IT Employment

Number of college grads with IT degrees down

A CareerBuilder study shows that colleges are issuing fewer IT degrees than ten years ago. Here are the stats and a possible reason why.

I’ve been writing about IT careers for a long time. I’ve gotten thousands of PR releases about new studies. Many of these “studies” make me scratch my head and wonder why they were conducted and why anyone thought the results were newsworthy.  

But I got one the other day from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists (EMSI) that got my attention. According to this study, the U.S. is producing fewer college graduates with computer and Information Technology degrees than they were ten years ago. (The study uses EMSI’s labor market and education database, which pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers. Higher education completion data includes associate’s degrees and above and comes from the National Center for Education Statistics.)

Ironically, the number of computer and IT jobs grew 13 percent nationally from 2003 to 2012, while the number of computer and IT degrees completed in the U.S. declined 11 percent during that same period. Here are the IT stats from the survey:

  • 13,576 fewer degrees in 2012 than 2003, an 11 percent decrease
  • Related jobs in the U.S. have increased 13.1 percent from 2003-2012, an addition of 311,068 jobs.
  • Of the 15 metros with the most computer and IT degrees in 2012, 10 saw decreases from their 2003 totals.
  • The biggest decreases in computer and IT graduates among the largest metros included New York City (a 52 percent drop), San Francisco (55 percent), Atlanta (33 percent), Miami (32 percent), and Los Angeles (31 percent).
  • Notable metros to increase their computer and IT higher education output were Washington, D.C. (a 31 percent rise), Minneapolis-St. Paul (14 percent), and Salt Lake City (117 percent).

So what’s going on? Part of this sea change is that people are starting to see that, with technology’s speed of change, the curriculum for a computer science degree gets obsolete about a month after it’s created.

Also, people are finding that it’s faster, and more cutting-edge, to pursue tech certifications after you’ve gotten your degree in any other discipline. There are no college prerequisites for getting a tech cert, and you can pursue them at any points in your career.

The stat that made my eyes pop out of my head was that there’s been a 47 percent increase (from 2003 to 2012) in Liberal Arts and Humanities degrees. Back when I was considering a degree (me and Fred Flintstone), a Liberal Arts degree was pretty much a guarantee that you would never get meaningful employment. And, of course, Humanities was where my heart was.

I forged on with my English degree, despite all the warnings of unemployment and inevitable starvation. When in school, I worked part-time at the law school and one of the professors told me I should attend law school because my ability to write would serve me better than a pre-law degree. I thought he was full of it.

Now that I’ve been in working world for several centuries, I can see his point. I think the most valuable employees are not those who come in with a deep knowledge of a specific area, but those who can learn almost anything once they’re in and can quickly adapt to change. And now that IT is more closely tied to the business, the ability to communicate effectively and see the big picture is more important than ever.

I think people are seeing that the more important takeaway from college is learning to think more strategically. I’d like to hear from those of you from both sides of the equation? If you have a computer science degree, do you think it’s given you a leg up in your career? And for those who come into IT with out-of-the-norm degrees, do you feel that your lack of an IT degree has hindered you?


About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

103 comments
sistemasbg
sistemasbg

In our company (Brazil) we have some students who opted not to go to colleges because already have some specialization courses in the area (Technology), others went to college and are now doing MBA. Here do not have much rule on whether or not to go to college. Gaeta, Sergio - ERP Software Consultant at http://www.sbg.com.br

XCobra9
XCobra9

I need an opinion from someone that’s been in the IT security field for a while or an IT Security manager.

I’m going for a Business Information System degree that has a specialization in IT Assurance including a class for Security+ (total of about 4 classes for the specialization). I’m currently working in the IT Service Desk (first level IT) department of a corporation and I will have about 2-3 years experience by the time I finish my school. Will this type of bachelor degree and the experience be enough to get me my first IT Security job? Any other advice is welcome. Thank You

mar_petry
mar_petry

Hmm that is a good one indeed.. Employment is so fickle it can actually go both ways. I have always been in IT before working for any outside company before the year 2000. I remember getting my Bachelors in IT, I was working at another position trying to "break" in the field. One interview I was informed they made their mind up with another gentlemen but did my interview anyway - to go threw the motions; being female in this business has a bit more walls added in some respects. Took 4 years to get my next position.

Getting back to schooling.. I think you can never go wrong going back to school. I personal love it. I did get my break and worked as a Network Admin for 4 years, I was passed up for a promotion with someone who sat behind a door taking test and put them on her resume, I had 3 1/2 more years of experience there. Yes, I was fed up, took 6 months to make my decision, I am obtaining an IT Security cert to roll over to and IT Security Masters degree. I am now a UNIX Sys Admin that came with a good raise; I will also stand out in a pile of resumes. I also have several IT certificates in the IT field that are required for DOD. IT is changing constantly, people need to stay on top of it.

