1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Programmer vs. Network Admin/Engineer vs...

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Vtwin, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Vtwin

    Vtwin Newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    13
    Just wanted to get opinions from "real" computer programmers/network admins/engineers/...and, by "real," I don't mean to insult anyone, but just mean it as people that have real jobs like that in the real world.

    I'll be retiring from the military in 3 years. Yes, it means I've been in for 17 years, so I'm no young puppy which is one of my dilemmas. One of my benefits of being in the military is that my education is pretty much paid for and I can basically study whatever I want. Whether it's a degree or certification, I have quite a large choice of what I can focus on. Being that I have an Associates in Generals, in the time frame I have left, I can finish a bachelors or get a certification(s). I enjoy computers, the internet, and am a bit of an introvert. I can grasp subjects pretty easily once it strikes my interest and I focus on it, but I do not like the same thing day in and day out.

    With that said, I'd like some opinions from those that have been in the trenches working as a programmer, network admin, database admin and the likes. Keep in mind that I have some age on me and realize I'll have to compete with the young bucks. However, I do not have any family obligations except my wife since the kids are grown and out of the house. So, here are my questions...

    1. Which area of computers/networking has the best potential for stability and growth in the U.S.?

    2. What field do you think people have the most job satisfaction?

    3. Are certifications good enough to get a job that makes some good scratch starting out?

    4. Is Texas a good market for these types of jobs? (I'll probably be retiring there).

    5. Are these jobs in demand or are there better alternatives within the computer industry?

    6. If you could do it all over again, what would you do or change?

    Thanks in advance as I look forward to hearing realistic feedback from those that have been in the trenches.
     
  2. GoldenGlovez

    GoldenGlovez Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2011
    Messages:
    701
    Likes Received:
    1,713
    Location:
    Guangdong, China
    Home Page:
    Vtwin,

    Network security is my personal suggestion. As the world relies on computer technology more and more, security grows in demand. You will also find that many companies are more reluctant to outsource their in-house security. This holds especially true for Medical or Government jobs, which are required to meet certain standards.

    Unfortunately, you will find in any IT field right now, there is just not many jobs for entry/mid level positions. Many companies are looking for people who can wear many masks for the same cost. Since you will soon be ex-military, would I be safe in assuming you are already holding some form of security clearance from the DoD?

    If so, the doors of opportunity open much wider to you. VERY MUCH so in southern states (Texas) which are home to many of our defense contractors. These types of jobs usually come with a very comfortable package/bonuses.

    As for your education, while holding a degree can help with getting your foot in the door; certifications are highly respected within the field. Never having finished schooling I acquired my CompTia A+ and Network+. Landing me my first job as a junior network administrator. Over the course of a year I obtained my CCNA + Security and was on my way to a CCNP Security. These certifications alone shot me higher into the ranks and granted me much more respect in my field.

    The only downside with the security field is that it's highly dependent on experience. You need to start out low and climb your way to the top. Focus first on low level Cisco certifications and/or CompTia certifications. (CompTIA Net+/Security+ are great to finish first as they prepare you for the more difficult Cisco Exams). Look for jobs as entry level administrator and focus your energy on learning as much as you can within the security field. Over a few years you can begin to apply for these types of jobs and will also unlock the opportunity of testing for very high end certs such as CIISP or GIAC.

    Best of luck,
    GoldenGlovez
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. xfactornos

    xfactornos Regular Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    38
    Occupation:
    Engineer , IM
    Location:
    ☆☆☆☆☆
    I have three degrees in Engineering, Electrical, Computer, and Electronics and its very hard to find a job where I live. Plus the jobs suck for us. The pay starts at $18/hr.

    I would try for the network admin or something in networking.
     
  4. Vtwin

    Vtwin Newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    13
    Thanks for the replies. Very much appreciated. Yes, I do have a security clearance from DoD. I will certainly look at network/network security as it's something I do have some interest in, but didn't consider it when writing the post.
     
