I hope this is the right place for this post. If not, please let me know so I can correct it. Thanks.
I'm thinking about switching careers back into IT after having tried teaching for a few years. I previously was a network tech for two years and then a network admin for a windows network (MCSE, MCP NT4...ya, I know the stone age!!) for 5 years, and then did some consulting here and there after that before I switched to teaching in 2007. I had alwanys wanted to try teaching so I gave it a whirl and now know it's not for me. Obviously, I'll need some new training (probably certs) and I already have a B.S. degree, so I'm hoping to get some insights on where IT is at and what the future looks like. I'm particularly interested in security or possibly medical records or networking again. Any thoughts?
Here's some questions I've been thinking about that you may wish to comment on…..
1. Pros/Cons of IT as a career path right now (i.e. What is the current state of IT?)
2. Pro/Cons of choosing IT security?
3. Any resources/articles I can read?
4. What does the job market look like? (I here different stories: “We can’t find people with good IT skills” while also hearing "stay away" from IT because finding a job is very challenging because jobs have been off-shored and H-1B visas are "killing the job market.")
5. What's the current view on degree vs certs vs experience? (I have a BS degree in education with a double major in math & science, my previous MCP & MCSE NT4, and the 7 years experience that ended around 2006, although I’ve continued to do some consulting.)
6. Are most IT people working longer hours (i.e. more than 55 hours/week?) given the current demands of IT environments. Obviously this varies.
7. Are companies currently typically paying for continuing ed (certs, etc) or do most IT pros pay out of pocket?
8. If you were deciding on a career path right now, would you choose IT again? why/why not?
Thank you so much for any help insights you can provide!
Yes, my mistake. I posted it first in the Security discussion area but then didn't see it (I'm new here), so I thought it didn't go through. So I tried again and figured the networking category might be a better place to post it. That's when I noticed that an admin has to approve posts...opps! Fixed.
Wow, no replies after over 100 views and a week's time. Does anyone care to share a little bit about the current state of the IT field? I would greatly appreciate any input. Or is this the wrong place to post this question? ...Thank you for any help.
Thank you for the response, I appreciate the insights.
I do reside in the US in North Carolina, and we seem to have a similar earlier background as you (started in pc tech support, achieved MCSE NT4, and then did consulting – however I shifted into a different career afterwards). And I had the old Atari along with others like Colecovision, TRS80, etc, etc too! Ah, those were fun days as a kid!
I have Googled the areas I’m interested in (Networking, Security, Health related IT) as well as posted in a number of other forums. I’ve garnered some insights, but have had very little response in forums where I figured I would get the most insightful, realistic feedback – those in the trenches know best. Wish I could get more responses.
Where are you located, if I may ask?
I will add to John's great comments from my own experience. I should say i work in the UK and haven;t worked for a while so i can't answer all your queries but i'll add what i can.
One really good point made by John is don't do it for the money. You can get well paid in IT but it won't happen overnight and you may have to spend a certain amount of years getting to the stage where you can demand a good salary.
When you ask would i choose IT again, the answer is a definite yes simply because it never gets boring, there are always new thngs to learn. things that have changed etc. But that can also be it's downside. You have to really enjoy what you are doing or continually having to learn new things becomes a chore and a struggle. And even though i enjoy what i do there are times, although very rare, when Cisco have released yet another new thing etc. i wished it could just stay the same for a while
All the very best people i have worked with have that passion and not by coincidence they have also been well rewarded for their skills.
So first i would say you need to be realistic about how much you enjoy doing IT and which areas particularly interest you.
A good grounding in routing and switching will never be wasted time. Security is always in demand although ironically, as John points out, a lot of companies hire security people to be seen to be doing the right thing rather than any specific intention to actually do anything. If you don't have specific security regulatory requirements then working for security can be a very frustratng task because usually what you propose involves more inconvenience/cost for the company and that is a hard sell.
In my experience companies often react to security only after a breach, they throw money at the problem and then once the dust has settled it's back to where you were before.
In terms of certifications and companies paying for that a lot depends on whether that company gets any benefit from your being certified. Most companies i have worked for full time would pay for courses and books as well (which can save a lot of money) but not for certifications. Obviously if you contract all that is irrelevant as you pay for pretty much everything.
Again, i agree with John. certfications can be useful to help you learn things in a structured order way so i'm not saying don't do them.
The only other thing i would say about choosing networking as your career is that sometimes companies view the network as a sort of commodity ie. no real competitive gain to be had from a better network so compared to others parts of IT eg. database admins/developers you may not get the same respect etc. This does not apply to all companies at all, and sometimes the company is right ie. they don't get any competitive benefit from it. It may not matter to you but it is worth bearing in mind.
Finally i should point out that this may not be the most unbiased place to ask this sort of question as most of us who post do so in our own free time so we clearly enjoy what we do, enough to have it as a hobby as well
Thank you for the response. You present some thoughtful insights to consider. And yes, I truly enjoy IT, the challenge, the learning, the change. Eventhough sometimes it can get overwhelming.