General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2186579

    What can a career changer to IT expect?


    by jakaiju ·

    I am almost 40 and have been working for many years and it just so happens that I’m in a career transition and desiring to enter IT. Outside of my regular job as video/data/voice electrical apprentice, I occasionally accept some side work repairing and upgrading PC stuff (have my A+ and soon Net+ certs) – I have not yet become fully involved in the IT industry due to a “lack of practical experience” (but not for a lack of desire). I have a B.A. degree in something other than CIS. Also, short of cold calling companies, I have sent dozens of resumes to IT department managers and HRs that advertised jobs available, but to no avail.

    I have seen a few threads started by established IT techs reporting dissatisfaction of IT department heads, working conditions and the corporate culture in general.

    That in mind, am I just seeing the responses of too many disgruntled techs and engineers who don’t seem to enjoy their careers (jobs) for what ever personal reasons, or are there other, more positive reasons to get into this IT gig?

    I was actually considering getting involved in network security. Are there any CAREFULLY CONSIDERED opinions of experienced IT techs out there that can help steer me in the right career direction? Thank you.

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3243861

      Do it for the right reasons

      by amcol ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Don’t listen to the voices of doom and gloom. You’ll find those in every profession, mostly because it’s more human nature to complain than to compliment.

      I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say there’s no such thing as a lawyer who likes what they’re doing. Well, I know plenty of happy lawyers.

      I can’t help you figure out what part of IT to specialize in…that’s your job. If you think you like network security then go for it. I’d just advise you to consider why…are you doing so because you’ve heard that’s one of today’s hot spots, or have you taken the courses and gotten a little experience and decided it’s something you actually would like doing 50-60 hours a day, week after week. That’s a long time to be doing something you don’t like, so consider carefully.

      Don’t send resumes to department managers or HR departments. Don’t respond to newspaper ads. You’ll go nowhere fast, and end up feeling bad because it’s a lot of effort for no return.

      You’ll encounter some age discrimination, so you’ll need a strategy to overcome that. I’ve hired lots of “older” workers, purely on the basis of their credentials and their demonstrated ability to add value. Do a ton of research on targeted companies, find out who the hiring managers are, approach them directly, and have a well thought out pitch on why you should be hired. Talk about the business…what do you know about it, what are the pain points, how would hiring you be of tangible benefit to the company. Figure out how you can leverage your non-IT BA and your non-IT experience to your newly chosen career…you have 20 or so years under your belt doing something, don’t let that go to waste. Everything can be connected somehow. Not as complicated as it sounds.

      Consider going for a temp-to-perm position. I’ve hired a lot of folks in your age group under that umbrella. You hire on for a 6-8 month gig with the understanding that at the end of that time you’ll either move on or be given a permanent position. It’s basically a half year long job interview…you get money and experience, the company gets to see what you can do, and neither one of you is obligated. There are agencies that will do this for you or you can do it yourself.

      Consider doing some free consulting for a month or two, or part time. Volunteer to do some IT related work for a charitable organization or, better yet, a professional society. You’ll get experience and contacts.

      For every cranky tech out there you’ll find two or three more who, while they may not admit it, are actually very happy doing what they’re doing. Tell the naysayers to go pound sand.

      Best of luck.

      • #3243818

        Good advice

        by tconard ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        That’s probably the best advice you will get all day. Don’t short change your past experience and what you accomplished.
        The temp to hire is a great way to find that company to work for. Even if you don’t get hired, that is six month’s of actual experience. During your time there show them your willingness to tackle a job and your work ethnics.

      • #3239448

        Love what you do – its all about attitude

        by dougdoyle ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        Hi, I worked as a desktop admin and system admin for a transport company which I started at as a truck driver. I was able to teach myself, gain the trust of the admin at the start, and later senior management by being available and seen to be fixing problems (with the blessing of the admin who was overworked). It took almost 10 years to get completely into the field. I spent 5 years with a split role.

        I am no longer doing IT direct, but still keep my hand in by doing contract stuff when I want to. The important thing to remember is when someone calls with a problem – big or small – they are not an inconvenience. Rather, that is why you are there.

        Set the network up, teach the users, be patient. It’s all about good customer service.

        If you are really that keen you will get your break.

        • #3239420

          Back Door

          by bigwanker ·

          In reply to Love what you do – its all about attitude

          I suggest you try what I did. If you want to be a developer, that is. I have based much of my career on the premise that business knowledge + coding ability = a highly valuable skill.

          I am basically an IT person, but don’t work in an IT department and never have. I specialize in VBA and C++ but most of my jobs have required just Excel and Access VBA. I learned these on my own (though I have taught programming courses to CIS majors in the past, which fact I try to take advantage of when people might say that I have no IT credentials.)

          Confusing, I know. I’ve been coding all my life and started as an engineer, building applications on the side for other engineers that needed them.

          My strategy was that the applications were so technical and specific that we couldn’t have IT do them, it was quicker and easier to just have me do them. No red tape, waiting for our project to get priority, and so on. Plus the real selling point – we would have complete control over the finished product. I can’t stress that last one enough. I have built some very large applications, too. In every place I have been, there has been a need for customized applications to fit the specific needs of the business that off-the-shelf applcations just couldn’t meet.

          I have also done some of that PLC-type coding that Tony H. above refers to, which was very, very cool! I was writing code in HP-Basic to control glass-tempering furnaces. There has been no more exciting application than writing code and actually seeing some physical piece of equipment respond (for example, set furnace temperature to 700 degrees C, start rollers turning, open furnace door, load glass …) I know that there is a huge need for this after spending some years in finance at a large factory. Developers that have specialized knowledge of this type of programming will be in high demand for years to come, and it seems that fewer and fewer people can do this.

          Then I moved to finance, same story. I was kind of the “stealth” IT person, with one big customer – kind of like the mafia lawyer with just one big important client! The company, a huge Fortune 100 company, allowed me to do this since at that time our IT department was being outsourced and this was a highly critical application. My VBA skills were actually what got me hired in even though I was technically a cost accountant at that time. Plus when I needed help from IT, such as web page deployment and design ideas, they were there and really helpful.

          After that I went to Wall Street where I again was technically a fixed income quant, but did a lot of coding for other people just like a real IT person would and worked to integrate the systems of the other parts of the business in Europe, just from the coding side as I know nothing about networks or hardware.

          I am now at a mortgage company building large applications, same idea, my boss likes this since we don’t have to deal with getting priority from IT so I have the best of both worlds (plus again he feels that he has complete control over the applications since I work for him, haha.) I get to code all day in the languages I feel are most appropriate for the application and to create new things of value to the company. People use my applications, which is very satisfying. My boss likes the fact that he can ask for something and it is done immediately, plus, with my finance background I can come up with my own ideas and understand what needs to be done without him even having to tell me what to do. It’s great, and I don’t have to do any other things that maybe a traditional IT person might have to do and wouldn’t necessarily want to. The only downside to being a captive IT department is that 1) working for people that aren’t developers means that what I do is not necessarily appreciated since they don’t realize what goes into it – things appear as if by magic, so as someone else above said, you really have to find your reward yourself just through the sense of accomplishment and intellectual satisfaction and

          2) being someone’s captive IT department means that I have no resources to draw on for ideas or even staff, so spend many long hours and sometimes would love to be able to make my customers fill out project request forms stating the business needs so that my department (it’s just me!) can better allocate it’s limited resources, like a real IT department and

          3) my boss is now very worried that I am the only one that knows what is going on but that’s not necessarily a bad thing 🙂

          So my advice is, try the back door, if you love to code, and good luck. I really think that I have the best possible job there is and you can do something like this too. Just start building appications wherever you are now and build up from there.

        • #3239399

          The backdoor can really help

          by mikestilesky ·

          In reply to Back Door

          As BigWanker stated above, the backdoor is a very good way to get into IT.

          I started out in Electrical Maintenance with one of the worlds largest printing companies. We had some old mechanical chart recorders that were dying one-by-one each month (repair costs were starting to sky-rocket).

          I took the concept of ‘those’ chart recorders and developed a VB app to take the same inputs via PLC and analog cards, producing daily printouts of press activity. Years later, we ported the data over to SQL Server and developed a web page for management.

          Along the way, I studied Novell, took some NT courses, developed other cool apps for the various manufacturing departments and bidded my time for our IT person to ‘find other opportunities’. After our IT person departed the company, my Maintenance Manager vouched for me with upper management. I did the ‘split-role’ for a couple of years. Now, I am lead tech in our IT department.

          Small changes and patience.

        • #3239324

          Yeah… back door

          by c-3po ·

          In reply to The backdoor can really help

          I can testify to the back door also. When I was much younger, I finished a college diploma in Computer electronics – an area I was very interested in – but then followed a different path in which I was also interested – ministry with The Salvation Army (totally unrelated to IT). After 16 years there, it was time for a change and I had a desire to come back to IT. I had no current certification, and my diploma was now 16 years out of date (a long time in IT).

          We made the move, and I found a company in transition with their IT (They had a part time consultant and a need to move to something more permanent but were not yet ready to pay for it).

          I ended up working in the shipping department, packing boxes, constantly telling them I could help with IT. I got A+, NET+, MSP and MCSA along the way and gradually worked from no-time IT to part-time, to full-time, to the only one doing the job (with help of a few consultants 🙂

          The back door is the only thing that worked for me – I had no other job offers in the mean time. I’m loving the job and believe my employer appreciates the job I am doing.

          Stick with it! Hang in there! Find the back door if you can. If you’re work ethic is good and you have the aptitude to get there, you will.

        • #3255726

          Other alternatives

          by horacio.cordero ·

          In reply to Yeah… back door

          When I turned 36, I decided to make a career change. I took a 2 months course (360 hours in networking essentials and business). Within one month, with that certificate and my previous experience I got my first job in the IT field. Must confess I was the oldest guy among my collegues. I could?t complained. I paid breakfast, while the were teaching me tricks of this industry.

          A year later, with savings and some certificattions under the belt, I decided to open my own small company specialized in Information Security.

          I don?t know all, but I can do coding, networking, and help companies in security policy matters.

          Now, my children keep telling me that they would love to be in charge one day.

          So, my advise would be: take some certifications, get your foot in, and seize that chance to grow. Be decent, honest and don?t assume ever.

          Good luck!

        • #3239408

          So True

          by netgeek84 ·

          In reply to Love what you do – its all about attitude

          That is so true, it is about loving what you do, if you don’t enjoy your job you will be miserable as long as you have it. I absolutly love my job, I actually look forward to comming in, in the morning. Security is a great field to get into especially right now. You might even want to look into Security+ (which gives you a broad scope of security accross all platforms) or CCSP (Cisco Certified Security Professional) which will give you security over mainly cisco equipment.