In some sectors that is what they look for, are you willing to learn more, how high have you gone.. right now I have read that they are not looking for BS anymore they are starting to look at the Master's degree.

There should be a balance between the test / certs / and being able to do the job.. I also come with a really good background of strong on the job experiences too, you have to be able to sale yourself, why you should be hired.. there are so many factors to consider, the area, the pay scale, the position etc..  I really don't think you can pin point this.. what happens to one does not happen to other.


sys-eng
sys-eng

I can understand IT enrollment being down.  I really cannot recommend it now unless the student is very interested in programming.  I have over 25 years in IT as a Project Engineer.  The Project Engineer did the jobs of the current BA, SCM, AM, and PM.  I engineered E911 for 4 states and many other larger projects.  I have been unemployed for over four years and will lose my house soon. 

irqcoder
irqcoder

I entered the IT field with a Bachelor of Music degree, first in technical support and in software development for the last 18 years.  I'm entirely self-taught in technology and that's I think that's a big part of why I've been successful.  I actually LIKE reading books on TDD, design patterns or what have you and more importantly I love developing software so it's easy for me to have a passion for doing it.  That translates directly into workplace success.

As for my degree, it has the advantage of standing out in a pile of resumes, but has the disadvantage of causing me to be ruled out of some opportunities because it doesn't satisfy a bullet point on the job posting.  In interviews, I inevitably get "the look" when it comes to my education though it often does lead to good conversation between the interviewer and myself.  I think a company worth working for is going to be more interested in your actual measurable accomplishments in the field than what you studied in college a quarter century ago.

That said, if I had it to do again I would choose a CS degree of some type.  I wouldn't encourage others to try to get into IT by way of a music degree.

Mellard
Mellard

Having just recently earned a BS in IT and gainfully employed post graduation, I disagree with those of you who say CS degrees are more valuable than IT degrees. At my university, many of the CS and IT core courses and beyond (including programming) were the same and in the same academic department. The last year or so of computer courses (when students choose an Emphasis of Study), I found the IT course offerings suited my personality better, so that is why I chose IT over CS. Both IT and CS are valuable and practical degrees, but I think a lot of younger students are intimidated to go for the computer degrees and opt for degrees perceived as less technical, but still regarded as highly intellectual, such as nursing or business, for example.

BTRDAYZ
BTRDAYZ

Interesting and timely...

I earned an Associates degree in computer science in the late 80's. Basic, Fortran, Assembly, COBOL and Pascal were the languages of the day. By the time I graduated, I realized 2 important things: 1) I didn't want to sit at a desk all day and punch code, and 2) My education was already obsolete! New programming concepts were arriving. OOP, C and C++. Then JAVA came along. School curriculum do not change as rapidly as the technology itself. 

I got my start in computer through sales, back when we had true business centers like Computer Land, Computer Factory and Computer Depot. These were authorized IBM, COMPAQ and Apple dealers where the manufacturers took you to their local headquarters and trained you on the product... for free! A big difference from the Best Buys of today. You sold business solutions, got plenty of hands on and free support from the manufacturers. No "per incident" fees back then.

As has been mentioned, some of the most successful people in IT that I have met, were those that had passion for all things technical from their teen years. They went into IT not for the salaries, but because they enjoyed playing with these electronic toys. A salary was always icing on the cake. If you could absorb new information rapidly and memorized it well, you could do well progressing in IT. While my computer science education helped me understand the fundamentals of what processors and memory chips were doing, my career success came from what I was willing to learn on the job.

Today, educational paths are not so clear. The single-most dominant factor is the Internet. Microsoft's dominance is being severely challenged. Google's is not yet fully established and may never be. So unless an employer is paying to have you certified (less and less are doing so), you have to come out of pocket to self certify. Want to be a MCSA in Windows Server 2012? The classes covering the content (3 classes, each 5 days long) would cost about $8,000 in total. And after spending money equivalent to a semester of college, that certification expires in 3 years and you get to do it all over again! And if the world goes VMWare on Linux, guess what? You just wasted $8,000! So you have the expense, obsolescence factor and the fact that even with these certs, you may not get a chance to work due to lack of real world experience and severe competition in the field.

I'm glad that I had not tried for my 4 year degree back then because I would have just learned more programming languages that are not used today, and I would have been 2 years behind getting practical on the job experience. Today, most 4 year degrees are more valuable for the ability to fill an HR person's checklist to hire you, than they are for what they contribute to the job.

jimmanis
jimmanis

Your conclusion about your liberal arts degree has been generally known for at least thirty years. But other departments within universities and parents, who do not always have a broad range of knowledge, provide a good deal of disinformation on the matter. 


