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"Computers" as a career


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I've been into computers for a very long time [i had to save data using a tape deck on my TI99 :eek:] and been thinking of maybe going to school and getting my masters.


I've been between things since March and my parents said they would help me do this.


I have a BS in Business Administrations.


The problem is that I really don't what area to look at, or even what the areas are to look at.


So, what area of computers would be a place to start that will still in demand for the next 20-30yrs? [i'm 41, BTW]

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Robotic, solar, Organic would be places to start looking.


Whatever it is make sure that there is an interest to keep you motivated for 20 or 30 years :Cool:

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You might want to pay a visit to your local Community college and ask them. In my area, biotech is hot and IT people are a dime a dozen. I keep hearing Networking and MS certification but don't know how easy it is to break in as a newbie.



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I'd look at calling a few local recruiters too. Tell them your thoughts, and see what is hot for your area. Then, I'd go pursue the community college route and things like that.


Unless you're really of a need for a career path, a master's degree won't do a lot for you. A technical certificate program from a community college, or even some industry specific training from a vendor might be a better usage of time to generate cash flow in the near term.

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The only thing I'd keep in mind is that there are a lot of jobs in IT that are being eliminated right now. This is because you'll see a lot of "Software as a Service" being sold now. For whatever reason, it's cheaper to rent your software on a monthly basis than it is to buy a server and the software, and then hire and pay someone to maintain it.


Outsourcing to India is becoming less of an issue than it was. India's becoming just as expensive as the US in many ways if you factor in the issues raised by the language barrier. Of course, there are other places to outsoruce...


Now, if you've got the mind to be a programmer, that's entirely different. There are still lots of programming jobs out there that are harder to fill. I consider myself at least somewhat bright in that regard, but programming is really not my thing.


The problem is, warm bodies are a dime a dozen. People that are really really good at what they do are difficult to find. Becoming really really good at what you do often takes passion. So, my only other advice to you would be to find what you're passionate about and then find a career in that area. (Well, and +1 on talking to the local recruiters.)


Good luck.

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Like other folks said here ... talk to local IT recruiters to see what the need might be in your area or a college counselor.


The issue I see in our area right now is basically the same thing that happened out in West Texas when I was in High School.... everybody got degrees in Petroleum Engineering because it was the hot thing. Then, after the bust in the 80s, we had Petroleum Engineers flipping burgers. Same thing during the .com boom in the 90s ... everyone wanted the IT degree .. now there is an abundance because of the .com bust.


There are so many areas you can go into in IT though. I still think you could probably find a niche ... if you love that kind of work, I would say jump on it ... just make sure you do as much research as possible to see what is going to be in demand.


Good luck.



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Both intra and inter network "security" will be with us forever. A Masters there might allow some useage of your current BS and would be more of a management role. Don't have any practical experience however on how valuable in the real world such a Masters might be :smile:

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Don't go into software development unless you plan on moving out of the US. :) Focus on IT skills that require an on site human being, otherwise you're setting yourself up to be outsourced.

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Robotics and biotech are the way to go. Everything else is already outsourced even though it's expensive. But with this economic downturn, you should do well as a newbie (=lower startup cost). All the experienced guys are in hot water and have begun extensive brown nosing procedures. The layoffs have already begun and I.T. (non-revenue generating) is always a great target for cost-cutting executives.


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John Ranalletta

You're 41 and you've had about 20 years of work experience plus a college education. What job, task or assignment from your past gave you the most joy? It may not have paid the most, but you were excited to go to work. Which jobs or careers give you a chance to recreate that experience?


Are you seeking a challenge or security? Before you spend much time researching a field of study, try to define your work needs and sources of satisfaction. Find a job counselor who can administer one of the many, good behavioral assessment tools to pinpoint your work strengths and challenges. Do you have leadership tendencies and aspirations or are you more comfortable working on a team where someone else is responsible for providing vision? Do you work well alone or do you prefer working where you have the opportunity to teach, talk or sell?


