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Need some clarity...

I've been going through a lot of the posts on these boards and I've noticed that most of the people on here believe that IT is going down the drain, which I find disturbing...
I'm a 20 year old who just graduated with an associates degree. Right now I'm working on getting some certs while also looking for a part time or full time entry-level job. I'm planning on going back to school to get at least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering.
I don't think it would be fair for me to ask where IT is going, since no one can predict the future. But what possibilities exist for someone with a BS in comp engineering and a background in IT?

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A long-term perspective.

by DC_GUY In reply to Need some clarity...

If I were you I would concentrate on the certs rather than the four-year degree. It is my personal opinion that the types of jobs that a MCSE would make available to you are somewhat less likely to be automated or offshore-outsourced in the near future than the types of jobs that require a B.S. Many of those jobs involve hands-on engineering tasks and troubleshooting, i.e., system engineering vs. Software engineering.

I've been in IT for almost forty years and I believe I can see the handwriting on the wall more clearly than some of my younger colleagues. What is written there scares even me, with (if all goes well) less than ten years left until retirement.

I advise all people who are choosing a career, and parents who are helping their sons and daughters choose a career, to look into the following, in decreasing order of academic work required: Mideastern languages, nursing, and plumbing.

Plumbing in particular, however humble a profession it may appear to us desk jockeys, pays extremely well and it's difficult to imagine how it could be automated or offshored.

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Aim high

by jcox In reply to A long-term perspective.

We are seeing only the bottom of the ladder be downgraded, outsourced, and then managed. The key here is managed. The new IT jobs will be those that are able to participate in design, project manage, strategic alignment, board level communicator etc. These types of people are in short supply and you are well aligned to fill these shoes. Compliment your degree with anything to do with Financials. Most of the articles I have read from this sector claim that the CFO's are the ones to run IT because CTO's did not understand the strategic and financial equations and were unable to align IT and Business effectively. What they are simply doing is trying to take that piece of the pie that they were traditionally kept out of. I have never met one that a vendor couldn't run rings around and result was projects costing 3 times as much as they would have with an educated and experienced IT person at the helm. These people are not interested in partnership - they want it all - however, they will continue to fail due to thier lack of expertise and training in the ever increasing and powerful world of IT. So stick to your guns - add a 2nd degree or diploma in Financial Management, and if you can't get into a big company - do the small stuff but contract only - its the quickest way to get experience and move into the project management realm. From there - your capability, personality, communication and leadership abilities will be snapped up. Have faith and you will succeed - but be aware of the CFO's and thier teams.

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IT has suffered in recent years

by LiamE In reply to Need some clarity...

IT has suffered in recent years due a number of factors - not least of which was the economic uncertainty of recent years and the ever present bottom line focus leading to programming and support call centres being moved overseas to save money. It will never go back to how it was 5 years or so ago with jobs for anyone that knew what a mouse was but that isnt necessarily a bad thing.

What has also had a tremendous negative effect was the hoards of people that saw IT as an easy career option over the last few years and went into IT with neither the aptitude nor interest in the subject matter. Certification was sold (and incredibly still is!) as the certain route to riches to people that would be better served learning to flip burgers. The credibility of real professionals was marred by these bandwagon-jumpers, along with the reputation of many certifications, such as the NT4 MCSE, that really suffered from braindumping and lack of real world experience of the candidates.

What about the long term? Well firstly only consider an IT career if you have both aptitude for computing/networking and and genuine interest in the subject. The future looks bright real career IT people, and very bleak for those that are in IT as something to do. Jobs will be different but still rewarding and interesting - perhaps moreso than ever. Become a specialist in something you enjoy. Keep away from the stuff that will get moved to another country sooner or later (ie help desk, code monkey jobs).

IT can no more 'go down the drain' as accountancy or law, it is now an essential part of any successful business. What will change though is where people source their services from and what services they need to source in the first place. The job market will change year on year to reflect those fluctuating needs. Change is the one thing that can be guaranteed with total certainty.

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The circle of life

by jdmercha In reply to IT has suffered in recent ...

Like any fieled IT has its ups and downs. For the past few years hat has been more down than up. Personnally I think it has hit bottom and will start to climb at a modest rate. But hears what happens:

IT experienced a boom awhile back. Companies could not hire enough IT people.Thus people were inclinde to get the quick certs to take advantage of all the job opportunities. Then when IT takes a downturn, the first peols affected will be those with certs. People with a BS or an MS are much more likely to be able to weather the storm and get promotions.

Then you have to look at the word "Engineer". this word has been overused to describe many occupations. An Engineering degreee is far superior to any other BS degree. It is not only the highest paying but also the most difficult major. Computer Engineering is much more that COMputer Science. My son is a Senior in Computer Engineering. He works for a department on campus and he also does contract work at $50/hr. (When he was a freshamn he was getting $20/hr).

He already has a job offer at the Univesity for $30k. Not much but along with that $30k comes free tuition for grad school plus the ability to continue his $50/hr work on the side.