Unfortunately, liberal arts colleges and schools within universities do little to aid in the awareness of how much a liberal arts degrees can be of value, especially English with its demand for precise use of language.


The most successful people I've encountered in fifty years of work and education have strong reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, usually combined with a strong sense of curiosity and an awareness that change is perpetual.

lostar2009
lostar2009

I can tell you why the number of IT degress are going down..

1) job placement, I graduated with my associates degree in Cisco Networking in 2012, it took 1.4 years and relocating to find my first job.

2) Not all degrees are made equal... My networking degree pretty much is a computer systems , Cisco networking with a little bit of programing ( visual basic) cram into it... I'm thinking pretty solid degree as long as I'm not trying to get onto programing ...No Go.

Everyone wants the computer science or engineering degree first.

3) science, to have that CS or CE degree you must take your science courses and a whole lot plus alg courses... That is already a turn off for most.

4) Employers want experience employees !!!! Degree or not if you have experience you will find work.

Let's face the facts here ... I was lucky to get my feet in the door. I'm a lv2 support agent for a huge computer company. My pay is decent around 30 with bonuses but I'm not sure if I way stay here unless I break mgmt or advance. I'm studying for my bachelors in technology mgt with 1 year left. Im real close in gaining my CCNP... I already have my net+ and CCNA. If IT do not workout for me im going into medical...

eryk81
eryk81

I have just competed my degree in IT with an emphasis on Network Design and Management. Being dyslexic and having problems with spelling and grammar, written communication is by far my worst area. However, the skills I developed in my English classes are the reason I am a Sr. Network Admin at a fortune 500 company. At the time of interview, I had ¾ of what they were looking for and I got the interview because my resume showed that I could communicate well. I got the job because I was able to effectively communicate the skills learned during my degree path. I think college education is extremely important to the future of the US and I think that more emphasis needs to be put on building communication stills for technical degrees.

I can’t tell you how many times are get emails, and the such, from people educated in US colleges (citizens or not) that can’t communicate effectively in English. It is really bad.

Thurston, RJ
Thurston, RJ

I have a BA in French, an MBA in Computers Systems and an MCSE.  Most of my jobs have treated technical skills as "easy to hire a replacement" whereas my business skills were valued as ability to adapt to change and strategic thinking.  I would advise a college student to major in business administration get hands-on computer experience and then if he/she wants to be an IT professional, get the latest certification in one critical area.

tbmay
tbmay

I'd say if kids are avoiding I.T., they're making a smart choice.  At the end of the day, we have to make a living to live, and general skills in I.T. become commoditized so quickly it's rarely worth the time it takes to get them.  I certainly advise young people I deal with avoid the whole commodity game...regardless of what form it takes.

AnonyJew
AnonyJew

Really?  I am an computer science major at a community college in WA state.  Just this last academic year 250 student graduated with Network Admin, Network Security, and other degrees.  It's all undergrad work, but a large amount of the student I know have either transferred to a 4 year school in state or gone into the rapidly growing field in the northwest.  The study that is referred to is showing that there are a limited degree option in the large schools.  And the demand in the field for Masters or Doctoral degrees is very minimal.  Book knowledge and practical and applied skills are different. 

My generation of IT professionals actually have a huge leg up mainly because we have come to learn the technology by using, learning, and experimenting with it. 

Zzznorch
Zzznorch

Perhaps todays college bound seniors have gotten a clue from seeing their parents, older siblings or cousins having trouble finding work in the IT field.  Being over 50, I have no doubt that when/if I lose my job, I will be done in IT.  I would love to hire local talent but frankly for the tiny company I work for, with the added cost of benefits, taxes and government compliance, it is just too expensive.  For the cost of one mid-level developer as an employee, we have offshored a project to two programmers and one lead programmer in India with a project manager overseeing the work in the United States who we interface with.  The quality of the code has been excellent and once the project is done, they walk away and we take over the code for any bug fixes or maintenance issues.  As I said, I would love to have people local who I could brainstorm with and work with in realtime in the office but it just is not possible.  The fact that my firm is going through this tells me I am not alone with the bigger companies doing it.

Kudos to the next generation for figuring that out.  If I were starting out today as an 18 year heading off to college, IT is a field I would avoid and I would look for something else technical.

rwnorton
rwnorton

I have a son who dropped out of college in his sophomore year (or was it freshman, I don't remember - the good news is he had no college loans to pay off).   His IT career started as a night operator, after a stint in the mail room.  Everything he knows about IT was self-taught (he's a voracious reader) and learned through experience, which includes 10 years of running his own consulting/web design company.

