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Which IT Careers Are Hot and Which are Not? 284

necromante asks: "I've been working on different IT positions through my career: support; some networking; DBA; web development; project management; even working on the client side for a little while. However, I don't feel like I am really a specialist on any of those subjects and I feel I need to focus on a particular field. So, I decided to ask for some feedback before making my decision. I understand that this depends everyones tastes, likes and dislikes. However, I would like to have a better idea of which are the available options, and I hope the results of this discussion can benefit other readers. Is there any IT career that I should consider more than the others? Which are the emerging fields? Is there any industry I should focus on in particular? Which careers on IT are actually more in demand and which ones not? Is it a better path to focus on moving into management?"
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Which IT Careers Are Hot and Which are Not?

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  • by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:53AM (#18457093) Homepage
    I've worked for a number of people and myself one thing that seems to come up is that good techies don't always make good managers. So don't assume that managment is right for you (or that you would even enjoy it).
    • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:58AM (#18457147)
      Where I work, the opposite tends to happen. If you're not that good technically, you tend to bubble up to management. I'm not saying they're complete idiots, just that they're not the best technical people. I still don't think it's the best way to find good managers though ... they may suck at that as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It happens in a lot of places and it's called the "Dilbert Principle". Unfortunatelly, it is usally a self-sustaining process.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Actually, it is older that Dilbert, and used to be known as the Peter Principle. In short form it stated that as long as people could manage their jobs, they got promoted, so everyone ended up on a level where he could not manage his job.
    • by dlZ ( 798734 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:12AM (#18457303) Journal
      I have to agree with this. I'm a business owner, with a partner. I'm the hardcore techie here, while my business partner has a background in video production and marketing. He tends to take on the true management role here while I worry about actually getting the work done. It works out well as I'm not a great manager but I can get the work done when it needs to be.

      The thing I have noticed is that a lot of people in a more technical role feel that they would be better in charge but in reality would probably just hate the position. I love being in control (hence owning my own business) but at the same time I'd rather leave the more managerial duties up to my business partner while I really worry about the technical side of things.

      I have been a manager at a few places and while I did a decent job and my staff liked working for me, but I didn't enjoy the role as much as I enjoy being in the forefront with my technical skills. I did learn a lot about running a business from these positions which is a benefit now, though, and don't regret having been a manager. I just didn't enjoy it.
      • by bjd145 ( 99489 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @10:11AM (#18458019) Homepage
        From what I've experienced again and again and again is that one of the reason (and there can be others) that techies don't make good managers is that they try to live in both worlds. The new techie manager still wants to get his hands dirty doing the day to day work. Part of this is that they are don't trust others to do it "right" or they are afraid of losing their technical skills. The new techie manager never really gives him/her self over to the dark side of management.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 )

          The new techie manager never really gives him/her self over to the dark side of management.

          I just can't get my hair pointy enough [wikipedia.org] to do it.

        • by Hexfet ( 541420 )
          The company I work for expects managers of technical folks to keep doing tech work themselves. As a result they don't manage well, and their tech work suffers too. The corner office folks think managing techies is not a full-time job, and want to get the most for their money. But it's a completely short-sighted policy. We did hire one guy who was an excellent manager, and only did management though he had an engineering degree. For a year his projects were consistently on-time and under-budget. They f
        • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @12:26PM (#18460023)
          The new techie manager still wants to get his hands dirty doing the day to day work. Part of this is that they are don't trust others to do it "right" or they are afraid of losing their technical skills. The new techie manager never really gives him/her self over to the dark side of management.

          You see, that IS the real "dark side" of managment -- when you become a micromanager or some other type of manager that constantly second-guesses their employees because you "know better." Even worse is the type that is constantly trying to make people prove themselves to them by withholding information to see if their subordinate is "smart enough" to come to the same conclusions (and then berate them if they don't either due to a difference of opinion or a crucial missing piece of information).

          I've had four jobs since I entered the IT field. Every single manager I've had was a former programmer with the exception of one boss's boss (who was entirely awful because she was more interested in office politics and backstabbing for advancement... but I digress).

          All the good bosses I've had gradually abandoned the programming side and learned to act as mentors. They used their knowledge of the system to give pointers on where to look when you were stuck on a problem and trusted you to get things done, only prodding every now and then when a schedule was threatened. All the bad bosses I've had (save the one mentioned above) second-guessed you constantly and either went around your work to put someone else on it (like themselves) or constantly made you justify ever single moment you spent your day on. In both cases, the attitude comes from the thought that they could do it better if they didn't have to do all this management crap instead.

