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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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Re: Mid Life

by vltiii In reply to Mid - Life Transitions

Age discrimination is still illegal, anyone that commented on your age being a hinderance was violating the law and opening their organization up to a law suit.

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Hard to prove

by strikeleader In reply to Re: Mid Life

Age discrimination my be illegal, but is very hard to prove. I think the sad thing is most employers would hire older more experienced people, but the cost of healthcare insurance keeps them from it.

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Re: Hard to prove

by vltiii In reply to Hard to prove

I agree that age discrimination is hard to prove just as any other type of discrimination, bar blatant acts. The previous poster indicated that he was told (in private) that his age was an issue. In that case they have basically admitted the discrimination. I also agree that most employers would prefer older experienced people. I don't know about the healthcare issue, but then again, being retired military I only pay $230 yr and don't use the coverage offered by the company I work for. Actually, my company offers a supplement to my military coverage at no cost to me which is really nice. The only coverage I accepted from my company is dental and vision care and as I post this I realize I can probably drop the vision care since it's covered under my military benefits. Of course I realize that I'm in a special category compared to civilians that have no military benefits.

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True about age discrimination, but. . . .

by nobby57 In reply to Re: Mid Life

It still happens. I am not in IT although I tried to enter the field a few years ago. After meeting a lot of fellow graduates and certification holders who were trying to do the same thing -- change careers in midlife by going into IT -- it became painfully obvious that middle aged career changers almost always need not apply.

And not just middle aged entry level people -- one experienced sysadmin I know very well lost his job with a defense contractor five years ago when their gov't contract ran out (he is 50+) and has been unemployed since. This in the DC area where there are a fair number of jobs.

Of course, it's not only IT. Many fields suffer from age discrimination. Nobody talks about it, and never will they say "you're too old" just like they will never say "we don't hire your kind." But it happens every day.

OVERT age discrimination is illegal all right, but there are more subtle methods.

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Are we ignoring/disguising what?s going on in America?

by bospgmr In reply to Mid-Life Transistions

Hello Ben & All,

With all due respect, this is going to sound like an addiction admission at an AA meeting. My story, and I?ll try to make it brief, is very typical of millions of second-generation computer programmers in my age group in America.

I?m Bill from Boston, I?m 48 years old with 26 years of IT experience. It use to be called EDP Electronic Data Processing then MIS, IS and now IT. Anyway, I started my career at the ripe young age of 22 after completing a six month computer programming training course at CPI (Computer Processing Institute) in East Harford CT. These schools were common then because most large companies were automating, mostly on IBM 360/370 mainframes, at a furious pace and most colleges did not yet have computer curriculums or programming courses. Hartford CT?s claim to business fame was/is insurance, it was once known as the ?insurance capital? of America. American business desperately needed programmers and mostly COBOL.

So there I was, like most of us I had a job offer from a large company even before graduating from the program. $11, 000 per year, wow, I thought it was a fortune, and it nearly was for a bright eye 22 year old from CT moving to the big city of Boston. Larry Bird and I were born in the same year, 1956, and we each moved to Bean Town the same year, 1979. IT/programming shot off like a rocket in the 80?s and 90?s in Boston and around the US, similar to the Celtics. It certainly was a ?heyday?, and 90% of the work was development, all new, all creative all large and expensive projects and systems.

Again my career progressed similarly to most. In the 80?s as a computer programmer you were constantly learning. Yes, companies would constantly TRAIN you either in-house or they would send you away, it was vital for them to have skilled computer professionals. At most companies the computer geeks and EDP were like the unwanted stepchild. We were resented by those who normally ran the show prior to us and ?the? computer arriving on the scene. The computer was a ?culture shock? to most companies. These people were mostly finance workers, accountants the A/P & A/R departments etc. Companies then would actually post computer related job opening and allow employees from other departments to get trained and switch careers, as opposed to the current trends. Have a skilled need? Hire somebody in India.

Along with the company training many programmers would take evening course at local colleges to stay current and get ahead. I hung in for 5 tough years of night school obtaining a BS in Computer Science from Boston University in 1985. Mine was the first graduating class from BU to include Computer Science as a degree major, prior to that they were Math degrees with a concentration in computers. I made it, I was ?all set?. The federal bureau of labor statistics annually stated the need for computer professionals would far outweigh the supply past the year 2020, we were sitting pretty.