          Good Luck to you.


        • #3239386

          Make the change

          by tantor ·

          In reply to Love what you do – its all about attitude

          No matter what you do, you’ll find people who don’t like it or would rather complain than work. And I actually prefer to work around people who complain a lot. Makes me look better when I don’t.

          I came from an HR/Recruiting background and actually took a job as a Temp in a company I wanted to work for just to get my foot in the door. Worked out well for me becuase I was able to see if I liked the work and the company. Ten years on, and I couldn’t be happier.

          Some things I would offer as advice about a career change:

          1) Don’t believe the Computer Training Commercials when they talk about “average salaries”. Keep in mind that the “average” salary includes people who are Internet Millionaires and does not take into account things like cost of living differences. There’s some pretty insane salaries out in San Jose/San Fran area and those people are still scraping to get by at first. Don’t expect to buy that BMW 7 series after two months on the job. But if you are good, and can prove yourself, the money will come.

          2) Don’t think you’re gonna walk right in as a Security Analayst or whatever you find most interesting. You’re probably going to have to pay your dues answering Help Desk calls or going to people’s offices and replacing their Mice. Everyone in IT who is happy with it started out doing the grunt work. And when you DO move up, don’t forget the guys who are down there now. They might just be your boss someday…

          3) If you don’t know, don’t try and fake it. Nothing is worse than a Paper MCSE who tries to do something and makes it worse. If you can’t figure something out, say so. Ask for help and pay attention to the answer. My motto at first was “You may have to show me things, but you won’t have to show me twice”.

          4) Never forget the reason you are there. You can build the most complex and beautiful system on earth, but if the users can’t understand it, it’s worthless.

          5) Learn to live without recognition for long hours. At times, not hearing about anything is the best compliment. You’ll get thanks and all, but it will never be commensurate with the effort you put in. But there’s no better feeling than stuff just working.

          Good luck!

      • #3239431

        Reply To: What can a career changer to IT expect?

        by peter ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        I’m in total agreement with all the posters. IT is a wonderful career/job but as always in anything, there is always a few moaning minnies.

        Sometimes it’s a thankless job but the majority of the time it’s rewarding & there are some great fellow IT Pro’s out there.

        Do make sure you know which way you want to go in your career first though. So as has been already said, look around & do some part-time work for a few companies or go it alone for a while, to get the feel of things.

        Good luck in your final decission

      • #3239421

        Hit The Nail on Head

        by jmpayne56 ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        AMCOL has it correct. I retired from the military as a Flight Line electrician but decided that the airline industry was just too unstable for me. I finished up my college degree in CIS, got my first cert in Network +, and had a hard time findng a job beause my lack of experience plus I wasjust turning 38.

        I volunteered at an ISP. I helped a guy start his business by putting togther PC’s. I used my teaching experience to teach Office 98 to various agencies and offices. I did whatever it took just to gain some experience.

        However, then one company offered me a job because of my technical writing skills. Their IT department was seriously lacking in the documentation department so they hired me to fulfill that role. Once they saw I could place the hands-on onto paper, my options opened up.

        I now have my CCNA and working as a Field Engineer overseas with my current company. You just have to find a need and use your skills to take advantage of the opportunity.

        Most important, have patience. The jobs will come…

      • #3239392

        This makes sense

        by blu97ram ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        I feel your pain. I also decided to change careers “late” in life. I spent 26 years as Journeyman Toolmaker. I got tired of being laid off every three or four years. So, I decided the best option for me was to attend a local career college that has a Microsoft certified training program. About a year into the Associates degree program, I was able to offer myself as a volunteer at a firm in the area. After doing volunteer work for three months on a part time basis, the owner offered me a full time job. He then offered to help with my tuition. I have since been promoted to the Help Desk Administrator position. My boss had two other poeple that had worked for him longer, but they were both young and he said that he felt my maturity was a definate plus, and that is why he offered the position to me.
        Good luck and keep trying.

      • #3255033

        Temp-to-perm position

        by afit mng ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        This is a great bit of advice I know many AF personnel that have gotten in with compaines that way. Also make sure what ever you choose you will be happy with it can be a very demanding and little rewarding field so must like it to stay that is what has kept me going for so long and will for many years to come. Also temp work will give you a feel for what it is like.

      • #3236903


        by brian.giordano ·

        In reply to Do it for the right reasons

        You work 50-60 hours a day? Wow!

    • #3262545

      Reply To: What can a career changer to IT expect?

      by jbaker ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      It is the good with the bad. I am very happy in the field, and love what I do. However, there are some people that try my patience, just as with any job.

      Security is a GREAT field, with nowhere to go but up. If you can afford to attend any of the SANS training, do so. It will provie invaluable, and will seriously help in getting a security admin job.

      • #3239340

        Yes There is always the bad with the good

        by senior program analyst ·

        In reply to Reply To: What can a career changer to IT expect?

        I have been in the I.T. field for 20+ years and with the current company over 10. I have been in several Positions in my career. Even with my current company my primary vocus changes sometimes slowly sometimes quickly.
        As with any Career/Position/Company the day to day stuff can get boring/un-challenging/down-right ugly. Today you may have to deal with a customer who is a pain, tomorrow you may be dealing with a boss that doesnt understand.
        My Point is I love this field. What you have to do is Love what you do and that gets you through the bad points (this goes for I.T., Medical, Accounting, Engineering, Law, whatever).
        Only you can decide if you enjoy something (and what parts) enough to pull you through the downpoints.
        I.T. is a great career if you love what you are doing in the field.

    • #3262428

      Well if you like the design and coding side

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      You are custom designed for Process Control. Your electrical background coupled with IT skills would make you very valuable. PLC/Intelligent instrument interfacing control and analysis is a very good grounding in the disciplines. I trained four electricians up in it and once they learnt to map the concepts across they took to it like ducks to water.
      I learnt a lot off them too, particularly fault finding, as electricians tend not to stick things in the system until they are damn sure what’s going on.

      • #3262672

        Thanks for the encouragement

        by jakaiju ·

        In reply to Well if you like the design and coding side

        Thank you for the advice (especially amcol). Tony, I would like to follow up on your suggestion. Would you please elaborate on what exactly “PLC/Intelligent instrument interfacing control and analysis” is? Is there a web link to more info on this?

        Thanks a lot.

        • #3262616

          All over the place

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Thanks for the encouragement

          Look up SCADA.
          Rockwell Automation, ABB, Omron.
          I did it from the IT side and taught the ‘tricians who originally just did the PLC side.
          If you buy a big motor it has a controller. The controller takes commands like run up to 500 rpm and ramp up to x first at so and so rate. You can also request things like the load and the speed etc. If said motor drives a fan and you need to achieve a particular rate of cooling, then you are going to drive it to a speed. But the speed you want depends on how much ccoling and the cooling you want depends on what the fan is cooling. So you need a link between the ordering system which will be pc or main frame based and the motor controller. There are lots of ways to do that but you need some one who knows how motors work so you get what you want without burning it out and how programming works so they can get what to do from the ordering system. Just a simple example there are lots more. It’s a very interesting field.

          The last one I worked on was to measure the size and shape of 4km of wire going past at 70m/s. The system had to collect all that summarise it, store it in a database, produce a quality assessment based on the order requirements and show graphs and trends on how constant the size and shape was so next 4k piece was as good or better.
          Lots of fun and as a developer I learnt more about programming in the six years I did it than at any other point of my career.

        • #3241414

          Check it out

          by industrial_controller ·

          In reply to All over the place

          Good advice from Tony. I have worked in Industrial Controls since 1997 and there is nothing like seeing immediate results from your work. We did one job that controlled three story cranes moving grocery pallets around in a warehouse. Another controlled ink dryers for high speed industrial printing presses. Not many people seem to take to this type of programming. It involves tech understanding AND mechanical/electrical aptitude. If you have those talents, you will find a lot of work.

        • #3256383

          Yep often get hit’s in the UK

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Check it out

          but I can’t get most of the PLC based jobs because I’ve no electrical training. Occasionally one comes up where that isn’t significant though usually interfacing to PLC based systems. None of this Ivory Tower b0ll0cks in process control. Safety, and robustness are what they are after not 300 hundred pages of UML and some web services.

        • #3256380

          Yep, often get hits in the UK

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Check it out

          but I can’t get most of the PLC based jobs because I’ve no electrical training. Occasionally one comes up where that isn’t significant though usually interfacing to PLC based systems. None of this Ivory Tower b0ll0cks in process control. Safety, and robustness are what they are after not 300 hundred pages of UML and some web services.
          If you fancy a happy job a lot of the stuff at Disney is Allen Bradley PLCs

    • #3239444

      The advice here is excellent

      by martin_ternouth ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      IT people, like the guys who process your payroll check, have to
      work to higher standards than other folk because the only
      success criterion the organisation sets you is not making a
      single mistake – ever. You only get noticed when something
      goes wrong: IT is a praise-free environment. Therefore to do it,
      you really have to love the work: its intellectual challenge, its
      variety, complexity – and the responsibility of often being the
      only person between smooth running and total disaster.

    • #3239439

      Good luck

      by -j.d. ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I went back to college and got an associates in Computer Information Systems. That was 2 years ago. I still can’t find any entry level jobs.

      In other words, don’t quite your day job, until you can secure a position.


      • #3239424

        Right said

        by archie ·

        In reply to Good luck

        You don’t want to be hanging while you go through a transition. Frustration when launching a career can wear you out if you don’t follow the fundamentals. 1. Keep current job 2. Get a certification 3. Get exposure by volunteering time until you are confident 4. Start building a network

      • #3239423

        Right said

        by archie ·

        In reply to Good luck

        You don’t want to be hanging while you go through a transition. Frustration when launching a career can wear you out if you don’t follow the fundamentals. 1. Keep current job 2. Get a certification 3. Get exposure by volunteering time until you are confident 4. Start building a network of contacts

      • #3239415

        Reply To: What can a career changer to IT expect?

        by balbir ·

        In reply to Good luck

        I have been ane electronics engineer for the last 26 years. I worked for the same company since leaving college.(the only job i have had).I was made redundent two years ago.

        I am crazy about computers and networking and have been building, repairing and upgrading PC’s since 1998.

        Fortunately i had been attending evening classes and studied for a diploma in computer servicing and IT. I passed my A+ exam after reading a couple of books.So when i was made redundent, i decided to become self employed.

