type of program that would be useful.

    As to the idea that University isn't a job training school, I have to assume that you're simply speaking generally and alluding to the esoteric concept of University as "a place to teach you think". That is false on the face of it. Any major course of study that you undertake prepares you for a job in that particular field. Some fields have very obvious paths from study to the workplace, while others like English or Philosophy are less obvious (but no less direct and applicable).
  • by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:13AM (#14970397)
    all the jobs that require your physical presence are generally 'IT technician' jobs - pulling cat5 through walls, swapping out hard disks in PCs and that kind of thing - the lower paid end of the IT spectrum (although there are higher paid network engineering types of jobs).

    There are still a lot of companies which value face to face communications. If you think that any IT job can be offshored, try getting a web programming job at a local community college on the other side of the US. Chances are, they'll want you to be onsite. Maybe that job will be offshored eventually, but for small and medium sized businesses, they want SOMEONE to physically show up at the office, eat lunch with their coworkers, etc. Maybe this desire is irrational, but there are some costs in terms of poorer communication which makes some offshoring more expensive.

    Besides, very few good paying jobs of any kind technically require a person's presence. Look on the dark side of things. Why not have a doctor's office with a few nurses, a video setup, and some nice Philippine doctors on the other end. Samples can be sent off to foriegn labs. Same with teachers, as long as there's someone in the room to make sure people behave. Or do we only offshore those things where customers won't be immediately aware that the job is offshored? IT is not particularly less safe than most other jobs, if you want to take outsourcing to an extreme. The difference is that it tends to be more cutting edge than other fields, and the most exposed to innovation and change.
  • Re:Yeah yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bloodredsun ( 826017 ) <(martin) (at) (bloodredsun.com)> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:18AM (#14970408) Journal

    My favourite was one I saw last year, a requirement for 5 years Java/J2EE (okay)and 5 years C#/dot NET (eh!). Apart from being difficult to have 5 years experience in something that came out in 2002, I'm not sure that I would want to work for a company with this bad a grasp of skills management.

    I think you're right about the market, and about how people only need a few weeks to get up to speed on new stuff (it's not brain surgery is it!) but the crunch is always with the contractors. Trying to stay ahead of the game is tough as you end up in a catch 22 where people will only hire you if you already have experience in something

    The fact that you've found good people is probably more a reflection of your abililty as a manager. Your time "at the coalface" gives you an insight into how to hire someone that might not have the skills now, but would be fantastic with a little training. With too many managers, that's a risk they can't take as they just can't see potential, so they fall back on proven knowledge - experience.

  • by jonv ( 2423 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:20AM (#14970412)
    I think it is worse than being surrounded by CS majors who think Java is the best language ever. The industry is full of people who know about PC / Windows / Linux / The Fastest Graphics Cards / Building a WebPages / The latest type of PC memory. Whilst some of these skills might be fine on a support desk many of these people are finding there way into development, not only do they lack the skills they also seem to lack the motivation to learn about languages, development techniques and methodologies.
  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thej1nx ( 763573 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:20AM (#14970414)
    Funny as your comment is, oddly enough NOT lowering the average IT wage is precisely why these jobs are being offshored.

    Corporations find that either there IS not enough skilled talent available... or it costs a lot more thanks to NOT lowering average IT wages(in comparision to rest of the world). Hence one way or the other, the jobs get offshored to a place where it can be done more cheaply. They are even supported in this by the specialization theory of Economics(i.e. letting work done at some other place where it can be done more cheaply/productively is better for both sides in the long term).

    Ofcourse, this long term gain to the majority comes at the expense of the people who lose their job. But it is not as if, it is even their own fault. They quite possibly, cannot *afford* to take a pay cut. The affluent and expensive life style of America, which is totally out of touch with the reality of the rest of the world, is to blame.

    Oh well, Globalisation is a dual-edged sword. It is the great leveller of the playing field.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:28AM (#14970425) Journal
    Our company thinks it's great to let the developers behind the software be part of the demonstrations and learning of the software we make.

    I think it's not just about human-hardware interaction deciding who may be offshored, but also about the opinion in the company on how valuable the human-human interaction is. Sure, some may still have their developers just sit in a cubicle and work all day, but on many companies they don't, and actually interact with the world, and then it's tough to have these guys in India and just easily accessible face-to-face by some laggy Internet conference.
  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thej1nx ( 763573 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:01AM (#14970494)
    That's all well and good but the best counter argument to management is not increase talent pool or taking one for the team (country) but that in offshore endeavors, if you don't have good project management skills, i.e. real tech understanding of what it takes to 'get things done', then your project is toast.

    Again, that is NOT really a good counter arguement. Yes, you may be correct.. for now! Yes, the offshore endeavours might not have good project management and "real tech understanding" ... for now. But for how long will that remain true ? Or are you claiming some kind of racial superiority so as to speak, that precludes others from developing those skills and understanding shortly enough ? When they manage to reach acceptable levels... which will be shortly soon, what THEN ?

    What you have to realize is that thanks to globalisation, you are now competing not in just a local protected,closed market, but on a global scale. If you are not willing to compromise on the affluent, aberrant lifestyle, then you MUST run the Red Queen's race. You *must* constantly innovate, improve and keep your skills competitive. That is *one* solution.

    The other is to accept the facts and surrender to the new reality. Move up in the chain. Learn another language, so that you can communicate better with THEM in their language, and can still manage the project. Keep them still dependent on you, instead of THEM learning your language instead *and* your skills and eliminating you from the equation completely.

  • There are NO JOBS! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaiwai ( 765866 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:06AM (#14970506)
    I'm here, down in Christchurch, New Zealand - sure, not exactly 'silicon valley' but ok none the less; Where are the IT jobs? Here are my pet peeves so far with job searching:

    1) When a person applies for an IT job at your organisation, do the curtious thing and actually get back to him, thank him for his resume, and actually make a decent effort to setup a interview - you might actually find that he or she will be able to expand upon what they told you in their CV, and will give you the opportunity to probe them on their knowledge.

    2) When you advertise for a position - how about listing what the requirements are; case in point, in Christchurch there was an advertisement I replied to that simply said, "IT GURU WANTED!" then further down, it went on about a system administrator wanted - all very nice, I followed it up, sent a resume in, and low and behold, I receive no reply, followed this individual up - I didn't fit the criteria; to which I said, "there was none" and gave him the link; he was quiet.

