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Lifetime Careers in IT?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the long-term-predictions dept.

Technology 568

CyPlasm asks: "MSN Careers had this article posted the other day that asked about a "Lifetime Career in IT: Is It Possible?" Does the average Slashdot reader think they will retire (with a pension, benefits, etc) after a long and successful career in IT?"

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177650)

FP!

Re:first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177670)

Insightful? Would this post be insightful for pointing out how un-insightful the parent is?

Re:first post (0, Offtopic)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177712)

Does the average Slashdot reader think they will retire (with a pension, benefits, etc) after a long and successful career in IT?

Not if he keeps replying with these "FP Posts"...

Re:first post (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177744)

I guess it's pointless to tell a first-poster to RTFA, but...

RTFA!

Had to be done. :)

FP (-1, Offtopic)

shivianzealot (621339) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177652)

Woooooot! FP! Lemchatters envy me!

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177692)

Magic 8 ball says:
Unlikely

ada (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177656)

asereje ja deje
dejebe tu dejebe

not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177657)

I've already changed careers 3 times...

quite likely (3, Interesting)

CrudPuppy (33870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177926)

I think the key to this is maintaining a motivation level that will allow you to keep up with emerging trends, but not so high that you burn out.

I have been a unix admin for 10 years, but have been playing with perl, cgi, apache, mysql, and linux for most of that time also, knowing that someday I may have to rely on one or more of them.

keeping a broad scope is absolutely necessary, but not so broad that you master nothing.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177659)

Only if i work for Microsoft

Retire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177662)

I'll retire when they pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands!

Certainly (5, Insightful)

sparkhead (589134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177667)

We have a few lifers, and they're always the source of plenty of good information. Don't have to know the latest languages to be good at thinking about how things work.

Not me though. I'm going to claw my way to middle management and worry about TPS reports.

Re:Certainly (5, Funny)

salemnic (244944) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177803)

Yeah, about those TPS reports. Did you see the memo? If you could just do that from now on, that would be great.

And I'll make sure you get another copy of that memo. Okay?

Re:Certainly (4, Informative)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177828)

Indeed, my dad is a lifer (same systems for 25+ years even). Doesn't know many (modern) languages, but has been keeping the system he's worked on up, running, and maintained to modern needs while the company cycles through less competant engineers (and managers).

Re:Certainly (2, Interesting)

GombuMstr (532073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177852)

I believe the ones that will manage have the ability keep on for life. Manage their projects/staff/code/execs. Have strong staying power. I've been doing this since I was 22. I'm now reaching 30 and I feel old. But I know that if I control my environment and put my self in a position that has a lot of say and authority and understand the requirements I will see a long future ahead.

--Travis

Re:Certainly (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177875)

Open source has shown that there is no need to pay developers so that profession will die.

Re:Certainly (4, Funny)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177893)

Ummmmm yeah..... I am going to need you to come in and work on Saturday..... say around 9:00am... Um.... yeah and Sunday too. :-)

The thing is Bob it's not that I am lazy, its that I just don't care...

No, I don't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177671)

Does the average Slashdot reader think they will retire (with a pension, benefits, etc) after a long and successful career in IT?"

--
foobar = foo + bar

From hobby it came, and hopefully will soon return (5, Interesting)

boinger (4618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177672)

I never planned on getting paind for "doing computer stuff" and, at this point, I am just waiting to happen into a situation where I can quit and go back to it being a hobby for me. But the finances are what stop me - I like having the things that I have - a nice motorcycle, a big TV, lots of computers (ironically). If I could make, say, 2/3rds of my salary being a mechanic, I would take it in a heartbeat.

Anyone need an overpriced mechanic who specializes in aircooled VWs/Porsches?

BMW Mechanic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177785)

Look into getting training as a BMW mechanic. I read an article recently talking about how technical it is. There are now training schools for this alone, and their graduates get jobs very quickly. I seem to recall you could make $50K and up doing it.

Of course. . . . (5, Interesting)

havardi (122062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177673)

It's not as if you have to be on top of the game in IT. At least, not the government sector.. Most managers and senior support staff are in their 30's and 40's and completely ignorant of whats been going on for the past 5 years.

