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IT from Technician to Profession?

By beads ·
Over the course of my lengthy, 5 day (including the weekend), vacation. I began thinking about the overall state of the IT economy.

IT is slowly comming out of its 3-4 year economic slump as it has before and will again. Its a cyclical thing. Get used to it. So, heres the real question: How does IT become a profession instead of just a technician's job?

Allow me to set some specific guidelines that are widely accepted so we don't have to negotiate a few terms.

Profession:

pro?fes?sion Audio pronunciation of "profession" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pr-fshn)
n.

1.
1. An occupation or career: ?One of the highest compliments a child can pay a parent is to choose his or her profession? (Joan Nathan).
2. An occupation, such as law, medicine, or engineering, that requires considerable training and specialized study.
3. The body of qualified persons in an occupation or field: members of the teaching profession.
2. An act or instance of professing; a declaration.
3. An avowal of faith or belief.
4. A faith or belief: believers of various professions.

Technician:

n)
n.

An expert in a technique, as:

1. One whose occupation requires training in a specific technical process: an electronics technician; an automotive technician.
2. One who is known for skill in an intellectual or artistic technique.

Now, when doing my undergraduate studies I was taught that a profession was much more limited than the above loosely based definitions in that a profession was limited to requiring an advanced education where admittance to the field would ultimately be determined by a profesional organization by passing some form of standardized testing procedure(s). That is to say actual 'professions' would include: Physicians (not 'doctors' which is a pet peeve of mine), Dentists, Lawyers, Certified Public Accountants and Engineers. Short list all and all.

What the IT industry instead or has allowed to become an area where anyone can call themselves an 'IT Professional', 'Computer Technician', 'Network Engineer', et. al. without the slightest bit of actual training or knowledge. Theres simply no law against it. Though I suppose I could buy a garage and refer to myself as a mechanic its just as useless for me to say.

Are we hurting ourselves by not setting the highest of standards? In an industry with a surprising number of standards applied to nearly everything we do we are surprisingly lax about setting standards on the human capital side of the equation. How does a technical field become an acredited profession?

Calling much of the support staff: Engineers or Network Engineers really ticks off the 4 year PEs (Professional Engineers) of the world. Yet, I have a Bachelors, Masters and Ph D in Computer Science and much of what I do and have done in the past requires a great swath of cross disciplinary skills, i.e. Heat disapation, economics, structual engineering, bandwidth analysis, break and fix, forecasting, statistics and an entire host of others. These are just a tip of the iceburg when you think about it. How would a newly created professional organization set testing standards? Its been tried before and obviously failed miserably. Same can be said for unionizing IT.

My observation is that IT needs to strive forward in order to be taken less for granted and more like other recognized fields of study. Untill IT decides what type of field it wants to be the field will forever be given a back seat to more developed fields of study. Theres a good deal to be done here and I am interested in hearing or reading your remarks on the situation as these are all very broad statements and questions.

Enjoy!

- beads

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It not normal

by jbaker In reply to IT from Technician to Pro ...

As in most other things, IT cannot really be compared with any other job/profession. In IT, a technician is generally a person that works on the component level, troubleshooting, repairing, and replacing bad hardware and/or applications.

Most IT Professionals work at multiple levels, from component all the way up to network or LAN/WAN/MAN. They have to knowledge and skills to work across multiple disciplines, from light programming to configuring a server.

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I agree, yet disagree

by Ole88 In reply to It not normal

While I agree with you that "Most IT Professionals work at multiple levels" they all still have a specific area of IT that they specialize in. Someone who knows the networking side of the house very well is still going to remember server configuration or some programming language they took classes in. I say that IT can be compared to other professions. Everything starts out as a job, moves to career level, then ends up being a profession - think about it. You have shade-tree mechanics, mechanics and then you have ASE certified mechanics. The third one would be a professional. Many of these people specialize in a specific make or set of makes of automobiles.