        Six months later, the company i worked for asked me if i would do some work for them on a contract basis.I now work 4 hours a day for them.(tech support)

        I have done netwoks from cabling upwards for small businesses.Most of my work is from recomendations.
        Some of my customers are local schools.I have had laptops from them with intermittent dc sockets. Because it is close to GCSE exams, they say can we have it back trmorrow? Most of the time they can.I do hardware repairs for other network engineers.
        I once repaired a DAT backup drive for a network engineer, down to component level (Dead PSU due to startup resistor O/C)for less than the cost of sending it back to the menufacturer and he took it away with him.We electronics engineers are used to fault finding to component level as some one else said.

        It has taken me two years, but i now have regular work comming in. I’m now studying for my MCSE in Win XP.
        Sorry to go on a bit.
        What i’m trying to say is Please don’t give up.
        Build up your relationship with your customers, do a good job and charge reasonably and the work will flow in.
        Good luck.

      • #3240597

        I feel for you..

        by jakaiju ·

        In reply to Good luck

        That’s not good. To quote former president Clinton, “I feel your pain…”(said in his southern accent). I’m getting a lot of good advice here. The apparent difficulty in breaking into IT is the same no matter where one is. We just have to hang in there 😉

      • #3240353

        It’s not just the degree

        by johngatopex ·

        In reply to Good luck

        To get the work, you have to be ready and then be at the right place and the right time for the opportunity. Look for opportunities where you are. If none are there, then volunteer at a school or a non-profit. Do them some good, and you’ll get noticed. Your education is not the last investment you need to make in your career.

    • #3239426

      Entering the IT sector

      by clucksted ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I am the director of technology for a large international trade management firm that provides high volume managed services to compaines in many market spaces. My team is responsible for both the development of custom tools to globally manage our activities, and the design and control of our infrastructure.

      Prior to this position, I created and ran a small IT consulting firm from 1990 through 1999. In both situations I’ve observed that job satisfaction in the IT sector is difficult to attain, and requires significant effort on the part of management. Technology departments are often viewed and treated as utilitatian appliances within organizations. This can lead to significant frustration on the part of IT teams, as successes are often overlooked, while failures are put under a microscope.

      Management styles, from the IT manager, to director, to CIO/CTO, vary greatly. Those managers who still believe in the social contract between employer and employee are generally better at fostering job satisfaction than those who believe a company’s only responsibility to an employee is a paycheck. In my opinion, once you have decided on a portion of the Tech space in which to specialize, the next most important thing you can do is understand the philosophy and style of whomever would be your manager.

      Often, with those I interview for positions, I encourage them, prior to our first interview, to plan on interviewing me as much as they are being interviewed. Make sure that not only is the content of the job you are applying for something you are genuinly interested in, but that the people for whom you will work are worth their salt. No one likes being treated like they are just another appliance within the household, and no matter how much you enjoy the work, a difficult environment will erode that enjoyment.

      From the perspective of making those contacts and getting interviews, it is useful these days to connect with headhunters and placement firms. The IT space is pretty bottom heavy right now, and it’s important to differentiate youself from the rest of the masses. Placement firms can assit you with this, and also find those 6 – 12 month temporary positions where you can cut your teeth. A good headhunter will stay with you throughout your development, and help hone your skills.

      A lot of this varies greatly by the part of the country you are in. Some cities are starved for tech talent, while others have a glut of people looking for jobs. Again, a placement firm can help you sort through these things, and hopefully find you what you are looking for.

      I hope that helps. Please feel free to send along any specific questions you have, and I’ll do my best to respond quickly. Also, always take everyone’s input with a bit of a grain of salt. Each of us has our own experience, and each part of the country has a different situation. Ultimately, if your instincts tell you a direction to go, they are probably more accurate than anything.

      Best of luck to you!

      • #3240524

        Usually No Experience = No Job

        by dfox138 ·

        In reply to Entering the IT sector

        I have 12 years of IT experience. Much of my work experience was developing in the old languages: COBOL, FORTRAN, Computer operator on IBM Sys 3, etc. Then after many years, I went to school and got an associates degree. Worked for 2 years on POS systems using IBM’s 4690 BASIC. But then for family reasons, I needed to find work close to home. No one would hire me for an IT job. So I went back to school and got a second AAS degree in Internet Technology (Web programming and graphics). I still am unable to find work.

        Maybe the problem is where I live, but most places use the excuse that I do not have enough experience. They all want the latest technologies, which I have been trained for, but I have no work experience in.

        If you are trying to get into IT and have no work experience in the IT field, you are out of luck.

        • #3240421

          Don’t look at what they want

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Usually No Experience = No Job

          look at what they need. UK admittedly but I just spent the last two years doing Fortran. Added linux and VB6 to my skillset while I was doing it. There might not be many opportunities, but there won’t be many applicants either. Of course you might have to relocate to take advantage, there again it would seem that you might have to now.
          Us old fellas can get real valuable on occasion. The kids you are competing with, wouldn’t know where to start if you gave them COBOL or Fortran.

    • #3239414

      I was in exactly the same situation….

      by twylyght ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I got through my master’s program in forensic psychology when I decided to switch careers and go IT. This was in the hayday when IT was the hot career. As it turns out, I got into the field at precisely the wrong time. After I got my A+ cert, the bottom promptly dropped out. Some things to consider are this… IT is an industry that younger kids are getting into now. It won’t be long that they will be flooding the market with more marketable skills. I don’t know that certifications will really count for anything insofar as Microsoft, Cisco, and COMPTIA are concerned. Perhaps at the highest levels they will mean something akin to a degree. However for now, do not expect to get a job base solely on them. I would suggest researching a company that will train you AND place you to get viable working experience. Such routes are not easy and often require moving. But if you are looking to a high paying job, then this is the fastest route to do so. It is fairly high stress for the first little while, but then again, so is switching a career.

      All of that being said, I am happy with where I am. It took a long time and hardship to get here, but I am satisfied that my future looks much brighter now that I am firmly planted in the field. If you love doing this kind of work, then that would make you a rich man. I feel like every day is a vacation. I get to do what I love. If you make tons of money but hate what you do, then the money does nothing for you.

      Godspeed to you, mon ami.

      • #3239402

        Don’t Limit Yourself…

        by mrs1622 ·

        In reply to I was in exactly the same situation….

        I work in higher ed IT and love it. I probably wouldn’t hire you in
        my IT department, but hiring IT-savvy people into other
        departmental positions is a huge need, as is the need for IT-savvy
        managers. These kinds of position require less techncial
        sophistication, but better communications skills and a vision for
        how data and IT systems can improve organizational effectiveness.
        A good organization knows they need these people and hopefully
        is willing to pay for them.

    • #3239407

      Be prepared…

      by dmm96452 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Going into IT Security you may have as many headaches from inside your network as from outside.

      We have just migrated to Server 2k3 from NT4. After our office was complete I made a few security changes in order to tighten the network up a little. I required more complex passwords and set the screen saver to come on in 10 minutes and require a password to unlock. For about the first two weeks the complaints were endless. I had walked into too many offices and seen Outlook open and nobody in the room.

      That’s just a small example. I’m sure you’ll get some absolute horror stories back.

      Most days, however, I very much enjoy my work and I think you will as well. I’m about your age and have recently made the move from hardware support to System Administrator myself.

    • #3239403

      I made the change

      by kwhite ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I am in my late 40’s and returned to school in 1999 full-time to get a BS in computer science. I had worked 25 years in another industry and I have not regretted the move at all. I work for a non-profit and even though I put in long hours(my choice), I am having a great time. I wish I had followed my dream earlier. Go for it, do something you love.

    • #3239398

      Its the same as any other field

      by rzore ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I’ve been in IT since 1977, mostly as a contract programmer but sometimes as a permanent employee. The field is like any other, it has ups and downs, some jobs are better than others. But I think this has more to do with the company you’re at rather than the specific type of job you’re doing. I for one enjoy my work. Now, do I like that in my new job (since Oct ’04, as an employee) the system they have here requires that I am heavily involved in month end/beginning of month processing (to the point where I’ve taken to sleeping on a cot in my cube at month end)? No, I don’t like that aspect of this job. But generally speaking I enjoy helping people with the data systems, I enjoy helping the managers massage the data and look at the data in ways that help the company. In short, I feel like I make a difference here. The pay could be more, the benefits are good. The people are easy to get along with, mostly. In balance the job is OK. But that’s not because of the field I’m in, its because of the company I work at and the people I work with. I’ll say this though, one thing I don’t like about the IT field is the constant struggle to stay up to date on technology, that is a royal pain which I have a lot of difficulties with. But this company seems to be willing to spend the $ on training, so those struggles may be over for me. Anyway, good luck! (Think about it, the only really bad fields are ones like roof tarring, etc.)

      • #3239387

        someone has to do it.

        by scottgannon ·

        In reply to Its the same as any other field

        after two years of chasing an IT dream, I am sorry to say that the majority of people that I met in the industry was the biggest collection of know it alls that I have ever met in my life. This includes instructors in Linux Administration and Security.
        I am a Drywall Contractor, and have been in this field for twenty years.
        Somebody has to tar the roof or the computers will get wet.

    • #3239390

      Difficult Move – but worth it

      by mikencove ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      A couple of thoughts come to mind.
      First, every career field has its share of boneheads. That is life, so you make the best of what you have. This forum gives folks a chance to vent and occasionally to get a perspective that can help. Don’t let the complaints affect your decision.
      Second, you’ve got a hard road ahead of you. I made the same move when I was 37 years old. It required someone willing to take a risk on me, plus a lot of nights and weekends getting the certifications and education to back up my experience. Can’t say enough about networking to find jobs. HR exists to throw resumes away, not hire people.
      Last, as another poster said, go with what you love to do. If you don’t enjoy the challenge of IT, don’t get into it. If you do, go for it.

      • #3239322

        no time

        by csobott ·

        In reply to Difficult Move – but worth it

        Please be prepared to:
        always be paged in the middle of the night sometimes often on the same issue.

        give up all your weekends

        give up all your evenings because the users are gone home and it’s the only time you won’t interfere with them.

        Kiss executive butt on a regular basis, you need the buget money.

        Be blamed for every minute of downtime even when its the Telco’s fault the line went down.

        • #3240414

          Not being funny

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to no time

          but I think you are in the wrong job. Was never as bad as that for me even when it was as bad as that.
          Seriously if you going through this, remember you don’t have to, buff up the cv, find another role, then you can remind the ***holes you work for as well.