    He said I lacked "MacOS X skills", to which I said, "I classify those as UNIX skills; had you spent a little time picking up the telephone receiver and actually calling me, we could have gone through the CV together, clarifying any possibly misunderstandings".

    3) When a person such as I, give 5 different forms of contacts, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not being able to get in contact with me, at all.

    Right now I am back at university (again!), studying a Bachelor of Commerce, Majoring in Management - am I going to get a job afterwards, no bloody way; I'm starting my own business, and all I can say, is when I hire people, I won't be relying on 'recruitment agencies', I'll hire them myself, I'll interview them myself, and I'll actually take a damn interest in interviewing each one who replies - and those who I need to question in reference to their resume, will actually get contacted!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:12AM (#14970517)
    "Most of us CS students, however, have an interest in software engineering, for example, or algorithmic complexity, in compilers, operating systems, networks and so on."

    What you're talking about is computer science, not software engineering (if that even exists).

    IT is about delivering what customers need within a budget as fast as possible with a sustainable technology. The problems in IT are not technological, they are always people problems. Understanding customer needs and working in a team to deliver high value software on time and under budget is *hard*. Its much harder than writing a compiler or operating system. It requires skills that are not taught in CS courses, more's the pity. Ironically, most technological problems in IT are created by developers who think that technology is a solution.

    If you find playing with technology more interesting than solving people's problems, you're not cut out for IT. I'm afraid that you're also not cut out for any kind of professional programming job. You (and everybody else) would be better off if you left programming as a profession as you suggest and just dabble in programming as a hobby.
  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:14AM (#14970519) Homepage
    The article [computerworld.com] has two sets of contradictions. Consider the following statements taken directly from the article.

    1. " Students have always poured into the most lucrative and promising careers. If IT salaries doubled tomorrow, college students might give IT another look and start switching majors; the flow of newly minted technologists would quickly increase ."

    The above quote is factually correct and describes how a free market works. In the labor market, a shortage of labor is a power force that boosts wages and improves working conditions. Eventually, wages rise sufficiently high that new workers enter a particular labor market (e.g. the market of computer programmers).

    However, certain politicians oppose the idea of a free market for labor. When a labor shortage arises in the market for high-tech labor, such politicians attempt to damage the correcting force of the shortage by injecting H-1B workers into the market. When a labor shortage arises in the agricultural sector, such politicians attempt to damage the correcting force of the shortage by injecting illegal aliens into the market for unskilled labor. Both actions damage the ability of the labor market to function properly and, hence, suppress wages and working conditions.

    A shortage of labor is not something that needs "fixing" by government intervention. The government does not intervene when there is a labor surplus -- like the surplus in the automobile sector (which is undergoing massive layoffs). Why does the government intervene when there is a labor shortage? Shortages are never permanent and require no government intervention in the form of H-1B workers or illegal aliens.

    That observation takes us to the second quote.

    2. " Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett has stated that wage differentials aren't the issue and that Intel would hire more U.S. engineers if it could find them ."

    That quote is a bald-faced lie. There is no shortage of engineers at the proper salary. Intel management can find plenty of American engineers if Intel management doubled salaries and boosted working conditions by, for example, eliminating the bell curve that managers use to "grade" employees. See quote #1 above. Quote #1 contradicts quote #2.

    Intel simply does not want to raise salaries or to boost working conditions.

    Intel's lie takes us to the third quote.

    3. " That sentiment was backed up by IT leaders at the Premier 100 conference, where 70% said that they hire the most qualified workers, regardless of citizenship ."

    This quote is accurate. Contrary to the stated intentions of managers wanting to increase the H-1B cap, most managers do not hire Americans even if they are qualified. If both an American applicant and an H-1B applicant is qualified for a job, the manager will choose the applicant that is more qualified. That approach directly contradicts the stated intentions of managers from companies like Intel: the stated intention is that a manager will hire an American applicant meeting the qualifications but not necessarily offering better qualifications than a qualified H-1B applicant.

    The H-1B program is a way for American companies to suppress wages and to avoid improving working conditions. The H-1B program damages the correcting force of shortages. A shortage in a free market is a normal force that requires no intervention by the government to "fix".

    H-1B workers come from countries like India and China, which do not have free markets. The Indian and Chinese governments have damaged their own economies by suppressing free markets. H-1B workers represent indirect intervention in the American free market by the Indian and Chinese governments. Their actions damage how the labor market should work in the American free market.

    Washington should allow

  • The Reason Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:26AM (#14970534)
    The reason why people bemoan the lack of good technologists is because IT is not a real profession. Rather than accepted standards, as there is in any other field like architecture or engineering, in the IT and especially the software world we have vendor oriented bullshit with billion dollar companies wanting to sell you more shite than you already have.

    The world is also filled with MCSEs, people with .Net, Java, SQL Server etc. etc. skills on their CVs but people then find out that they cannot design a database properly. The amount of databases I've seen where everything is in one table is staggering. Basically, IT (and especially software) as a profession needs to grow up, otherwise the situation will continue.
  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:52AM (#14970602)
    The other is to accept the facts and surrender to the new reality. Move up in the chain. Learn another language, so that you can communicate better with THEM in their language, and can still manage the project. Keep them still dependent on you, instead of THEM learning your language instead *and* your skills and eliminating you from the equation completely.

    So what are we to become? Nations of Project managers? There is a limit to what you can outsource, and if you have any kind of sense there is also a limit to what you should want to outsource for all sorts of resons ranging from security to limiting knowledge transfer to potential future competitors. Of course greed has a way of disabling people's Common Sense Processing Unit, especially in managers. Low end tech jobs and certainly also some high end ones are going to be outsourced, there is a certain advantage (Mesured in money of course) to being able to contract consultants and let them go, sort of like the 'Just In Time' logistics principle preaches, rather than having, say a Sysadmin or an Oracle DBA permanently on staff. Businesses are going to spend some time finding out the painful way just how much staff to keep on permanent call and how much to outsource. The suggestion that you can run a business in the USA using entirely IT staff based in some IT-sweatshop in India for every single conceivable IT function that needs to be performed is idiotic, you will need a mix. Workers her in the west are going to have to get used to the fact that there will be no such thing as a secure job for life (yes, there are still people who believe in that myth), they will spend the rest of their life obsessing about where to go next and keeping their skillset marketable and that if necessity demands they will have to be willing to move clear accross the country or even to another country if that's where the jobs are. This is also the reason why the subject of 'Economic and Job market reform' is causing such panic in places like Germany and France where there are still people who believe the 'job for life', with the same corporation, in a calm static jobmarket is a practical proposition for the majority of the population. The thought of a job market in total flux scares the shit out of them and I won't say I enjoy the place myself but I have adapted to what is happening now and am not banging my head against a wall of memories of how things used to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:06AM (#14970649)
    It's all well in good that all these companies say they have an IT shortage, but for the past three years I have not seen any good software development jobs near me for college graduates or those without much experience.