Re:Of course. . . . (5, Insightful)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177749)

Ironically, most of the people I know in their 30s and 40s chuckle at the young turks who don't realize that their "hot new paradigm" (or language or whatever) is the same recycled cat shit that's been around - and dismissed - for years. They'll all very much aware of the new stuff that really matters, but are also aware of the true cost of changing legacy systems and don't make changes casually.

Re:Of course. . . . (3, Insightful)

tshak (173364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177844)

I know in their 30s and 40s chuckle at the young turks who don't realize that their "hot new paradigm" (or language or whatever) is the same recycled cat shit that's been around - and dismissed - for years.

Many times it has to do with the right implementation of said paradigm. I won't go into detail, but most of us know that the concept of an abstract syntax machine was around long before Java became the next big Fad. But implementation, market forces, etc. all play a part in the buy-in of a technology.

GOOGLE IS DYING! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177674)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: Google [slashdot.org] is dying.

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Google [google.com] community when IDC confirmed that Google [google.com] market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all web searches. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Google [google.com] has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Google [google.com] is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by Yahoo's failure to renew its exclusive deal with Google [com.com] .

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict Google [google.com] 's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Google [google.com] faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Google [google.com] because Google [google.com] is dying. Things are looking very bad for Google [google.com] . As many of us are already aware, Google [google.com] continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Google search [google.com] is the most endangered of them all, having lost most of its core affiliates. The sudden and unpleasant departures of Yahoo and AOL only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Google [google.com] is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Google.com [google.com] founder Sergey Brin states that there are 7000 users of Google [google.com] . How many users of Verity [verity.com] are there? Let's see. The number of Google [google.com] versus Verity [verity.com] posts on USENET is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Verity [verity.com] users. AskJeeves [askjeeves.com] posts on USENET are about half of the volume of Verity [verity.com] posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of Inktomi [inktomi.com] . A recent article put Teoma [teoma.com] at about 80 percent of the search engine market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 Google [google.com] users. This is consistent with the number of Google [google.com] USENET posts.

Due to the troubles of Google News [google.com] , abysmal sales and so on, Google [google.com] is going out of business and will probably be taken over by idealab! who operate another troubled search engine. Now Inktomi [inktomi.com] is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that Google [google.com] has steadily declined in market share. Google [google.com] is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Google [google.com] is to survive at all it will be among search engine dilettante dabblers. Google [google.com] continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Google [google.com] is dead.

Fact: Google [google.com] is dying

lifetime? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177675)

lets see if we make it past the latest with saddam

What's up with all the depressing career stories? (4, Interesting)

Augusto (12068) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177679)

Let's see;

One week it's another company is dotbombing

Another week is a company replacing all technical people with Taiwanese made sock puppets

And now how we better think about something else if we want to not starve when we reach retirement age.

I can't feel the love guys, are you trying to kill us with more stress???

Between OSS guys destroying code to sell... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177753)

...and overpaid IT people whining that they aren't paid enough and threatening to unionize, is it any wonder employers say "fuck this, let's hire Indians instead?

OSS has to be the biggest culprit. They have this penchant for wanting to destroy markets for products to sell, stuff one can make money off selling and supporting. Eventually there will be an event horizon of such, OSS will have cannibalized IT jobs as you know it. The big winners: your employers. But hey, McDonalds is always hiring.

Re:What's up with all the depressing career storie (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177931)

dammit, don't mod him up!

Mod him down! Show him what _real_ pain is! We'll show him what stress is.

lifetime career indeed (2, Funny)

riqnevala (624343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177686)

try doing a life - for IT crimes.

Kevin's on the loose, beware!

no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177687)

(this is insightful!)

Over 1 million say no.... (5, Insightful)

cylcyl (144755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177689)

The million+ folks who got laid off since the burst of the dot-com bubble and have not yet gotten a new job say "NO"!

i doubt it (1)

Jarhead83 (532394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177691)

frankly, i dont want to. the better you do your job, the lower your chances are of keeping it unless you are working for a massive company. not to mention the fact that you will more than likely lose your sanity if you dont have a staff underneath you as well.

hahahaah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177693)

seems a joke right? I work(ed) for a blue chip company next week, when our entire IT staff gets out-sourced.