  5. NoirHat

    NoirHat Regular Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2011
    Messages:
    354
    Likes Received:
    174
    Look at
    what you LIKE to do and would enjoy doing as a job
    Where would you work and would you have to MOVE to get a job
    what is the future of the position and where do you want to be in 5,10 years

    Then decide on what to do.
    I just took computer engineering cuz I thought seems like a good idea.
    Very flexible degree but being a worker bee/engineer in a cubicle forever doesn't fit me
     
  6. ccshack

    ccshack Junior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    30
    Occupation:
    Full time IM
    Location:
    Ccs, Venezuela
    Hi,

    Im Network Admin, but get more money from IM. Im CCNA, CCDA, CCNA Sec, CCNP and CCIE write, the next year i will try the CCIE Lab. Y recommend to you focus in the track you want.

    First I recommend to you get Network+ from CompTia. and next go ahead of Cisco CCNA, CCNA SEC.

    But don't stay only with Cisco, you can try to get the EC-Council Ethical Hacker, to know more about the bad world.

    Best of luck!
     
  7. hochelaga

    hochelaga Newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    110
    I'm a network admin and I enjoy my job. I think I'll keep doing it when my online income exceeds my day job because I get to play with lots of nice toys.

    Having said that, I can make in a couple of days of helping offline businesses with their marketing what I make in a month at my day job. So it really depends on whether you want to get into IT for the money or because you love playing with technology, breaking it, fixing it and making it better than it was before.
     
  8. Monrox

    Monrox Power Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    615
    Likes Received:
    579
    If you can study anything, go for medicine :)

    Anyway
    1. As a network admin you will never be able to work from home. Programming is getting more and more outsourced to developing countries but companies still prefer to use western team managers to wield the whip.

    2. Job satisfaction is a myth. Pretty much everything becomes dull after three months.

    3. Certifications can impress IT illiterate clients and thus secure you great opportunities. The industry however knows that you can get every type and level of certification without much effort by using testking, cram4exam and whatever else is leaking the tests.

    4. No idea.

    5. What's always in demand is hardware development. CPU & GPU design, microcontrollers etc. But you will have to compete against some very smart math dorks, who have been solving equations from the age of 5.

    6. Personally I don't have to do anything all over again. I am becoming something totally unrelated to IT and using self-taught IT skills to get me some Gs whenever I need it.

    Conclusion: don't waste your time with computer studies. You can almost always get the same jobs without a college degree. From what I've seen, employers prefer to see completed projects when deciding on an applicant.

    If you don't think medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, law, aviation is for you... hm, I really have to think hard to come up with something that will instantly give you a job and then allow you to earn $50+/hour 3 years after graduation.
     
  9. TreeWalker

    TreeWalker Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2010
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    56
    Just amazing. Once again BHW gives me real answers. Thanks. Anyone else want to add to this?
     
  10. tnhomestead

    tnhomestead Regular Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    253
    Location:
    Tenneessee USA
    Home Page:
    Here in Tn i see a big demand for PHP and .net folks. Lots of jobs for Drupal, wordpress and Joomla as well. I program(taught by the USAF 30+ yrs ago) and do a few other things. If you can code PHP + clearance + Drupal you can write your own ticket -- a lot of DOD work for that. I just turned down a 6 mo beltway project for more money I ever made -- just dont want to move from my woods. Whitehouse.gov is Drupal, so is the new house of reps site. Get hold of Aquia Drupal and signed on as a partner(free) and start taking a bunch of the webinars they have(free). You dont need certs unless you want to do project management, a lot of the hiring folks want CAPM or PMI.

    Find a meetup group, hit the conferences in Texas -- wear a tshirt saying I am for hire, you will be working the next day.

    Thnx for your service Brother!
     
  11. bdmmedia

    bdmmedia Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    71
    Sys Admin for one of the 3-letter government agencies here (no freaking out, please). If you're military, start looking at government jobs. With your veteran's preference and any sort of innate technical ability, you'll have a big advantage. Honestly, the running joke is that we have a hard time hiring good people because we have to disqualify all the unqualified veterans first (not as easy as you'd think).