    Almost all of the C/C++ jobs want 5-7 years experience with C++, but since none want less how the heck do you get 5-7 years professional experience with C++?

    Most other software development jobs I see want a ton of different technologies and ask for 2-4 years experience, the problem is of course that you need a job to get experience

    The main problem is that the companies around me (Northern New Jersey) seem to want to buy a programmer/network analyst, drop them into their current technology without training, rape them for their skills, and then fire/rehire when they move [at least the smaller companies].

    Most of the bigger companies want to hire a contract employee with the skills they seek, rape them for the skills for a year or two and only then hire them full time (in which case you qualify for education classes).

    It is all well and good except that without taking a chance on new employees and without being willing to train them there will eventually be a shortage of these 2-4 years, 5-7 years of specialized experience people in demand.

    Really most junior jobs that I have seen are SQL Server "programming" with a bit of ASP.NET. At best the junior jobs that I have seen are .NET programming (although these are far far far and few in between). Companies are not interested in what languages you learned on your own in college, what projects you did, etc. they want to see it fleshed out in your resume as a bulleted point at a previous employer or they do not see it. Recruiters and human resources at company tell me this fact, that they are interested primarily in the work experience and seeing their specific requirements fleshed out in the screening stage. Short of starting my own company to do projects for myself, I just don't see how to get this specialized experience.

    By the time the proper junior position comes by with one of these technologies, I will have enough corporate experience and moved on enough in my life that I will either be too over experienced for the job or I will not be able to afford the paycut. So essentially I am stuck with SQL Server/.NET for the rest of my career unless I find a company willing to take someone with no C++ professional development experience and train him as we go. Because there is definitely something gained from using the programming language for 8-10 hours a day 5 days a week that practicing at home or even a few school projects will not give. I can understand why people want 5+ years of C++ experience, because the langauge does have its facets and many of the applications are business critical, but maybe when all the older people die out, the jobs will be there to train new C++ developers.

    Even java is tough, because I do not see junior developer jobs for that language either, most want 2+ years professional experience with java, the best want 6 months. But since my current company is not switching to java, I am screwed there too.

    My current company has a bit of .NET (ASP Interfaces) and mostly writing Transact SQL queries/stored procedures. It is a small company that will not pay for college courses/professional development courses and it is not about to change its technology or require more .NET programming. Essentially it is a start up that wants to rape you for your skills to get the owners rich and does not care about professional development. So essentially my career is screwed.

    I say this to you companies, if you see a "shortage" of technologist then get off your asses and open the lower level jobs to train people into the senior developers/network engineers/system administrators that you want. Otherwise yes there will be a shortage, especially as the older generation retires, and I hope you all go out of business!!!!!
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:27AM (#14970714) Journal
    Everybody wants to be CEO. I've got bad news for all you soon-to-be-college-grads - you're not going to find that ad in the paper, and you're not going to get promoted into it working 40 or 50 hours a week. You're not going to make your daddys current salary in the next decade.

    Oh sure, there are a select few who will be in the right place at the right time. If that's the job you want, go buy a lottery ticket. Your chances are pretty even at either one.

    No, the sad news is that the world needs ditch diggers, too, and you may just be one of them. Oh, you won't be literally digging ditches - you'll be babysitting server farms, or doing engineering calcs, or drafting for a large company, or running a machine, or welding, or whatever. The thing is, you'll never be CEO and retire a millionaire in most jobs you get trained for, and unless you're a lucky one (and, yes, I put lucky entrepreneurs in that bucket, too) you will never get to "the top."

    Not everyone can be rich and successful. In fact, most people can't be successful. Sorry, but its true. To have a top there must be a bottom - and most of you have to be in the bottom. That's the way the world works. Now quite griping about it and get back to work, damnit. That ditch needs to be 3' deep by lunchtime. Or else.
  • Re:No different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:37AM (#14970754) Homepage
    Yes and no.

    It is not a dead end career if you on a perpetual look for moving from company to company to further yourself. IT as well as corperate life in general is geared to keep the highly skilled and valuable employees from moving up in the ranks as well as payscale.

    I am quitting my job at a huge Communications/Entertainment firm as a Senior IT Manager/ Programmer position and going to work for an extremely smaller company.

    Why? I am getting a 15% increase in pay while decreasing my expenses by 60% because of moving from Metro Detroit suburbs to upper mid michigan. My $180,000.00 Crapshack near Detroit will get me a mansion on lakefront property where I am relocating my family to.

    The company I work for will not give me a raise to match their offer, and will be forced to hire someone to replace me at what I wanted them to match.

    It always happens that the new guy hired in for the position always gets more money than the 10 year vetran employee and usually has only 70=80% of the productivity of the vetran.

    If you want to get ahead in IT you have to jump ship on a regular basis. That is the only way to get further in your career and get more money and a better life. Thinking that the company you work for values you and will compensate you fairly is a fairy tale from the early 50's that has not existed cince the mid 80's...

    Jump ship kids! You can get to be Director of IT by the time you are 30 faster doing that then working hard and loyal.
  • Re:Yeah yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:41AM (#14970766)

    Reminds me of a job opening that stated -- literally -- "requires 10 or more years experience administering a Windows 2000 Active Directory domain.". This was back in late 2002, mind you. I actually called and asked about the position just to ask if it was a mistake, but they said the position had been filled. I still wonder who they found....

