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Stay a Techie or move to Management?

By Listen65 ·
I am interested in hearing the views of fellow techies and managers.

An opportunity is arising for me to move into a manager role. It would be managing the UNIX team supporting multiple clients. On the face of it, it seems to me to be a natural career progression and of course I would earn more $$. I believe I have the abilities and I would engage with the new challenges.

What concerns me though is that this would be purely management and very little techie work. I would be loosing my UNIX techie skills over time

My questions are:

Is one more employable as a UNIX engineer than a UNIX manager? Can one always move back to being a techie from manager? (would they have to move a few rungs down the ladder)

I get the impression that there are more work opportunities as an Engineer than as a manager. I wonder is this true?. Do you also think it is true that the earning ability of an engineer is just as good as the earning ability of a UNIX team manager?

Any views are welcome.

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homework time

by gpellett In reply to Stay a Techie or move to ...

In addition to the suggestions offered to look into your own career goals and honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, please let me offer this.
"Is one more employable as a UNIX engineer than a UNIX manager?" Check job advertisements for your area, or places that you'd like to work.
"Can one always move back to being a techie from manager?" Depends upon how long you've been away from the technical side. It would be easier if you kept your certifications up to date or took formal courses to keep up with technology.
"would they have to move a few rungs down the ladder" Maybe, but you might find a company that values all of your experience and rewards you for it.
"I get the impression that there are more work opportunities as an Engineer than as a manager." Depends upon the employers in your area, but consider this: technical people are the producers that managers rely upon. Eventually the product (service, upgrade, etc.) must be built. Managers may be drivers, but engineers are where the rubber meets the road.
If you believe in your company (including the chain of command that you?ll deal most closely with) and feel that the management career path is right for you, go for it. Watch out for companies that have chaotic management or buddy networks that could limit your future. Some companies assume that good techs automatically make good managers, but then provide little support and training. Make sure you learn industry accepted management practices and don?t just fall into the style of your bosses or company. You?ll really need to be on your toes or you could ruin your reputation and kill your career. Meanwhile, competent techs can ignore politics and still do well. Overall, combining technical smarts and management savvy is a dynamite career builder. But there?s just as much respect for the tech who really makes things work.

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Reasons to move to management

by bmagurn In reply to Stay a Techie or move to ...

I moved to management and it is definitely a struggle, but it's a challenge I think I am up to, and I will grow in my skill set.

As everyone has said, the question is more about what you want for yourself, your personal growth, and the things you will enjoy more.

Management is about people - supporting people, taking their issues up the change, and doing things that primarily have nothing to do with tech.

If you are looking to just get a bigger paycheck, don't take the job. You're in it for the wrong reason and will quickly discover that the check doesn't make up for the aggravation.

A good reason to move to management is because you believe that your technical knowledge of the business will help you make good decisions that will help your team, more than if someone else was in the role.

Your technical skills will atrophy somewhat. If you can find the time to exercize them, you may be able to almost keep up, but you won't have the free time you had as a techie to read up and play with things.

Another good reason to move to management is if you feel a lack of a challenge with the technical skills you have mastered, and you are looking for a new challenge, and to develop a new skill set.

As far as employment is concerned - I think we can assume there are less management positions than actual engineer positions since the managers usually manage more than 1 engineer.

Can you go back? Yes, but not easily.
If I was looking to hire an engineer, I would have more reservations about hiring someone who was a manager, because
1) I don't know how current their skills still are
2) They may have attitude issues adjusting back to the engineer position - which means they may not take direction well, and may boss people around, thinking they're still in charge.

These can be overcome by a good interview, explaining what your motivations are for changing jobs, but it's something to think of.

I think it's safe to assume that in general the management position will pay more than the engineer position. Again just basic numbers. The manager's responsible for a number of people, and that responsibility is usually compensated more than the worker bees.

That's not to say that companies may look at a manager as a generality that's paid based how how easily they can get people, while the specific skillset of an engineer may require keeping up with market pay.

In a nutshell, if you don't feel a desire to help your fellow workers, lead them, train them, motivate them and drive them to their fullest potential - don't take the job for any other reason. It is a huge challenge, and all of your technical skills do not prepare you for the challenge of working with people.

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