In IT, you have your perpetrators (or infiltrators) who just have some certification with no formal training, then you have your green ranks (fresh from college in the past few years), your career people who have been in it for several years and are working on knowledge of a specific area, then you have your professionals who have been working for several more years within a specific subject/knowledge area.

Anyone can setup a Microsoft or Unix platform and get it running, but can they keep it running and/or fine tune it for a certain task or set of tasks? That is where you get your professional, someone who can do the requirements gathering, decide on a specific course of action and tools, set it up/code it, test it and configure it as needed. The people running around with a certification in IT and formal training in stock trading most likely can't do it - or they can't do it right. That is what makes us professionals.

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the things which are new

by Ms.Vagat In reply to I agree, yet disagree

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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the idea of introducing new things

by Ms.Vagat In reply to I agree, yet disagree

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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to know what you want

by Ms.Vagat In reply to It not normal

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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the things which are new

by Ms.Vagat In reply to It not normal

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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Calling us "professionals" is as bogus as calling what we do "engineering"

by DC Guy In reply to IT from Technician to Pro ...

The meaning of the words is in the connotations, not in the dictionary definitions.

A "professional" is someone who is recognized by their peers as qualified to be one of them. That permits them to charge for their work, distinguishing them from "amateurs." This is an important distinction and is used universally in the creative "professions." Formal certification is not necessary. If you're not a good guitarist word will simply get around and nobody will hire you to play.

"Professional" also means that you have a body of knowledge beyond the basic skills of your trade, another distinction from the amateurs. When somebody engages the services of a professional, they expect objective advice, someone to tell them all the stuff they need to know but don't. A professional admits when it would be a bad idea to do what you want even though you're willing to pay them. "Sure, I could retrofit a block heater into this 25-year-old diesel engine that you drove up from Miami easily enough, but it will leak coolant, and maybe even oil, forever after."

So, are we professionals? Do we know enough about our client's business and the track record of IT to be able to discuss frankly with them the down side of their proposed project? If they haven't done their own risk analysis, do we do it for them, and if the chance of success is so low that it would be foolish to tackle it, do we tell them? If we try to be honest and tell them, will all the rest of our fellow "professionals" do the same, or will twenty of them jump at the chance to grab the money?

It also comes down to our ability to even do what we say we can do. The quality of the artifacts we deliver to the people who pay for them is, on the average, woeful. If a civil engineer, an automotive engineer, a chemical engineer, an electrical engineer, an architectural engineer, or any other kind of engineer delivered a product with the failure rate, ergonomics, and mismatch between features and requirements of the average information system, their name would become legend and they'd never work again.

Plumbers do better work than we do without even going to college. Can you imagine walking into your newly remodeled bathroom and having the toilet or the shower work as poorly and as dangerously as the internet? Would you pay them? Would you even let them walk off the premises without fixing it?

We are not engineers and we are not professionals. We are amateur shade-tree mechanics who have fooled the entire population of the planet into paying us.

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Watch the "we"...

by gralfus In reply to Calling us "professionals ...

I am a professional and not a "shade-tree mechanic". I have not fooled people into paying me, I do things for them that they are not able to do, and that they don't want to learn. I am an expert in my field, educated well beyond my coworkers and light-years beyond my customers. I am paid to make the systems run smoothly, and they do run smoothly. If there is a problem, I can fix it. Because of my learning, I can intuit solutions to problems that other techs are scratching their heads over. I can design systems where there are none, and can put them in place if there are no installers to do the job. I am straightforward with advice about what will constitute the best solution, as well as compromises that can be used for the short-term. If my customers choose to disregard that for the almighty solution of a "hired-gun" then that is up to them; I have advised them well. (And yes, I am way overqualified for the job I do, due to the current market.)

Yes, many people who have the tag line of "engineer" are not even close to being professionals or engineers. I understand your grievance against them. But some of us here really do fit the category of professional.

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to get information what you need

by Ms.Vagat In reply to Watch the "we"...

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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think different

by Ms.Vagat In reply to Watch the "we"...

<a href='http://www.google.com'>Click Here to Know More</a>

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