    • #3239385

      Yes do it for the right reason

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I am in IT for long and as many of us IT or NOT we are after a certain time all getting bored about our job mainly because we see too much of &?% going on. I suggest you to give it a fair try and SECURITY mainly in USA is a uge area to be developped. Remember that you have a set of skills that are presently very complementary that a lot of people are effraid of and mainly organisation are looking for specific / specialised people. A smaller business is more like to be interested by a person with your knowledge that a already established business with multiple hiarchy cheif and indians.

      All in all read mainly on busienss continuity planning and recovery that is part of security but still hard to sell. Maybe being consultant will give you a flavour of what is most in demand for now and will provide you with direct imput of what is needed. Gap analysis, report and after implementation plan can be a good opener for a more permanent business.
      Be careful not to be again at the cross road in 10-15 years from now if you stay to long in the same type of business. You look like very dynamic and you must not stay into a position that limit your creativity and your inovation capacity.
      Good luck,be patien, and remember that in US the market place switch quickly to where is the money; so you have to prove your added value (broader knowledge)and money saving (invisible $ saved) used to invest in busiess growth.
      We are only asset for any entreprise.

      • #3239370

        Solid Advice

        by scottgannon ·

        In reply to Yes do it for the right reason

        Don’t let my experience be any kind of barometer.Alot of these posting are from experienced folks. I see alot of good solid advice. Maybe I should listen.

      • #3257061

        My dream career

        by paul681 ·

        In reply to Yes do it for the right reason

        I have been in the IT field for about 5 years now and love it.
        I have always wanted a job that I enjoyed and I finally have it.
        I work for a small company and get compensated well as so far I have gotten a raise each of the 5 years + bonuses.
        I also feel very appreciated here although that is not a big thing for me. I have never needed a pat on the back to work hard but when you get it it is nice.
        If you really like the IT Field go for it.

    • #3239362

      It is ok to me

      by tyrone_williams_ ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      The It field is ok to me. I just got back to working in the field. I wasn’t working in the field for 1 year. I’m happy to be working. I appreciate having a job. Things change so fast in IT. I’m always looking at technology.

    • #3239357

      Expectations of changing to an IT career

      by jbaker ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I just transitioned from and engineering tech position to and IT position. I have to say that I don’t regret the decision. If you like working with people and solving problems, this is a good career. Keep in mind that you will become a “babysitter” at some point for awhile. Network security has its own headaches – end users wanting to have things their way all the time. And then there is the size of the company to take into account, too, and the historical access of employees. It is all very interesting as long as you understand that most department heads have either been out of the hands on day-to-day stuff for quite sometime or have never really had to deal with the real life of a tech, and so they live in a totally different world. Some of them are a pain to deal with. Ours is great – he still works right along with us so understands what we are up against.

      Good luck in your job search and enjoy!!

    • #3239355

      DON”T DO IT !!

      by art66 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Well, I just don’t want the competition. Bad enough I haven’t had a raise in 5 years, but more people in the field……yikes.
      YES< if you are getting into it, go with Security. At least there you may get a raise next year. I love my job. I just wish there was less people in the industry so my salary would start to go up agin.......

      • #3240541

        Not 2 Mention Outsourcing

        by kaptkos ·

        In reply to DON”T DO IT !!

        Better learn to read/write/speak both India(n) and #%/_+# (Chinese) due to the fact 5-10 years
        from now all jobs in the IT Field will be overseas!!!

        U.S. is allowing the techonomy to go to (#*%$ h; one might be better off getting a degree
        in soybean/beef permuations and deep fat fry engineering than in the IT industry.


        • #3240349

          partly true

          by johngatopex ·

          In reply to Not 2 Mention Outsourcing

          Most heads-down coding is moving overseas. No doubt.

          But project management and systems analysis, those are another matter. Some work must interface with the customers and must be done locally.

          If you know what they need, and deliver, and they know it, you can have relative job security. Make things happen. Effectiveness makes a difference.

          It’s like the story of the campers and the bear… you don’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the nearby campers. But don’t get caught up in comparing locally. Your competition could be across the country.

    • #3239348

      I’m glad I made the switch

      by isapp ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I changed careers to IT ten years ago when I was 44, and I’ve always been very glad that I did. IT is the only job I’ve ever had that changes enough to keep me interested, and challenging enough to keep me from getting bored and stale. Of course there are days that I’d give my job to anybody with a nickel but those days are few and far between, and can happen to anyone in any industry. It probably isn’t the job for you if you’re one of those people that need constant pats on the back–we tend to not get that. However, if you’re self-motivated and get satisfaction from a job well done, you should be fine.

      I think network security is the “up and coming thing.” It’s been pushed to the forefront with HIPAA, SOX, and all the other government mandates and I think there are more to come.

      I say go for it.

    • #3239345

      IT is not doing so well

      by rjr1010747 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Right now IT is taking a big hit when it comes to finding employment. I live in New Jersey and according to one of our major newspapers within the next two to three year all 115,790 IT jobs in the state will be gone, due to outsourcing and other considerations. I can’t talk about other states from personal experience, but friends and relatives living in other states tell me it isn’t that great for IT in their states either. I guess it depends on the situation where you live.


    • #3239338

      The right IT job is a compromise!

      by johnnyreb ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Hi Bud,

      If that matters, I have been in IT/EE fields for 18 years and loving it – still and I am also 40!

      You have more than you think in your bag of tricks: customer acumen!

      If you know how to deal with people and have a basic understanding of security I would push into that direction with the following in mind:

      1. Get a a cert like HIPAA (healthcare)
      2. Get a security cert (CSSCI)
      3. Join a consulting firm for auditing security plans

      The worst you could do is to go into an IT job that could be offshored such as programming. Having worked for HP, IBM, CapitalOne, and major Telcos, they are all getting their development services from TATA/Infosys and chinese S/W firms.

      You will get 20 NOs before a MAYBE, and 5 MAYBEs before a Yes. It is just a number’s game – just keep a positive outlook. You have another 25 years to enjoy working in IT.

      Good Luck, JP

    • #3239335

      Rewards are excellent

      by jterry ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      While I haven’t read all of the replies I don’t believe I’ve seen what I consider the best reasons to be in IT.
      I retired from the military also after twenty years as a Jet Mechanic. Not a very close comparison to IT. After retiring I used my GI Bill to go to college at night to get an AA degree in Digital Electronics. After graduating I went looking for a job in the field and I faced the Age discrimination barrier. They didn’t want to give me an entry level position because they didn’t believe I would stay there for that level of pay. They were wrong because I was eager to get the experience. Well I wound up taking a job out of IT in an office. As time went by I all but gave up the idea of getting a job in IT although I was continuing to learn the software side on my own especially MS Office. My guardian Angel must have been looking out for me because as luck would have it a good friend of mine who used to work under me at the company I was at had left and was the network administrator at a Credit Union. He asked me to come to work for him and I jumped at the chance. I don’t have the credentials that you have but in my job I maintain a security patch management program for 150+ PC’s. I also have set up a three year replacement procedure for all the PC’s. I build all the new PC’s when received and install all new programs or updates. I also handle troubleshooting calls from the users. This is kind of a long winded story to get to my main point. If you are lucky enough to get in a workplace like this I think you’ll love IT. I work more or less on my own. I love my job and I work with some great people, but the best part of IT I beleive is being able to share my knowledge with people on the floor, the users. My bosses and management have given me the time to help them with their home PC’s and I am learning more in the way of troubleshooting Viruses and Malware from home PC’s than from the job because so far we don’t have a problem there. So I beleive you can sum up the best reason to get into IT can be said in one word “Satisfaction”

    • #3239330


      by antuck ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Remember a lot of the IT jobs have been outsourced to other Countries. I started studying right when the IT field was peaking. Right when I finished school the bottom fell out. It took a long time to find a job and when I did find it the company was not fun to work for. I am now in buss for my self working at small companies. I really enjoy the work I do but it is a constant struggle. I enjoy the fact that you have to constantly keep up to date with things. It keeps things from getting stagnet.

      But there are a lot of people doing this type of work, and as long as America keeps selling out its own people it will be difficult to find and maintain a good job in IT. The work is out there but remember when you send in your resume so are hundreds more. Until the work stops being sent to India and the likes it will remain a low paying tight market. Keep that in mind when you decide to make to move to IT.

    • #3239327


      by csobott ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Just keep in mind that in my experience as a contractor you are always on the outside looking in. Although you get tons of experience alot of it may be so idiosynctric to the office your working in and never applies anywhere else. The amount and variation of certs required and hats to wear are becoming overwellming and hard to keep up with. Don’t expect to gain a loyalty to/from the person your working for, you are always just hired meat.

    • #3239326

      Same crossroads 5 years ago…

      by tazabe ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      My story is similar to yours and several others, but let me ramble for a minute!

      I decided to get into IT about 5 years ago when I was about 35 years old- this would be my third career since graduating college with a degree in Anthopology about 15 years prior.

      I completed coursework at a local junior college and grinded through the Microsoft exams to earn an NT4 paper-MCSE. My strategy was to show prospective employers that I was willing to do whatever it would take to succeed in a new field.

      My only real strength at this point was about 15 years’ worth of business management and business ownership experience. No real IT experience yet!

      I managed to land a job about 5 months later as a junior level “Engineering Consultant” with a small company that outsourced IT help to local small businesses at $125/ hour.

      What a nightmare experience! I was in WAY over my head technically and the learning curve was extremely steep and difficult. I needed to know alot about many real-world technical issues and was completely unprepared by my book-work training. The only good thing was I had lots of trial-by-fire business experience.

      I lasted about 9 months there until I was “laid-off”, but the truth was the company lost faith in my competence early-on and never really gave me a second chance to succeed.

      I don’t regret the fast-track approach, but I would not recommend it to anyone without many warnings!

      I quickly called another company that I had interviewed with 10 months earlier and was hired on the spot. Lucky timing because the were looking to replace someone who lasted only 3 days!

      My experience at the new company was fantastic! All of the pent up energy and ability and experince I had gained suddenly meant something and I was able to merge my business skills and experience with my new technical skills and (brief) experience. I was truly needed and I had gained just enough real-world experince to be able to do my job. It was an epiphany!

      Over time I was able to develop into a competent consultant as my technical experince matured and my confidence grew. I left that job only because I relocated my family out-of-state, but I stay in close contact with my former company.

      Just 3 months ago, a new business partner and I launched our own consultancy and we are actively working to build our new business.

      do what you love and feel DRIVEN to do and follow your ambition. If you believe and never give up you will be rewarded.