Through the military, yes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177694)

After spending 20 years as one of the lowest paid (yet consistently employeed) network/sys admins on the planet, yes, I will get a pension, benefits, etc.

Re:Through the military, yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177729)

fair play to you i left the armed forces being a sys admin and now earn twice as much but i am always looking over my shoulder incase of the big Redundo, all of a sudden 65 looks a very long way away, however i am loaded (for the moment)

Yes (1)

pyite69 (463042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177699)


I expect to be in IT forever, though I doubt I
will spent a whole career at one place. I am
trying to pick an industry that will be around
for awhile, health care, and to get familiar with
it.

Sure (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177700)

if you're willing to move to India and take 1/10 of your current pay, you can have a lifetime job.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177702)

I'll be working on Warcraft XII right before retirement.

Lifetime Career in IT? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177708)

I can't even get a week long internship in IT. How is lifetime possible?

Retire? Who's going to retire? (5, Interesting)

ProgressiveCynic (624271) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177709)

You'll have to kill me first! I can see getting enough money to go it alone and start my own business, but come on who wants to sit around on their ass all day? That's how you get old, years have nothing to do with it!

And I don't see that being in computers makes it any easier or harder. Sure you've got to retrain every year, but we've got it easy compared to doctors, and even your average factory job changes enough that it's an issue there too. Stop learning and you die, first mentally then physically!

Re:Retire? Who's going to retire? (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177754)

You make a very good point. I almost feel sorry for the people who I will be replacing in a few years, when they take a permanent vacation from contributing to society.

Re:Retire? Who's going to retire? (2, Interesting)

ProgressiveCynic (624271) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177815)

ScienceDaily [sciencedaily.com] has a story today "Study Is First To Confirm Link Between Exercise And Changes In Brain" [sciencedaily.com] , basically saying that using your body keeps your brain functioning. It's like love: the more you give, the more you've got. Humans have few limits except the ones we place on ourselves.

The odds of finishing an IT career... (3, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177711)

The odds of finishing an IT career... are getting better. There are more people retiring very soon, and with that comes lots of senior positions that will be vacant, and ripe for the picking.

Settle into a company, make yourself indispensible, and you are set... If we avoid nuclear war, and stop using SUVs...

3rd Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177713)

3rd post!
Woo Hoo!

TP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177714)

Peace!

Life long is right! (2, Insightful)

Marqui (512962) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177715)

Because at the rate IT firms close and layoff, we will have to keep working! Not all companies offer any retirement benefits at all. We will just have to keep on working, and do some smart investing if possible!

Third Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177716)

Third Post

of course! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177717)

pention and all that? no. But i make enought that i should be able to put some away(401k?) It will be all my own money.

Lifetime in IT? Yea, i will be old and grey before i would do anything else.

Retire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177718)

Retire on a diet of cola, stress, donuts, stress, M&Ms?
Hah

WhatMeWorry!

Huh? (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177721)

Maybe I'm missing something but:

1) Why on Earth not? The article doesn't offer any reason to doubt the rather obvious conclusion that, of course, people will have lifelong careers in IT. Except that "MSN Careers member EsTeeJay" thinks otherwise.

2) Maybe I'm nitpicking, but why is a pension a prerequisite for a lifetime career? I'm not holding my breath for a pension but still expect to spend a lifetime doing what I do.

The only reason I can think of to doubt the long-term potential of an IT career is that systems may become so intuitive there's no need for a admins. But given the way software progresses, one doesn't see much chance of that.

Rampant Age Discrimination--at Age 35 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177897)

Read this [ucdavis.edu] , paying especial attention to section 5, and then re-examine your questions...

Of course!!! (3, Funny)

MrWinkey (454317) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177724)

If I die tommrow that is....

calm before the storm (5, Interesting)

Rev.LoveJoy (136856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177730)

Before this becomes a pedantic debate about H1-Bs or IT unions I think it is important to keep in mind the diversification within the IT industry in recent history.