    The problem is that HR doesn't understand the tech field. Someone with 2 years of direct experience is *highly qualified* because nearly all knowledge in IT is stale in 5 years. They expect IT to be like engineering. A pressure vessel is a pressure vessel, and even if the materials change the basic design is unchanged in over 100 years or so. Asking for 20 years experience is appropriate. Asking for 2 or 3 is asking for someone with no experience at all. You'll get a junior engineer who probably spent their time redrawing other people's designs in AutoCAD.

    There's really three types of jobs in IT:
    1. Menial. Mainly, this is help desk, but it also includes things like moving hardware from place to place, swapping backup tapes in a data center, pulling CAT5, punching down network/phone jacks, etc. You can easily do this job for 10 or 20 years in a sufficiently large company with little training at all. It doesn't change much, but they are absolutely vital for getting anything done. These are the jobs that most people get for the first year or two, and most people loathe them. The people who really stick with them are generally not the kind of people you'd trust with much of anything else. While technical understanding is important, the jobs themselves are repetitive, dull, and (in the case of help desk) infuriating. Many of these jobs are easy to outsource, although those that require on-site presense obviously require local businesses.

    2. Consultant or contract. Here, the employer needs a specific skill set for a given period of time, and after that time they don't want to maintain the employee. All the employer wants is someone to get a single task done. App and web devs, infrastructure installation, and various "we need a person to give us X" jobs most often. These are were very popular in the earlier years of this decade, but IMX people are also beginning to see the severe limitations of consultant and contract work. Particularly, quality seems to suffer because the responsibility of a consultant is much less than that of an employee, and that's because the accountability is much less as well. A good consultant or contractor still does good work, of course, but since manageers tend to go for contractors that are at a cheaper rate than an FTE (IMX) they also tend to pay a lot of money for bad quality work. You get what you pay for. These jobs are always of a limited (often fixed) duration, so they can often be outsourced to a remote or overseas company easily enough.

    3. Technical employee. Most often an FTE, these people get hired because they're able to learn something new quickly enough to adapt, and they have enough technical expertise to understand what's going on. These people tend to be the most expensive payroll-wise, but they also tend to be the highest quality since you get an adaptive expert in exactly the fields you want. In fields where the pool of quality employees is particularly small, such as OpenVMS, Unix, LISP programmers etc., the employee is almost never outsourced.

  • Re:Yeah yeah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:45AM (#14970779) Homepage
    The most silly requirement is a degree.

    Honestly. I have known more programmers that never finished college that write better code, faster, and more efficient than the guys that went for 4-6 years to a top notch institution.

    IS and IT self education is always farther ahead of what is in the schools simply because it is moving way too fast for the educators to react.

    The same goes for mamagement. Best managers and most successful businessmen do not have a degree.

    I am wrong? prove it.
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:58AM (#14970825)
    Now they are complaining. Tuff shit. These companies got their monetary crack-fix two years ago by dumping thousands of jobs offshore, dropping their operating costs, and causing a snowball effect for their competition to follow. Now they bitch and whine they can't find anyone to work for them. I wonder why.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:22AM (#14970927)
    Same here. I left IT last September (I was threatened with redundancy twice) and haven't looked back. I didn't realise what a sucky stressful job it was until I left.

    I'd recommend newcomers to stay out of IT if they want anything like a stable future -- the skills you have today will be out of date in 10 years time and you'll be competing with new graduates and people in other time zones who know more of the buzzwords and will do the job for 1/2 the price. Companies play slash and burn with the job market and saying they can't find people with the skills is just admitting that things are so rosy for them (at the moment) they don't need to invest in training up their current employees.
  • Re:No different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NialScorva ( 213763 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:38AM (#14971009)
    Generally it's about what you can rationally explain in an interview. Certainly avoid working somewhere less than a year or two unless you have an extremely good reason. I think you can tolerate a faster jump earlier in your career rather than later. I don't think any employer is going to begrudge you for having a couple 2 year stints early in your career while you explore different areas of your field. As your career progresses, you should look at longer and longer times of service.

    I think it's one of those self-limitting things. As you get more experience, you know when it's the best time to leave a job.
  • Re:Well Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:47AM (#14971041) Homepage Journal
    You can get a lot of dates when you're in IT. You just have to realize that most girls aren't (most guys neither) and demonstrate your ability to speak about other topics as well.

    Girls really don't care much what you do. They care what you are, and see your job in that light, as an expression of your personality. So if you say "I work as a java programmer because C is so pre-OO and C++ never takes of really, but I dig Linux more than FreeBSD" then all she hears is a string of foreign words. Same as if she were to tell you about the differences between various nail polish products.
    Now if you say "I work in IT because I enjoy the challenge of new technology and solving difficult problems." that says something about you and might be a much better conversation starter. Bonus points if you add something like "not only with computers".

    It ain't the IT. It's the obsession with it. If you were equally obsessed with some bio-chemistry stuff it wouldn't matter that you're a doctor, you'd be avoided just the same.
  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:56AM (#14971097) Homepage Journal
    Technically speaking, there is exactly enough trained IT talent in the U.S. market to fill all available positions at the current salary levels.
    (emphasis mine)

    The problem isn't the availability of jobs, it's the salary levels. Those levels haven't changed much in 6 years, despite a steep increase in measured (energy, food) and non-measured (USF recovery fees) inflation. Only 6 months ago did I finally start making more than I did in 1997. Would you go into an industry where real wages have been dropping steadily for a decade?

    If one of my kids were to tell me he wants to do with I do when he grows up, I would vigorously discourage it. I've been doing this professionally since 1995. What does that tell you about the state of the industry?

    You like working on things? Become an auto mechanic. You like gee whiz technical stuff? Go to law school and become an IP lawyer. There will not be a middle class in IT when you (or my kids) graduate from college.
  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stupidfoo ( 836212 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:04AM (#14971144)
    The problem is that how are companies supposed to know that you know more? Take your word?

    If the paper certs are so easy to get, why not just get them? The MCSE will cost you ~$875, add to that an MCDBA for $125 more (if you take the right MCSE tests), and then maybe throw in a RHCE/RHCT ($749/$349).

    Oh, and you might as well get the standard and extremely easy to get CompTIA A+ ($200 or so). You can always change one cert for another you like more (like a Cisco or Novell or some other CompTIA cert) So, you've dropped $2000 at most, and you now have on your resume:

    Standard IT/MIS/Comp Sci Degree/Other

    Instead of just having your degree. You may not like it, but many HR departments do, and many jobs post those certs (or similar ones) as requirements. So suck it up and invest a little bit of time and money into your career.
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:13AM (#14971197) Homepage Journal
    A CS dissertation on improving software quality through statistical analysis. That's not computer science, it's simply advanced software engineering.