      Be willingly to start on the low-end, but aggressivley pursue your goals

      ASK for what you want – don’t expect anyone to give you a promotion, raise or new responsibilities.

      Balance study with hands-on experiece. You must study and prepare constantly in this field. Be ready to study late into the night at least once or twice a week for the rest of your career. And pursue hands-on experience as much as possible.

      Don’t listen to the doom and gloom stories – the is opportunity you just have to work for it. The gloomers will give up and go somewhere else.

      Thanks for the chance to respond and I hope you succeed!

    • #3239325

      The grass is always greener…

      by bobv ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I made a career change several years ago to IT, and do not regret it as of yet. Although, be prepared most people seem to think it’s a 24×7 deal. Like any other career, you need to be able to get away from it and relax.

    • #3239317

      Jobs are what you make them

      by tprattbp ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Though outside influences can be a factor, any job is what you make it. If you have an aptitude for IT and the people skills needed go for it. When I was 48 I started taking certification classes and handling the local network for a multi-branch company while still handling my job as an Inside Salesman. At 50 I made the decision to go into IT full time. If I stayed with the same company I would have to move 2,000 miles away from my granddaughter, which I wasn’t willing to do. I found a company locally in the same industry that was looking for an IT person to help them implement the change from doing everything by hand to computer. That was 5 years ago and I haven’t regretted it.

    • #3239314

      Good Advice All Around

      by dvadams ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I think there has been a lot of good advice given so far. One consideration is that this career move will take time. Getting the perfect job will probably not happen overnight. I recently took a position as information technology manager at a private K-12 school. This career move has been 6 years in the making, as my original undergraduate degree was in music education. I’ve had to work a lot of grunt jobs along the way, and I’m still building a career as I don’t consider this position my retirement job. It is impossible to predict the future, but if you are willing to put in the effort you will most likely be rewarded. It may be, however that your reward comes several years down the road. You have to decide whether you are willing to sacrifice some things for a while such as potentially lower salary, free time that will be spent studying, taking positions that may not be your ideal tech job, etc. Your first position will almost inevitably lead to something else.

      As far as where to look, you might want to try smaller businesses, nonprofits, or private schools. These might be a good place to gather some experience whether paid or volunteer. At some of these places, you may be the only tech staff person and the only one with any meaningful technology knowledge. It may feel like the “blind leading the blind” at first, but you’ll catch on and figure things out. As a technology manager, I?m always interested in people who can figure out how to resolve problems for themselves. Experience, education and certifications are important, but so are your abilities to resolve issues that you may not have studied in the classroom.

    • #3240654

      Measure twice… cut once

      by jackuvalltrades ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      The old adage of carpenters holds true here: examine your desire and skills as well as the industry itself. Then stop and do it again before you commit.

      First, consider exactly where you want to land in IT. This will help you gather the necessary skills in that area. You wrote of an interest in security. Just fair warning here: that is extremely high-level. In order to work in IT sec, you have to have good skills with every other facet of networking and code. It’s a great goal to shoot for, but probably not practical as an entry point into the field.
      Secondly, I agree with several of the other posts: if you can afford to do so, work in a temp job for a while. You will gain experience and find out if you really like the field. All of us in the industry have horror stories, gripes and groans about our daily lives, but that is true in any industry. That being said, I will say that this is a high-stress industry and that IT people are generally treated as corporate bottom-feeders.
      Third, read, read, read, practice, practice, practice and learn constantly. If this is not your cup of tea, IT probably is not the field for you. There is no job where learning new skills is not required, but in IT, it is imperative. This alone is enough to drive some people out of the industry.
      Last but not least, be prepared for a serious committment of your time. I love my job, but it is a bit like being a doctor. Be prepared for dealing with ridiculous internal politics. Be prepared to perform a job in a way that you know will fail, but is required of you.

      Hey, it’s not perfect, but it is a great way to make a living……

    • #3240652

      Very tough job market

      by angry_white_male ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Bad enough it can take a downsized IT person with years of experience and certification 1-2 years to find a new job. Not much hope for someone just entering the field with little relevant experience unless you’re willing to settle for an entry-level job such as a level-1 helpdesk position where you’re basically reading scripts as answers to common questions and complaints for around $10.00/hr as a contract/temp employee without benefits.

      Personally, I love what I do. At times it can be frustrating and I have my days where I’d be much happier on an assembly line as a lowly hourly employee without any worries – however much of it determines how well the company management positions IT within the organization. Some people think we’re here to find lost desktop icons and run reports and treat us as a geeky version of the company janitorial staff, and other see us as interwoven into the fabric of the organization who understand that the integration of IT into the every decision made is vital to the general health of the company.

    • #3240641

      The Real World

      by sysmgr_anatek ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Many of the discussions you read here are the result of IT troglodytes being thrust into the position of having to deal with the real world.

      IT workers are likely to be loners, who may be very good at the technical side of their job, but not so good at interacting with the general population. An IT worker who ends up in a system manager or other such service role is in a unique position, insofar as he/she sees a lot of confidential information and also has to deal with all levels and types within an organisation. Business types tend to be ego driven, fast trackers who have little regard for the rules of society if they can get away with it. Consequently the IT sysmgr ideally should be mature and capable of handling these people problems.

      If you think that you are capable in this area, then give it a go, because in many instances you will be able to be creative, solve problems and have a enjoyable work life.


    • #3240625

      IT’s wonderfull

      by randy.r.reveal ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Most of your IT personnel aren’t really people persons. They are highly technical and prefer to work with a minimum of supervision. The mainframe days was a very satisfying time. Today everyone and their mother has a PC and they all think they know what’s going on. If you have the patience, it’s still a good career.

    • #3240623

      Don’t go the IT Field

      by jaytm401 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I have been in the IT field for almost 6 years. Of the six years I have been unemployed for appox. 3years of the six years. I to went into the IT field at the age 39 and have been very mad at my choice. I get laid off just before christmas every year and then it takes six or 7 months to find a new job. When you get to the 5 year mark you are no longer an entry level. If your career has been very broad, like networking, help desk and a mixture of programming, then you are still a beginner in all areas and nobody will hire you. It really stinks. Go into the medical field. There are jobs there. Sorry to be so negitive. I love working in IT but I hate the Corp. Run Around and Lay offs.

    • #3240620

      What can a career changer to IT expect?

      by beereal ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      One thing you CAN expect is… to be in a Dept. that is the least worthy and respected in a company. I have been in the gig for about 2.5 years and work under the supervision of my Computer Programmer and Netwrok Engineer that have both been involved in the IT industry for 25+ years. I know I haven’t been in the game for that long, but from what I hear of my co-workers is this:

      1. We are the screw ups in the company when a crisis hits. But when everything is running smooth, we are the lazy ones.

      2. EVERYONE wants us to brake the law by installing company software on there personal PC’s not understanding the whole licensing deal.

      3. IT is the revenue spending Dept. That’s why we’re the Dept. that is the least worthy and respected in a company.

      I agree with them.

    • #3240619

      Not a bad choice

      by nfitzpatrick ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      As far as people being dissatisfied with their jobs, I don?t believe that to be anything but a personal outlook on their situation ? it probably doesn?t have much to do with the actual state of technical employment [granted, in some cases that may be true due to downsizing, outsourcing, etc.]. I believe that the general state of IT employment has come to be a normalized job market like accounting, marketing, etc. If you have the drive, desire and skill you should do just fine.

      That being said, keep in mind that the competition for jobs is pretty stiff in some areas [i.e. the SF Bay Area where I am writing this response] as many of the less skilled or qualified people still looking for employment are pounding the pavement. At some point people that have been out of work for two plus years will become more realistic about their situation and seek employment in other endeavors. If you truly have something to offer and are the right personality type for the job, you shouldn?t have too much trouble finding employment.

      I love the industry and the work. Due to the dynamics of technology, I find several of the disciplines both challenging and personally rewarding. Security is a great field and if you are open minded, able to keep pace with technology and willing to do some grunt work, you will probably feel satisfied with your choice.

      I hope this has been a lucent and upbeat counterpoint to the negativity that you?ve encountered elsewhere.

    • #3240613

      It can Happen!!

      by mevcmv ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I went through a simliar experience as you. I have been an R & D tech for most of my working career. But due to circumstances, I went through a career change to IT. (I was 43 at the time) I got my A+, NET+ and CCNA. (Now working towards my MCSA) I had problems getting in the field due to my lack of ‘hands on experience.’ So I volunteered at a couple of hospitals and the local county court system’s IT shops. (I got referrals from my classmates in my A+ classes)
      Eventually (after about a year and a half), I got a paying IT job (Network Admin) in a Credit Union. I love the change I made and I throughly enjoy my work. It can happen to you with persistant patience. I’m living proof you can do it!

      Best of everything on your career change.

    • #3240606

      Nice work, bad prospects

      by dc_guy ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I’ve been in this business for almost 40 years and I’ve always enjoyed it. That’s not the problem. The problem is that just like cameras, steel, autos, and many other industries, IT has reached the stage in its evolution when it must emigrate.

      The biggest issues in IT are no longer how to automate clerical processes, how to use computers to create new processes that didn’t exist, or how to build sexy new user interfaces — innovation, which America is very good at. The big issues are quality and incremental improvement, which America is dismal at.

      We hate QA. We’re a nation of troubleshooters and problem solvers, not risk analysts and process improvers. When things run too smoothly we feel bored. That attitude has no place in IT any more, and the IT industry has no place in America any more.

    • #3240600

      What to expect in IT?

      by breirden ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      It is really what you make of it.

      IT, like any other discipline, has it’s good points and low points. One tends to enter a field because he/she is passionate about it and will look forward to driving to work everyday.

      As you noticed, there are unhappy workers it IT, but I would say that there are unhappy workers in all fields.

      Due to its technical nature there are a few things you should be aware of: First, non-IT people in any organization do not always understand what IT does to make their organization work and will be suspicious, and often critical. It’s part of the business, get used to it. Second, management in IT typically come “through the technical ranks” to the position they are in and quite often have great difficulty managing people (as opposed to equipment). It is up to IT executive management to recognize this and deal with it. But it can have a negative affect on the workforce. Be sure any organization you consider has quality management. Finally, IT is generally viewed as a technical discipline and “once a techie, always a techie”. Chances of growth to other parts of the organization, or general management are rare, so don’t expect to become CEO coming out of the IT ranks.