The IT people I meet with my clients are either the leaders (CTO and CIO positions) where the ability to formulate strategy and leadership are valued; or, the technicians and coders who labor behind the scenes in data-oriented, team contributor roles. The behind-the-scenes jobs are those which are being outsourced or obsoleted.


Spending time and money to get a MS may be a waste. Advanced degrees are being ignored except by education and health care employers. A trade or technical (culinary, medical tech, IT) school might be more appropriate.

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As far as IT jobs skills go, going DBA (Database Administrator) is always a good skill, adding some programming skill to a DBA resume would be awesome. Email administrators (Lotus Notes, Exchange and such) is a limited population skill but important an used in all industries same as DBA's. You can get into Infrastructure support but that either requires you start in a small company and grow your skill, or you spend alot of money in education (Microsoft, Linux, Cisco, HP, Citirx and such), this skill base produces a jack of all trades some folks will tell you your not specialized enough but thats just because they dont understand the puzzle. You can always start as a desktop admin in large companies that means you will develop skills or pay to learn skills in deployment, config management, Antivirus, Email client support and others.

If you develop skills that are universal then you can go anywhere, rather then just go somewhere.

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I'm a "tech dude" and I love it!

I work for my local school district, going from school to school, fixing computers, maintaining some servers, keeping teachers and administrators connected. When you're the tech dude, nobody gives you any grief. ('cause they know I'll delete their account if they do!)

I can ride my R1200ST through the halls, and park where I please.

I did CAD design for awhile and it paid good, but I hated sitting at a computer all day long. It all depends on what you want to do; for me it's important to be moving around.

Most programmers, DBAs, MCSEs and CAD designers make more money, but you got to be a special breed to sit at a computer 40+ hrs a week.(Maybe you're doing that already?) The thing I like best is problem solving, and there's lots of problems to solve in this field.

I'm also an independent contractor for the state of California, setting up and fixing computers/networks.

And I have my own little pathetic business on the side.

It can be a hard field to get into, but if you can work with people you'll go a long ways. That's what separates me from all the other nerds, is that I have people skills, and patients. You defendantly need lots of patients to deal with people in this field.


Hope this helps, and good luck on what ever you choose.


Andy Norris

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That's what separates me from all the other nerds, is that I have people skills, and patients. You defendantly need lots of patients to deal with people in this field.


That's helpful in the medical profession, too.

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That's what separates me from all the other nerds, is that I have people skills, and patients. You defendantly need lots of patients to deal with people in this field.


That's helpful in the medical profession, too.


Come on give him a brake... :grin:


Yes, but in the medical field they open an office to "practice" medicine.

How do you know if they've finally gotten it right? :/

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Yes, but in the legal field they open an office to "practice" law.

How do you know if they've finally gotten it right?

Fixed it for ya ...
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...So, what area of computers would be a place to start that will still in demand for the next 20-30yrs? [i'm 41, BTW]

There is NO field of 'computer' skills that will span 30 years that you can get into TODAY. I've been in this industry and the skills that were 'desirable' and 'rewarding' even 10 years ago (let alone 30) have long since passed. There are specific vertical markets that would require highly specialized skills that certainly would provide a lucrative career, but it's not likely any formal education could be obtained to provide immediate benefit. Let me cite an example. The hot I.T. topic of interest these days is 'cloud computing' (that is, providing computing and storage resources to other companies versus building out tradition I.T. hardware and softtware - Amazon has been doing this for several years now). Now, there is demand for skills in this area. Think you can find a college teaching this today? No. Think this will still be a highly desirable and lucrative career 5-10 years from now? Not as much as it is right now. This illustrates a fundamental problem with trying to predict 'hot' careers in computers. The industry changes rapidly with the technology and the technology needs.