    No, it's Computer Science. It's the computational analogy to materials science, analyzing the statistical properties of the materials used to build software structures.

    I could make the counter-claim that crap like denotational semantics isn't Computer Science, it's simply mathematics, and fairly abstract and non-useful mathematics at that.

  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by qwijibo ( 101731 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:14AM (#14971201)
    I've been doing unix system administration professionally for 15 years. Just now do I have a need to get Sun certifications for another job I'm starting. This has given me a better appreciation for the benefits and problems with certification programs. Now I have a piece of paper that says Sun Certified System Administrator. My opinions on how to interview (from either side) or what to look for in technical candidates have not changed. The advantage I have now is that I can show that I do have certification and can elaborate as to the pros and cons of that as an evaluation metric.

    It's easy for people to claim that certifications are silly. Back in my day, nobody had any certifications and people were judged on what they could DO when put in front of a broken system, not what questions and answers they could memorize and get right on a multiple choice test.

    Most interviewers aren't going to know how to do your job. That's why they want to hire someone like you. Certifications are a way to show that there is at least a lowest common denominator in knowledge on a topic. You can differentiate yourself by contrasting real world experience with a test you've passed. This shows that you aren't bitter about certification since you've completed it, but have legitimate concerns about the value of the process.

    For example, a couple of the topics, such as setting up RAID or running backups don't test real world environments. In the real world, I have an EMC array and use TSM for backups on the Sun servers I administer. Since these are not Sun products, that knowledge doesn't count towards my certification. While the concepts are similar in both topics, the specific test questions address how to perform the functions only using built in Solaris commands using Sun hardware. If I were being interviewed, this would be a good opportunity to ask about the actual environment they have.
  • Re:No different (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spike2131 ( 468840 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:46AM (#14971408) Homepage
    3 to 5 years is good to shoot for, but the thing is.... sometimes you jump the ship, sometimes the ship jumps you.
  • by trzeciak ( 167048 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:53AM (#14971460) Homepage
    The problem is not the lack of careers, the problem is that most of regular corporations (not hi-tech like Google, and such) have no career path for technology people. You become a programmer, maybe a project lead, but after that you either go into some pencil pushing job and start using some stupid process methodology (like CMMI), which basically means paperwork and more paperwork (and no additional benefits), or you are stuck!!!
  • by dwandy ( 907337 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#14971498) Homepage Journal
    I think PsiPsiStar's point was that (almost) any job can be outsourced, so IT isn't special. Teachers, doctors, lawyers all could be connected to their 'client' by video conference - in the extreme, required physical contact - like drawing blood (for the doctor not the lawyer, silly) could be done via robotics.

    But what we are really talking about is ... technology! and since IT tends to be pretty leading-edge in uses of technology we are simply seeing this phenomenon earlier in IT than elsewhere.

  • Re:No different (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LookAtTheMonkey! ( 917214 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:37AM (#14971851)
    I've been in the IT world since 2001. I got in just as things were crashing. My first IT job was a pay cut from $45k to about $40K per year. Last year I pulled down about $130k. The increases will level off after this year where I'll make $150k, but I don't expect I'll ever get less than a 8% raise per year.

    I've had five IT jobs since 2001. That's because when I got the first inkling that my talents and effort weren't being accurately assessed by my company, I started to look to get out. I always go into a job with the notion that I'll spend no less than one year there, but obviously I've broken that a couple of times (and one of them I was laid off when the company closed).

    Now I'm with a company where management recognizes the value I bring to the table, and treats me accordingly. It also helps that the company has strong growth, but is established. I'm never going to get stinking rich working here, but the living is comfortable. If things continue like this, the only reason I can find to leave the place is sheer boredom with the technology, or I just don't want to work in IT any more. I suppose I could also see getting into a startup just for the thrill of it.

    Job-hopping is not a bad thing, as long as you don't work for more than 2 places in any 12-month period. You should have crisp responses for questions as to why you left each job. They should never focus on inadequacies at the job or problems with people (especially management). Rather, it should be focused on you (you had achieved your goals there, you had a great opportunity to specialize in something at a new job, etc).

    It also helps to have a concise statement as to why you're looking, and what you want to get out of your next gig.

    And despite what the unwashed slashdotters here say, getting a job is (and should be) as almost as much about salesmanship as technical skills. You are trying to convince someone to pay you a lot of money for your talent. You need to be able to convince them that it's a good investment. The salesmanship must continue after you get the job, or they will start thinking about putting their investment elsewhere...
  • Re:Yeah yeah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:40AM (#14971886)
    Why would I want to hire someone who can't even complete a college degree?

    Were they too stupid to get admitted to college - or just too lazy to finish?

    Seriously, I don't even waste my time interviewing people who don't have a degree. In the past I have worked with a couple of guys without a degree. The problem is they have very little investment in the field. You train them, they decide to go do something else. Or they are completely unprofessional in the way they act - again because they have no investment in a career.
  • by maomoondog ( 198438 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:56AM (#14972011)
    There is a limit to what you can outsource, and if you have any kind of sense there is also a limit to what you should want to outsource for all sorts of resons ranging from security to limiting knowledge transfer to potential future competitors. Of course greed has a way of disabling people's Common Sense Processing Unit, especially in managers.

    If you're saying there's some bumpy times ahead for companies trying to figure out how to outsource effeciently, I'm right with you. Maybe those bumpy times will carry IT demand at a reasonable level through your career. But what about a kid just going into an IT focused degree? You better believe I'd tell him to learn management: when the rest of the world is coding, he'd be better off in charge instead in the exact same market. Asking people to stick it out in IT on the principle that the US should keep some coders is like asking someone to work in a textile factory so that we won't be dependent on foreign textiles. It's good, rational advice for someone you don't like.

  • Re:Shhhh!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Karl Cocknozzle ( 514413 ) <kcocknozzle@ h o t m a i l.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:09PM (#14972113) Homepage
    that average american can't afford to take a paycut because American affluent standard of living is insanely out of touch with the rest of the world, and will make it impossible for them to survive on a lower salary.