Asking a generation x geek today if they will 'retire from IT' might in 30 years seem as inappropriate a question as saying, "well gosh, do you think you could spend your career in education?"

The obvious answer being that of course you can spend your lifetime in IT work. In it's current manifestation, it is a new field. One that will continue to branch out in ways currently not imagined.

Cheers,
-- RLJ

hmmm (3, Interesting)

pummer (637413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177736)

Does the average Slashdot reader think they will retire (with a pension, benefits, etc) after a long and successful career in IT?

what about those of us that aren't in IT now??

We aren't our parents' generation anymore (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177738)

Today's society has become more self absorbed, me, me, me. Couple this with the ever growing trend of companies laying off/firing people at the whim of the financialists, and you have my generation.

No, IMO, IT for the majority won't be a one company career. Hell, I've only been doing this for 10 years and I have already worked for 5 companies. That's an average of (holy cow, math on /.?) 2 yers per company. The longest I worked for one "company" was 5 years, and that was the Marine Corps.

I don't see this trend stopping anytime soon. The technology changes too swiftly for people to find their comfort level and sit there doing the same thing for 30 years.

Very Difficult These Days (4, Interesting)

cmacb (547347) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177739)

Many (most) IT people in the past job-hopped like crazy at one point or another. This allowed up to get our salaries up faster than staying at one organization. The downside of that is no big pension benefit from a particular company. Most of the people I know who have built an entire career in IT are government people maintaining Cobol programs from 30 years ago. More people in the private sector tend to transition into related management functions and from there possibly into non-IT activities. So, while it will never be impossible, it will probably grow more difficult to spend one's entire career in IT. That doesn't make IT different than other endeavors however, just the opposite, it makes IT more similar.

Difficult, but possible (5, Insightful)

BaronCarlos (34713) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177740)

In my experience, the only success I have seen in climbing the corporate ladder in IT is through a select few vectors:

Consulting: You work for a consulting firm and merc yourself out to the highest bidder. (Benefits: Lots of money, though little in corporate benefits (Stock, Options, etc.))

Management: The top of the IT ladder is CTO. Most companies have them now. (That puts you on the Board of Directors, and a VP after your name). (Disadvantage: You are now a technical manager, not a technician.)

Company Leap Frog: Work for Company A, beef up your resume and jump to Company B (higher up the corporate food chain). Work for Company B for awhile and do the same and jump to Company C (again with an increase in Title and Wage) and so on and so forth. (I have worked longer in my company the Every Director/VP in my building. Most have not worked here longer then 2 years.)

Conclusion: It is possible, even using tactics found in other departments. But is the end result really worth it? (Even if it is what you want to do for the rest of your life?)

Pension? Benefits? What are they? (2, Insightful)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177752)

Defined-benefit pensions have been in the process of disappearing for years; if you're working in IT (or anywhere else, for that matter), take charge of your own life and start looking to your 401k and/or IRA.

I expect to be working or playing at this stuff until retirement age, but I'll probably detach myself from the IT rat-race before then only because it's a rat-race, not because of my ability to contribute.

Writing software is rewarding; writing software for business sucks (after a while; 25+ years in my case).

If it were only a few years ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177756)

I would be able to get rich off the dot com boom and be retired by now, forget the pension...but alas those times are over...I'm not going to rely on social security benefits nor a pension to get me through retirement...

In order to have a lifelong career in IT... (1, Funny)

MadAnthony02 (626886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177766)

I would first have to get a job in IT.

(current status: unemployed recent college grad. MIS major).

Re:In order to have a lifelong career in IT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177886)

dude! you picked the WRONG degree, dude. there's already a glut of workers, and stack the H1-B foreigners on top of all of that. better go back and get that philosophy degree!

Sure, we have lifetime employment. (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177767)

When we fire you, we kill you.

County employee (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177774)

Considering I'm a county employee, I feel pretty confident that I can maintain my career in IT (GIS area) for my entire stay here. And in 30 years I retire with an excellent retirement package. While everyone was jumping around jobs in the IT field, I was studying and going to school. I'm still going to school and plan to for quite some time.