Here's what I'd recommend. Don't waste your time with recruiters. All they're trying to do is fill Today's needs. They have no more insight into what the market will need in 2 years time (what it will take you to get a Masters) than anyone on this board. Instead, decide if you're a 'people' person or not. If you are (and that's a good thing in the computer industry - most folks are INTJ's (see Myers/Briggs if you're unfamiliar with it), then prepare yourself for a career in a Services organization. I can see this trend continuing into the future. The computer Services industry is where the highly desirable people skills are at.


If you're more INTJ (classic development/programmer type), try 'gaming' processors. A trend I see is the use of low cost, high performance gaming processors being applied to a number of new engineering problems. The days of just throwing faster, bigger Intel/AMD multi-core processor technology at problems is being challenged by many smaller 'gaming' processors (yes, like the ones in Sony Play Stations for example). I work in the High Performance Computing field and this is the current trend.


Another area is database analytics. No, not a database admin. As more and more data is stored and analyzed, there will always be a need for data mining and analysis skills. Sure, basic data base programming skills are fundamental, but the data mining is the specialty that you can focus a vertical skills within. Our industry is faced with ever growing mountains of data. It used to be we were daunted with Giga Bytes of data, then terabytes and today I don't deal with anything less than Petabytes. Finding efficient algorithms to deal with these ever growing data sets through database analytics is critical.


I certainly hope you like math!


PM me if you'd like to chat some time.


Mike O


P.S. BTW, if you had a background in the legal field, I'd steer you towards intellectual property law.

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Allow me to add some 'spin' to this range of advice based on MY 30+ years in IT and on my current work (organizing, managing, marketing and supporting consumer software).


As I see it there are TWO things that are MAJOR PITA's (and hence need solution) IF you are not set on working for a Big Company per se):

1. the problems of hackers, viruses, malware, spam etc. It is exponentially growing and anyone able to stop at leats part of it will be in demand.


2. Personal Support. Baby Boomers have retired and have been getting 'in PC's' big time these past years..... and don't have a clue in many cases. I (and my authors) spend (read: waste) so much time on trying to clean up the mess people make on their PC's BEFORE we can even get our nice software to run on them, that we could make a career out of it.... the problem is 'locality'.


Yes there are umpteen ways to do remote support, but more often than not that ONLY works for PC savvy customers anyway, defeating the purpose. The MOST asked question we get is: can't you send someone over to me to DO IT for me.... I'll pay !!



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I cant give you any advice on specific projections of job markets in computers. But I will tell you that I spend quite a bit on people who come over and perform technical things on my computers. And as well, on Trademark and patent attorneys as mentioned in a post earlier. I think its really exciting what your doing even though I know very little about computers and such.

There are alot of resources you should contact

The Lucas Ranch in Northern California might open up some new thoughts for you. Lots of computer work for special effects there.

Some of the big game designers might give you some direction

The federal Govt USPTO.Gov is a great bunch that you might talk to as well. Find out what they think their needs might be for the next 5 years or so based on their growth in certain areas that seem to be accelerating more than other areas. Since your a people person, Im sure any of these mentioned would be happy to talk for a few minutes. Another important thing mentioned in an earlier post was do something that you really want to do, something that will make you happy. Best Wishes.

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The data analytics area is one thing I was thinking too. Like a tech geek with people skills, a data person with business knowledge is a valuable skill combination. You might check out training in some of the analytical tools out there for mining data, statistical forecasting, modeling, etc.

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There is NO field of 'computer' skills that will span 30 years that you can get into TODAY. I've been in this industry and the skills that were 'desirable' and 'rewarding' even 10 years ago (let alone 30) have long since passed.


I have been doing basically the same computer work, using similar computer skills, writing programs, for more than 40 years. The assembly language skills I acquired in 1967 have not been wasted. The architectures may have changed, and the means of entering, compiling and testing have definitely changed, but it is still possible to make a living from writing programs. The Fortran, RPG, Cobol etc skills may not be as useful, but being multilingual has always been an advantage.


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