    I defy you to name a country where working class people can afford an 80% salary reduction without screwing up their "standard of living." It doesn't matter whether you live in a grass hut or a 3-bedroom ranch house, losing that much of your salary would decimate anyone's finances.

    Do this experiment next month: Add up all your expenditures and money you're saving, and then chop 80% off the top. Forget about a car payment or housing, would your kids be able to eat? Would you?

    Yeah, in some ways the phenomenal success of the American experiment has put us in an interesting conundrum... Our standard of living IS higher than everybody elses, but to me that is an argument for others to emulate us. Instead of demanding that we work for 80% less and lower our standard of living to be as shitty as yours, why not innovate, create some REAL value (by giving more rather than just charging less) and raise up your own standards, rather than kvetching about ours.
  • by t'mbert ( 301531 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:31PM (#14972316)
    The thing that is scaring bright technologists away from the field is simple: businesses see IT developers and other technologists as nothing more than factory-line workers of our day. We are interchangeable parts, and therefore not worth as much to the company as upper management is...or middle management even.

    So for our careers to grow, ironically, business pushes the brightest technologists to management, leaving an even-larger gap in capable engineers. There is nowhere else for us to grow into (case in point, I've been a Senior Engineer for my entire 10-year IT career, there's no higher technology position to go to).

    In fact, development and other complex IT tasks require a type of worker that is not comparable to any other field. They are largely self-managed, and must work out engineering complexities unheard-of in other fields. The bredth of technologies and knowledge are only comparable to the most high-knowledge careers such as law, medicine, and bio-tech.

    Further, the work these technologists do, and the quality of that work, directly affect the bottom-line of the technology company. The loss of a single key technologist can have a ripple-effect that is hard to quantify, but that definitely impacts the bottom line. But due to the manufacturing-centric business practices of corporations and the MBA management crowd, these dollars are never realized. Hence, management views these workers as an expense, and not generating any revenue. Conversely, sales staff, who produce nothing re-sellable on their own, and who cannot affect the cost-basis of a company much, are revered by upper-management because of the positive cash-flow realized by landing sales, and their salaries and position within the company are commensurate.

    Until IT business management practices catch up to the new business landscape, they will continue to scare off the brightest talent, forcing the best technologists into management or other positions in order to see their careers continue to grow. I think Google and a few other top-tier technology companies get this, but the remainder continue to flounder in the IT landscape.

    You can see this ultimately realized by "dad's advice": You don't want to be doing the work, you want to manage. Anyone can do the work.

    No. Not everyone can do the work in this field, just as not everyone can be a bio-tech engineer, and until this attitude changes from business to home, IT won't attract a large crowd.
  • Re:No different (Score:4, Insightful)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:36PM (#14972366)
    I agree with you, but in my situation it hasn't been an issue of salary or promotions. It's been an issue of getting bored. If you're good at your job, you get everything running pretty smoothly. You get to know all the systems and functions. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but unless the company is growing and changing quickly, that may be as much as you are going to experience and your best hope is to move into managment (yuck). To get something fresh and with new challenges, you need to move on to a new company and probably even a new industry. Of course, I'm not talking about the ship-jumping that was popular in the dot-com boom. LIke switching every year. I'm thinking more along the lines of every 5 years or so.

  • by Myria ( 562655 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:36PM (#14972369)
    Raises based on social skills and appearance? So THAT'S how they keep the nerds keeping the company running from moving up.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:43PM (#14972437) Journal
    You're willing to take a dead end job (since you don't want the option to go all the way to the top) - realize that your earning potential will be limited to a fraction of the value you add to the company.

    You're IT job will pay far less than other "non-skilled" jobs because it is a desirable profession with some respectibility and a comfortable working environment (all gross generalizations as viewed from the perspective of Joe Public, you must understand).

    If you want to make real money, go learn to be a welder, or a plumber, or a loader operator (backhoe/bulldozer/front-end loader). Most loader opertors I know charge between $75 and $90/hr. Sure they own their machine, but what were you going to do with that money anyway, give it to a University? See, the problem is that you want a cushy, indoor job with steady pay and good benefits. So do a lot of other people.

    Everyone else is complaining, just like the IT folks, that the salaries just aren't up to snuff, or there isn't enough advancement opportunity, or whatever, to get the young kids into their profession. Engineers, Doctors, Teachers - all people who do real "professional" work every day to keep the basic functions of society, but who don't get their hands dirty. They're being beaten down, and beaten out for jobs/salaries by the industries which produce little tangible benefit - Real Estate Brokers, Lawyers, Accountants, Sales/Marketing. A real estate agent will charge you 6% of the value of your property and building to sell it, and you'll pay it. If an architect offered you a contract to design your dream home for 6% of the value of just the construction, most people would complain that the price was too high. I will almost guarantee that the Architect would spend more hours, and more dollars, designing your home than a real estate agent will spend selling it. (I work with both)

    So when you say you want an indoor job that isn't an "evil part of society" with decent compensation (usually meaning 2-3X the local median, i.e. enough to buy a house), you are going to have to compete with a pretty large number of folks out there in the same boat. It's just life.

    I know there will be bitter mods who will mod me down, but by and large it's the truth. Exceptions will always exist. You don't want to hear it, but in todays economy - you are the ditch diggers, along with every other professional who doesn't have an ownership or directors stake in the company. If we could replace you with a machine, we would. If we can hire (insert derogatory foreigh identifier here) at half you wage, that's half of your wage that goes into the corporate profits. Once you understand this, you'll be able to see why you get paid jack shit. No, it's not "fair." But that's what capitalism is all about, and it's mostly here to stay. You need to learn to make the system work for you, and being technically good just isn't enough. Good luck (actually, I really mean it - I want people to succeed, but they need to know what they're up against. You can't defeat an well matched enemy without understanding him.)
  • by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon@gamersMEN ... com minus author> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:39PM (#14972997) Homepage Journal
    Meanwhile, broadband and voice over IP are giving more U.S. workers the agility to compete by working from home in virtual call centers.