IT in Government (5, Insightful)

JackL (39506) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177775)

I'm pretty sure I could have had a lifetime IT career working in state government. Slashdot has had the private sector "cutting edge development" vs. "behind the times" government work before. It is basically personal preference - exciting and short term vs less exciting but stable. Many associate government work with being boring and while the database I maintained certainly wasn't exciting, it's impact on the state's medical system was.

So yes, lifetime IT jobs probably exist and they don't necessarily have to be boring. It really depends on what you are looking for.

Hell no! (4, Funny)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177777)

Someday I'm going to sell my stock options and retire early on the proceeds. Of course, since the options are so far underwater there's little hope of them ever seeing air again, my retirement years will be spent in a cardboard box underneath a freeway overpass.

A lifelong career IS possible, IF.. (4, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177782)

you blow your brains out at age 30. This is the only industry I know of that eviscerates itself every few years and rejects the knowledge of its senior experts. I'm 45 with experience from design and assembly to sales to engineering to programming, and I've been looking for an IT job for years. Ever heard the term "gray-listing"...?

Lifers (2, Interesting)

2Wrongs (627651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177783)

I'm skeptical of IT people who stay at the same job for more than a few years.

They tend to have 1 way of doing things because they've never learned other systems. Switching companies is a way to do that.

And to answer the inevitable "Not Me" posts, I know there are always exceptions.

YOU tell me.. (0, Offtopic)

a8f11t18 (614700) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177792)

Does the average Slashdot reader think they will retire (with a pension, benefits, etc) after a long and successful career in IT?

"FP!"
"Woooooot! FP! Lemchatters envy me!"
"asereje ja deje dejebe tu dejebe"

Of course by the time you retire.... (4, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177800)

"Back in my day, we didn't even have cybornetic implants. We had to interface with the computer through this thing that had all of these buttons, and another thing that moved around and had 3 buttons. And another thing. We had a command line. When we used Xwindow, the corners were so sharp we had customers sue us for it. That's why we had to use the round ones. And there was this company called apple....."

Re:Of course by the time you retire.... (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177904)

Back in my day we had to bootstarp the machine with punch cards and flip switches. And let me tell you being curious as to what would happen if one of those switches wasn't set right was a sure fire way to trash the HPT disk. Six foot across it was and it needed balancing every month. Printers, printers you say they were in another building and you had to wear glasses and ear muffs just to change the paper. Still that wasn't as bad as having to pay for every instruction run, out of your own pocket mind. The best bit was users were actually grateful, yep grateful they were, when you totalled the expenses in a night rather than a month.

Yes (1)

jwhitener (198343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177801)

I have been working in IT for a large healthcare orgainization and have ridden the 1990's boom and the 2000+ bust without noticing anything. Now, those working for thriving IT companies during the 1990's boom certainly were making more money than I, but come bust time, I still have a job, and they don't.
The key to a long IT career is to apply your IT knowledge to something more stable than IT for IT's sake.

Not possible for most (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177804)

It will not be possible for most people to retire from IT as by the time a worker is approaching retirement the amount of people competing for these positions will price the older talent out of the market.

Not only that, but the ability for most people to learn complexity later in life is greatly diminished so what effectively happens is that in 30 years, the 30 years of that time will have skills that are far more advanced than the typical 60 year old.

So if I can hire a 30 year old with a wider skill set, a faster pace, maybe from a third world country, I'll take that person. The fact is that companies must save money to make more money, insurance for the elderly is more expensive, pensions are expensive, and the time required off from work to tend to illness is an impediment to finishing projects under budget and on time.

Being in the position to hire, the simple truth is I can't afford to allow people to retire under my management. Terminations, down-sizing, restructering, and mergers will continue to be the tools to remove those workers who are getting too old and too expensive.

Re:Not possible for most (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177859)

I -WISH- this were a troll, but unfortunately, the person had no choice but to post as an AC, because they are speaking the truth.

That's why most IT people should migrate to management or some other skill that doesn't take keeping up with technology.

A lifetime in IT will never happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177809)

...unless the individual continues to learn and expand his or her skill set. Even then, there's no garantee.

Just being an efficient and capeable IT worker requires continuous learning. For the person that starts out as a sysadmin, he or she will need to move into core programming in order to even begin to ponder staying in IT for a lifetime.

