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Are you better off now than you were 5 years ago?

By Lumbergh77 ·
I hear a lot of talk on how far the IT has fallen over the past 5 years. It seems that salaries are down, jobs are down, and thousands of new graduates are being thrown into an already oversaturated field.

Five year ago, I was working for a large corporation as a web programmer/help desk support (hired with ONLY 4 months experience and was 3 months from an Associate's degree in CIS) but was laid off last year. I am now working for a small company in a similar position. While I have obtained a Bachelor's degree in that time, I am making about the same amount of money as I was 5 years ago (in the mid 30 K range), and less benefits.

Seems to me that a B.S. degree now is worth as much as an A.S. five years ago and I'm thinking that certifications are necessary in order to get ahead. Or maybe it would be better to get training in something else to go along with my generalized IT skills (jack of all trades).

What about the rest of you? I'd like to see some personal examples on how you're faring now vs. 5 years ago. Do you regret your career choice? If you had to do it all over again, what would you have done?

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things seems to be able the same

by secure_lockdown In reply to Are you better off now th ...

i feel it's about the same. money wise.

i really don't think i am making anywhere near as much money as i was hoping i was going to make 5 years ago by now.

i also find that i work less hours and get home on time more often - but thats just the job and employer i have. i am very willing to give that up in order to work more hours and advance my career in information security.

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I am Happy

by jdclyde In reply to things seems to be able t ...

I enjoy what I do. In the last five years I went from progamming full time (cobol) to sys admin then to net admin.

Money, about 15% more than I was making five years ago but if I was interested in the big check I would have moved off to Detroit or Lansing a long time ago.

I guess it all depends on what "better off" means to you.

Reasonably healthy, have a job that pays the bills, and have my family and time to spend with them. Sounds like I have it damn good to me.

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Definately better for me

by blkbam In reply to I am Happy

Five years ago I was in college for a BS in CS and decided to drop out because I wasn't learning what I thought I should. I went to a technical school and graduated in Feb 02. The market was horrible because of the 9/11 incidents and no one was hiring.

I made due a restaurant manager making less than $24K a year without benefits. I decided to work on my skills myself since no one would hire me without experience.

Eight months and two (that?s right 2) interviews later I had job with a software doing support. That was decent pay and decent benefits. Now 2 years later I am a programmer with the same company making twice as much as i was 5 years ago. Am I better off? I'd have to say **** yeah!

What's my advice to everyone else? Never stop learning. There are so many people in this field who once they get a job, never pick up a book again. If you have a bookshelf with books on it that you haven't added to in over 6 months then you need to get on it right away. Train for a cert, learn a new programming language or expand your knowledge of your current.

I decided to work on my skills in my down time and that's what I attribute my success to.

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Better Job than before

by sadler In reply to I am Happy

5 years ago I was working for a company that considered LAN administration a part-time job. I worked most of my day as an assistant paper purchaser and the remainder was dedicated to my computer and network duties. Worked 10hr plus days, no chance for full time computer position although it was needed. However for the last 3 years I have been making the most money in my life, got great benifits, job security working for local government and only work a 7.5 hr day. So for me it is better, but I have always put benifits and job security before tons of $$$ that can be here today but gone the next. I recommend working for a local or state government agency.

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Government worker

by sasquatch14b In reply to Better Job than before

I've been a government worker since graduating in 02, but the taxpayer revolt in WA state has me out of a job. Would I make the same career change choice again, you betcha. I'm working on my certs in the downtime, and it's gonna be all right.

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Well put...

by VisionBender In reply to I am Happy

In the last five years I have only increased in pay and responsibility. I started off doing software support, then network admin, and now IT Manager. I already had a BS, but pursued the MCSE which helped with the network admin job.

Education is the key. I am pursuing a Masters now, which was helpful in getting the management job.

Pay has increased almost 85% as well from the high 20's to the low 50's.

Stable job, wonderful family. Couldn't ask for more.

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Mid-Life Transistions

by smichael9 In reply to things seems to be able t ...

I went through the same trauma, my job disappearing 4 months after 9/11. I interviewed for the next 14 months, sent hundreds of resumes, networked, went to networking clubs. Like most of us, I finally panicked, wondering if I would have to sell the house, wondering if I was no longer valuable to the industry that I had worked in for so many years. Not a good year that.