    Learn a little more about each job, see which ones may interest you. Programming is good, but it's not always the intellectual stimulus you think it's going to be. Sys Admin is good, as long as you can interact with end-users on a reasonable level. Network Admin is good, but, as others have said, you'll pretty much never be able to work remotely. Database and Storage pay more then Sys Admin, without being much harder, but you really only ever get any recognition when something screws up. Security is a great place to be right now, but it often requires a more in-depth knowledge of the enterprise than you may have right now. Project Management is in demand, but it requires some management/people skills.

    Anyway, check out usajobs.com, see what agencies may have locations near where you want to retire (TX has a lot - good senators, apparently), and see what kinds of jobs they may offer. Even if your goal is to work private sector, the government is a good place to build your skills (without having to worry about losing your job) until you know everything you need to move on.
     
  12. portalweb

    portalweb Supreme Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,415
    Likes Received:
    547
    Occupation:
    Hard Core Engineer
    Location:
    New York
    I didn't realize that this thread was bumped - but it gets my attention - because I helped someone who has the similar situation as yours.

    I'm engineer/programmer/IT/etc generalist as well as being a private pilot. I have a college degree...but my college degree does not mean much to what I do for living.

    Anyway, I'll be more than happy to answer these questions:
    ______________________________________
    1. Which area of computers/networking has the best potential for stability and growth in the U.S.?

    Networking related field - very competitive. Any kids can do it..if they know how to do it, thanks to tons of how-to tips everywhere on Internet. My brother - no college degree, he is able to configure Cisco high-end routers/switchs at the data center with the help from books, Cisco documentation and little help from me.

    2. What field do you think people have the most job satisfaction?
    If you love what you do for living as well as the specific field, then you will be happy. Don't take the field if it's just for money...but it will make your life very miserable. I know my colleague who graduated from law school was not happy for spending long hours on legal BS for clients...and changed his career to focus on real estate development business, utilizing his legal knowledge..which makes him very happy.

    3. Are certifications good enough to get a job that makes some good scratch starting out?
    Nope. I have techs/programmers working for me...who are much better at abstract thinking than many people out there with a piece of paper minted from test certification services.

    4. Is Texas a good market for these types of jobs? (I'll probably be retiring there).
    Possibly. However, you are competing with hot shot kids out there. Employers prefer to hire cheap labor (kids) as their first priority. Also, the employers have the plenty of choice...outsourcing IT/programming to other countries.

    5. Are these jobs in demand or are there better alternatives within the computer industry?
    Not much. But...who knows?

    6. If you could do it all over again, what would you do or change?
    Pick the career that you love most that will make you happy - then purse it...study it to earn a degree. Of course, pick the career that pays pretty good.

    As for my colleague I advised, he chose nursing career - because the demand for it is very high..and the pay is damn good, as well as the great job satisfaction made from that field.

    Hope it helps.

    Good luck! :)
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
  13. TreeWalker

    TreeWalker Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2010
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    56
    I agree with what most here said except there is not much job opportunity.

    I was surprised when I started looking at the career outlook for networking and security.
    Network and Security related jobs were rated not "good" but "excellent" in pay and opportunity and future growth. I was hard pressed to find any career that looked better. (Nursing and medical related jobs could be the exception)

    I jumped in this thread above because I will going taking a "Computer and Networking Security Certification Program" next semester and I too am older (mid 40's) but not military. I don't have any desire to work for the military or government.


    When I factor in (cost of education/time in education) + (good pay)+ (future job market)+ (freelancing/freedom) = It looks very good.