Today, he is a Director of Engineering at Groupon (Engineering, in this case, meaning program development).  He is a nationally recognized speaker on IT Program Development Management, and current program development technologies.  Yet he is aware that his lack of a degree - any degree - continues to hamper (but not prevent) his advancement.

He hires and evaluates talent, and works closely with HR to develop performance measurement metrics.  He would be among the first to agree that a degree in IT is not necessary, or maybe even desirable.

But the topic of this article is that IT Degrees are on the decline.   Not ALL degrees.   Nowhere does the author suggest that a degree is not valuable for a person interested in an IT career.  Rather, I think the suggestion is that IT degree programs have missed the boat - at least that's what the statistics seem to indicate.   IT is quite different today than it was even 10 years ago, and perhaps many of the programs are still too steeped in the technologies and topics of yore.

Critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork.  How do you teach those?  That's exactly what my son does.  But he does it in the context of the real-life working world, not a classroom environment.  Education needs to learn how to create a classroom environment in which those things can be taught.  If they can do that, then an IT degree might once again become relevant.  As it is today, the Business world seems to think that "even" a Liberal Arts degree does a better job of that.

Oh, and my own degree?  BS in Experimental Psychology nearly 45 years ago.  And I ended up in a successful IT career, the seeds of which were planted not too long before my son was a night-operator.  Go figure...

ifixstuff
ifixstuff

You really don't need a degree in IT or CS if you have the skills. I didn't finish high school and am making over 6 figures as a director of IT. What I look for in candidates is an actual demonstration of what they can do. The best talent is into this stuff because it's their hobby and they really just fall into these positions. I started working help desk for an MSP in San Diego and quickly rose ahead of others in the company simply because I would take calls, head out on site, and just get things fixed. I think the real reason degrees don't matter in IT is because they're completely irrelivant to the field. You don't need to learn about algorythms to fix servers but they hardly teach you anything about directory services (AD or OpenLDAP), E-mail, or anything else that's related to fixing computers. If you wan't to be a computer physicist get that degree, you will need it but not for IT.

TAVio
TAVio

This is really surprising that Toni seems to be oblivious to basic supply and demand.  There are plenty of jobs with demand where people can make great money but they are undesirable overall so there is no real demand pulling students with options to them.

If there was really good IT jobs that students really wanted and these degrees helped to get them, the enrollments and degrees would skyrocket.  Simple.  It always works this way.

The fact they are down shows the field is not desirable to those entering the market and yet we have business saying they can not fill these positions.  It should not be so difficult to see through their lack of effort to create the demand in the US market for native IT people.

There is plenty of demand but these jobs today are not the IT jobs of the 90s and young that are smart can do better in other areas (finance, energy jobs like geologist, chemist etc.).  Used to be IT pulled from other fields but not anymore.  There is strength in some areas and weakness in others but IT overall is not what it was and they see that.

Working crazy hours to get that money and being treated like a commodity is too common for it to be an anomaly to these young people.  They know better no matter what an article, or posters, or the industry says.

In the 90s companies would value IT people as important and hard to find assets.  I had young people come up and ask me what they needed to do to get in IT.  These days I tell them you can still do well in IT and they are like no way I am finishing my law degree or whatever they think is better.  You can't convince them otherwise since they see it and if you honestly answer the questions you see it too.

Companies used to Pay top dollar to recruit, move, train IT people  and nurture the talent to keep them happy and focused on the job.  Today it has been flipped to use up the resource way too often.  If you love the technology end of it then you will put up with whatever, but if you are looking for a stable high paying rewarding family friendly career ... forget it.

Thus the numbers are not surprising at all and in fact seem like they could be light.  There is little demand by young people with options for what IT jobs have become.

Just the reality of it and the numbers prove it to be true and anyone not seeing that is just being blinded by something.

sysdev
sysdev

Toni,

I have been in this business for 46 years.  I have been an independent consultant since 76.  I have been on both sides (hiring and doing) and when I am on the hiring side, a BS tells me that they have learned how to learn.  An industry specific MS means more, but it is still the interview that separates the people that can do the job from those who might, but might not.

I almost go ballistic when people think that certs are a good judge of what people can do.  Certs are a good memory test.  That is all that they show.  A cert might get someone interviewed, just as a BS, but does not show anything more.  The interview (by people who are doing the job and have the skills - not HR) is the key item that is going away.  That is the really scary item.  Check the drop in interviews by qualified people and you will find that it has dropped over 90%.  Either the interviewer does not have the technical skillset needed, or does not know how to conduct a proper interview.

mar_petry
mar_petry

High school - Accounting  / Business

Bachelor - Mgmt / Computer Info Sys

Now working on Information Security Graduate Cert that will roll over to my Information Systems Management Master's Degree with an IT Security Concentration

Plus other certs / classes

mar_petry
mar_petry

@sys-eng  - I did programming, basic, basicA, COBAL, VS5, C and C++. I was good at it, it did come easy and I even tutored in C++, however, I did not care for sitting and programming.. I got in to hardware and software.. I build PC's and install everything from scratch... setup my network, maintain everything myself...  IT is not just programming.. there are so many other venues to choose from.

lostar2009
lostar2009

I agree with you... I compare one school CS curriculum to one school IT curriculum , night and day. The CS had its programing courses with a couple of stale networking courses ( old technologies) that's all.. The IT curriculum was full of rich and relevant IT courses and I like it... But then I compare my TM to IT.. I like TM curriculum a whole lot plus the mgmt courses are priceless.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@jimmanis That's good to hear.  I sure wish more of them would apply for jobs though, because the ones I see can't write, can't use English well, and critical thinking is so far out of the question it's not even worth mentioning.  Just curios, are you a teacher in a state-run school?

mar_petry
mar_petry

@lostar2009  - for your number 4 - not always true, I always thought that way until I was passed up, as posted in my article above. Some want to know you have those certs whether you can do the job or not. I will always believe that a good balance between tests / certs / on the job experience in a must. As I said to many factors are put in play and the uncertainty in over whelming.

I also brought my two up on that fact it does not matter how much you know or how good you are, you will always be expendable too. Employers can always find someone no matter what.
 This way you will always be trying to improve yourself, not get to assured of yourself, appreciate what you have etc..

ifixstuff
ifixstuff

I'm an IT guy and I own a 3/4 million dollar house 2 miles from the beach in San Diego.  What the hell are you talking about?  Sorry not trying to gloat but really man?...Avoiding IT is a smart choice?  Kids are coming out of college with masters degrees and the only thing a lot of them can get are call center jobs that pay 10-15 bucks an hour.

Thurston, RJ
Thurston, RJ

@tbmay I totally disagree.  Yes, general skills in I.T. have become "commoditized"  but there are plenty of businesses that still need someone to support their equipment, applications, and data needs.

TAVio
TAVio

@Zzznorch I agree with you.  

Today they do not see it as a good option and when you explain the benefits they are pretty smart in pointing out they can do better.  Not related to $ or a job but required sacrifice, stability, locality and not moving around etc.

mithrilG60
mithrilG60

@rwnorton"Education needs to learn how to create a classroom environment in which those things can be taught.  If they can do that, then an IT degree might once again become relevant.  As it is today, the Business world seems to think that "even" a Liberal Arts degree does a better job of that."

As much as those of us from Science/Technical programs like to deride the "Would you like fries with that" degrees, there's a reason that most top executives come from a Liberal Arts background.  The technical programs get far too focused on the technical aspects of the field and therefore don't develop the soft skills that you really need to be successful.  The stereotype of the IT Guy as a socially inept geek who can't interact with people has a certain basis in reality, we all know (and likely work) with those guys.  IT is no longer a field where you can be just the technical guy, you have to be well rounded and able to wear many hats.... school doesn't teach you how to do that.  IT school teaches you to see problem, fix problem, rinse and repeat.  That's fine for entry level tech work, it's not going to allow you to progress up the ladder.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@rwnorton "Critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork.  How do you teach those?"  When I was in school (Graduated HS in 1977) these traits were the expectation.  Everything we did revolved around critical thinking and problem solving.  Now its about memorizing the "facts" that are on the test, even if those "facts" have no specific truthful basis.  No questioning, no researching, just accept this as fact and take the test.  Its a sad, sad place we live in today.  

jonnyItunes
jonnyItunes

@TAVio I agree with ccs9623...your view of the IT industry is vastly skewed. Not saying that long hours and extreme demands placed on IT personnel doesn't happen, but in my experience, the companies I have worked for so far in my career have been 40 hour shops with comp time accrued by the networking personnel in IT. Currently I am a .NET developer and pretty much work a straight 40 hours per week with ample time off. In the midwest, developer jobs, BI, DBA, etc are a plenty. The salaries are very generous and the work is enjoyable...especially for someone who loves working on/with technology. If these "IT people" you refer to are overworked and underpaid, then they are working for the wrong companies.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@TAVio I don't know where you hale from, but your view is 180 degrees off here in the midwest.  Not only are there plenty of jobs, but $30-$50 an hour after the first year isn't all that uncommon.  A lot depends on what kind of job you're looking for.  Yea, if you're a "sysadmin" working in house not billing your hours to a client, you're not going to make nearly as much, but your hours are stable and the pressures are low.  However, if you like to "do" technical things, you can go out into the field where the company is billing you out at $200/hr and expect to make $50 of that yourself.  Not a bad gig at all, and not hard to find.  In my town, we have a company who hired 310 NEW field techs since January 1st 2013, and that is not all that uncommon around here either.  Degree?  not required.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@sysdev I hate to break it to you, but the "modern" public school system is "teaching to the test".  A degree these days means nothing more than that a person can memorize the details that are on a test page.  Schools have changed A LOT since you and I were there, and none for the better :(

mithrilG60
mithrilG60

@sysdev HR interviews are important as well, they work well to filter out applicants who may have the technical skills but won't fit the corporate culture, however they should ONLY be the first round and only for that personality type focus.  What's the point of having a hiring commitee if it doesn't have people from the speciality to judge whether or not the applicant knows their stuff?

Also, totally agree regarding certs.  They have been a joke since they were first introduced to provide an additional revenue stream to companies like Microsoft.  I don't know a single hiring manager that takes them seriously, yet I can remember all my classmates in the post-grad program I took after university (BSc in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry) spending thousands on the cert exams after every module..... I was still the first person hired out of my class despite not buying into the certs nonsense.  14yrs later and, while I have taken many additional courses on new and updated products, I've still never taken a single technical cert.  Never had an issue finding work and I'm still fielding 2 -3 calls/week from recruiters hoping to place me.

Mellard
Mellard

@lostar2009 Especially in this current economy, your TM offers a lot of flexibility - business and technology. Creativity and adaptability are key in this job market, including using these tools just to find a good job. That said, I have friends with bachelor degrees in a variety of fields who cannot find work. Other friends keep furthering their education (at a huge cost) hoping to ride out the current employment situation. I do think an internship (even unpaid), which provides real world experience, is a valuable resume enhancer. It is not always the easiest to find a relevant internship, though. It seems like you are on a rewarding and productive career path!

tbmay
tbmay

@Thurston, RJ @tbmay Hi RJ,

I'm an old veteran in this business and did manage to achieve a decent level of salary and marketability.  This required experience, certs that expire regularly, specialized skills, and, in my case, a clearance.  All that to get jobs the bosses are trying to ditch before I even walked in the door.  (My degree is Business....btw.)


Since I actually am more concerned about the kids being able to have a profession for the duration of their working lives than I am with making sure employers have lots of disposable labor, I encourage them to think in terms of what they think people will happily spend their money on, regardless of technology, and see if anything appeals to them careerwise in those areas.


The argument that businesses need support is a bit of a red-herring because a) that demand is diminishing as we type our posts due to the cloud and disposable devices b) people will always buy groceries too but that doesn't mean being a cashier is a super career choice.


Whether we want to admit it or not, most sysadmin type roles will probably go the route of the TV repairman.  Back in the day we were often impressed with that guy, but I don't know of anyone still doing that.

mk4524
mk4524

@gvirgo @rwnorton I'm not sure if you went on and got a degree but I have seen in my son that he does have a class room environment where he does learn where a lot of those things you mention are being taught. My son tells me this is especially true in his upper division classes which are much more difficult and where he can spend hours working on just one problem. It's not necessarily what he picks up in class, it's what he has to do outside of class to get his homework done. It's the spending hours on his homework where he has learned how to think critically and how to address problems. I wouldn't be too hasty to be so negative about education. Also, no one seems to mention where to go for your IT education. There are some programs that are more reputable than others. It isn't necessarily just having a degree but also where you got the degree and what stands behind it.

mk4524
mk4524

@ccs9623 @rwnorton My son who's going to be a senior in college told me recently that what he's getting out of school is how to think. He enjoys his math classes because it has taught him how to think critically and how to solve problems. He was surprised because he thought it was all about "book learning". Memorizing facts sounds more like it's a high school level issue because in many cases the brain hasn't quite matured to the level of critical thinking. 

rwnorton
rwnorton

@ccs9623 @rwnorton  

I know.  I graduated HS in 1963.  Education in this country today seems to be in a sad state of affairs.  At best, they teach students "how it works".  But they seemingly don't teach how it DOESN'T work...

TAVio
TAVio

@jbahnick @TAVio Some may be fortunate to work 40 hours in IT but that is not the rule.  Many I know work weekends and nights and we don't have issues with it.  You don't implement new code meeting deadlines during a 8-5 slot so not all IT is 8-5 and that is not what we are talking about but it could be very well argued it is not.  There are ample examples of companies who do comp and rarely ask extra hours but there are also many examples of those who ask for many extra hours and do not comp.  Overall, IT is not an 8-5 job in many cases.

The article is asking why those getting degrees are not choosing IT.  I think the youth is speaking with their choice they do not see it as being as great as many think.  Maybe they see more than just what some insiders do from their personal experience?

What is your thought on why given the option many would no longer consider IT as a choice they would want to make?

TAVio
TAVio

@ccs9623 @TAVio First off I am in the midwest.

I directly stated there are plenty of great paying jobs in IT.  This is not the issue.  I would argue that we need to split the contract work from the in house since it makes a difference to those looking into careers.  Not everyone is wiling or able to work three months here or there and may want to stay local.  Again I address if you like IT this is not an issue.  If you are looking for potential career options and have the ability to do well in multiple options that is where IT has issue.

The article looks at why college students are not drawn to IT.  If they can be at a stable job locally (actuarial, finance etc. ... there are finance BAs making well over $50 an hour working 40 hours at local companies).  Students with options look at those things and they know.  Not just someone like you or other posters who say how great it is but others they talk to who don't have that experience.  They see mixed results.  Some do really well and some companies are really good to their people, but this is not always the case and they see it.

So that is the point.  It is not $ or how much YOU love IT.  It is why do people who can do whatever and are looking (and many looking for high paying but stable employment where they can be home at night) look at other options instead of IT?  The field is not attractive and it has plenty of jobs and pays great so it is not those things that are the factor.

Again, I will note in the past I had people ask about IT since they heard it was great and you were treated like rock stars if you could code well etc., but today they hear otherwise and I tell them it is still good but they hear from multiple sources and as someone else noted they see it first hand.  A lot of people they see work longer hours and have less security at one one company as before.  If they don't really want IT for other reasons there are other jobs that better suit them.

Companies could outsource less and hire in house people and train them well etc. as they did before but it does not make sense to them.  They can get contractors and be more flexible and get things done for less.  There is no blame to them since it is what makes sense, but for those looking for a position it makes it hard to find a good one and then if there is feedback some positions overwork that detracts from it as well.

I did not make the statistic of why kids are not going into IT like they did before even though there are plenty of jobs and the pay is good.  I am simply pointing to why I would see it being that way.

What is your explanation for young people no longer seeing IT as a great long term career?  They know there are plenty of high paying jobs.  They know some people they talk to love it and have good situations (9-5 and great companies).  So why would they not think this is a great option?  Why are they not learning either through degrees or on their own and filling all these positions until there is no more demand to fill?  Like I said in the 90s college age people I talked to were like IT is a great field and interested and today they are more inclined to say they would no way think of IT.  Not techy people since they will do IT no matter, but those looking for options.

Explain to me why you think those today with the option to do anything do not look at IT as being the great option it was then.  That is the question and not the pay or anything else.

ifixstuff
ifixstuff

How much you make has nothing to do with being a consultant or in house sysadmin.  I've worked on both sides and can tell you that my current environment is too complex for a consultant to come in and just start making things happen.  We're a design and manufacturing company.  There is a lot more going on here than just fixing infrastructure.  ERP and CRM is huge for us and a lot of consultants while great at deploying new technology they really don't understand business.  I think to be a successful in house sysadmin you have to be more valuable than a run of the mill consultant which is why I'm also a developer as well.  I can build things that you can't buy from CDW.

mk4524
mk4524

@ccs9623 @sysdev It really depends a lot on where you get that degree. We're talking about degrees also so I'm not sure what you mean by the "moden" public school system and "teaching to the test". I don't find that in a reputable university. It kind of reminds when my wife studied law at a major university law school. There they taught you how to think as an attorney. In the private small law schools, she said the emphasis was more on memorizing to pass the bar exam. If you look at a major law firm, most of their graduates come from really reputable law schools and not from the downtown college of law where you can earn your degree part time.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@mk4524 Yea, but its not like that now, at least not what I've seen.  I have 4 nieces who've all completed grad school over the last 8 years.  For the last couple of years, my daughter and I spent a lot of time looking at colleges around the county.  I see a fair number of job applicants (both in and out of IT) on a pretty regular basis.  Its pretty clear to me that the state-run schools from pre-k on up spend 99% of their time teaching to the test.  Getting that paper is the only goal.

Scientific study?  Not hardly, but I've not seen anything personally to change my opinion.

Besides, when your entire school life (spanning 12 to 16 years) is dedicated to memorization and passing tests, how well equipped are you going to be to do anything else?  

mk4524
mk4524

@ccs9623 @mk4524 I don't think it's exceptional that in upper division college courses you learn how to do critical thinking. Not sure if you went on beyond HS '77 but I graduated HS well before '77 and it wasn't till I went on to the university that I began to discover that it was no longer memorization that would get me through. I had to really understand what I was doing to be able to get through. 

ccs9623
ccs9623

@mk4524 That's great to hear!  I'm sure there are exceptions to every rule.  Its such a shame that the exceptions are such a low percentage.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@TAVio  Nope, your absolutely correct.  You bring up another great point that I missed you say earlier.  Doing what you are passionate about is critical in my opinion.  People will spend 40-60 years in the field they choose at a young age.  To live and work all that time doing something they aren't passionate about will make them very unhappy people.

I'd rather have to live a modest, far less material life loving what I do than have all the luxuries in the world and hate going to work everyday.  Its hard sometimes to convince someone starting that they'd be better off making less money to be happy, but by the time you're 30 or so, I think most people understand that.

College or not.  IT or not.  Being happy about what you do is the most important aspect of lfe :)

TAVio
TAVio

@ccs9623 @TAVio Now we are talking about what this is looking at and I agree with you on the cost today as well.

Why are kids going into such debt to get these degrees?  Some degrees are worth it and you can make the money back, but many are not.  So unless you love it and it is not about the money .. why?

Many college kids I talk to have had parents help so they are lucky, or found jobs and ways to pay and not be in debt and I give them kudos for knowing it is not worth it.  I am not saying it is not worth getting a degree since I have one and think it has value and they should be happy they are getting one.  Just not if they are going into debt like that.  Especially IT as you note.  Much better off doing intern work and learning on the job and on your own.

Congrats to you for raising your children well.  Hard work and people skills are more important than any degree.

You can still do well in IT but that is true of almost any profession if you really love it then do it, but if you do not have a passion then there could be better options for some based on IT options today.  That appears to be true in your case as well since I bet your son loves the work.  I could be wrong in that presumption but I am guessing it is true.

ccs9623
ccs9623

@TAVio @ccs9623  You could be right, if fact, you probably are.  However, I'd take it a step further and ask why anyone, not looking at Medical or Legal, would even WANT to go to college.  Most of these poor kids are getting degrees that no longer separate them from the crowd, and start out $50k debt to boot.

I can't imaging starting out owing more than I paid for my first house!  How can anyone make a life for themselves in any profession with a huge debt anchor around their necks?

My son is 16 (home schooled all his life, as was my 19 year old daughter), and thanks to common sense, he will graduate high-school WITH an accredited AA degree.  This is possible by taking advantage of some special programs available in Mn.  Not sure if its the same elsewhere.  His plan is to work in the IT field.  He is already doing contract work for local companies.  An exception?  Perhaps, but he's just taking advantage of what's available.  He might get more education after HS, but he's committed to not starting life with a huge debt.

My daughter went to work for a local business with about 40 employees.  No degree, but a real education.  She can think.  She can talk to people.  She's been taught that business isn't bad, its pays her bills.  She can spell and use proper grammar.  6 months on the new job she's been promoted twice at almost double the hourly salary.  The other 4 people who started with her (all college degreed) have been let go, and likely are flipping burgers someplace.  Between the 4 of them they had over 100k in debt!

This might be off the topic of the article, but generally speaking, when asked, I tell kids to avoid college altogether unless they can pay-as-they-go. Starting out deep in debt is as foolish as you can get.... IMO :)

ifixstuff
ifixstuff

 @mk4524 

It's their entitled attitude.  They think that because they have a degree somehow my company owes them something.  It's strange.

TAVio
TAVio

@ifixstuff @TAVio Ha ha ha

You have a great point there.  I had a project manager tell me how much better their profession was and how if I wanted I could do that and have a better career.  He thought he made more than me but I made way more than him.  Of course, a PM can make much more than me but he was not.

Still I think IT can be very challenging but also very rewarding.  I enjoy it but if someone is not drawn to it and just looking for the easiest way to earn a living then being a BA or PM even within IT is easier.  Also, if you are a good BA or PM it can pay just as much so it is up to preference I think.

Very funny point on how wearing a suit or having a title does not mean you are doing better:)


ifixstuff
ifixstuff

@TAVio

"So if they have to major in something, why not IT?"

Because IT is one of the most challeneging professions but the least rewarding.  The pay is good for me but because I wear jeans (manufacturing) I get fresh college grads who think they're better than me because I have to crawl under their desks every once in a while to plug in a CAT-6 cable.  They have no idea I make 4x what they do.

TAVio
TAVio

@ifixstuff I agree with your post and I have consulted and worked in house and have made $50 in house before.  Also I agree in house staff knows the business and can be much better suited to getting a better result in certain situations.

I think CSC9623 missed the point.  I tried to respond again to focus this on the article.

Why do those looking at careers today (with options and no tech bias) not see IT as a great career choice?

In essence that is why less people are getting IT degrees.  They choose other majors since whether college/university time is relevant or not some get a four year degree simply to get one (personally like their choice).  So if they have to major in something, why not IT?

To me that is what we would be talking about.

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