Best way to boost my IT career

I’m a programmer analyst with 16 years experience. I don’t have any terribly relevant degree, but I do have a couple of other degrees, including a Master of Library Science. Though only very tangentially, it was in that program that I was introduced to the workings of computers, as they were just then becoming a major factor in library operations. Regardless of that, I’m well established in the field and, from what I can tell, earn a comparable salary to those earned by my technically-degreed colleagues.

With that in mind, assuming that I want to return to school, what would be the best way to kick my career into a higher gear? I"m more attracted to technical programs, because they seem to offer the solid theoretical foundations of computer science that I never got in school. On the other hand, we always hear about how IT employers are looking for “soft skills”, and in any case, I already know how to program. Should I just bite the bullet and take management-oriented courses with an IT spin, even though I don’t find the prospect appealing? Or should I focus on what I really want to do and become a more technically capable programmer? If I focus solely on theory and technology, am I just setting myself up to be replaced by someone in some overseas country who has all the necessary technical knowledge, and is willing to work for one-fifth of my salary?

Take on some technical project management work in your current company. If you “like” it, then you can pursue coursework. Your management will be impressed by your expanded interest and you will then encounter improved opportunities in your current company or elsewhere.

javamanI think in your situation, I’d try to take some seminar type courses (1 week here, that kind of thing) in project management, life cycle development, QA, and project scheduling. From my experience, learning a lot of management skills puts you into a position to be management, but when the sh@@ hits the fan, those management positions are usually the first to go. I’d focus on the tech, and pad your C.V. with these IT manager skills.

Remember, technologies change, but the theory behind them doesn’t. Besides, employers love the analytical skills you learn doing math (which is what a lot of theory is). But certainly don’t shy away from the management side–it seems pointless to close a door when you’re looking for an open one.

I am working on a degree in CS and have 7 years experience in the real world. Networking stuff, programing stuff and trouble shooting.

I am into the technical side of things. After talking to my Dad I decided that I am going to major in CS and minor in managment(MBA in the future). The reason is in two parts. The CS stuff satisfies what I want to do. The managment part will help me move up and take over technical projects. By persuing these two different fields I can take part in the tech stuff without being a PHB (Pointy Headed Boss for you non-Dilbert fans). In other words you can talk to the PHB’s and at the same time get things done with the tech staff.


You’re better off doing a tech degree. You can pick up the management stuff through diploma courses and whatnot. Once you have the analytical skills and theories, it’s easy to pick up other stuff.

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Geoduck, your idea sounds good, but wouldn’t be too practical around here. I do want my current company to know that I’m taking initiative (i.e., going to school), but to jump on a project probably wouldn’t work around here, as I’m already wearing so many hats.

Urban Ranger, that’s what my heart tells me. Actually I’m not completely without theoretical knowledge, but it would be nice to substantiate it with a formal credential, even if only a certificate program of some sort. It’s damned hard to find a technically oriented program geared to working adults, though. Once you get to post-college-age college, the assumption seems to be that nobody wants to pursue any other degree than an MBA, or an MIS at best. If anyone knows of a tech program that can be taken on line, please let me know.

Franklin University

If you are in one of the areas that have an alliance, Franklin offers the final two years of a compter science degree, among other tech, four year degrees.