IT Employment

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Average Lifespan? er.. Workspan?

By Candy ·
After reading through the Ageism thread, and Robb's subsequent post, I started wondering...

What's the average work/career lifespan for someone in IT? Or, better yet, break it down to various jobs - and I don't necessarily mean dropping out due to burn-out. Just.. is there an average length of stay in any one job?

For myself, I'm a Johnny-come-lately (or is that Jane?) in IT - having entered the workforce in my mid-30s. I spent several years prior to that going to uni and gearing up for what I'm doing now. I've been in my current position 2 1/2 years, and my duties, along with tending to the network and all and sundry, have been spread out by management to include administrative work and a touch of technical work in another field.

I'm content here, where I am. Of course, I'd like more pay, and as the company grows, I'm assured that'll come. I could easily see myself staying here until they give me the heave-ho - even as I watch and hear about former classmates moving on to bigger and better things.

So, yeah, I know it's all subjective, how long someone is in one position. I'm just curious if anyone's ever come up with a career-track or timeline.

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Qty. vs. Qlty.

by LarryJG In reply to Average Lifespan? er.. Wo ...

The topic of ageism has been tracked within many industries as we (the world) has moved from a "blue collar" environment to the "white collar" world we live in. At one time, I recall the statistic of 3.5 years as being the average life expectancy within our brave new world, so maybe, at your 2.5 years you need to be looking forward.


I propose that our focus is misdirected and that we should be keeping our sights on how "it feels"! Are you happy? Do you add value? Do they know you add value? Do you live for your job, or work in order to play?

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That's easy..

by Candy In reply to Qty. vs. Qlty.

I'm happy :) Quite - at the moment, at least. I've made it through a few 'adjustments' in the company so far, and continue with some education to vary my usefulness and skills. Athough there are times I'll growl to myself that "-this- is -not- in my job description," I do whatever -this- might be.

As I said, I'd be content to stay right here, but that 3 1/2 yrs you pointed out gives me pause. For myself, at least, I'm not eager to move on right now, but who knows what's to come yet.

I look at my folks, and see my dad about to retire after 30 plus years, and figure (know?) I'm not going to see such myself. That's what I get for starting late in life!

Thanks for the reply..

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There is no average.

by JamesRL In reply to Average Lifespan? er.. Wo ...

A career path in almost any industry is tough to plot these days. I don't know that there is an average. In big urban markets, people tend to move on every 2 to 3 years. Smaller markets less so. I worked for a big firm for 7 years, but I held 3 distinct jobs there.

Depends what you want out of life. Some people need intellectual challenge, or they wither and die. For those people, looking at 20 years of doing the same thing would be a death sentance. Others look for stability in their life. I tend to generalize and think that when you are younger, you should be more open to change, and taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. Now that I am older, with obligations, I tend to be more risk averse and will stay with companies longer.


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by Candy In reply to There is no average.

That may well explain my contentment right now - the stability of staying put as long as I can. My 'obligation' still has high school to finish, and staying where I am makes it easier for her to do just that in the same place.

I will admit sometimes I wonder what it might be like to work in a big firm, with so many people and actual departments and teams and.. well, you get the idea. That would likely afford the opportunity to move up, if not laterally. Here where I am, I'm it! Not much moving to be had, one way or the other, 'cept out the door.

Thanks for your thoughts..

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I worked for a huge firm

by JamesRL In reply to Stability

of 65,000 employees(grew to over 100,000 after I left).

There are more opportunities to move around. The IT organization alone was 5,000 people, and I moved around in many of the orgs.

But in the end, that size of organization attracts a lot of sharks who want to roll quickly up the org chart and don't mind running you over to get there. You have to learn to swim with them. Some people find that stressful. I found the hours I had to put in kinda stressful - as a new father I was putting in 70 hour weeks for a year straight because I was on a high profile project.

You often trade stability for opportunities and cash. The companies that often pay the best go through the biggest changes, and sometimes thats for the worse, i.e. layoffs etc. There is nothing saying that you can't shift gears when you need to.

I left some jobs when it was old hat, not challenging and no opportunities for growth.


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How long is a unseen piece of string?

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Average Lifespan? er.. Wo ...

The answer to your question is about the same but with a difference.

You'll stay there as long as you are happy doing the work you are doing and the management/owner is as happy with your work.

Personally I've worked in places from 3.5 days to 12 years and everything in between on some occasions I have not even bothered ringing back after the interview that I arranged to see why I should work there when I was approached to work at a different company as they didn't offer me the challenge that I need, crave or am addicted to.

I've walked out the door on more than one occasion because the ground rules have changed with a change of management and I've been unable to do my job effectively or worse had a salesman paranoid that I wanted their job and in his mind was doing everything possible to get it. The actually fact is that I was offered his job and refused it as while I might be a passable Tech I'm sure as Hell no Management type who shuffles paper all day long and think I'm doing a great job.

Its always been bad enough when I was classed as the State Service Manager which meant that I could still get my hands dirty but had to push papers around as well. I actually hate any form of paper work so I try to avoid it as much as possible which is no where near enough for my liking as I consider it removes me from my REAL WORK. But I never minded filling out performance review forms for my staff and these where always in on time which is a lot more than could ever be said for my expense account paper work it was always months behind as I never considered it important. That used to drive the accounting section nuts as they would get anything from 12 to 18 months worth in a single hit and then I would tell them not to bother me again for at least the next year. :)

Anyway as long as you can not believe that they are paying you for what you would quite happily pay to do you'll be happy and stay put money isn't the greatest thing of all time job satisfaction is and if you have that nothing else matters. Sure there will be days where you wonder why you are doing this and then there will be the days where you can not do a single thing wrong no matter how hard you try to screw up. It days like the latter that keep you put as you need the bad days to appreciated the great days/weeks/months/years as time will literally fly by as you are having fun.

Just my .25 cents worth.

Col ]:)

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How old??

by jcrobso In reply to Average Lifespan? er.. Wo ...

There was a moive made back in the Sixties that proposed that eveyone over the age of 30 should be sent to a conceration camp to get them out of the way of the younger people.
I have been servicing computers for over 39 years and still going strong, finishing up my MCSE certs.
And keeping current.

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