Programmer or Networking?

By apotheosis29 ·
I am recently unemployed and have the opportunity to do worker retraining but I'm unsure of which path to take. I have narrowed it down to "Computer Programmer" or "Network Services & Computing Systems".

I'll give a quick background, I'm 39. I have not been employed in IT, though it has been a strong interest of mine for years. I've been making self taught Access DB's for about 10yrs. I also have split custody on a 9yr old daughter so trying to adhere to a M-F 9-5 schedule is also a consideration (I know it might not be possible).

My question is, which path opens the most doors? Which path is the easiest to obtain an entry level position? From my research it appears programmer is more lucrative but networking might be easier to get an entry level position.

Any advice would be more than welcome!

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I'd say it was about equal

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Programmer or Networking?

opportunities and salaries.
If programming is something you enjoy and you are prepared to put the time in to learn the fundamentals, then the thing to do is to leverage with your previous career.
One of the major facets of development is translating what they want into what they need, so being able to talk their language is a major asset.

I've had several jobs programming in the steel industry, warehousing and transport, simply because I started as despatch clerk in a warehouse for a factory....

Given your current experience, you might want to aim your self towards business analyst.
Someone who knows the business and isn't totally flummoxed by technical cnstraints is worth their weight in gold.

Far from sure basic corporate IT is your best choice in the current climate, things are hard. Guys fresh out of college who'll work for peanuts are being undercut by H1Bs offshoring etc.

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by lmalhoit Contributor In reply to I'd say it was about equa ...

I'm on the network side of things. I'm not really sure how to compare the two...but I would say with networking you might have more late nights/weekends...and less opportunity to work from home.

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I did support then one man shop for a while

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to 9-5

included operations, so I was on call and obviously it's not considered good practice to go home when you haven't plugged everything back in.

Got to say as a %age Iv'e probably done more outside hours work programming though.

Tends to come predicatable bursts, generally when your PM comes out of denial and realises the deadline isn't going to be met, so once a project.

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Agree with Tony

by oldbaritone In reply to Programmer or Networking?

Leverage your experience with your new training. First guess, given your experience, I'd lean toward DB programming and reports/analysis/data mining. It sounds like you have some background in that.

Yes there are lots of entry-level networking positions. Many (most?) of the entry-level jobs will have a substantial component of nights and weekends, maybe pulling cable or system installs/upgrades/cutovers. Much of that is done overnight, so that the impact on "regular business" is minimized. Unfortunately, that can mean a lot of nights and weekends for the net techs.

And "lucrative" is a relative term - you probably won't get rich as a cable grunt, but you're probably not going to get rich as a programmer, either. As Tony said, there are way too many fresh-out-of-college kids who will work for peanuts.

But there's a good chance you would be able to find work in either occupation.

Good luck.

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Network Services and Computing Systems

by wdewey In reply to Programmer or Networking?

I take Network Services to be more of a help desk type of description rather than a true network technician. The difference being that working on a help desk would be more desktop related and less cable and odd hours. From my experience I see there being the most help desk type of positions, with programming after than and network technicians being the smallest portion of an IT department. Pay would start out lowest for help desk, and then I don't know if there is much difference between a network technician and a programmer.


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There's no general correlation.

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Network Services and Comp ...

Best money I was ever on was at a telecomms house during the boom. The Cisco and Oracle boys made my pay look like chump change.

My current role I get paid more than guys who were managing entire manufacturing plants at a previous one...

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OH! How about

by NexS In reply to Programmer or Networking?

Being a Netgrammer?

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That's a relative

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to OH! How about

who stops you visiting porn sites isn't it?

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I thought, also

by NexS In reply to That's a relative

That it sounded like a technologically adept Grammar Nazi.

Let the imagination run wild.

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