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IT opportunities in social sciences

By Lumbergh77 ·
I've been in IT for about 10 years now but finding that my heart lies in the social sciences. I'd much rather read a book on psychology or sociology than a programming book. I do enjoy working with data and writing queries, btw.

Does anyone know what kind of opportunities are in the social sciences for IT people? And what type of credentials are needed?

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Different approach

by amcol In reply to IT opportunities in socia ...

Are you sure you're asking the right question?

It doesn't sound to me like you want to continue your IT career in a new industry, it appears you want to make a career change. If you do want to move into the social sciences and stay an IT professional, then good for you because you're going about it the right way. You obviously want to know as much about the business as you can, as much as you know about IT, and that's what makes IT professionals successful no matter what industry or situation they're in.

If that IS what you want then you don't need any special credentials. You're not expected to be a psychologist or a sociologist coming in the door, you're supposed to know IT. If you have any existing academic or professional credentials that are at all relevant you can figure out a way to capitalize on those, but once you're in any new knowledge you develop will be OJT.

I would suggest, however, that you reexamine your motivation. Do you want to be an IT professional working with sociologists, or do you want to be a sociologist who happens to have a knowledge base in IT? If it's the latter then you need to go back to school. You won't be able to break into a new profession without some kind of credential, and in this case the only one you'll be able to develop that will give you the credibility you'll require will be academic.

Good luck. You're at the same career crossroads all of us hit somewhere along the line. The other side, no matter what you choose, is quite pleasant...because you will have looked inward and followed your passion, whatever that is.

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re: Different approach

by Lumbergh77 In reply to Different approach

Thanks for your response, amcol.
I'm thinking more along the lines of data analyst. Not necessary the sociologist or network geek, but the guy who analyzes the data. There seems to be a lot of data analyst positions out there.

I would love to be a sociologist but my undergrad GPA was 2.8 and all the grad programs require a 3.0. There are no universities near me that offer an MS in socio. Also, I would need a Ph D which would takes many years. This would be a huge financial hit so I'm not sure it would be worth the sacrifice. The compensation in social sciences tends to be pretty low compared to other fields. But more stable perhaps?

I'm looking into more of a long term and STABLE career where I can utilize my strengths (analyzing, reearching, brainstorming, etc). IT seems to be a great career for those under 40. Not so great after 40 unless you're a manager.

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You have more options than you know

by amcol In reply to re: Different approach

First of all, don't worry about your undergraduate GPA. Graduate programs require you take the GMAT or the GRE, and if you ace that test your undergrad GPA can be mitigated. Besides, the distance from 2.8 to 3.0 is pretty short...don't eliminate yourself because you're interpreting the requirements too literally.

I was a part time adjunct professor for several years in a graduate program in a NY based university and I worked with the admissions office, so I have some knowledge in this area. If you want to go to graduate school, you can.

You don't necessarily need a PhD. You certainly don't need one to get an entry level job as a sociologist, and if you do need one for ultimate career advancement you can always get one on your employer's dime.

If what you're looking to do is move into data analysis, however, what you really need to do is get some credentials in statistics. Sociology and statistics are highly correlated disciplines, and you can have an extremely rewarding and successful career as a professional statistician working with sociologists. Statistics is also a natural for someone who makes his living in IT...you're firing the same brain cells to be good at both.

Seems to me you have two choices, both of which will take some time. One...go back to school and get an M.S. in statistics. Never a bad idea, and something you can have a lot of control over. Two...get onto a project at work that's heavily stat oriented, then learn baby learn. If your current employer has no such opportunity, capitalize on your IT credentials to get a new job with another employer who does do that kind of work. Either way you'll come out the other side with the chops you'll need to do what you want to do.

BTW, don't hold your nose when you say the word "manager". You're mostly right in that the older you get the better your employment prospects if you're at the management level. If that's not what you want to do, then you can do what a lot of other folks have done...spend the first half of your career as an IT professional who works with other professionals in a cross-section of disciplines, then use that to carve out a plan for the second half of your career. Maybe it's as a manager, maybe as a sociologist or an analyst, or maybe as a carpenter. Whatever turns you on.

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