    Call center jobs are hardly IT and certainly not a career. The turnover rate for Call centers is extremely high.
  • by majortom1981 ( 949402 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:42PM (#14973025)
    people keep forgetting to look into civil service jobs. I am a network technician at a library. I make $50,000 a year and I am on a union so i have job security. Ther is also room for me to move up there are about 6 or 7 higher jobs titles that I can move onto in my county alone . For each one you have to take a test. People also keep forgetting that for every job that moves to india you need a network person here in the U.S. that keeps the required links and phone systems running that conenct that office in india to the U.S.
  • by KenSeymour ( 81018 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:51PM (#14973114)
    Sure, no one should believe in a secure job for life.

    But the banks sure believe in 30 year mortgages. And if you are out of work long enough,
    you will default and join the ranks of folks who have a tough time getting mortgages.

    You pay a hefty transaction fee if you need to relocate to stay employed.

    At one time, those in the know said: Don't worry about the US losing all those manufacturing jobs, the future is in technology.

    So now we have lost a bunch of technology jobs. Some to slower domestic and world-wide demand, some to outsourcing.

    I thought I was on the high end of skilled technology workers. Then a Fortune 25 company
    cut me loose.

    Am I adapting? Sure. Do I like it? No.

    I don't think many people expect a job for life. But it would be nice if
    you had some idea if you could continue to afford the house payment
    for the length of the loan. It must be worse for those who want to start a
    family. Sure you can afford it now. But what about after the next big
    management trend?

  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @02:11PM (#14973312)
    >.- Experienced Web-Developer, PHP, MySQL,
    >salary: $6.50/hour (Costco pays workers
    >$17/hour, Wendy's pays $8.50/hour).

    The good paying web development jobs don't list a salary (usually). They just say "DOE" or "market", if they say anything. It's up to you to negotiate a good rate. So, yeah, the ones that list a rate are poor.

    I've done *way way way* better than anything that you have listed here, pay-wise. Jobs found through Monster and Dice. And I don't have a degree, or any certs.

    Also, maybe it's just where I live, but I've never seen a craigslist job posting that wasn't absurd.

    Search tip - set up indeed.com search feeds on bloglines ("{skill} in {some town near enough to me}"). Awesome.
  • Re:No different (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @02:13PM (#14973345)
    There is a problem with IT and here it is. It is very difficult to move up the ladder. For the purpose of my explanation of some of the problems, I will liken it to home construction.

    The lowest jobs in IT are more crafts than profession. Think of the low level jobs like help desk or support techs as the framers or the plumber's apprentice. They do the scut work. It keeps the whole thing together but they get no credit for it. Think of the systems engineer as the architect, the analyst as a design/security/media consultant and the admins as the foremen.

    The problem is this: No one (admins, analysts, engineers, bean counters, etc.) is willing to take on techs as apprentices. To those who have worked at any kind of craft, apprenticeship is a very important step in a job. It teaches you the ropes, it tells techs why and how a given employer/boss wants you to do certain things in a certain order, etc.. At each level it allows the admins, analyst and/or engineer to evaluate the strengths and/or weaknesses of the lower level employee in their given environment.

    It takes time and effort to take on apprentices. The problem is that the "business world" is too focused on short-term goals rather than long-term goals. If you need a new tech, you find a tech that can do A, B and C - rather than finding and investing time and effort in a tech that you can teach to do A, B, C, D, E and F; and do them the way you want them done.

    That's at the lowest level. It's more of a craft at that point than when you're an admin, analyst or engineer. At these higher levels, education and total years experience (as well as simple proficiency) are more important. It is at this point the craft becomes a profession.

    In other words - the framer's apprentice can eventually become a foreman (admin), but cannot become an architect (unless they have the requisite education and *training* for that as well). Training is not emphasized at all when it comes to IT. It's all about "What papers do you have?" and "What experience do you have?"; rather than "Can this person learn (from me!) what I want done, how I want it done, and an idea of the overall way we operate - in a reasonable amount of time?".

    If you just take the person with the most paper/experience - that is likely all you're ever going to get out of that person.

    Don't just take the guy/girl with the most papers/experience. Take the guy/girl with the most POTENTIAL and invest the time and effort to teach them in the areas they are weaker at. Turnover will drop, quality will increase. Yes, it takes a bit of investment at the outset - but the only way to get real returns is to invest.
  • by dalroth5 ( 63007 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @02:27PM (#14973570)
    Hello folks.

    Summarising some comments so far and adding my two cents:
    1. IT is a short career.
    My 2c: yup. Advice:
    (a) while under 30, jump frequently; contracting is best because there's no bullshit, no office politics, and some professional respect. You also learn a _lot_.
    (b) Once over 30, find an SME out of the city and _stay_there_ because you won't get any more contracts. Expect to be let go at 40 with a paper-thin excuse. Save some money for retraining in a job which can only be done onshore: plumbing, plastering, welding and so on. Find a niche market, develop software at home and become an ISV.

    2. In IT you are low on promotion prospects.
    My 2c: yup. Advice:
    Make a choice whether you want to program or become a faceless middle manager (assuming you're offered the choice).

    The real reasons for being let go (in no particular order):
    * You're expensive, especially compared to a worker elsewhere in the world.
    * You're approaching the age of qualifying for the pension they promised you, and for which they've already spent your money.
    * You're approaching the age at which you'll need the health insurance they promised you, and for which they've already spent your money.
    * You're getting opinionated and developing bullshit intolerance.

    Thanks for your time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @02:55PM (#14973934)
    Perhaps you are looking at the wrong "board"? I'm also in Denver and I just had my yearly review last week. With my ~7% raise I just received, I'm now just a few dollars shy of $90k a year. And I'm not even a "Senior Engineer" yet (boss said maybe I'll get promoted to that next year if I keep up the good work).

    Then again, I'm an embedded developer working on a VxWorks platform, but I'm pretty sure the C# guys upstairs aren't doing to bad either. I'm guessing that craiglist is used by people / companies that are just looking for a quick fix to something and want it cheap...i.e. not a place you go looking for a new career.

    I'm posting as AC because my company doesn't like it when we discuss salaries.
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @04:04PM (#14974822) Homepage Journal
    The tech industry as a whole (I'm talking not just about IT, but also electronics and, more specifically, electronics engineering and manufacturing) has only itself to blame for what is a very real problem.

    As at least one other poster has pointed out, the idea of job stability in the long term (as in staying with, and progressing with, a single company for one's entire career) has gone straight out the window. What companies have forgotten is that many people (myself included) WANT job stability as part of the package.