      The above being said, if you are passionate about IT security, and feel you can smile on your drive into work in the morning, you should pursue it and forget about what you hear from others. Go for it!

    • #3240595

      Thankless Job

      by aaardal ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Just be prepared for it to be a thankless job! The only people that appreciate you is your fellow IT co-workers.

    • #3240592

      Been there, done that, got a job

      by cdbaker0152 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I’ve been down that same road, and recently. After spending 20 years in construction and getting injured, I had to move on. I had an interest in computers since H.S., so I thought, check it out. I got my A+, N+, MCP and tried to find a job. No luck for a long time, then got work in a temp spot at phone support. That got out-sourced, so I went back to school and got my AAS in Network Ops. Three months in Silicon Valley and no job offers! I ended up in a great job but with a small company in the Sierras. Moral: Even at 50 yrs old, there are still jobs. You won’t find them in the big companies, though. Try supporting small business firms–they need the most IT help in this 21st Century world, but are least able to figure out how to get it. Here is were you age is a benefit, as most small business owners really don’t want some young wise-acre telling them they are totally wrong in what they are doing!

    • #3240587

      Try Government

      by susan.davis1 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I work for local government and made a lateral move from a technical position to a technical IT possition within the same business unit (not in the IT division but working closely with them) ten years ago at age 40 and have encountered only minor turbulence in regards to not having an IT degree and being a middle aged female.

      My observation has been that in general local and state government seems to have a higher number of us old war horses than in the private sector, and to value our knowledge of the business savy, project managementskills and work habits as well as IT skills.

      The bigger issue in government seems to be the relationship between the IT division and the business units, especially if there are any IT staff or applications within the business units, but that’s a whole other topic.

    • #3240581

      There is Hope

      by acurry ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Hi J,

      Yes there are a lot of unghappy people out there becuase of some unrealistic expectations of Mnaagers and the like. But if you like what you do that will only be 20% of your day. I have been in the IT industy going on 15 years and even with the ups and downs, Long nights I still like it. There is no other job out there where 1 person can help so many short of clergy or social workers.

      Users know who the good and bad techs are and even though they don’t always say it they appreciate what you do. I myself am an exchange admin now, but I have done everything from help desk to Desktop support, PC repair, consulting, network administration and server builds.

      Find your nitch and run with it, just remember your Tact, humility and good skills will take you farther than complaints and bad attitude.


    • #3240577

      Career Change

      by fb@abc ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I would advise against it. I’m 57 and have been working in IT my entire career. The demographics on IT are that a large portion (some estimates as high as 75%) of the IT workforce will be retiring in the next 5 to 10 years. On the service this sounds good for a career, but a deeper analysis proves otherwise. The anticipated reduction in IT workers is supported by a lack of college students majoring in IT. The trend therefore is to begin outsourcing. Unless you are planning to work for an outsourcer you won’t have much chance of a career. Outsourcer’s themselves are outsourcing management and programming. What will be left will be server administration and possibly systems architecture. Programming will be going to India and operations to the lowest bidder.

    • #3240532

      I would consider this very carefully before trying it

      by ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I’ve been in the IT industry for 25 years, except I’ve been out of work for almost a year now.

      It used to be that computers were hard to work with, slow, and expensive. So it made sense to have a large, highly trained and highly paid staff to run them efficiently. Now, computers are easy to work with (consider the Macintosh), fast, and dirt cheap. So it is hard to justify the large highly paid highly trained staff to run them. Hence, outsourcing and all the other problems the industry is facing.

      The other factor is the law of supply and demand. There are a whole bunch of outfits cranking out IT people and the field is glutted.

      Another thing about the IT business is that it changes very rapidly. So you have to spend extra time keeping current. And some times, you invest a lot of time learning a technology and it doesn’t pan out (The Ada programming language and IPv6 are two examples that leap to mind). That time is your own time – you will be working overtime on the work you are supposed to be doing.

      Finally, there is age discrimination, for lots of good reasons. Older people cost more and it is hard to justify the value of the extra expense. Older people tend to have families, and they want to have other interests besides work, and their health care costs are higher, and there is no evidence that they work better or are “worth” more.

      On the other hand, I’ve had about as much fun as a man can have and still keep his clothes on. When I was working, I was paid well. The work was challenging and important.

      Best of luck,


    • #3240529


      by rs1146 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Yes we all would like to have a good job. But the new reality is that there are more IT pros then jobs. Most want more then simple administration. The industry is going thru a balancing of supply and demand. If you decide to go with IT then specialize. You will probably change empolyment several times. Be ready to adapt. Russ

    • #3240527

      Been There, Done That, Too!

      by little-b ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I was in the exact situation you were in about 10 years ago. I thought I was good with PC’s, so I put my resume out there with no response.

      I landed a job in teaching technology, thanks to a friend, due to my experience as an instructor. They told me, “Since we know you can teach, you can always learn the technology.”

      I taught as I learned and it was very challenging, but very beneficial to my career. This would probably not happen today as the instructional institutions for certification seem to be hurting and they want qualified instructors to be able to step foot in their door.

      Most companies don’t hire people without experience, but internship is a good way to learn the skills while you are being trained, but pays none or little.

      My advice is to:
      1) Get some more certs before you even put out a resume.
      2) Be willing to travel a lot at first.
      3) Be willing to start low to work your way up.
      4) Network with other more qualified techs and try to find out what is available.
      5) Move to a place where IT techs are in high demand if you’re not there now.
      6) Study and practice, study and practice.
      7) Keep your day job!

      It is possible to enter this field, but it does have a lot to do with experience, location, and demand. The tech field is opening up a lot more now than a couple of years ago, but jobs are still highly competitive and experience is often the hire factor.

      In my location, jobs are tight, but available, but many require travel which I don’t care to do a lot of. I have even considered going back to my previous occupation many times, but it didn’t pay as well and required moving every 3 or 4 years and I hated that, too.

      Good luck! Your career choice of security is probably one of the best decisions you could make, but it does require a lot of learning to become good at it and working on PC’s is far removed from that technical field. There are security certifications you can get, but they are difficult and some take a lot of preparation to achieve.

    • #3240519

      Forget IT

      by frederbob ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      As a seasoned network professional with over 10 years experience( I have CCNA, CNE, MCSE and have taken the course material for Cisco Security )…..I am unable to secure a full time position, have spent the pevious two years building decks, selling cars and driving courier (fortunately I have since obtained a contract in desktop support).

      I have found security analyst positions offering the same salary I could make delivering pizza….Support positions that could support a working person only if they lived with Mommy and Daddy…..No benifits, no sick days, no security, no vacation and no respect.

      My niece took a year-long course on network support and has not found any work in two years….I have heard this story time-and-time again……All these jobs are going to India.

      Unless you are ALREADY working in network security …..forget it. Those needing security analysts want them EXPERIENCED.

    • #3240494

      Been There Done That:

      by nonamepipes ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I came from the Video/Audio Production world, which is a cousin in many aspects to IT. I’d been working in a Technology Department at a large Tech School for around 10 yeas when our focus started shifting to computers and networks. I had already had a fair amount of computer experience so it was a logical shift for me. I was lucky that during the 90s I got some training to add to my experience and came out with a pretty good job when I left the there. But there were a ton of jobs then. The current job I am working, (which is a good one) I was up against 1000 other applicants when I applied. There are some jobs out there but I would beware in the long run. IMO, you should investigate where you want to be financially in 20 years before you make the jump. It does appear that the IT field is thinning out. Good Luck.

    • #3240492


      by unclerob ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      – ’nuff said.

      Seriously though, you really want to consider your motivation for choosing this career path.

      The money isn’t always that good, the hours are lousy and the stress is huge. If you have a family (spouse & children), consider the impact on them. I have had umpteen number of fights with my better half on how she doesn’t like the work hours, the lack of decent pay and lack of payment and/or recognition for all of my overtime.

      Also, to stay in this field you have to be willing to invest a fair amount of time & money into education to stay current.

      It’s not all bad and if you enjoy this kind of work that in itself can be it’s own reward but personally I think I might have done something else career wise if I knew then what I know now. Just my 0.02 cents cdn. I hope I didn’t depress anyone too much, hand me my prozac please.

      • #3241521

        IT Career –

        by regalgs ·

        In reply to RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!

        I started in school and completed a degree ( not in IT) and started a Masters program. Job market Crashed ( oil and gas). I looked around for what else I seemed to have a knack for ( turned out to be programming). I kept my day job – POINT – went to school ( again – no certs back then), and read everything I could get my hands on on computers (anyone ever read system 36 manuals from ibm -ugh). I got a part time job programming – still went to school and worked my full time job as well. I have never looked back.

        IT is a good profession, but like any profesion it will take work and effort, but it must be something you enjoy. I have been constantly learning for almost 18 years. I have gone from being a programmer to a network admin to a consultant to managing the IT Department in a multi-state firm and heading up their external IT consulting group. The work and effort pays off.

        Keep your day job, Consult where you can, volunteer where you can. Talk to everyone you know that has a computer dept, sometimes they do conversions and need extra help at night or on a weekend conversion.

        Learn, learn, learn, and not just the books. Get some equipment and the software and work with it. I still have my own personal lab at the house. Don’t get to use it as much but it is there when I need it. Check out the used book stores to get books cheaper so that you can learn.

        Beyond keeping your day job and learning all the time, Figure out what areas of IT interest you – and then learn that area well. And along the way – Learn to work with people. People like me pay more for technicians and engineers with people skills than without.

        my .02 cents

        Good Luck.

        • #3256194

          Shift To IT career

          by atuljindal2001 ·

          In reply to IT Career –

          Iam Atul Working as Area Sales Manager in Willett India. and Basically Iam B.E (Electronics and Communication) did in 1993.My question is Iam looking to shift to IT as few of my friends are in Softwate and database in India and Abroad.Will it be the wise decision as iam 34 Years old?

    • #3240482

      Reply To: What can a career changer to IT expect?

      by dmarston ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      First and foremost, you have to LOVE this kind of work, otherwise, don?t bother.

      In today?s market, the pay is only so-so, the hours tend to be long, and thanks rarely come.

      You will never be up-to-date, fully informed, and occasionally you will have no clue. You will be bombarded with thing you can do nothing about. You will be required to teach people that don’t know a floppy from a monitor not only how to turn a computer on, but how to keep data secure.

      You will never have a big enough budget, or enough time to do the job right, and management is rarely happy with the job done for any length of time.

      In the corporate environment, I.T. serves a support role, and therefore you will frequently have to justify your existence to the “guys upstairs”, and more than likely you will have to fight for every scrap they throw you.