Again the 80?s were hot for computer programmers and for the Celtics. If you became disappointed with your employer or job you could quit and quickly be hired somewhere else with a sizeable increase in pay. Most programmers would job-hop, 2 to 3 years was a normal length of stay. Recruiters would call you, at home or at work, constantly telling you of new and better opportunities for even more money. Again, in 1979 I started at an $11k salary by 1985 I was making $48k plus bonus.

Another trend for computer programmers in the 80s & 90s was to obtain several years of experience and some expertise and become a contractor. You would find a client by marketing yourself and your skills either directly or via an agency, a headhunter or ?pimp? as we affectionately called them. They are the scourge of the earth. I took the leap in 1988, $40 per hour. I gave up the security of a full time job and salary for a temporary assignment. The hiring manager cautioned me that it would only last 3 months, it turned out to be a 2+ year gig. And that?s how it normally went on average for me for the next 14 years with my net billing rate continually increasing from $40 per hour in 1988 to $62 in 2001. The year 1999 (what a surprise) was my best to date, $129,000 gross. A good thing about being a contractor is there is NO overhead. Compared to a doctor or some other profession, they may gross more but they have overhead; expenses, offices, supplies, employees etc.

Then came 2001;

I have a few key words that I attribute the dismantling of this profession and even worse the US economy, as we KNEW it;

Head Hunters
Illegal Immigration
H1B?s (NAFTS, Free Trade)
World Economy
Out-sourcing/Off Shoring

As most of us know 2001 brought everything to a screeching halt, especially high-tech and IT. The anticipated long-term assignment I was working on was cancelled along with my contract. I was out of work for several weeks before I found another assignment, this time only netting me $50 per hour. That lasted for about 10 weeks, into September 2001, when as we all know, stuff really hit the fan. A declining economy went into a tail spin and again even more so for High-tech/IT. By that time many IT professionals had already been out of work for long periods of time. I sought another contract position but quickly realized that the trough was near empty. I changed my strategy to seek safe harbor from the storm and found a full-time job. I luckily found a job at a VERY large national bank, in Mass., within their Treasury Services department. For the next 2.5 years I was the last IT (legacy, mainframe, development programmer) hired. I found the job to be extremely boring but I was glad to be working even at $75k, $54k less than what I made in 2000, $129k.

My strong opinion as to why SO many IT workers were (and still are) out of work for so long is a direct result of 1) HB1?s & NAFTA etc. visa statues, foreign workers with temporary visa?s taking American ?citizen? labor from them and 2) IT work being sent (off-shored) to foreign countries.

Out-Sourcing is nothing new. What?s different about it now is the ?off shore? element of it. In 70s, 80s and early 90s out-sourcing meant a company was contracting a portion of their business to a service bureau or software vendor. This meant that lost jobs in company ?A? would end up in company ?B?, maybe within the same state or possibly another but most likely remain within the US and its economy.

Anyone who tries to sell and defend Off-Shoring and the ?open? and ?world? economies is talking techno-babble and MBA-speak. The ONLY person who benefit from Off-Shoring are the corporate Sr. executives and financers who get huge bonuses for improving their bottom lines. This improvement of the bottom line comes at the price of a job for their neighbors, brothers, cousins and fellow American?s. In my opinion it is treasoness and unethical.

The reality of what ?world economy? means; USA has long enjoyed being the richest nation in the world which included the highest per-capata income the least percentage of poverty etc. A world economy, to America, simply means that the US is going to voluntarily allow our standards of living, income and the power that goes along with wealth to be diminished, homogenized and sacrificed so that other countries can approach or attain our watered-down wealth.

Do I sound ?selfish?? This is simply another step towards socialism being pushed by the extreme liberal left. First the US belongs to its citizens to have and protect. In the US it has always been O.K. to make a buck, compete, win and be on-top etc. Now we are being conditioned to believe that ?purposely being less competitive to allow the rest of the world to catch up to us economically? is a good thing. All it means it that their economies will improve and ours will decline along with our lifestyles.

IT is going the way of many other lost (given away) American professions and industries (steel, tires, leather, garment, automobile, ship building, manufacturing in general, electronics, farming, etc. etc. ..) Soon it will be more of the financial sector up to and including the MBA?s themselves. Maybe it?ll reach the executive level, it already has for those foreign companies that have replaced ours.

Off Shoring, Out-Sourcing, NAFTA, H-1B?s etc are all bad for the US its people and its economy.


