Job Transitions: IT to ...what?

I work in the IT field as a network admin and general support person. I have no college degree but do have a technical certification in technology support from a business school. Lately I’ve been reading many articles about the demise of the IT field and I’m starting to believe the hype. Many people are claiming that due to outsourcing, more automation on back end systems, and new networking technology that actually works properly for the most part that I’ll be out of a job in another 4-5 years. I sense some truth there just watching what has been happening over the past 5 years. I have to work for another 35-40 years and the more time passes the more I see good jobs doing what I do disappearing.

So what’s a guy in my position to do? I’m going to be 34 in October, don’t have any college degrees, and I don’t see a long career in network administration in my future. I’m sure there are other people in the same boat and I’m curious to hear what kinds of alternative careers people are choosing to persue.

If you can transition to the security-cleared side, you’ll be fine.

You’ll probably have to lay off the bong for a few months before attempting this… :smiley:

True. I have a friend who indulges, and whenever he does so, I leave PDQ as I don’t want to be caught by a random test, or by the police if I’m stopped after a car crash.

Well, despite what people might be saying about network jobs disappearing, I don’t think many jobs are going to go away anytime soon. The market might change a bit, but Admin jobs ain’t gonna just disappear. Outsourcing is the biggest concern but what happens when your tech is in another state (or country) and a hard drive needs to be replaced or a network card fails? I do support and I deal with some companies (mostly smaller places) that outsource IT and when shit really hits the fan they are usually screwed because the IT guys generally don’t show up very quickly. All the bigger places have IT on staff and that ain’t gonna change anytime soon do to the businesses I deal with. The bigger places have too many computers and users to outsource.

Having said that, I could be wrong. If all the admin jobs disappear then the places you should probably look are either software support (which is what I do) or development. Software support ain’t going away anytime in the near future and if you look around you can find pretty good jobs. My job pays pretty good, has great benifits and a pretty laid back work environment. About three quarters of my job is serious tech stuff (network issues, program errors. databases, etc) and the rest is user stuff. Not a bad gig.

I am going back to school to finish my CS degree so I can get into the dev side of the house. Dev is never going to go away.


There will always be IT jobs. Someone has to try and explain, face to face, what all those fancy words mean to management. Of course they never understand a word you’re saying because they can’t even figure out how to check their email.

Plus, management will ALWAYS need someone to yell at face to face when they can’t get their email.

I agree that there will always be support jobs but I don’t think there will be as many as there are now in another 10 years. Consider a couple of things:

First, the hardware we use these days keeps getting better and better so there are less failures overall. Dell offers 4 hour support which costs more but gets someone onsite to replace failed hardware in a relatively short time. The other major vendors all offer this as well. There is also the possibility that the market will once again move towards more thin client architecture meaning less hardware to maintain.

As for the bong…of course that would be put on hold during job search. :wink:

You have 4-5 years? Get a degree or more certifications. Those are going to open up all kinds of doors to you.

Exactly what I was going to say.

If you really want to get out of IT then you will need to look at what else you know. What kind of business did you support? If you did IT in a bank you might be able to get a job in another area as you know the basics just by your time supporting them. I did support for a enviromental place, and I learned alot about the different areas just by working with the other employees, and helping them automate their work.


My Network Admin husband is now doing plumbing while still looking for IT work. He hates it, but it pays the bills.

I left the tech industry (I used to run an ISP) and now deal poker. (Bad beat stories $5, $10 if it involves pocket aces and $20 if you had it until the river)

IT isn’t going away because every time we come up with an increased level of reliability, we match that with something new that adds additional complications. I’d say avoid specialization and keep up with new technologies. And if you have experience with enterprise class backup products you know that knowledgeable and skilled IT people will be needed as long as companies need backups.

Or look at testing. I much prefer working with ex-IT people since they’re already familiar with troubleshooting and can explain problems to clueless management types.

Just my experience, and location could have something to do with the job market.

Look now! Don’t wait for the axe to drop, know what is available and get as much training as you can while you’re working.

I’m going to have to agree with you, Bob. I’m a web developer for an online B2B application, and I can’t see the need for my job going away anytime soon. The product seems to be making money, so it’s probably not going away, and I know they have months and months of work for my teammates and I, so even if we suddenly started cranking out projects at lightning speed, we’d still have plenty to do for a long time.

And the funny thing is, I could rattle off a huge list of problems that still need to be fixed with the product. Surely there are other products, probably in other industries, that have fewer problems and bigger potential. IT isn’t going away anytime soon, and I don’t expect a lot of layoffs, either. We had enough about five years ago that most companies seem to have standardized their IT departments; they aren’t outrageously overpaid and the turnover is probably relatively normal.

I’m fairly comfortable saying IT isn’t going anywhere, unless the new corporate strategy doesn’t involve the web or information gathering of any kind.

I’m in IT support and I was told just yesterday to find something else to do because the thing I do is going overseas, and it could happen anytime, but probably within a year.

I’ve always been an admin person and they’re going by the wayside as well for the most part. I’m going to do something completely different, I think, but I’m not sure what. I’ve got 12 years to go til retirement.

I have done pretty well in the IT industry. I have had pretty much every kind of role from computer operator & data entry (way back when) to running my own consulting firm. Right now, I am an “architect”, a role that did not even exist under this name when I started my career.

I have done pretty well because I have not specialized in any single technology and have walked the line between business and technology. I consider myself a “technologist” or someone who studies technology.

I have had big successes and huge failures. I have learned from each.

To the OP’s question though, I am not sure what I would do if I had to select another area. I have just evolved instead of radically changed.

So we have a mixed bag of personal experience here. I like the suggestions for focusing on security or backups, at least they sound like niches I could occupy for a while. But I’m looking at the big picture here, project all this out 30 years. What will the IT landscape be like then? I’d hate to be in my late 50’s or early 60’s and out on my ass looking for a job. Can there really be job security in IT security and backups that far out?

This is exactly what the articles I read said you should do…basically be a technology generalist with strong business skills. I’m pretty good with technology but I have a lot to learn about business. Maybe when I do go back to college my focus should be on a business degree and then acquire whatever IT certifications are hot as time goes on. Does that sound reasonable?

Thats why I picked Database Admin as my goal in IT. Other than the fact that they tend to be some of the highest paid, they also have a bit more job security, as far as I can tell. You could outsource, but it is a bit risky if your database goes down and they are in a different time zone. I don’t know of many instances (course, no expert here) in which a Database Admin job was outsourced.

Of course, the internet isn’t going anywhere. I’d wager you could pick up web design pretty quick, learn how to structure a simple database, build it and start a small online business making what you make at your current job. More risk, but a higher chance of a greater reward.

If you’ve ever had to dispatch technicians and/or do telephone support, mention “Dispatch” on your resume and you’ll get a lot of interested parties. It’s not quite the network admin level of pay, but I’ve known lots of people in tech support who ended up working as a dispatcher (for valet services, telephone repair, delivery, messengers, etc.), there’s a lot of skills in common.

Yes, that does sound like a good plan. Best projections are that in the future, pure IT people will be fairly rare, and the big demand is for people with IT skills and knowledge of a particular area.

What you’re talking about, by the way, is generally referred to as Management Information Systems (MIS for short).