For the individual that starts thier IT career as a core programmer, he or she will need to continuously replenish thier skill set. And even then, they'll need to prove they have fresh skills and ideas in order compete with the younger generation.

A nurse can start out as a nurse and retire as a nurse - not so in IT.

If you're in IT and expect to retire in IT, you'd better re-evaluate. Most will be in for a rude awakening when they reach thier late 50's and no-one will hire them for typical sysadmin or programming jobs.

Really, it sux to think about it, but it's reality.

Sure... (1)

ovapositor (79434) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177812)

Probably the best way is to get tenure at an academic institution. Other than that your choices are to be a successful self employed go getter, or work for the government.

Why not? (5, Insightful)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177817)


My grandfather is 90. He is in perfect mental and physical health, and "officially" worked as an attorney until a few years ago. He still occasionally takes depositions and adjudicates some lesser disputes.

Aside from the fact that that side of the family has a history of longevity, I believe that the two reasons why he kept going were (a) he didn't feel like quitting, because he enjoyed his job, and (b) he worked in a field (partner in a mid-sized law firm) where nobody could dictate to him when to retire. His expertise grew over time.

In Europe, a lot of societies which have historically cherished the idea of retirement at age 65 with a generous pension are starting to re-think this concept, primarily because the pension funds simply won't be able to keep up with the glut of baby boomers retiring soon, but also because peoples' attitude towards work is changing.

Lack of job security nowadays means that, while you may show professionalism towards an employer, you do not display the traditional "loyalty for life". As I can tell, it is in the nature of companies to act in a manner they perceive to be economically rational (regardless of whether it is or not)--this takes precedence over keeping old Smithers but-he's-only-got-2-years-to-go-until-retirement around at all costs. Concurrently, people are discovering that they are far more mobile in the labor market, recession or not, than they once were, and employers generally seem to recognize that fact.

Especially in IT, where actual hands-on know-how may become obsolescent fairly quickly, but experience in how to manage that know-how (project management, design, business-side consulting, etc.) grows over time. I can imagine that we will see an increase in the number of over-40 employees going part-time consultant, and simply not quitting at 65. I don't know about you, but I love my line of work, and can't really imagine just stopping dead in my tracks one day to go play shuffleboard with a bunch of walking corpses.

So a classical "employment-until-pension"? No. A "job for life"? Definitely. I don't know about you, but I would love to still be a part-time IT consultant when I'm 70.

IT sux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177819)

Why on Earth would you want to? Programming and IT get incredibly boring after a while. IT is nothing but a glorified file clerk. That's all it is, period. Add to that writing boring business software. I can't wait to finish school and, as one other poster put it, have it go back to being a hobby for me. It's a fun hobby but a lousy career (like many other things).

Benefits (3, Funny)

fuzzykitty (265256) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177822)

Will I have retirement, benefits, etc...? Of Course! I don't work in IT.

IN CAPITALIST AMERICA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177824)

Your boss retires you!

I'd like to see a union or guild develop (2, Insightful)

once1er (643921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177827)

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, and we agree, sadly, that due to a deeping interest in, and an understanding of computers by the average person (although, we could contend that the average person still doesn't know ziltch, but thats another reply) that the average IT will become more of a janitorial position. The way I like to describe what I do to people who don't have a clue is to say, "Imagine your office manager. That is pretty much what I do, but it's all on computers." So if you know any office managers or janitors with comfortable retirement packages, I'd like that job myself. So we were thinking it would be a good idea to form some sort of union, or official guild. I don't know if there is such a thing at this point, anyone know? Being the son of a union family, I realize the immense comfort that this sort of instituion provides to a family (if the contract is negotiated correctly), and the horrible feeling of doubt when the contract is up (i.e. PMA and ILWU) however, something sort of collective barganing would be in order I'd think. I would be first to apply to such an orgization, and avid fighter for our rights to a comfortable future.

Doubtful (1)

KKin8or (633073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177830)

Probably not. I just can't see myself being happy staring at a computer screen for the next 30 years or so. Now if I could find a nice, fun IT job that got me away from my computer (and maybe ::gasp:: outdoors occasionally), I might be able to make it to retirement.