Software firms eager to cash in on H1Bs
Nov. 24, 2004
For the Indian software industry, the law passed by the US Congress last week to issue 20,000 more H1B visas for foreign students pursuing higher studies in that country seems a sign of "more to come". This has also set the tenor for them to recruit more post-graduates from US Universities. "This is a positive signal from the US government and is expected to pave way for more relaxations", said Deepak Khosla, general manager, marketing, of Patni Computer Systems. The company sees this as access to a larger talent pool. It has over 2,000 software professionals working in the US, a large number of whom have studied there. "Already, around 3-4% of our 4,000-odd employees have American degrees. We see that number doubling in the next year," said Deepak Ghaisas, CEO of iFlex. However, while this law enables mobilisation of more people for onsite work, it restricts the choice of employees, he said.

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The real treason

by Cinnester In reply to Are we ignoring/disguisin ...

The real treason is not the local mid-manager who fires his friends. He/She is forced by business policy. i.e., profit motive. The real traitors are the people who devised a foreign policy and tax structure to literally prevent Americans from being hired. Ask Congress why they enact laws and tax codes that disadvantage Americans in the workforce. Ask the Republicans why they enact these laws and policies at 3:00 A.M. and hide tham in Omnibus Bills. You're being betrayed by the people you voted for.

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Refocus your animosity

by KghtHawk In reply to The real treason

To those intent on laying the blame of IT joblessness at the feet of the Republicans, I'd like to point out that it was the Democrats who engineered and implemented NAFTA. Additionally it was a Democratic President who supported and signed the H1B Visa bill. While I am sickened by corporations who willingly sacrifice well qualified Americans for cheap foreign labor, I don't see where you can lay this at the feet of any one political party nor look to one specific party for salvation. Greed knows no boundries.

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Please Refocus the Truth

by tx1cajun In reply to Refocus your animosity

The downturn in the economy is directly based on selling out your brother. It doesn't matter what country or what human or inhuman rights that are at stake. Can you talk to your corporate heads and executives and place responsibility at the right place. We as Americans, can compete, but as long as we have both Democratic and Republicans on the big kick back in this country , we will fail.

Our government is for sale for the right bidder and the influence from anywhere other than the US is on the bidding block from both parties, bar none. How can you make a difference, taxes , that is it. Tax the heck out of what comes in and make it more beneficial to do it "here" than there. Make your friendly unaccountable Washington rep on either side of the house...accountable. We at the technical side of the issue, need to broadcast wrong doing, and become accountable ourselves at what levels we are participating in the sell out and stop.

As dangerous as our sell out is, we have to accountable that we are compromising our existence as a free and democratic society. We are leveraging debt into the hands of countries such as China, and as friendly as they might be , the payback is on the horizon.

Free Trade, competition, I believe in it all. But selling out your brother has been bad back into biblical times. The whole country suffers, want to make a difference, stand up and be counted, don't buy into the whole global bit until the globe start cooperating with taxes coming in not tax breaks.

We could begin to educate the next generation for world wide competition, but giving tax breaks to sell our country out used to be treacherous, some levels it is thought to be treason.

Cooperate and gain by business cooperatives but also tax the other countries so that we are even ground and help our own economy and our own children to prosper.

Can I hear from the believers?

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Re: treason

by vltiii In reply to The real treason

I've noticed a trend in the threads that I follow, whenever things don't go the way the poster wants them to, it's the Republicans fault. What ever happened to personal responsibility? I think this instant gratification society we live in now gives some a false sense of self worth. There are jobs out there, some high paying if you're motivated by profit, but we need to ensure that we're marketable. If you think because you have a certain skill you should have a job you're doomed to continue blaming the Republicans. The free market will decide what skills are required and employers resond by hiring who they think will yield the best bottom line for their organization.

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by MomtoJustin In reply to Re: treason

You said it very well. It is easy to blame the other guy or some big nameless entity, such as a politcial party.

The free market system (with all its flaws, still the best system in the world), depends upon a workforce that will take the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to see that they are marketable.

There will ALWAYS be highs and lows in a free market economy, people. It's the nature of the beast. It is up to us, the workers, to stop whining and work. Don't look to the gov't for help!!! It is up to YOU. It's NOT the gov't's job to help you! Nowhere in the Constitution are there guarantees of a job or any job security.

Renee, a committed Libertarian (who is currently unemployed)

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