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about my skill sets, trying to discover the center of who and what I really needed to be to a potential employer. I finally realized that like most of us, I?m a problem solver. I analyze problems, seek optimal solutions, and implement the necessary steps to resolve the problem, test the results and optimize the solution to meet the business needs of the company. I realized that most of my primary skills are not IT, but providing solutions to real-world business problems. The many years in the trenches had given me the opportunity to be directly involved in the solutions process.

On my next interview, I focused on the company I was visiting. I researched their industry, tried to put myself in their shoes to envision what their primary problem areas were. After the interview I was asked to take on a small consulting project relating to their accounting system. No real IT involved, just a business problem that was causing them considerable pain. After analyzing their accounting business process, I recommended a new accounting system be installed as well as several structural changes to the accounting department. I helped select the vendor, working with them to schedule implementation and improving the information flow from both the service and invoicing departments.

That was 7 months ago. I?m now the General Manager of the company with a great salary, full benefits, 401K and profit sharing. I still get involved in IT, but I sub-contract a local company to handle most of the technical details. My responsibilities have shifted to the management side of things and I find that I truly enjoy this side of the aisle. I seldom have to work on an emergency basis or weekends, something that I don?t miss from the IT world.

Mid-life transitions are not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we have to look beyond the crisis to see the opportunity.

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Mid-Life Trasitions Part Deux

by JoiseyBill In reply to Mid-Life Transistions

I too was affected by 9/11 - I was the engineer of the PATH train held under the WTC while the second plane hit. After the immediate crisis died down, PATH told me I was unfit to work due to PTSD. I had spent 10 years working for PATH, 6 of those as an Engineer.
Computers had always held interest for me, and I was already working on my Bachelors in CS when this happened.

I took advantage of my long-term disability policy (no sick pay),refinanced my house for expense money when the disability ran out, and ramped-up my education. As I got closer to my degree I started really looking for a job in the field. As SMicheal9 did, I made friends and networking connections, and I went on a lot of interviews that wound up working as practice for me.
I landed a job working in IT for a college (not the one I was attending),just over two years ago. I am currently doing a little bit of everything, - desktop support, network admin, security, linux/novell/windows, cabling, wireless... etc., and continuing my education. (Again, at a different school than the one I work for.)
Today, I'm making acceptable money - not as good as the train engineer job - but I'm confident that with a combination of industry certifications, experience, and education I should do much better.

For me, the events of 9/11 cost me a bunch; I had to refinance my house to eat, and borrow lots in student loans.. but I think it will also be better for me in the long run.

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Mid - Life Transitions

by Don FachaBella In reply to Mid-Life Transistions

I would like to know the age of the respondents. As a 50-something IT Operations Manager with over 20 years experience I have been out of work since 9/11. I left employment in the public service sector and started working for a Dot Com.
Well it was great while it lasted. But since we were just a couple of blocks from ground zero every customer pulled out.
Sort of hastened the chap 11. sequence.
Since then I have sent out about 1000 resumes. I have been told (in private of course) that being 54 really hindered my job search in the IT field.
So now I am a Bar tender,musician,Sound man with 25 years of IT operations experience.
I would like to hear from anyone who is in this age group with similar experiences.(email:
Could be a book, maybe movie.

Imagine one day waiting for a table at a posh dining establishment and the next waiting on tables.

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Age Discrimination Is Alive & Well

by mejewell In reply to Mid - Life Transitions

Ten years ago this week, I was "right-sized" out of a division controller job at a large corporation after 22 years. I was in my mid-forties. Temporary & contract work kept me going for six years, during which time I went back to school for a masters in IT and sent out a lot of resumes.
A year-long contract developing a time-collection system resulted in a full time position as Manager of Budgets & Accounting Projects - a little beancounting and a lot of accounting/control systems projects. Great job until our company was purchased - 70% of the 50+ age group lost their jobs, mine included.
Out go a lot more resumes - only one interview. I'm still finishing my masters - only my thesis to go - just because I've come this far. But I've also recognized, masters or not, that a 30 something (20 years my younger) with specific skill sets that match very specific needs will be hired first.
However, I lucked out - my wife's partner and audiology practice owner decided to pursue a different direction - so we purchased the audiology practice. I'm now running (sorta of) the business side of the practice, and my wife handles the audiology stuff. I'm studying for my hearing instrument certification, and my systems & IT background come in handy once in awhile. But I no longer have to look over my shoulder wondering if I'm next on the chopping block. An added bonus - many of our patients are our age - something about loud music and rock concerts!!

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