    It's a vicious cycle. Offshore workers in engineering and manufacturing don't pay taxes in the US, they don't send their kids to school in the US, and they don't buy their groceries, homes, TVs, or whatever else they want in the US.

    This means a lot fewer tax dollars for the very educational institutions that are supposed to be turning out science and engineering graduates. Fewer graduates means that tech firms feel they have to resort to hiring in India, China, or wherever the talent they need is (and why they don't make use of local engineers and techies who have ALREADY been laid off is a complete mystery to me), which means even more offshore workers, and the cycle continues.

    A few months back, Intel CEO Andy Grove wrote an editorial in one of the electronics industry trade journals, moaning and complaining about how our schools need to do a lot better in turning out the engineers that Intel and the rest of the industry need.

    The very next day, I read a small sideline article in the business section of the local paper, saying that Intel was opening a new engineering center in India that was going to employ at least a few thousand locals.

    Nowhere in these articles did I find any mention that Intel was going to go out and rehire engineering or tech people that it had previously laid off. How many ex-engineers and techies -- very highly skilled ex-engineers and techies -- are working as baristas and grocery-baggers these days?

    Whenever I hear the name Andy Grove now, one word consistently comes to mind: Hypocrite.

    Know what, though? There's a hidden irony, and it is one that is, one day, going to come back to bite the crap out of the companies that insist on selling themselves and our country's manufacturing base out to offshore interests.

    The standard reasoning for going offshore is to save money. There are all kinds of 'official' reasons for doing so, but it usually just comes down to greed on the part of the corporate bigwigs.

    When you ship work offshore, you start raising the standard of living in the countries that you're opening branches in. You're giving lots of locals a steady job and income, which raises spending and the tax base. Things in that country start getting more expensive (in other words, inflation creeps in as it does with any functioning economy).

    What do you think is going to happen when the standard of living in whatever country gets high enough? It's going to get just as expensive to manufacture offshore as it was ONshore. Any savings that were once gained from offshoring are going to evaporate.

    I'm just waiting and watching (from a very stable position in civil service, thankfully) for the whole structure of offshoring and outsourcing to implode under its own weight, and I'm willing to bet that the companies that once embraced the idea won't be able to handle it any better than they handled the dot-bomb meltdown.

    Break out the popcorn...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @04:33PM (#14975114)
    A truly free market for labor would mean that H1-B visas wouldn't even be required because there would be no immigration controls and people could just move in as they pleased without worrying about visas.

    A truly free market requires that *all* participants be engaged in the process. As the OP pointed out places like China and India *do not* have free markets; the process isn't at all bi-directional. Without this sort of bidirectionality a non-free market can easily damage a free one, especially if members of the free market are complicit in exploiting the unequal relationship for short-term gain.

  • by gatesvp ( 957062 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:01PM (#14976483)

    Let's face it, IT's job is to put people out of work, or to reduce the skill level required to do a job. If we're good at it, we can also put ourselves out of work.

    This means a few things:

    • Non-managment "users" generally don't like us. Our new casino accounting system will knock off the need for 5 of the company's 10 accountants. Those 5 accountants are a little peeved, but that's how software generates ROI.
    • Further IT advancements (i.e.: better server management tools) reduce the effort required by IT staff. If we have 10% more projects, MS and Sun will come out with ways to make us 10% more efficient developers. So we don't need more developers, just newer tools. This of course, means that we actually don't need that many more developers.

    These things are not true with many other industries. Backhoe operators don't remove other people's jobs. Civil engineers don't cause construction workers to lose jobs. And neither of these groups are doubling their efficiency every 18 months :)

    Reasons IT will suffer:

    • People do not understand software or hardware. They do not understand programming and databases like they understand (or fear) cars, accounting or moving large piles of dirt. This means that they don't appreciate its complexity.
    • People do not appreciate the importance of software quality. They understand the importance of a collapsing bridge or a ruined foundation, but IT people are not seen as bridge-builders.

    If the average joe does not understand IT complexity, then they don't understand our billing rates and cannot justify our training and salary. IT is still fighting the concepts that software is cheap to make and hardware is cheap to buy and maintain. Clearly, we know that this is not the case.

    The Solution:

    • Professional Organization (leading to)
    • Professional Certification (leading to)
    • Increased Accountability (leading to)
    • Easier justification of our time.

    MCSD.NET != P.Eng.

    We need a Professional Software Engineer (or equivalent) designation to even begin the process of justifying our "exhorbitant" salaries and to bring to light the understanding of IT's inherent complexities.

    If we are viewed as mechanics, then people will pay us as mechanics. If we are viewed as Engineers (and can deliver as such), then people will pay us as Engineers. MS, Sun and RedHat certs. are only part of the picture, we need a self-governing body like engineers, accountants, doctors and lawyers or we will simply become greaseless mechanics and painters that never get dirty. And we don't get respect for that type of labour.

  • Robert Mitchell is full of it on a number of levels, but the fetid steamer that first caught my eye was:

    "The globalization of IT is an opportunity. [..blah, blah.] The good news is that the next generation of IT professionals will find a global job market with opportunities to live and work in many different countries."

    Where does this idiot live, the EU? Out here in the rest of the world, there's this thing called nation-states, which use arbitrary concepts like citizenship, immigration laws, and work permits to control who gets to play in their labor pool. That these won't apply to anyone starting college now, or 20 years from now is a WSJ wet-dream.

    Mr. Mitchell is talking out of his ass, and this claim leaves the rest of his propaganda piece suspect.

  • Re:No different (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IllForgetMyNickSoonA ( 748496 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @04:32AM (#14979064)
    In what way does this address any part of what I said? It doesn't even make much sense: without a degree, you'd be even worse off, having to compete for the job with your hypothetical 50000 other applicants who *do* have a degree and are - as you said - ready to work for less. Why in the world should a HR department pick you over the other guy?

    If you have to compete with people with degrees who are willing to work for less money, the worst approach you can possibly take is to say "forget the college, you don't need it". Get yourself a higher degree, lower your offer, or do both.

    Finally, the education is NEVER worthless. Even the "useless" knowledge, not directly related to what you might be doing one day, can come very handy when it comes to communicating with the customer who is not exactly a high school drop-out.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling