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Moving Away From the IT Field?

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the life-on-the-other-side dept.

IT 783

irving47 writes 'With the economy the way it is, it's a little iffy to even think about switching careers completely, but lately, I've gotten more and more fed up with trying to keep up with the technical demands of companies and customers that are financially and even verbally unappreciative. While I might be good at it, and the money is adequate, I'm curious to hear from Slashdotters who have gone cold-turkey from their IT/Networking careers to something once foreign to them. How did you deal with the income difference, if any? Do you find yourself dealing with people more, and if so, how did that work out?'

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I'd never do it, but (5, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 5 years ago | (#29893457)

you might want to think about nursing. My ex-wife was an RN and she made really good money right out of college.

You have to clean up poop sometimes, but it's decent money.

LK

Re:I'd never do it, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893467)

To become an RN takes 4-5 years of school. If you go and get one of those quick certificates, you will be doing nothing but cleaning up poop for very little money. They keep saying they need all kinds of medical people, but when I went to unemployment last and asked about them paying for me to go back to school for nursing they told me that they wouldn't pay for that because nurses and other medical personal were getting laid off left and right.

Re:I'd never do it, but (2, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 5 years ago | (#29893651)

Where I live, we have a very big senior population. Hospitals are some of the biggest employers around here. Even when they need to close a hospital, all of the employees are needed at other locations.

LK

Re:I'd never do it, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893737)

Bull.
If you have a degree already, you can enter a full-time accelerated program, and one year later have your bachelor's degree in nursing and become an RN. Even if all you have is a high school diploma, you can get a two-year associate's degree, and yes, still become an RN.

And nurses aren't being laid off anywhere in the US. In fact, there is a significant shortage. Some hospitals are hiring new nursing graduates and paying off their student loans (to the tune of $50k or more!) in exchange for a promise to work at the hospital for at least a year.

Maybe things are different elsewhere in the world, but in the US in 2009, nursing is about the most secure career you could have.

Re:I'd never do it, but (4, Informative)

EQ (28372) | about 5 years ago | (#29893837)

To become an RN takes 4-5 years of school.

No, speaking as a soon-to--be former IT guy, going from BS/BA to BS-RN takes 2 years. Here in Colorado, several universities have an accelerated program, as long as you can hit the pre-reqs in science (mainly anat & phys, microbiology, pathophysiology) and math (dead simple stuff, not even close to engineering calculus). So no, not 4 years, maybe one year at night nailing down the biology courses, then 2 years full time learning the RN. There are even hospitals that will reimburse your tuition as long as you work 4000 hours (~2 years) for them upon graduation.

Re:I'd never do it, but (1)

int69h (60728) | about 5 years ago | (#29893491)

The money is decent, especially if you're willing to travel. You do have to keep your skillset up to date in order to keep your license. From what I can tell there's quite a bit of fraud involved though, especially in home health and rehabs, so CYOA.

Re:I'd never do it, but (3, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | about 5 years ago | (#29893697)

If you want to travel, ESL (English as a second language) teaching is great. 20 hours a week teaching (plus prep time), you see your work being used (as the students get better at English), interesting co-workers. If you know (or want to learn) a foreign language, it's a great opportunity.

The best thing is - minimal office politics. There's you, a class, and maybe a head teacher telling you what to do. Co-ordination meetings, blame games, and clueless managers are hard to find. You still have a boss (and work policies), but the soft crap is mostly between you and your students.

Income is much lower in China (where I am), but so are costs. Great news if you have savings and no debts. Other countries have higher pay.

I wouldn't advise it to anyone with a superiority complex (they make poor teachers), or anyone who hates the idea of living overseas, but otherwise, it's a blast.

Re:I'd never do it, but (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 5 years ago | (#29893497)

I hadn't thought of that. I just LOVE to clean up poop. In fact, I'll sit there waiting, watching, anticipating, ready to catch it before it can fall onto the mattress. I'm perfect for that job, and I'll even do it for free.

half the jobs in IT are cleaning up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893539)

other people's poop. So why not switch to nursing

Re:I'd never do it, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893565)

That's sarcasm done right. Not aimed at anyone in particular, not nasty or obvious, sustained and persistent to the end. Good work muthafucka.

Re:I'd never do it, but (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 5 years ago | (#29893503)

I moved from IT to the business of the same organization. I still deal (in a much smaller aspect) with the IT department, but do so working as a business analyst. From a HR point of view, it's great because I am able to REALLY talk to the business about what they want and whether it is plausible, and I am able to make excellent requirements that the IT folks can follow and not cock up because they are too vague to really know what is wanted.

Oh, also, within a year of moving over, my salary was around 25% higher than it was when I was on the IT side of the fence.

Re:I'd never do it, but (2, Interesting)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 5 years ago | (#29893513)

A friend of mine went into trades - just picked up a mature aged apprenticeship and become a fantastically rich electrician. Seems like the geekiest trade to pick up. There's a demand for qualified electricians in Australia at the moment from what I can see, but I'm not sure if it's a worldwide trend.

Re:I'd never do it, but (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 5 years ago | (#29893635)

Where I live, electricians can make a decent living but the guys who really clean up hold a regular job and do side work on evenings and weekends.

LK

Re:I'd never do it, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893711)

Funny you should mention that. I've been a programmer for about 15 years, and I just got accepted to nursing school.

I'll be taking a cut of about 40% off my current salary as a contractor. That's in addition to having student loans to repay, and being out of work for a year while I get my BSN. Yet I expect I'll be a lot happier and doing something important with my life.

Plus after civilization collapses in the coming zombie apocalypse, I'll be able to barter my health care skills for survival, while programmers will be a useless load due to the lack of electricity.

Re:I'd never do it, but (5, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29893831)

you might want to think about nursing.

You've obviously never been treated by a nurse who was in the job for the wrong reasons. Please don't ever SUGGEST nursing to people, unless they demonstrate a genuine compassion, patience, and willingness to help others even on their worst days.

Other Industries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893477)

any industry will have it's bad points that you need to deal with.

switched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893479)

i became an atorney. working out so far. also try management. project management is a natural fit. get an mba.

Re:switched. (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29893555)

i became an atorney (sic)

Spelling and morals are both still optional?

Re:switched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893749)

You haven't been around many attorneys lately, have you?

Look before you leap (5, Insightful)

FPhlyer (14433) | about 5 years ago | (#29893483)

I'm an ex-Navy guy. My military career field was journalism and public affairs. When I got out of the service I went directly into IT.
The same factors that governed my career change would likely work in this, and any other similar situation:
1. Identify things that you LIKE to do.
2. Of the things that you LIKE to do, do you also possess marketable skills doing them?
3. Can you put those skills on a resume?
4. What can you do NOW to add credibility to your new career?

Work those things out and making the leap should be fine. Beware, leaving IT can often mean leaving a good paycheck. You'll want to get your finances and lifestyle in check before making the jump.

Re:Look before you leap (2, Interesting)

bagboy (630125) | about 5 years ago | (#29893613)

Off Topic but... "I'm an ex-Navy guy. My military career field was journalism and public affairs. When I got out of the service I went directly into IT." This is also me - 9.5 years Navy Journalist (NMC and AFRTS - Diego Garcia, Adak,AK, Naval Base Seattle Public Affairs, Gitmo) and now 10 years network engineer.... Small world isn't it. :)

Re:Look before you leap (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 5 years ago | (#29893877)

I know several IT companies that will only hire Gitmo alumni as managers. Or at least that's the best explanation I can think of.

OK how do you get jobs like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893621)

Did you already have IT training? I don't understand how you people get jobs you seemingly are unqualified for.

Re:OK how do you get jobs like this? (3, Insightful)

neoevans (179332) | about 5 years ago | (#29893699)

IT isn't about training, it's about being able to find answers and solve problems of a technical nature. Development requires training, although the best developers I know are almost entirely self-taught. The best in IT usually come from other backgrounds, and have an aptitude for technology. The "pure techies" don't go very far. Throw in an MBA, CGA or PMO certificate and you are moving up in IT.

Re:Look before you leap (5, Insightful)

TikiTDO (759782) | about 5 years ago | (#29893707)

I am with you, pick what you like, and move in that direction.

It is so refreshing to see someone really follow their passion. A huge percentage of the population today is stuck in jobs they do not like. This leads to resentment, anger, and eventually very negative release of these emotions. What's worse, the smartest of these make it to the top of the food chain, then take out all of this amassed anger on society. Had they not been pushed into fields that did not suit them, they would have most likely contributed a lot more to society, and left the positions they now occupy to those that could fill such roles while living a happier life, and contributing much more to the world.

The way I see it, the purpose of life is to do what you want, enjoy doing it, and enjoy helping others do the same. It is very unfortunate that this does not happen.

Re:Look before you leap (5, Interesting)

BillGod (639198) | about 5 years ago | (#29893785)

I was laid off from my IT position.. I live in Ohio.. everyone is laid off. All I know is computers. In a past life I was a paramedic but figured I didn't have the compassion needed for that job. I understand computers and love to do it. Thats why I chose IT. About 6 months ago I took a leap and opened my own computer repair shop. Only cost me about 2k to get the doors open. No stock of parts except the boxes of crap I had around my house. I am now making profit after 6 months. I love it. I have no one to answer to but myself. The customers are very thankful that there is some place they can go that will actually fix there issues. I even have some older retired guys who just come in to hang out. I have no experience what so ever in running a business. Learning curve is not all that hard. Luckily my neighbor is an accountant and helped me in that area. The first 2 months were kind of scary not having anything to do. Played a lot of pocket tanks with my friends. Now I have an office that I don't even go into because I have so much to do. If your an honest person that truly knows how to fix computers. I am sure you would be a welcome asset to your community. Oh yeah and the 2 mile drive to work is SWEET!

OfficeMax. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893485)

I went from doing contract work, to retail.
While it was nice to go back to school; I really don't care for retail. My hours suck, my pay sucks, people I work with don't suck, but some (few) customers suck; most are just unable to figure something easy out on their own.

But what to do? (1)

GroovyChk (640592) | about 5 years ago | (#29893493)

I'm wanting to get away from it as well. I'm good at it, been doing it for a long time - but I'm sick of it. At this point I have no idea where to go though. I recently started taking university courses again - going to see where that leads me.

Re:But what to do? (1)

Canberra Bob (763479) | about 5 years ago | (#29893799)

Same situation - been at it for years, good at it, paid quite well but well and truly over it. To accelerate the issue it's wrecking my eyesight - too many hours staring at the screen. Also looking at getting back into uni - doing something of interest like maths or applied physics and seeing where that takes me.

be careful (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | about 5 years ago | (#29893505)

You have to manage the delicate task of having your secretary take the specs from the customers and give it to the engineers....you have to be a people person, so dot jump to any conclusions.

Re:be careful (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893811)

Heh, jump to conclusions mat.

I wish I had stayed down the docks. (5, Interesting)

joeyg1973 (1199299) | about 5 years ago | (#29893521)

I used to work on the docks in NJ as a longshoreman during the summer and winter breaks from school in the early to mid 1990s. If I had stayed down there I would have close to 20 years in already, be getting paid close to the same amount I get now considering the hours that I put in plus the extended periods of no work each and every time the economy takes a down turn. I would have 6 weeks paid vacation every year, great medical, stable work, and no politics or being treated like an overpaid janitor. Unions are very good things people and sooner or later this country is going to figure out. The books are now closed and probably won't be open again for 5 years so even though I still have a union card, I can't get a job down there till federal government determines that it needs more workers thanks to the NYSA, not the union. I am trying to get a job as a US Customs Agent now. Sure I ain't going to be making a lot of money, but the benefits, 40 hour work week, and stable steady work means that it actually comes out to about the same as I make now.

Re:I wish I had stayed down the docks. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893703)

Unions are very good things people and sooner or later this country is going to figure out.

The problem is, you are an overpaid janitor, and if your union keeps forcing companies to give you 6 weeks vacation, $80/hour, and free blowjobs, they can and will drive those companies into extinction.

Then you can pat yourself on the back and bring your good old-fashioned union-label mentality to the soup kitchen.

At some point, "collective bargaining" becomes "killing the goose." Ask any GM stockholder.

Re:I wish I had stayed down the docks. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893899)

And what does the executive do that justifies his income?

That's something you can ask a GM stockholder too. Hurr.

Bean Sprout Farming (5, Insightful)

serps (517783) | about 5 years ago | (#29893533)

Seriously. You can start with one bag of seed and a few plastic buckets and sell to local businesses (especially organic businesses and asian stores since they sell larger quantities) and scale up from there. Inventory isn't a huge problem since it only takes 72 hours to grow the sprouts, and you can buy the seed by the 25kg bag.

Obviously, I'm simplifying things, but honestly it's a business that's incredibly easy to get into, resistant to non-local competition due to the perishability of the sprouts, and if you can 'get it right', you can definitely market on quality

Re:Bean Sprout Farming (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29893581)

While you're at it, why not sell raman noodle trees? With the economy the way it is there's bound to be people who would fall for that sort of scam on craigslist or feebay.

Or you can sell them baggies full of cheerios - just tell them they're donut seeds.

Baggies, yes ... but cheerios? (3, Insightful)

Gopal.V (532678) | about 5 years ago | (#29893735)

Sure, people selling little baggies of things will prosper and grow. But it ain't going to be cheerios.

Honestly, I'm an Indian IT guy who looks like this [flic.kr] and is a straight edge [wikipedia.org] vegetarian. But despite all that, twice in Portland, people have stopped me and asked me for some weed.

Now, there's a market which expands during a recession.

Re:Bean Sprout Farming (1)

serps (517783) | about 5 years ago | (#29893763)

Laugh all you want. If my IT job weren't freaking awesome, I'd farm bean sprouts.

Eyeballing the numbers, I'd work 6 days a week, but make well over 100k per year.

Re:Bean Sprout Farming (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#29893893)

Damn that ramen noodle tree. That just busted me up - scared my neighbors. Meh, they already think I'm crazy.

Re:Bean Sprout Farming (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29893611)

To motivate you, imagine a Beowulf cluster of them.

Re:Bean Sprout Farming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893667)

s/Bean Sprout Farming/Weed/g

Forget software engineering. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893547)

Actually man, I make more money selling magazine subscriptions, than I ever did at Intertrode!

Only bad thing is I have to pretend I'm a recovering crackhead.

-Steve

Re:Forget software engineering. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893791)

I believe you have my stapler.

Is it IT that's bad... (1)

Aliotroph (1297659) | about 5 years ago | (#29893551)

or it is the specific area you've been working in recently? IT seems to have such a range of things you can do, and they can be very different. When I worked in tech support I dealt with all kinds of people, but didn't have to do anything very difficult technically. When I helped write code for research projects I learned new things and dealt with almost no people. Tech support also had a lot of extra corporate weirdness I had to deal with. Then there's my uncle who works as a systems analyst in a COBOL shop. I don't think he's learned much new in decades, but he likes it and makes a pile of money.

  You didn't say what it is you do, but maybe before you decide to leave IT altogether you'll think of some area you like more than what you're doing now. Maybe you won't. If there's something else you really like doing then it's definitely worth investigating, but like some guys here have already said, make sure you check out the employment options and the finances compared with your budget.

ex-DBA here (3, Informative)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 5 years ago | (#29893553)

I was working as a DBA in the mining/exploration industry until a few years ago. I got sick of constant corporate takeovers and mergers that went with the industry at the time, it's not fun looking for a new job every 14 months because some other company bought out the exploration rights and had their own staff and systems. On top of that, after my last redundancy I travelled around Europe and swore to never again look at a drillhole data log. Now I work as a civil servant overseeing the Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Greyhound racing industry. It's taken me 5 years worth of work here to finally get back to the level of income that I had at age 23, but the job satisfaction now is immense. It did take a few years to adjust and slowly work my way up the food chain but I wouldn't go back to IT and ungrateful/idiotic/anti-technology positions again. Ultimately I found that job satisfaction and regular hours far outweighed the extra money I made in IT.

I kind of did it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893559)

I was a Network Security Engineer at a bank for eight and a half years and before that a Sr. Server Admin for eight years (16 years in IT total). I eventually got in a similar mood of being fed up and fell in to a Sales Engineer (Systems Engineer) role rather easily and WITH better pay to boot, much better when things are selling (darn recession). Spending more time at home, no late night phone calls anymore (I get to sleep now), no work calls while on vacation, people thank me more than they ever have before and more money, I'm thinking I made the right choice. You have to be a good people person and good on your feet but I really enjoy what I'm doing and don't have a target painted on my back anymore (IT is a thankless job to begin with and wearing more hats and getting less respect finally hit the wall with me I got out). Good luck on whatever you choose to do!

it's not about th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893567)

I was a web developer, went to law school to change careers. Went to a good school, focused on IP. Got top marks in those classes, graduated with honors. Discovered the only people who make 'lawyer money' are working horrible corporate jobs; working longer hours in worse office dynamics than anything I ever saw in IT. I have a tech-related BA (not BS), so I'm not eligible for the Patent Bar.

Now I have unbelievable debt, working two part-time "legal" jobs for total 1/3 the pay of my last IT contract; and I'm the "computer guy" at both- coding legal analysis software and developing a case-management database while getting called a researcher. Sometimes I get to do complex lawyerly tasks like picking up files at the courthouse and photocopying them. I can't jump back to webdev easily, because I'm 3 years behind on all the tech.

Will I be happier in the long term? Probably, if I can find the right work environment and develop the contacts/experience to succeed hanging out my own shingle. I do like the law (and it's a surprisingly easy transition from coding to legal analysis... not to mention understanding Boolean queries means you automatically rock Lexis). But I'm pretty sure that if I'd stuck it out for those three years in the freelance IT consulting work I was doing before I left, I'd be doing pretty okay, too.

Ultimately you have to ask yourself whether it's the type of work itself that you don't like; or the particular employment situation in which you find yourself. While my day-to-day work experience isn't what I want it to be, school prompted my move from New York to a much smaller city, and that change alone improved my life substantially. If I had it to do over again, I would have packed up and moved everything- totally shaken up my life- without changing careers.

Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (5, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 years ago | (#29893573)

IT jobs get absolutely no respect any more.
They get paid crap.
They have *ON CALL* work.
They have to read the minds of dolts who make more money (and work in a more sex balanced environment and who often get to go out drinking on the company dime).

I had to beg our manager to take the guys to lunch. And he wouldn't spring 15 bucks for an appetizer.

Meanwhile the other side of the building is meeting for drinks at the bar at night dropping easily 10 to 20 bucks per person.

At my friend's company, the IT folks get up at 6am, get left at work while everyone goes out drinking for extended lunches (because they are "sales and executives")-- entire company is smaller than my last team. Executives my ass.

Somehow, we let them do this to us. When I was getting into the field, we were priest kings in air-conditioned rooms with complete power. But with each passing year, we underbid each other and passed control over to people who worked us to death.

Leave the field.
If your in it, learn to fail gracefully.
Negotiate for more money and leave when they don't give it to you. Leave them in a lurch.

This all sounds like a troll but it's more bitterness seeing complete idiots making 6 and 7 figure salaries while the "intelligent" folks are working as slaves.

How did it come to this?

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893607)

They focused on social networking and their route up the ladder while you were focusing on technology. The people at the top of the ladder are like them, hence they get along and their way to the top is easier. They don't understand you or even like you around. You're a necessary evil and your intelligence is a threat to them.

If you read Catch 22, you're Orr. If you didn't, go read it now.

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893631)

I get respect because I dropped the attitude you currently are showing.

IT doesn't generate any revenue. We are infrastructure. We are rent but we have souls, and feelings and personalities.

I make conversations. I make friends. No one should know command lines or registry hacks or why their Internet is slow. That's my job and it is up to me to explain it well to them.

As for people getting paid more - that's because they are more valuable to the company's viability.

Having known 6, 7 and 8 figure salary folks I can assure you that you can't do their jobs. I'm sorry if you don't think that's fair. You and your job are replaceable but those highly paid folks require high levels of experience, intelligence and competence (and connections).

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 years ago | (#29893775)

I left it. I went to management because I had a brain and saw the writing on the wall. IT may not generate any revenue... but IT didn't spew 2.7 million dollars on a project IT had said (not once, not twice, but THREE times) was a non-starter before it even began. But the bright boys upstairs told us we were idiots and gave it to an overseas dot firm who said it could be done. And now no one talks about it. But that's 27 U.S. jobs worth of wasted money.

Given half a chance, IT is also hell of a good polisher and can bring great efficiency to processes. But these days, SOX and stupid executives intervening in literally single line code changes make what used to be a 4 hour no brainer into an 8 week cost justification nightmare. You wouldn't believe the miniscule level of code changes that require three or four meetings with people who have no IT experience to approve. But it pays for now. It's horrendously wasteful and has been lampooned in dilbert for years with just cause. 7 years ago, if something made sense to refactor ,we just did so.

Meanwhile, at my friend's company they
a) drove away one programmer so ineptly they were successfully sued.
b) then drove away a second one (and were shocked).
c) are going to hire a "friend of the boss" who has *NO RELEVANT TECHNICAL SKILLS* to replace the programmers because "they need a job right now."
d) are leaving my friend with 6am on-call. They expect her to train the new idiot. I personally don't think new idiot will last with the hours. I've recommended go elsewhere she leave them without any support. They've earned it by placing no value on her. Hell, she even found out she was making less than the people who left and she had written the code and trained them. Businesses don't have ANY decency!!! They are pigs and deserve no loyalty but boy.. they sure ask for it and expect it.

There is no justification for a 7 or 8 figure salary for someone who didn't found the company.
Anything 7 figures and up is ripping off the shareholders of return on their investment.
It's like hollywood accounting-- our local paper had an article on the poor medical companies who are only making 5% profits-- but left out the fact that their "salaryman" ceo's and presidents took most of the profit in salary and bonuses.

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893641)

How?

Because we're too stupid.

People consider airline pilots "glorified bus drivers", that could be further from the truth. Take that to IT and we're just "glorified janitors" who clean up computers and install ink or whatever other IT stuff that people can't seem to wrap their head around.

If they can cut costs, they will do it which is why the job will go to the lowest bidder. A lot of the time this means that they're pretty much hiring idiots who can't do their job adequately.http://ask.slashdot.org/story/09/10/27/2127259/Moving-Away-From-the-IT-Field?art_pos=1#

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (2, Insightful)

Splab (574204) | about 5 years ago | (#29893659)

The bubble bursts and a lot of people realized that quite a lot of "professionel" IT had absolutely no idea what they where doing.

Look on the bright side though, currently bankers, real estate agent etc. are getting the same treatment.

Also, IT is hard to quantify, a "key account manager" is quite easy to quantify in terms of turnover, and IT is often socially inept people, they aren't good at fighting back.

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (5, Insightful)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | about 5 years ago | (#29893719)

Simple: there are too many in IT who actually believe in the philosophy of "Atlas Shrugged" - a race-to-the-bottom, out-compete-each-other-for-the-good-of-mankind philosophy.

Ayn Rand and the army of philosophical libertarians in the U.S. whose intellect (required to understand the philosophy and economics behind it) naturally puts them in positions of influence and power via which these ideas are implemented (example: Alan Greenspan, a deep fan of Rand), along with the army of free-market economists who use their own work as faux-empirical justification for libertarian economic policies, NEVER talk about the humanitarian downsides of a hyper-competitive feedback loop/death-spiral... except to mock them in "Atlas Shrugged" (America's second most-influential book after the Bible, according to one survey conducted in the early 1990s).

I say this as a slowly-recovering right-libertarian (and developer) myself, turned moderate left-libertarian.

We in IT have cut our own personal income profit margins and raised our hours in an attempt to out-compete each other; we've raised the bar year after year on ourselves. We have, in short, cut our own throats. We now, and increasingly-moreso, live in the cutthroat environment we (and admittedly, I) have so often advocated.

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893789)

I'm not trying to talk nasty about you, but uh, how hard did you have to hit your head?

Both before you picked up Objectivism, and then when you left it?

Re:Govt Security, Accounting, Jobs with boots Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893779)

Re: "How did it come to this?"

The answer: Greed, power and the corporation's never ending need for it. The truth is, big business these days does not care about there emplyees. Especially when they can get them over seas for less pay and more hours to over work them.

I myself am in IT too. I am a self employed computer technitian. I created my job on less than a $100 dallors and the willingness to get to work. I don't want to be rich. Just happy. I might have a good month and a slow one after that and its okay for me. I like what I do and my customers enjoy my dedication to quality work and being personable. I believe small businesses can turn things around. Greed and a constant qwest for power will destroy them.

If you have a good skill and know how to do something positive for others, yourself and can make money at it too, then I suggest going into business for yourself and screw the buttheads that don't know what quality is.

"and if you can 'get it right', you can definitely market on quality"

Very timely... (5, Informative)

Jon-ZA (788176) | about 5 years ago | (#29893579)

I'm completely jaded with the IT industry after having spent the past 10 years installing toner cartridges and mapping network drives for people that show very little gratitude. I tried my best to move up the corporate ladder, so to speak. I started out at the bottom and slowly worked my way up passed junior admin, helpdesk, and into senior technical support. Then I hit a vertical limit at one company, with no choice for further career progression. I looked around and evaluated my skills, but everything pointed to a horizontal move. With my desire to have a stable, decent paying job, I had inadvertently boxed myself into a position which was going to be almost impossible to get out of. My skills were clearly tailored around supporting users, with some network admin and even lecturing experience. Then, a miracle happened, I got laid off from that job and that's when life started. Suddenly a thousand possibilities entered my head. And that's where I'm at right now. I'm taking 6 months off, I put my condo up for rent and I'm going traveling to Africa! I'm hoping to accomplish quite a few things when I get there, re-focus my efforts and rejuvenate my enthusiasm, when I get back I want to start my own company, I'm tired of working for people. I want to experience owning a company firsthand and seeing my efforts pay off, literally. I'm tired of making shareholders richer and richer with each passing month. So if you skipped all of that here's the sum up. If you don't enjoy what you do, take some time off to figure out what it is that you want to do with yourself. Emphasis on 'time off'. They say that people change careers 5 times in their lives. This change, for me, will be change number 1 and I'm looking forward to it like you cannot believe.

Depends on if you have a degree or not. (1)

WarJolt (990309) | about 5 years ago | (#29893585)

Some IT guys I know don't have degrees. If you have a bachelor degree in anything it would be a lot easier to change careers. Go to school part time.

Out of the frying pan, and into the fire (4, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | about 5 years ago | (#29893591)

I got out of IT after more than 10 years in the field (and CTO-ing for a public company in my last job) as I finally got fed up with it. After a longish sabbatical, I started a small bakery/coffee shop. I'd say it is as big a change as you can axe for, and I have been pretty happy so far. I still use some of my mad skillz, but since I went the hard way - designed and built my shop and equipment more or less from scratch - I had to learn (and I am still learning) a lot of stuff - from carpentry, construction work and machinery to advanced chemistry. ;)

At the beginning, the money wasn't that good and it was hard work and long hours, but eventually things picked up and now I am better off than I used to be. The biggest benefit outside of the pay is the free time -- now I have a lot of time for side projects. Half are somewhat related to extending the business, the other half are just things I like. I don't push it very hard though, because that was what I was running away from in the first place. Overall, I regret it I didn't run away from the field earlier. That said, I got into IT by accident, and I didn't like it that much.

Good luck.

Seriously thinking about prostitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893593)

My current job does not pay enough for me to keep hope for a decent future. I've just become a wage slave.

I might as well begin a second job as a prostitute, that would be sick, but at least I could save a little.

Re:Seriously thinking about prostitution (1)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29893879)

I might as well begin a second job as a prostitute, that would be sick, but at least I could save a little.

I'm not certain but I don't think there's much of a market for overweight male prostitutes in their mid 30s working out of their mother's basement. Then again, I guess it depends where you live.

I'm joking. But if you're really serious all i can say is it won't be worth it.

Oi (5, Funny)

Turbo_Button (1648215) | about 5 years ago | (#29893599)

I'll take your job!

From what I've seen... (2, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | about 5 years ago | (#29893625)

Teaching and working in industrial engineering are popular sideways career moves for IT people. There is still a market in the US for large-scale industrial engineering (heavy machinery, chemical processing, construction). It is typically a similar environment, lots of technical savvy required, not too much customer interaction, but with reasonable hours and less stress than the typical IT position. Teaching is an obvious move, since it is government subsidized, benefits from the recession, has a history of rising prices, and there are still lots of people out there willing to go into debt for the opportunity to learn about the magic of computing. Also, less stressful and typically lower paying than IT.

Mechanics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893633)

I became a performance mechanic, the salary is good, the work is easy, and i still use my problem solving skills from my previous technician job. But now people wont bitch about $250 for a powersupply, harddrive and windows reinstallation, now they'll pay $2500 for something they don't understand and feel good about it.

A Change is as Good as a Rest (5, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | about 5 years ago | (#29893637)

I hit the same point about 2002. The Dot Com thing had soured and I was just tired of the whole game. I did a two year volunteering gig in the South Pacific... and never left.

It's fascinating, because a lot of the stuff I was doing when I first arrived here was the same I'd been doing 10 years before (I mean literally the same technology). Since then I've moved along and now I'm pretty much current with the kind of things I'd likely be doing back in Canada (technical manager for a local university institution). Just this week I submitted patches to a wireless network driver for the latest version of Ubuntu. So what's changed for me? Just this:

IT work in development has taken me to cities, towns and villages in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Vanuatu (where I now live). I'll be off to South Africa in a little over a month.

I have faced crazy demands in the past (Windows activation from a place with no networks and no telephones? Keeping the minutes for a week-long meeting in a town with no power?) I've had malaria and been hospitalised with kidney stones from dehydration. I've shared the room with rats, roaches, fire ants and geckoes. I've slept on cement and eaten more cold rice than I ever thought possible.

But I've also had breakfast in the clouds, been to the brink of volcanoes, rambled in rain forest and snorkeled in coral reefs so often that it's run-of-the-mill, dined with Ministers of state... and helped make people's lives a little more liveable.

The work is engaging, challenging and stretches one's creativity to the limit, trying to figure out how to mesh Internet technologies with cultures largely unchanged in the last 3000 years. It pays a tiny fraction of what I used to make, but the rewards are infinitely greater.

Lateral moves are sometimes the way to go (1)

kashani (2011) | about 5 years ago | (#29893643)

I tend to get bored if I stay in the same job too long. Also cash, promotions, and respect are easier to come by when you switch companies. Sad, but true. My progression has been tech support, NOC, Network Engineer, Windows Admin, Network Eng/Sys Admin, Sys Admin/DBA/Network/Developer/IT guy, Application Operations, and finally head Application Engineer which is mostly capacity planning, architecture review, project management, and trying to catch issues before they take the service down. Most of what you learn at one job can be applied at another job. At the very least you'll be that Sys Admin that actually understands routing or the DBA that doesn't blame the network first.

None of the moving around has retarded my career and I'm somewhat sought after these days because I'm a generalist with a 14 years of experience as well as workign at five startups. Moving around like that might not work for everyone, but I recommend it if you're bored to tears with your current bailiwick and actually like the IT field overall.

kashani

Quantitative trading? (1)

ZmeiGorynych (1229722) | about 5 years ago | (#29893645)

How good is your math? If it's reasonably good, then together with those IT skills you can try your hand at quant/algo trading, either from home (risky but fun), or working for some hedge fund or bank (initially as a quant developer, probably). In the latter case you certainly will have a better income than now;) After all the firing of last year, right now there is quite a high demand in finance for experienced IT people.

It is high-stress, of course, but financially quite well-rewarded.

I was thinking about other direction (-1, Troll)

Fotograf (1515543) | about 5 years ago | (#29893647)

i seem to like IT, specially that email thingy, only what i don't understand is, why is everybody so oriented to and stressed about my penis.

Have clients that see the value of your services.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893649)

I network with many IT Service related companies, having people not appreciate, understand etc has long been a part of this field and any time of customer service type field (when your dealing with clients directly). There are several things you can do to help with this. First a little background, I run an IT Service Company (we provided IT Services for Small Business, we even handle home users). It is clear that your clients are not understanding the value of your services, you probably just need some sales training on how to have your clients relize the value of your services. What you are doing should be saving the companies money (downtime = money) or you should not be there, they need to see you fees as saving them money, it is amazing what a difference this makes with client's attitudes. Think about it everything something breaks they get upset, then ontop of that they have to call you and spend money. Think about if they had a fixed fee and knew what they needed to budget each month, it is amazing how this will change their attitude. You are probably taking it way too personal, I use to have the same issue and sometimes I still do and I have to remind myself that it is not personal.. it is business. I can offer a few quick suggestions. First, have an Service Agreement (contract) that each client signs if they are a business.. it outlines your rates, how quickly your respond, emergency rates, when payments are do etc. This way everything is up front and signed, so if they complain you can simply remind them that if was all detailed in your service agreement. The next thing you have to do is weed out the clients that are always complaining, offer them a service contract for a fixed rate each month so they know their expenses, if they refuse, simply explain that unfortunally you will no longer be able to provide them with services as you are focused on proactivity supporting their computers and network. Start doing this for all your clients (see Managed Service Provider), again remember the Service Agreement. Make sure and focus on your most valuable clients.. have your core client base that pays your bills etc, then come up with guidelines for your perfect clients and only go after and accept those clients. Sign year long contracts. Think about how much more relaxed you will be knowing the checks will be arriving each month. Take a vacation if you can (try and force yourself) .. it is amazing what a difference this will make and how much better everything will seem when you get back. Hire someone to deal with phone calls and requests etc.. this way your not always dealing with "bumber" issues.. but simply focus on fixing things after clients agree to your rates etc. If you would like to chat or talk on the phone about this, send an e-mail to my anonymous e-mail address with your contact info and I'll reply, send some details about what you do etc, e-mail webmail125@gmail.com .

Allow me to summarize (4, Insightful)

shashark (836922) | about 5 years ago | (#29893677)

- Skills [read buzzwords] change every few years - Check
- Buzzword compliance resume is more valuable than actual skills - Check
- Your job can be shipped off to India, China or the Next-Offshore-Location any single day - Check
- You make a lot less than what people think you do - and a lot of your staff hates you [esp for Administrators] - Check


Did I miss anything ? So what's there NOT to hate an IT Job ?

But i enjoy developing new skills (1)

grahamsz (150076) | about 5 years ago | (#29893745)

Granted i'm an application developer and slowly morphing into more business practice consulting, but I love learning new things and meeting new challenges.

If i weren't working in new technologies every few years then i think i'd grow tired and want to do other things.

\though if you'd told me when i was 6 that if i learned basic then i'd still have to use it nearly a quarter of a century later, i may never have started

Re:But i enjoy developing new skills (1)

shashark (836922) | about 5 years ago | (#29893787)

3 Your job can be shipped off to India, China or the Next-Offshore-Location any single day
[Unless you ARE in India - then good for you]

Re:But i enjoy developing new skills (1)

grahamsz (150076) | about 5 years ago | (#29893821)

It's happened before and probably will again, but at the end of the day I'm confident in my skills and my ability to sell myself.

I'm moving into a role where i work with clients to understand their business and figure out what tools they need to buy/develop to solve the problems they face. I've got a solid track record and am not intimidated by the competition.

I've gone cold turkey, but... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 5 years ago | (#29893683)

I had to do a couple of years in college to redirect my skillset for my new life as a nanoscientist.

It's the best thing I've ever done in my life.

obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893701)

Unions are good someone says..

IT is treated liek crap in this country, someone says...

Wouldnt an IT union be incredibly powerful if it was popular?

I went from (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 5 years ago | (#29893705)

working for a local ISP for 3 years were I originally was hired to do web page design only/ I ended up doing web page design, billing, sales and answering 100 support calls per day. Yah burnt out pretty good and quit. Two weeks later I got hired at a local hydroponics store. Then after several years I ended up as the manager of that store which was a part of a chain of stores. Seven years at that company I quit over employee bonuses not being paid out and other bullshit and went to a another local smaller hydro store as a manager with the same pay as before.

So now I have the best of both worlds. I get to work at a very relaxed environment get paid better then most people and run a few web sites for my new employer. One of the sites is an e-commerce site and once its set up I get 50% of the profits that come in from on-line sales.

How'd I handle the income change after leaving IT? (3, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 5 years ago | (#29893723)

I just started lighting Altadis Behike cigars with $1,000 bills. As long as I smoked at least a couple a week, my income stayed about the same.

QA (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 5 years ago | (#29893729)

I moved from development to QA a few years ago. Pay is similar, much less hassle.

Hey if you have a reputation for being critical and picky, why not get paid for it?

IT started to stink after the bubble burst (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893741)

But I kept on in the industry only to find the people I dealt with become more ignorant and abusive while the industry became flooded and jobs off-shored. All the newcomers had purchased a piece of paper from one institution or another proving they could memorize select parts of select books for a brief period of time. Soon, experienced people were teaching all these papered newcomers how to do what they purchased a piece of paper claiming they already knew and lied about in their interview. In very little time the degrading had slipped to piling on any job possible onto IT personnel and expect them to take a level of abuse that would not be tolerated against any other person. When it started to become difficult to find a job due to the flood of papered memorizers and the start of the depression that cemented my decision to abandon a burning and sinking ship.

I had to figure out what exactly I like to do and how it played into being able to work in IT. I had to consider what natural skills and talents were honed from programming and troubleshooting while finding quick and effective solutions. I chose to go engineering and in the trade industry where they lack quality engineers as the baby boomers retire away and all the youth are still suckered away towards a shrinking IT industry. Honestly, I get more satisfaction from it than I ever did in IT and the pay is solid and steady and better. In time machines and programs will come to replace more elements of the trades but that time is much farther off than the replacement of IT personnel. Vacations are constant as I get paid to go to other countries and paid while I am there. I actually regret having wasted any time in IT when I could have been doing this earlier!

Think about what you like and what you are naturally talented at when considering escape yourself. Many of the everyday disciplines learned in IT can be applied to many other fields when you apply the basic concepts. Cheesy as it sounds, do what you enjoy while playing towards your natural talents.

I became a magazine editor for 2 years... (1)

GrpA (691294) | about 5 years ago | (#29893747)

I did get out of IT entirely for a while. I had been a journalist for about 6 years as a part-time job and found myself suddenly needing to stay at home to help with family problems. About that time a friend knew I was available and asked me to take over a magazine for a few months...

Well months turned into nearly two years.

The pay was very poor - About a third of what I had been earning as an R&D engineer.I lived on instant noodles and even small purchases like $20 items had to be budgeted - some months I didn't even have that!

But I loved the work. I got to meet people and do things I would never have had a chance to otherwise.

But it was only a temporary position and all good things come to an end. About a week after that job finished, another friend heard I was available and asked me if I would consider working part time working for a large ISP as a presales engineer and I got drawn back into IT.

It doesn't matter if it's IT or not - the main thing is enjoy the work your doing. You only get one life. Don't wait until it's too late.

Living like a pauper for two years hurt me financially but I took away the memories of a lifetime. And I got to spend two years working from home and watching my kids grow up... That's something money can't buy.

GrpA

Family? (2, Interesting)

corychristison (951993) | about 5 years ago | (#29893755)

Do you have a family? If so, will you be able to continue to support them?

I am expecting my first child any time now (5 days over due date). I am currently self employed and make great money doing it. Especially this time of year, as opposed to the 8 week 'vacation' I have every summer because business dies and income dries right up. Although that is easily manageable with some basic savings and balancing of numbers.

I've been hmming and hauing the thought of finding something more stable and doesn't require me to be on my toes 24/7. There are some openings at [a very large local employer] that I've been considering applying to in the spring.

You always have to weigh the pro's and cons. For me I am actually quite torn but I suppose we'll see what happens when my child is born.

My Pros of current job:
- Flexible. I work when I want and don't when I don't want (it's great when the wife is in and out of false labor all week)
- Good money for the amount of work involved.

My Cons of current job:
- Can be long days if they work out that way.
- No stability in the long run
- Keeping my own accounting for taxes, etc. (trivial, really)

The new job would be a 30% pay decrease, but would be stable all year 'round.
My days would most likely be shorter than what I am pushing myself to do right now.
I would have most benefits and coverage for dental, drugs, etc... which would be handy although i've been fine without it so far! (might change with the baby)

My biggest worry with jumping into a new job would be that I would probably have to ask the wife to go back to work. Which turns into paying for day care, etc. etc..... just a bunch of crap I'd rather not deal with.

So, to the point. If you have family and you are making ends meet no problem right now, stick to it.
If you don't have family and could take a potential pay cut, go for it. Your happiness is worth a lot.

Go law and enjoy life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893757)

IT was good field, but it was like coal mining or automotive work, where sysadmins are a fungible resource. Want to find a career that you work banker's hours and get twice the pay? Take the LSAT, and get yourself to a law school. For an IT person who generally smart in general, after finishing up law school, the bar exam won't be a problem.

Now, bar membership in hand, you work 1/2 to 1/4 as many hours, work 8-5, and can *never* be unemployed unless you do something stupid and get disbarred. Not every business needs an IT pro. However, every business out there needs an attorney. No, you might not end up as a senior partner of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe, but law ensures that you will always be able to provide for your family, have a decent car, enjoy real vacations, and sock away savings for retirement.

So, leave the IT stuff for the CV, take law, pass the bar, and actually enjoy life from other than a wage slave perspective. You can always drive by and smirk at your rivals in the IT field in your new BMW 7 series while they are still driving their Kias that they bought before the crash in 2000. An entry level attorney fresh out of a credible law school is guaranteed $75,000 a year, $100,000 if in the bay area.

To hell with Tech, ive gone to Booze. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893761)

After 20 years of retail sales, service, and corporate planning, i gave up. Ive seen too much change in technology, and no change in my clients. They still think computers work as if they are on Star Trek. Clueless about the machines that help them run their businesses and their lives, so leave them. After all this time Ive decided im in this for me. So now I sell liquor. come hell or high water people buy booze. No one calls that their wine needs to be rebooted. if any one thinks the product is bad, tell them to use more, and then they feel better.

Dude do anything different. Just don't bother with IT anymore, the client base is way too unappreciative

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 5 years ago | (#29893767)

I moved from IT, which i worked on in grade school, high school, college, and after college, into financial advice about 4 years back.
Since I was not professionally in IT for too long (though I performed a number of functions which are considered professional) I may not be the most qualified to answer this, but here goes (forgive the length):

IT for me just became too impersonal and cutthroat. I'm more the type who would rather enjoy my job and take satisfaction in actually doing something meaningful for someone than just collecting a paycheck. If it means less pay, so be it.

The pay cut has been quite significant, but that stems from personal issues with helping immediate family. The pay cut is mostly because I don't (am not charming enough to) wantonly sell insurance, funds, and annuities, but rather good advice. That's not the way to make a fast buck in this business.

Also, my age presents an initial barrier (yours might?) to the instant rapport of those with gray hair (counts for a lot in this business). I say this because experience matters a lot (obviously), so if you've trained your whole life for IT and decide to go elsewhere you may end up with the Catch-22 so many college grads have: You need experience to get the job, but if you don't get the job you can't get the experience.

Speaking of experience, the learning curve was a total mind-fuck and I'm still always trying to keep up. If you're looking for a skill where you can basically fire and forget, finance is not for you. All those details you learned over your career, and the details before that which landed you the job, AND the details that got you INTERESTED in the details that got you the job? Yeah, you have to relearn ALL that stuff, but you're grown-up now, have less time to tinker (most likely), and probably don't absorb things as easily as when you were a kid (if that's when you began learning IT).

In terms of working with people, that's about 50-70% of our job, and we're excessively analytical when it comes to our practice. Regarding other jobs (even VERY scientific/ analytical ones) many of our clients' "normal" jobs have a rather significant social component to them it seems. Many of those skills are somewhat learnable (if that's your concern, no offense meant). Personally, I have mixed emotions about client interaction. It feels wonderful to tell someone how you've ensured that their kid(s) can go to college, or they can retire despite the big downturn we've had, and see the relief on their face. You've just made an enormous difference in their life and that's no small feat. OTOH, sometimes getting people to heed prudent advice, working with them when emotions run high (family death, disability, whatever) or trying to alter old financial habits can be quite frustrating. I've lain awake at night trying to figure out the right questions to ask people to help them realize how critical a piece of advice is.

So, to use a cliche, it's a double-edged sword (the social aspect). It's also not a 9-5 job, you can always do more.

The analytical aspect is great fun IMO and could never have happened without my time spent debugging code from BASIC in 4th grade to assembler and C in college, in addition to the patience gained from troubleshooting hardware/software in person and over the phone. Although most financial "professionals" don't do it, I read prospectuses for insurance contracts, Summary Plan Descriptions, and other docs to ferret out tiny, but often very important details that few other advisors seem to look for or care about. Yes, I enjoy being so analytical. It helps set me apart by leveraging the general skills I learned over many years working with computers.

I'd say the change can be incredibly daunting, however if you find creative ways to leverage your skills (many non-obvious) with your new field you can become an invaluable worker in that field by bringing new perspectives and skillsets that many others might not have.

I'd say it was worth the transition for me, but I'm also not your average bear.

I hope these answers weren't all excessively obvious and they give at least a little bit of direction for whatever you decide to do.

SciOps (4, Interesting)

Shag (3737) | about 5 years ago | (#29893771)

I spent about 15 years in IT (programmer, sysadmin, webmaster, web dev, consultant). 5.5 years ago consulting was slow (if you knew my town, you'd know why) so I was looking for a full-time sysadmin gig. Just so happens the biggest local UNIX shops are observatories - the kind with telescopes.

I was applying for sysadmin jobs when a part-time gig operating a small telescope came along. I didn't know a whole lot of astronomy (okay, I knew woefully little, and had never had a single class in it) but the telescope was controlled by UNIX and Linux boxes, and I sure as heck knew those. I had to learn about "right ascension" and "declination." I picked up some other part-time jobs, so my worst year (2005?) ended up only being 80% less than my best dot-com year (2002).

About a year later, I started doing sporadic laser-safety stuff at a couple other observatories. Not in terms of actually working on the lasers, but in terms of making sure they didn't, um, hit any airplanes. :)

A couple years in, some folks who were using the telescope a lot decided that since I was a techie, curious, and actually talked to them (they used an AIM chatroom for communication between collaborators on a couple continents, and all my fellow operators were thoroughly non-instant-messaging sorts), they'd train me to use their data-taking setup (xterms and some custom GUI apps, running in VNCs over an SSH tunnel). So before long I had entries in ADSABS and a .gov email address and life was getting weird.

Last year, after 4 years of being a computer geek surrounded by astronomers, I signed up for an online graduate certificate program in astronomy, in hopes of learning what all those strange words meant. This spring, being in a graduate program weighed in my favor and I got a full-time job as an operator-in-training at a (much larger) telescope, which basically pays enough to live on, here (and has a lot of upside potential).

So... pros and cons of going from IT operations to technical work in science operations...

Cons:
You'll never hear anyone talking about crazy dot-edu or dot-org pay. ;)
The survival of your job depends in part on survival of their funding.
If you're a lone wolf or primadonna, operations is not the place for you.
Work ethic may be different; no foosball table.

Pros:
Science abhors a vacuum between people's ears, so everyone you work with will be smart in some way or another.
Scientists actually recognize and appreciate the fact that You Make Things Work. (egad!)
Hiring authorities often equally happy with a degree in their science, some other science, technology, or engineering.
Stress level can be significantly lower in some cases (like mine).

Oh, and FWIW, science-y places also need electronics engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, programmers, sysadmins, builders of instrumentation - all kinds of techies.

Just sayin'.

Getting old in IT is the kiss of death. (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | about 5 years ago | (#29893773)

How is it that our field is the only one where the older you get, the more worthless you are perceived as being?
Everyone remembers an encounter with an old mainframe or similar tech guy showing up to install a T1 line or similar.
all those years and he winds up punching wires for the last four years to make it to retirement.

I'd rather cross the street to another career and enjoy the respect and admiration of my peers than endure the snickering of
freshly minted paper certified system admins behind my back.

Re:Getting old in IT is the kiss of death. (2, Informative)

Talisman (39902) | about 5 years ago | (#29893847)

Though I've heard of this phenomenon, and am sure it is true in certain niches of the IT world (such as game coders), I've never seen it in person.

Personally, I *love* seeing the old guy come on the job site, because he'll probably know every little quirk there is to know about the system he's working on, since he's been at it for the last 25 years.

We had to deal with an Alcatel IP phone build-out on a site, and it was new technology at the time, and our saving grace was Bob. Overweight to the point where the impolite would call him fat, gray bearded, thick glasses, unfailingly calm, and was the only person we could find on the planet who knew how to make this system work, and the rest of us weren't IT slouches. Or Sande, the 60-something tech who saved one of our hotels from a complete phone outage, twice, as he was the only person in the city who knew how to work on a Hitachi HCX-5000.

The idea that old guys are of limited value in the IT industry is patently false. You can have the college grads, I'll take the grampas.

Just have a break. (1)

nickgrieve (87668) | about 5 years ago | (#29893781)

After 10 years in IT I quit and went to Culinary School. I am now back in IT. Cooking for a job sucks. Mornings at your own pace, checking emails with a coffee and a pastry is not that bad. Just take some time off IT, and do something totally not IT.

I scaled back from working all hours in a full on job for a film and TV production studio, everything was mission critical...

Now I am a senior technician in a small town outfit, my skills from past life in a high pressure bleeding edge job help me every day. You'd be surprised at how fulfilling just dropping back a peg or two can be.

If you still want work in 2 years (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | about 5 years ago | (#29893793)

Better become a blacksmith. All this technology crap will be useless.

In some ways I'm going thru brain death (1)

ptmartin01 (13212) | about 5 years ago | (#29893795)

But that's because IT's advances are now only theory in relation to what I do. My job no longer requires that I keep up with technology and so i keep up only in areas that are enjoyable. I don't code, anything at all.

But the time I have left over I can spend with many many things that have become important - kids, games, spouse. The money was an issue for the first couple of years.

If I had to do it over again, though, I would have trained as a respiratory therapist just so I could be in a field that is still developing while working a job that lets me go home at the end of the day.

Am I the only one left who thinks his pay is okay? (1)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29893801)

This isn't the easiest job in the world, and there have been some unfortunate changes of late but salary isn't one of them. I'm making a decent living in IT. I'm not going to get rich soon, but my wife doesn't have to work and can raise our 1 year old properly for a couple of years (and the next child that comes along too if nothing goes south). My hours aren't great but they aren't lousy either, and I get a day a month off and only work about 1 weekend in 10. Hardest thing about my job is the shift work - no overnight shifts but getting up early one week then working late the next takes it out of you. Second hardest part is facing the fact that I'll be working for another 25-35 years with lots of accrued leave but few actual breaks taken .... well unless I get ill or die (which is quite possible). But that'd be true in any profession.

I'll have my say on this (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | about 5 years ago | (#29893805)

I used to work for Hewlett Packard, Dell, Compaq and Sony in Rancho Bernardo. I have 2 BA's, 1 in computer science and 1 in Restaurant cooking and management.
    Guess which on is going after me in this f-d up economic enviroment?

Do you like to eat?

Got out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893819)

Went back to school, got a BSME, married another BSME, designed circuits and ran a MEMS lab while putting her through her masters and phd.
Now we both work at WeBuildAirplanes in a rainy washington city, and the only machines I have root on are the ones at home.

Much better money, better benefits, as much stability as you can get in this company, and I still have time for my favorite hobby of collecting skills/

From IT Tech to Slot Tech (2, Interesting)

J-Rod_Brown (928246) | about 5 years ago | (#29893829)

I went from IT to working on slot machines... The switch wasn't that difficult as far as troubleshooting, deployment, and repair but its a different world. Instead of cube farms, you get to work on a small army of money making machines. One of the most interesting facets of the job is the customers. They are so varied and odd ball that its a riot. Especially when people think they can scam you out of some money saying a game cheated them on this or that. Its not a huge career move but I love the environment I work in. It is much less stress and you get to walk around a lot and meet many interesting people with many interesting stories. Good luck with the economy in some states, though. Most of the Indian casinos are holding up alright while other Class III facilities (especially Vegas/Lake Tahoe) are struggling (it all has to do with the customer base...).

Left 2 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893839)

I was in systems engineering job, and left the field 2 years ago for medical research.

Took a 50% pay cut - and haven't regretted it once. In fact, I always thought I was underpaid in engineering compared to the mid-career contractors who milked the system and were HORRIBLE. In research, my only thought has been, "And I get paid for this!??!".

Perks are 4+ weeks of vacation, no more worrying about timecharging, working with people who are much more passionate - and waaaay more technical creativity. I've done more engineering in the past year than I did in my previous "engineering" job. In research, you're doing things that people haven't done before. It's not just learning the "process" and meeting your customer requirements.

Whatever your passion, jump off and do it. It was scary as hell at the time - but best decision I've ever made. What good is extra money if you're spending it to prop up a miserable life? And the crazy thing is that I have way more vacation time, but I enjoy work so much, I hardly ever use it.

Go for it, you'll never look back.

I stayed in IT, but moved WAY down the food chain. (1)

toygeek (473120) | about 5 years ago | (#29893853)

I worked at a small web hosting firm for 9 years. I started out doing part time tech support. When I had been there 9 years, 2 new owners later, and my colleagues had been fired, and I was the only guy handling 150 web/dns/db/mail servers, and the bulk of tech support, being on call 24/7/365 for 2+ years, and dealing with rude customers I had enough. I hung in there for a while though, but then the new jackass owners messed with my pay and started micromanaging me. *THAT* was the last straw.

I now work as a mobile computer tech helping grandmas and business owners who don't know anything about computers. Guess what? I'm on the road all the time, seeing the world from a windshield instead of a webcam. People are happy to see me (I'm fixing their broken bookmarks, and their printer/scanner/fax, they need me!) and I rarely am the same place twice in a week.

How did I handle the change? Well, I admit, I was forced into it a bit. I quit the server admin job rather abruptly and hadn't planned things out. The mobile tech job was a compromise between getting to work in the field I love and making enough money to pay rent.

I had to move to a much, much smaller home. I went from a 3bdr 2ba condo with a 2 car garage to a 3bdr 2ba apartment with no storage at all. I had to find a new home for my dog. I had to get rid of 2/3 of my belongings. I had to downsize and simplify in ways I never imagined.

The result? I have far more free time to do things that are more important to me than working. I am able to work on my own personality instead of web servers. I actually started writing (fiction) again. I even *gasp* learned to cross stitch (its fun, like making a picture one pixel at a time.)

I went from making $55k/yr to $30k/yr, and it has not been easy. But, its been worth it.

YMMV, standard disclaimers apply.

Office Space - The Topic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893855)

In this thread, the horrible realities of IT work after 1995.

I quit IT two years ago and went into teaching. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893861)

I had been in IT for about 10 years and had had enough. Fortunately I had a master's degree so I was able to get a job teaching at a community college. It's definitely a big pay cut compared to my old IT job, but it's more enjoyable and less stressful. I would never go back to IT. You have to find something you enjoy doing. Life's too short to be spent slaving away in a cubicle for a group of total bastards in a job you hate.

Just find something else. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29893881)

I originally left IT in 2003 to go into Retail Management which lasted two years, then landed me back into IT. In that time I was able to finish my bachelors and master degree and make a decent living now. I went from Microsoft based solutions to completely open source. Which in my opinion has made my job stability situation better, since not many people can work with a complete CLI environment. I help my company run complex data center solutions, and even though the hours suck and not getting a raise for the last three years really blows. I have decided to get another Master degree in health care management and just say so long IT. The whole reason I got into IT was because of the tech toys and because I really enjoy innovating new solutions. But as you said, the disrespect and the pay cuts are getting a little bit much, I went from 85k a year to 23k for the same job, then back to 60k after 6 years, what type of career does that crap. I made 50k in retail management, and I only worked 45 hours a week. My advise to you is just find something you enjoy and don't look back..., don't pull the same mistake I made and try to return, it not worth it, you can make more with another career and not end up spending 20% of your income trying to stay on top of your skills. Companies just expect too much, and no compensation for it.

I have about 8yrs in IT, about 4 as an SE, and 1 (1)

Desmoden (221564) | about 5 years ago | (#29893895)

.5 in Technical Marketing. And if I can survive the politics I think I've found my spot. It's fun always planing with the bleeding edge stuff. I LOVED being an SE (Sales/System Engineer) but life points you in funny directions.

What I've found is there are a TON of "second tier" careers that are kind of like dual-classing in D&D, where you have to be a 8th level unix sysadmin || 10th level Windows admin || xth level Engineer of Foo, and then a 2nd level SE, and then you can apply for 1st level technical marketing engineer or something like that :)

As I said, there are lots of cool options after IT. And all of them are better than getting paged at 2am

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