      But if you truly LOVE it.
      Then there is nothing like it

      Some I.T. Pro in the real world.

    • #3240463

      Considering IT

      by eureka1x ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I was in the your same position about two years ago, although I had gotten hurt on the job and needed to re-train for a new career. I had been playing around with computers since the early nineties as a hobby. Well, as I needed a new career I decided to go into IT. After two years of intensive training and upon getting my certifications through MS, Cis and CompT, I have found IT to be a very rewarding experience. My current situation working in network and systems security is challenging to say the least. The money is good and I have fun with it. Time in the field is the key. No amount of training or experience outside of being on the job will get you in the door though. IT is an extremely difficult profession to break into, with all the jobs going overseas. However, if you are persistant and have a don’t take a no answer type of person, there are still plenty of businesses out there that might take a chance on a new fresh face in IT. I have noticed that more businesses are hiring new to IT people on internship programs. Ask a prospective employer about that possibility. You will have to pay your dues though, before they will take you on as a full time, full fledged Tech. So, learn as much as you can and try to keep current on the technology of the day. Remember one thing, don’t get into this field unless you really like doing this kind of work. It can be extremely frusterating, highly stressful and possibly boring at times. Good Luck!!

    • #3240441

      ITSec is typically high-end

      by rhenrys ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I have to strongly agree with jackuvalltrades in respect to going into the security field.
      They are typically high-end positions that are filled with applicants with a broad and high level of knowledge and experiences. ITSec can also be highly stressfull.
      I would think that you should be looking for an entry-level position to get your feet wet.
      One suggestion if you can afford it is to keep your current situation, cutting back to part time, and if you can’t find a paid gig, look for a volunteer/intern position somewhere.
      I was 38 in 1994 when I did a major career change. At the time there was a big demand for IT people and they just couldn’t fill positions fast enough.
      In your case, the IT environment has changed drastically since then. This may be your main stumbling block, as there are lots of IT folks with lots of experience without jobs, or changing fields themselves.
      Good luck,


    • #3240392

      Everybody is RIGHT!

      by evil 9 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I was in your shoes (sort of). The most important thing (as others have said) is that it all depends on the COMPANY! I switched to IT at 38, after two decades in the blue-collar world. Every complaint listed above can apply to ANY job. When I drove a truck, I worked long hours, was gone all the time, and had stress from trying to balance a logbook, drive within the limits of the law, and still make good money (you get paid by the mile). When I worked construction, I had no life from April through November and no work the rest of the year. I had to carry liability insurance in case something I built collapsed and someone got a splinter as a result. When I was a soldier, I was deployed all the time. At my first IT gig, I was treated like a piece of garbage, I worked a minimum of 60 hours a week (no overtime), and worked with a bunch of shallow, back-stabbing, ladder-climbing yuppie scum. My new gig is great! I almost always work less than 43 hours a week, and if I work more, my boss gives me flex/comp time (still no OT, but it goes with the salary). My coworkers are decent, team-players. The pay and benefits are GREAT! The important thing is to look and see what skills people are hiring for, and learn those, whether it is programming, SAP configuration, LAN admin, or whatever.

    • #3240389

      Pick your poison

      by timmycb ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I have worked in IT since before PCs hit the market and held many different positions. Many I have loved and treated me well. Others have absolutely s*cked and literally put me in the hospital. You have to do what you do best and what you have interest in. If security appeals to you, dive in. Probably not too many temp to perm positions in security but that is a good way to break ground in a new field.

      Life is what you make it – and we don’t get an option for a re-ride if the bull stumbles. Good luck to you!


    • #3240360

      All electronics, no IT

      by montecarlo70 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I know your situation and your hesitation to enter IT. I’m about to wrap up 21 years of active duty naval service and aircraft electronics, foucusing on my BS in CIS before my retirement. I’m wanting to move onto another field that I think I will enjoy, (computers and systems) hoping that my electronics knowledge can be leveraged to make up for the lack of “hands on” experience. I’ve heard both sides of the argument of going IT or staying in my field but it all boils down to what I want to do. Anyhow, IT has to be better than babysitting 120 young sailors with every problem under the sun as you could imagine…I’ve dealt with it all which is another thing I can leverage…experience in handling the good and bad.

    • #3240357

      Here’s what I saw

      by johngatopex ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Shortly before our company spun off most IT, I interviewed for a leadership position in overseas IT. I was non-competitive due to a lack of visible IT project experience. I had lots of business and engineering experience, and plenty of IT support and IT supervision time, and local project work, but also lacked an IT degree. I stayed with the company in an engineering capacity and have done well. Hard to say what might have happened if I had gone with the spin-off. Lately I have been involved in global IT projects, and it seems to be going well.

      All that to say this. An IT degree is a plus. Visible, documented project leadership experience is a must for leadership positions. If you love it, get your foot in the door, and find out what the business needs. Deliver that and you should do well. No guarantees, but that’s life.

    • #3240355

      Made the change, love it!

      by love2work ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I made the change to IT two years ago at 35. It was the best thing I ever did! I had done some user support functions at a previous job and also administered the phone system, but was not considered as part of the IT department. I decided to study and work towards a certification, networked with people in IT, and that is exactly how I landed my first IT job 2 years ago. I had made friends with an IT techie who ended up getting me my first IT job because he knew I was an intelligent and motivated person and what he calls a “bulldog”, I won’t quit until I have something figured out and/or fixed. I am still at the same job, I have worked hard, proven my abilities and was just named the Lead Network Administrator. Sure the job is stressful, I have had to put in some really long hours due to emergencies, upper management isn’t always the greatest, working for the military isn’t always the greatest either but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I guess I just got lucky and knew the right person who knew that I would excel. I feel as if I have found my “niche” and “calling”. Previous jobs for me were boring and dull. Now I can say that I have a job that constantly challenges me and is never dull. My advise, work hard and network with people in IT. Once they get to know you, and know you have the ability, the doors will open. I have to disagree somewhat with other people on the certs. Having certs certainly doesn’t hurt. Alot of times it shows people that you had the motivation to achieve them.

    • #3241692

      I made the change myself

      by apomdu ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I moved into IT some years ago I have never regretted the move, IT is about change so love it. I have moved through several areas from Help Desk Management to technical roles and now I am in Service Delivery Management. Best advice I can give is stick at it, be willing to adapt and change and be innovative in the ways you do things. How I got in was to offer my services free for a period of time and showed my worth to back the skills I had but not the experience.

    • #3241687

      Information Security is the way to go

      by jbgokhale ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      No doubt IT is a challenging carrer option, the envy of many. With technology changing ever so fast it is indeed very exciting to be in this field and be on top of it.

      I personally feel that given your experience and qualification, IT security would be the point of entry for you.

      IT Security Consultancy is the rage at this point of time and will remain so in the foreseeable future. It exposes you to all the facets of IT and will thus ease you into the bewithcing world of IT.

      Remember if one has the Will, he will find the Way.

      All the best friend, go ahead and do it.

    • #3241513

      Upcoming Field with lots of openings…

      by info ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Your job satisfaction is a function of where you work. There are good companies as well as bad. In the job interview, I would ask to talk to others in that IT position as well as their customers. You will learn a lot more than talking with the person hiring you. I changed job careers at age 48. I don’t think 40 is “late”. I started a computer training and repair business while i was still employed at my previous job. I only did this on the evenings and weekends. Since everyone needs a computer, my clients were very happy to see me during the evenings and weekends since other repair people would rather work during the weekdays. It was a mobile business and I would go to the clients place. After about 2 years, I was up to about 500 clients and had to make the decision to quit my current employer. I now had the days open and it was easy to pick up more clients. There is no end to the computer problems and good IT/repair people will always be needed. You might want to consider be the IT person for smaller organizations on a part time basis, i.e. churches, law firms. There are many that only have 3-10 users that cannot afford to have a full time IT person. This will give you practice on small networks and build your knowledge.

      As for the Upcoming Field in the title, try looking at the DATA FORENSICS field. Its totally open now and the demand is great.

      Good Luck!

    • #3241512

      Be positive

      by wednesday1031 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      There are a lot of IT people out there that are just plain not happy with their jobs. I’m about to graduate from college with a degree in the same field and I keep hearing about all the “drama” they encounter as well. It can be discouraging, but if it is something you want to do then go for it. I personally enjoy it and I’m working in the field. I just think there are those that would rather just cry, whine and complain about their jobs instead of doing something about it. The best advice I can share, is REALLY investigate what school you plan to go to, if you do, and make sure it is worth what you will be spending. Also….YOU WILL GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT….IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT CHANGE IT, DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND CRY ABOUT IT. Good luck to you and don’t let anyone else make your decision for you. =D

    • #3241443

      Happy at 50

      by theantimike ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Most of what I know I learned on my own but at age 45 I returned to school to get a degree and voila! For the first time in my life I love getting up in the morning to go to a job that is play-not work.
      I started as a temporary $10.00/hr intern and was able to write my own ticket at 5 weeks. For the first time in my life I was asked, “What are my salary requirements?” by an employer.
      Not long after that the Systems Admin flaked out and I was solely responsible for a network of 70 computers and 6 servers. Those were some really stress filled days but it gave me the chance to really prove myself.
      Now at age 50 I get the sense that I am very lucky to be where I am because it would seem that most of the students I graduated with are still struggling to find the job they dreamed of. Today I am solely responsible for 70 end-users. I handle the desktop support and do all the purchasing and repair. The other IT person (there are two of us) is responsible for the servers and helps me if needed. I work long hours but let’s face it–if I were at home what would I be doing. Yep sitting in front of a computer.
      I turned my addiction into a job. Sure there are days when I wring my hands and wonder how some of these idiot users became so @#$*& stupid and cannot grasp even the simplest concept or days when I feel unappreciated because certain individuals feel that I sit around a lot. But we in IT know that while the idiot user is safely tucked into bed we labor long into the night to make the world safe for them.
      My first year I was hourly and worked 100-120 hours every 2 week pay period. I made a bundle. Now I am salary and work less hours but still make more $$ than I made in all the years working as a carpenter.

      I’m loving it!

    • #3241396

      Contract From Home

      by innocent_bystander ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?


      I only got happy after I was able to work from home. I was only satisfied with programming once I became proficient at Dot Net. I support web sites from home. I started as a COBOL programmer in 1980, avoided management or lead positions like the plague, stayed technical and since 1993 and Win 3.1, stuck with Microsoft like glue. That’s how I ended up where I am.