    Cruise ships for a few months a year would be a nice gig. Also doing IM is my true passion and see quite a few opportunities in the field for increasing my IM efforts.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  14. hotleatherdreams

    hotleatherdreams Registered Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    18
    Occupation:
    ecommerce website CODER - SUCK at design and SEO
    Location:
    third rock from hell
    1. couldnt tell ya. was gonna say BH but i dont see a lot of longevity so much as mass opportunity. mobile devices i guess is my answer since almost everyone has them

    2. what is your favorite part of computing? are you more comfortable with machines or humans? if its humans u need to decide on geeks(tech) or dumbasses(cust service type stuff). I LOVE programming and fortunately for me, my boss keeps the projects coming and its always different. I custom code general website functionality related to a listing/booking site with extensive checkout and payment options and it is very rare that canned solutions work, and im the same in that I cant do the same thing day in and day out.

    3. Certs will definitely weigh in but most employers will want experience to match or exceed them. military background should weigh in favorably but that and certs alone will only get u so far

    4. i hear Austin is a big tech mecca

    5. demand is probably related to geography, some places will be saturated and others in shortage

    6. As a programmer I would have focused my attention on marketing and learning how to attract or build a network of loyal followers/participants in a niche that has mass appeal. Everyone knows you need traffic, but it is just as important to have unique content. Substance is another key thing; you can have a ton of traffic going to unique spinner content, but if your visitors arent learning anything, getting a service they want or need or getting the absolute lowest price on your product, all you will have is a high hit count and low conversion rate.


    So it sounds like you want to educate yourself and then get a 9-5 type job, considering where your at (BHW), do you have any interest in working by yourself as an entrepreneur? I am too loose cannon with a rap sheet to ever land another corporate job, but I am still positive im going to fulfill my dream of collecting 1 dollar from one million people from the internet.(that was decided way back in the 90's when the internet first went public). So for me there is no other option but to strike oil somewhere on this internet thing.

    I would love to go back to school and get a degree but I honestly dont know why(HS grad only and if it werent for the internet I would probably be homeless). Maybe for the respect, possibly because I wanted to go to college for the chicks and parties, but otherwise I cant think of any degree that would be the magic pill that solved the mystery of my career destiny. I just want to make enough money to live large, then focus on spending time with my family and try to be the best person I could, and also do tons of stupid or interesting things I feel like that I dont belive the "drones" are able to because they are trapped in a routine of work-weekend-work with a budget vacation here and there.

    So my POV is different from what you requested. I would guess that a day job will pay the bills, and if what you want is a solid salary, paid holidays and vacation then you should be checking out the starting salaries for various tech jobs and try to pick one that you would genuinely be interested in. What I would suggest is to take one of your hobbies or interests, and consider how to turn it into a viable business. Then from there you could pick a course of study that will get you there.

    I hope this rant wasnt a complete waste of time for you, and I thank you for the questions because it gave me some insight into my own situation. I have a good job by average joe standards, and work from home when I want, so many people think i have it made, but I am not even close to satisfied. What I got out of this is that I need to change my dream into a goal and execute it. I have a ton of coding experience(1996 to present - self taught, 50/50 paid/just coded something for the challenge or fun) so I can code almost anything i want, and its time to decide how I am going to cash in on it. One thing I learned after chasing the pot of gold here on BHW is not to read every single money making method, try it for 5 minutes then go on to the next ebook or technique and never complete something. We have to weigh out the options then pick a path and STICK to it and be thorough and consistant.

    I apologize if I am too far off topic, I have severe A.D.D. and it is listed on the ADA act so I can get a note from my Dr.! To get back to your OP, I would vote programming because I think it would offer the most variety as well as a decent paycheck.
     
  15. Getwhatchuwant

    Getwhatchuwant Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    1,922
    Likes Received:
    1,302
    Occupation:
    Peeping Tom
    Location:
    Florida
    I dont know about the IT field but someone mentioned nursing and I was going to say that is not a bad choice.

    I buddy of mine is an RN and has not only GREAT pay but the schedule he wants.

    When he started he took the highest paying offer even though it was a shit shift...in 6 months he was able to apply for another gig that needed help again shit shift but even more $$$..after 8 or 9 months of that he took a gig that gave him the perfect shift (mon-Thurs) and now he has a very high salary and the hours he wants