If only I'd been able to catch the dot-com wave and retire at 30... Though I suppose that doesn't count for this question, since it would be without pension or benefits (wouldn't need 'em), and after a short successful career in IT.

But that makes me wonder-- do most tech companies (I'm thinking specifically about newer dot-com-type companies) have retirement plans? Many probably haven't been around long enough to have employees with enough longevity at the company to qualify for any kind of retirement benefits. But what about the bigger ones that have been around a while? Anyone know? Can you retire with benefits after a long IT (not management) career? I should hope that if you can't now, by the time most techies are heading for retirement, the system will be in place at most companies.

Longest time in IT with one employer? (1)

TechnoInfidel (569458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177832)

I've got eighteen years in the Computer Services department at the local University, and that doesn't include a few years before that working part-time as a student assistant (mis-spent youth). I'm not expecting that's the longest of you folks, but who else has been in IT at one place for a longish time?

I'm hoping to retire from the same place, after another 25 years or so.

Oh hell, now I'm depressed...

Overseas Outsourcing Destroying Domestic IT Jobs? (2, Interesting)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177833)

Some techies are pessimistic about their prospects, citing outsourcing of IT projects overseas and workplace competition from H-1B visa holders.

People have talked about this a lot recently, on Slashdot, in the news, and around my office. But I think people really underestimate the importance of having the developers around so they can be brought into meetings and have face-to-face meetings. When developers feel their responsibility every day, they gets projects done faster and at higher quality. As a developer, I better see the importance of my work by going to more meetings and interacting more with our clients. However, if I was reporting from around the world, I wouldn't feel the same way.

In fact, at my work we're actually bringing lots of QE in from India because we want them working extra hard helping our American-based developers. There's no way real development by American companies will move offshore.

Lifetime career? HA! (5, Interesting)

MsWillow (17812) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177837)

You go through school, going deep into debt, to learn the trade. You get a job, where they work your nuggies off, for a "salary" that's laughable in hourly terms. Then, after ten years struggle, you're either RIFfed, or, if you're darned "lucky", they'll "reward" you by taking away the only thing that made the job even tolerable - you'll become a low-level manager, and never again be permitted to dirty your fingers typing in code.

Thanks, I'll take a pass on IT as a career. In many ways, I'm glad that I came down with MS *before* I got RIFfed, as it has allowed me the time to realize that my "career" had cost me my health, my social life, and one of the things that I enjoyed most - the joy of crafting a well-thought-out and well-executed program with my own two hands.

Pension? Get real! To get that, you have to stay in one company for ages. Fat chance of that, with companies dropping like flies all the time.

No, you might actually be better off if you skipped school, and stuck with your "You want fries with that?" menial job. At least you'd have some semblance of a life with that, and after paying off the student loan that allowed you to join the exciting and fast-paced world of IT, I'm not so sure that you wouldn't actually be ahead financially, too.

Gotta Have a Contingency Plan (2, Insightful)

CosmicDreams (23020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177842)

I've always believed that IT wouldn't sustain an entire career for me. So I've worked up a contingency plan:

Work till I'm forty, teach the rest of my life. I know by that time I'll want to pursue what REALLY is important to me, giving back. And besides, I'll be fired due to age discrimination anyway.

Doubtful, running into age discrimination... (1)

meme_police (645420) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177845)

...at 40 already.

Pension? Never heard of it! (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177846)

As for career -- I'm just a beginner. Only two years in it. I have been involved in three different projects and in all of them as a freelancer. And I begin to think that pension is a fairy tale for kids.

I can add In Soviet Russia to the subject :)

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177850)

I did the smart thing and got my MCSE. I know that as long as Microsoft is around, I will have a job, and that will be a long, long time.

No market for it (3, Funny)

Bitmanhome (254112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177861)

There's only a worldwide market for, what, 6 machines? No way to make a career out of that.

As good as any other field.....STUPID (5, Insightful)

greymond (539980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177868)

Honestly, how many people in MANY OTHER FIELDS got layed off within the last 2 years? Granted a lot of people in the Silicon Valley Tech industry got layed off, but that includes more than just "IT" workers.

Sales Managers, Marketing Employees, Graphic Designers, Gophers, PC Technicians, programmers, and Administrators were layed off.

Some of the Marketing people I know that were layed off had been with the company for over 15 years. You can be layed off or fired in any field - it doesn't matter. As long as your smart, have a plan, and quite a bit of luck - you can get your way through anything (almost).

45% to be unemployed in 2 to 5 years (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177872)

According to this [computerworld.com] and this [computerworld.com] article, close to half of all IT workers could be displaced in as little as two years. International outsourcing, contractors, part-timers and consultants will do most of the work. If you want to work in IT for the rest of your career, you need to be planning your strategy now. So quit munching pizza and watching cartoons and figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

Maybe the analysts are wrong, but do you want to bet your career on it?

The warning signs are out there.

Already retired (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177881)

Have any slashdot readers already retired after a long and successful career in IT?

Sure, why not? (2, Funny)

theGreater (596196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177883)

...just as long as I keep assimilating new information, establishing myself as an indespensible team player, etc.

Oh yeah, and bribes. Lots of bribes.

Love it or leave it (5, Insightful)

sbillard (568017) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177887)

IT professionals still wonder what to expect if they choose to devote their entire career to IT.
Since 1987 I've endured thankless all-nighters and many wasted weekends to satify the insane schedules of inexperienced project managers. I've also had the crushing responsibility that comes with installing and supporting systems that multi-billion dollar companies rely on. I've been shit on as a consultant and exhalted as a savior and treated like a hero. I have experienced a full-spectrum of environments. I am now 35 years old.
But the one thing that has been consistent thoughout this whole time is this: I love what I do. Maddening at times - yes. Mundane - yep. But almost always interresting. If you dont have passion for technology, you wont last.
"You have to keep yourself trained even if management will not pay for it," says Edward Pilling, who participated in the discussion. "You have to have one critical skill set that is in need."
This is what I mean. Learn the new technology. Stay current and informed. Read Slashdot (mod me up now). Take classes. But most of all, stick your nose into it, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. If you are going to get up each day and drag your ass into work, you might as well enjoy your workload. Sure, most IT jobs pay well, but if you hate computers it will show and you wont survive the influx of new grads and you will fall to the side of the road while the fast pace of technology marches on without you. If you love it, you wont be able to get enough of it, and you will succeed.

I will (3, Insightful)

eclectric (528520) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177899)

I work at a university, which means I have a couple of things going for me.

1. Longevity. Not many universities go out of business.

2. Job security. You may be reassigned to departments you don't like, but it's pretty damned hard to get fired.

3. Growth. Constant opportunity to do different things. I can get tired of IT completely, and switch to another field entirely, without losing any time on retirement.

Would be nice.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177907)

I got a job in the railroad industry with a good pension and nice atmosphere. I'd love to retire there after 30 years with 70% salary plus the 401K I'd save... Right now I'm just hoping to make it 5 years so I can get the pension money I'm required to put in.

It's hard to think of staying somewhere for so long when I just hope to be employeed at all.

In the New Economy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward +1 (645038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177911)

1. Start company of unemployed geeks.

2. Bribe government officials for fat military contracts.

3. Retire!!!

Absolutely YES, thanks to OSS (3, Interesting)

nuwayser (168008) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177914)

Linux and OSS help me love my job. SOunds corny and it is... and it's true. That I work for a .gov helps that much more... lots of opportunities to learn and spread the good word, plus there's a lot of stability. If I wasn't having this much fun I would probably stop my IT career pretty soon.

Of course (1)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | more than 11 years ago | (#5177915)

I've already been working in the field for 19 years already, and plan to go another 20 or so (unless I suddenly strike it rich). I don't see why anyone shouldn't plan on working in this career field for as long as they want.

Will an effing barber shop diploma make millions? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5177936)

Sure, all those netware 'tin' engineers will just
apply for a CLW or MSCBP scrip.
Certified Lindows Wanker
Macro Stiff Certified Button Pusher

It's never ending Bull Shit...

-Will
'wood level' Authorized BSS
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