    • #3241392

      Pay attention to growing areas

      by byoung ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      As you look at IT job opportunities, I recommend that you pay attention to the growth areas. These are the areas where the technology is showing signs of active evolution. Security is certainly one of these areas. You might want to also investigate wireless data networks and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Both of these sectors, by the way, have strong needs for security specialists.

    • #3256091

      You’d Better LOVE IT, or leave it alone

      by mainemoose ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Having been in IT for over 20 years, you’d better love to eat it, drink it and would rather do IT than anything else. This buisness takes dedication to the smallest details and lots of focus, esp if you get into larger networks. Do you love to read?; as to keep up with this buisness you’ll have to be a voracious reader. Those that have stuck it out do it because they LOVE the daily changing challenges, the constant scratching of the head until they overcome those pesky problems, and the often fleeting joy when someone does say “thank you”, you know it’s sincere. If your going into it for the money, you’ll have a lot of years and certs to get before it pays the mortgage. You’ll also have to be the damm good, because there are some great folks in the industry that’ll spit you out if your not. If you dont LOVE the IT world, leave it and go down another street.

    • #3255364

      Me too, but no easy road

      by psifiscout ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I made the change to IT at 50, but it is not an easy road. I looked at the market to see what quals would help. I saw the need for a degree…Got that. My first job interview wanted A+, missed the job, got the cert. Next job try, they wanted MCP, another miss. Got the MCP. Next job wanted MCSE, working on that. Now I see companies wanting MCSE AND Masters in C.S. for a network admin position.

      My advice???

      Be prepared for a constantly moving target (in regard to qualifications) and never expect an easy entry to a good job.

    • #3255359

      Me too, but no easy road

      by psifiscout ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I made the change to IT at 50, but it is not an easy road. I looked at the market to see what quals would help. I saw the need for a degree…Got that. My first job interview wanted A+, missed the job, got the cert. Next job try, they wanted MCP, another miss. Got the MCP. Next job wanted MCSE, working on that. Now I see companies wanting MCSE AND Masters in C.S. for a network admin position.

      My advice???

      Be prepared for a constantly moving target (in regard to qualifications) and never expect an easy entry to a good job.

    • #3255307

      Good luck!!

      by kevaburg ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I really don’t want to sound too gloomy but apart from having a good IT head on your shoulders, a CV that sets you apart from your other contemporaries (who more than likely already have a job and are looking for another one!), how are you with people?

      Unfortunately in the IT world we seem to be made to suffer the arrogance of the people that have a little bit of knowledge and then seem to think they know all. Then there are the people that read a big or impressive word in a magazine and then decide it is good enough for their environment.

      The point I am making is that of a great number of jobs and employment opportunities available, IT is the one where so many seem to know so little and to say it is frustrating sometimes is doing it justice! If you get stressed out easily by these incompetents then you may want to reconsider.

      On a positive note though, if you are as lucky as me and find your niche in the industry, you will love it! I know I do!

    • #3255202

      Thank you all

      by jakaiju ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      All the responses are much appreciated. There seems to be mostly positive responses with some caveats – i.e., IF I can EVENTUALLY find my niche in IT I should love to do it for no other reason than for the personal satisfaction of a job well done (which I have no problem with). Otherwise I can basically expect some long, stressfull working hours with not much thanks, or compensation, in more-or-less mid-size to large companies.

      For now, I think I’ll stick to PC repairs and desk top support as my own pt biz and see how it goes from there. The fact that outsourcing is a big industry changer will definately be factor in my decision, but not the only one. I think I will choose the route of the entrenpreneur and develope web sites for others even though that might mostly go over seas. There will always be a market for this stuff here in the U.S. when people can see the tech/developer in person and he/she can SPEAK ENGLISH WELL.

      As many people have replied, the IT industry is changing so rapidly that one cannot make long term decisions and goals and not expect to make a few major career adjustments along the way.

      Thank you all. Brad

    • #3255718


      by horacio.cordero ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      check for security courses, and other interesting material. Some Cisco courses should help also. Get familiar with new laws and regulations like the Patriot Act, ISO17799, read and read and read as much material as you can about the topic. Earn a CISSP or Business Continuity certification…and good luck

    • #3255565

      Ivan Chan

      by ivan chan ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Dear Jakaiju
      I am a IT man working in Hong Kong. I have worked IT more than 10 years. First of all, you should equip yourself first, get more weapons. If you don’t have enough pratical experience, you should to get more certificate and training, for example, MCSE, RHCE, CCNP, as much as possible. Then apply the job with salary as you are the fresh graduate.
      GOD bless you and good luck.

      • #3256957

        Thats where I’m going wrong!

        by garret` ·

        In reply to Ivan Chan

        I dont bring enough weapons to work!

        /me slaps himself in the head.

        I cant wait to show my boss my new Uzi 😉

    • #3256824

      The new IT tech

      by jattas9 ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      You should see the article on ageism. According to that, you are already too old (I am 62). The largest issue in IT today, is that the company wants you to do more with less, doesn’t want to train you on new products, expects everything they request to be easy, and don’t accept that we do something terribly complicated, sometimes making it look easy.
      Having said all that, the reality is that all companies are aware that there are thousands of IT people looking for jobs, and they will try to go with experienced young people, who are willing to work for peanuts. Having been involved in IT in publishing for more than 30 years, all companies want experience, young people who they can “beat up”, and don’t want to participate in your future. But then that in many cases is the way the world is today.

    • #3238073

      How about a well considered reply from an inexperienced Admin?

      by jwlyons ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      Follow your dream. I, too, saw the need for a career change. Computers had been my hobby for 8 years. I had spent a couple of those years troubleshooting, repairing, and upgrading computers for friends and neighbors. I decided to do what was necessary, including going back to school if I had to and get a B.S in something more useful than the one I had in Forestry. I took an A+ class at the local Vo-Tech and passed the cert tests.

      A friend told me about an opening at a non-profit health clinic. I put my best effort forward on the resume and the interview, and became the replacement Network Admin.

      My IT dept. is a one man show, so I get to do it all, from server configs to printer repairs. I find myself doing a lot of software engineering, getting medical & accounting software to conform to the needs of the agency. I’m not very fast at many of the repairs required of me, but the job does not pay as much as your typical Admin position and my employer is willing to give me time to learn.

      I’m not telling you all this to brag about any good luck I may have had. I just want to encourage you. You may not have doors open as easily for you. You may need to have more certifications and more training to get employers to take a chance on you, but so what? If you are serious about an IT career, get started and don’t quit. I’ve heard the stories about how tough it is to find IT jobs, even for the experienced: my brother-in-law lives in an area where IT opportunities are good, has worked in IT nearly his entire adult life (30+ years), worked as a Systems Analyst for Lotus & IBM, and is now working in a grocery store because he can’t find an IT job. You’ve just got to put forth the effort and go for what you want. I’m proof that it can be done. With an A+ cert and no professional experience in the IT field. In an economically depressed area. At age 50.

      Best wishes!


    • #3237032

      Career change

      by doug m. ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I ended up changing careers (I’m 40+) after a 20 year run in the telecom biz as an installer. I was laid-off and took whatever job I could to support the family and took classes in the evenings so I could get my Certs. I eventually landed a job at a school district, about 9 months later they posted a job in their IT dept for one of their schools and I got the job. I now manage the IT needs for one of their schools by myself. So sometimes getting a job in one dept. can lead to jobs in others, you just never know. I too faced some age discrimination, though no one would ever admit to that, I sensed it. So now I am building my experience here until the next gig comes along. Try to keep a positive attitude and keep your skills sharp. You’ll get where you want to go if you don’t give.

    • #3242971

      Information Tech VS. Plumbing …… Round One.

      by zjbowma ·

      In reply to What can a career changer to IT expect?

      I love working in I.T.
      I’ve been a tech and systems admin of sorts for many companies over my 12 years or so in the business. I’ve seen incredible changes that have been both exciting and challenging at the same time. For the most part it’s all been worth it.

      My personal frustration with my I.T. career as well as with others in this field I speak with is the fact our profession has no legal state or federal accreditation to validate our knowledge and subsequent justification for hard earned advancement in position and compensation. Now some of you reading this may respond by listing off the various certifications available, as well as the MIS Degree so many people now have. However, it is most likely that if you’re an experienced tech or systems admin you’ll recognize my pain.

      Here’s an example:
      A close friend, (we’ll call him John) lost a great job and looked for two years (2 years!!) for a new one. He has 10+ years of quality experience and a great attitude.

      Now “John” is one of the most skilled techs I know, so why couldn’t he find a job?? The consensus among many HR people he spoke with were as follows:

      1st, the overwhelming number of applicants.

      2nd, the inability to decipher an applicants real world abilities from a real puffy resume.

      3rd, then matching the deemed qualified applicants personality to the position.

      While writing this I fully realize the almost certain impossibility of having a realistic collegiate type test to measure real world experience and attitude. Myself, I feel this is the biggest hurdle you’ll find.

      Once hired to an I.T. position, you are somewhat at the mercy of political influence, budget, and management goals and so on.

      Let me give you another example:
      I have another friend…and yes, I have two friends… we’ll call him “Joe”.

      Joe dropped out of I.T. a few years ago when things were really bad in our field. He did some research and decided to become a plumber. Other friends and I poked fun about the plumbers crack and the simple fact of Joe jumping ship for such “menial” work. Joe went to school for plumbing despite our taunting and now has three years of experience under his belt.

      “What’s your point!?” you ask?

      Joe now makes $56,000 per year. Plus, over the next many years all Joe has to do is keep taking his state tests to advance by proving he knows his stuff. He projects he can make another 10-15k within 5 years.

      Now that may not seem like much to some of you but consider this: Joe doesn’t have to deal with much change or politics. He has skills which will most likely not be outdated any time soon, and can go home at night with out checking his email first.

      The really frustrating difference in our careers is this:

      I.T. – Is continuously changing. We are always learning… under fire, under pressure, and always battling new threats, technology, and new demands. Our painfully acquired knowledge so quickly outdated by the machine that is technology.

      Plumbing – Almost never changes. In fact when changes do occur, it’s usually a change that makes Joe’s job easier. New type of fittings or elbows, widgets…whatever. My point is Joe knows the market today, tomorrow, and ten years down the road, we in I.T. almost never can predict our place down the road.

      So in my humble opinion, if you like volatility, constant change, and uncertain futures, then Information Technology is for you. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in I.T. but it can be scary frustrating and unfair at times, but I wouldn’t change most of it to be a stable plumber any day 🙂

Viewing 71 reply threads