Most BSCE students are getting $50k+ to start. And there are plenty of those jobs open now with companies like IBM, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Keep in mind the it is an Engineering degreee. A friend of his graduate last year with a BA in copmuter science. He wasn't willing to move out of the area, and it took him 10 months to find a job. He's now doing Java programming for $30k.

To be a bit blunt, an MSCE, or CNE or any other similarly certified engineer, is not a REAL engineer. A REAL engineer can expect $20k-$30k more per year. (In general that is. I know that there are exceptions.)

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Combination of Certs and Degrees

by tony.kahi In reply to The circle of life

I recently graduated with a BA in Computer Science it was indead difficult and demanding especially since I was working fulltime as the Network Admin /Telcom Switch Admin I have outdated MCSE and CCNA so Im now working on upgrading those to current and Ive been in the fied now for more than 7 Yrs. The combination of experience and certifications [even though not required to keep them current by employee]has indeed paid off and will for you if you decide to stay in the field where your passion is. Most techies cant handle the "manusha" and move on becuase they want the major projects etc...but one small step for Techie will in turn be a giant step for Techie someday. Some cert-ies find no job in the field because of lack of experience they usually settle for. Some experienced individuals lack the certs so dont get paid as much and employees dont mind paying in house people if they dont have to serve up the big pay check. Some graduates get top salarys but lack the experience and the certs. Catch~22
The combination of all the above a minimum 5Yrs experience Certs in MCSE/CCNA/SECURITY and a Bachelors/Masters Degree can put you over the top
but one must be willing to pull up stakes in order to get the top-dollar job. If outsourcing scares you try looking for Jobs overseas and you'll see they do pay top dollar for the combination....pull up stakes and grow wings if you have to. Just remember theirs always someone in the IT field that gets paid more than you do :)and it takes time and hard-work to get there.


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Planning your future is more important

by CfK In reply to Need some clarity...

You seem to have taken a pragmatic approach to your education, which is great. You have the basis of a good start in whichever area you choose.
But that is the issue, isn't it - what do you choose? There are many different streams of specialty within the technology industries, but because of the rapidly changing nature of technology it is difficult to pick one that will sustain itself for the long (read 10 years) term. After all Microsoft, Cisco, or Novell certifications rarely last more than 3 years.
There is no (longer) a defined and clear path throughout your working life. You can start on one track, and change over time, or even jump to something completely different. Does this mean you have wasted time getting to where you are? No, but where you are is not where you will remain.
Is the IT industry in a crisis? To read the pundits one would get that idea, but that is not really the true story. As mentioned above there is continual change, and this is rapid. Keeping on top of what is happening is becoming too broad as technology penetrates many different aspects of daily life. Because IT is penetrating so many areas there is now more opportunity for you, but the opportunities are less certain to be long term.
Whatever you choose, be prepared to change and adapt. If you feel you cannot then get out of the industry ? harsh but that is reality.
If you find something you like, with people you enjoy being around then learning and adapting will be easier.
Best wishes.

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It's not as bad as it looks

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Need some clarity...

I've gone right through cycle from glorified clerk to systems engineer. The IT market took a massive hit when the market reached saturation point, coupled with the failure of 'new' technologies to materialise. I expect a couple more boom and busts.
With a degree in computer engineering there are lots of openings, with certs fewer and you'll have to climb on the renewal merry-go-round. No one asks you to retake a degree though.
Do you need the certs to get an entry level job with your degree ? If I was hiring I know which one I'd pay attention to.

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Thanks for the responses

by MDDDDD In reply to Need some clarity...

After reading everyone's responses, I think it's safe to say that you all think there are some definite possibilities for career growth in IT. I feel a lot better about that.
I really enjoy IT and I don't want to get out of it if I don't have to. I figured I would go for a comp engineering degree because, well, I'm just really interested in that sort of stuff. I've always tried to do what I enjoy, and after reading all your posts, I've realized that there's even more of an incentive to continue in IT. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

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In any Career

by ncurigbewt In reply to Thanks for the responses

In case you haven't read "What Color is Your Parachute", I highly recommend it. It emphasizes that you first evaluate what you enjoy and what you do well. Then you research where those skills and interests would be valuable and pursue those opportunities. It helps you see that it is wiser to make decisions about your future based on your skills and interests than the number of opportunities in the industry. As far as my personal experience in IT, I look at about 20 of my peers and friends and 18 of them are better off than they were 4 years ago. In my opinion the other 2 are not because they did not make an effort to keep there skills and knowlege current.

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More than enough work left to do

by Pak-Rat In reply to Need some clarity...

There is so much more improvement to do in most industries. Healthcare for example I'm sure you know needs a ton of work to be done. My advice, pick an industry like healthcare and learn about IT and healthcare and give an employer both bodies of knowledge as an asset. Pick something you can have a great passion for and then give it everything you can especially early on. The more knowledge beyond IT the more security and the more opportunities will be presented for you. Good luck!

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