          In other words, the secret to going from a technical role to being a good manager is learning to let go. Use your skills and knowledge to aid your subordinates and shield them from upper management by understanding what they are doing. If necessary, use you knowledge to call their BS if they're actually slacking, but don't envy them or treat them as irritating time-wasters blocking you from doing "your real job." Otherwise, you're just demonstrating the Peter principle. [wikipedia.org]
      • But how would you feel if your partner starts maneuvering to put you on salary and keep all the equity for himself because "I'm making all the strategic moves to grow this company?"

        I'm not really saying that would happen to you, but in general it's not as if management and techies are on equal footing and reap equal rewards. Moving up means leaving technical work behind, and I'm torn by that.

        • *cough*Steve Jobs*cough*

          Just sayin'... it's happened before :D Look at Woz.
        • by dlZ ( 798734 )
          The fact that I own 50% of the business shares would prevent that from happening. Like I said, while he takes care of the management side of things and I worry about the tech side of things, I still have business experience and am not going to dig myself into a hole I can't get out of.

          I work with another company who, again, has two owners both at 50% each. They hired a manager to run the business, which also includes telling them where they need to be. You need to play your strongest hand each to make t
    • Amen to that. Far too many businesses promote someone to management because 1) they're been there for a long time and 2) they're good at their technical job functions. They don't, however, have a lick of personnel or project management skills. It also usually ends up taking someone from a job they do well and putting them in a job they do poorly, a double whammy. I'm at least smart enough to know that I shouldn't be given anything beyond a team lead position.
  • Domain Knowledge (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:54AM (#18457101)
    A lot of demand has to do with your demand knowledge. I don't know if you could say with a broad stroke that devs are in more demand than DBAs or whatever. If you have financial experience for instance, demand is pretty strong across the board. You need to consider the industry you want to work in as much as the role you want to play.
  • by farker haiku ( 883529 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:54AM (#18457103) Journal
    Which careers on IT are actually more in demand and which ones not?

    Editor who doesn't rely on spell check.
  • Being a manager... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hoplite3 ( 671379 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:55AM (#18457109)
    When you were young, did you ever play video games with an older sibling where they played and you watched? Your brother would insist that you were "a team" and wouldn't let you play. Being a manager is like being the little brother, but you do get to fire the other guy if he dies five times in a row on level 8-2.

    Seriously, if you like something, why stop doing it and start just watching people do it?

    Oh, money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      One other reason to get into management though is the lack of time to learn the latest programming language du jour.

      Once you get older and start a family the time that you have outside of work to sit down and learn D++ or Python.Net or whatever gets a lot harder to come by.

      If you have the opportunity to learn on the job that's great. But it's not always the case.

      Even if it's what you love to do it's still gets harder to find time to do. So moving into management seems like a reasonable step.

      Although I'm put
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:55AM (#18457111) Journal

    ... and I feel I need to focus on a particular field.

    Personally, I value breadth over depth. And I'm going to propose a reason why everyone should also: in the world of computer science, at any minute a once vital skill could be obsolete. Granted, it doesn't happen often (as we still need workers to maintain cobol & fortran code) but, instead of spending my free time hunched over Enterprise Java Bean projects learning their delicate intricacies, I find myself learning about Ruby, Spring, Hibernate, etc. Now, I might not be an expert in any of these fields but I may be glad when their time comes. All good things come to an end--and if EJBs were to be retired, I'd certainly like to know my way around these other frameworks & tools. I think the same can be said about fields of computer science. Be wary of the web developer that doesn't know the first thing about networks & server/client communication--that's often a pitfall for security.

    So if you want my honest opinion about which "are hot or not," I think they're all pretty damn hot and I bleieve you can find money in any job where you make yourself usefull & valuable to a decent business. I find them all attractive because I enjoy setting up networks in my house and playing network administrater even though I don't do it at my job. I love networking Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc. and I like toying around with different databases. I love to start new projects that rarely go anywhere but leave me with more understanding of how technologies or products work. I'm not a "trained expert" at any of them though, most importantly, I feel that I could easily become one if a situation deemed it necessary. If you don't enjoy doing some of these things--DON'T DO THEM. Who cares if they pay alot or are "hot"? I'd rather die happy & poor than rich & sad.

    Is there any IT career that I should consider more than the others?
    Of course there is, it's the career you enjoy the most :-) If you're honestly worried about having a job and aren't confident in yourself, learn Java. It might die tomorrow (who knows?) but I've seen mountains of code and somebody's gotta maintain that or at least translate several years from now. Not the most glorious job but it would certainly pay the bills. The language is still in use and I've seen people hired by simply writing "Expert in Java" on their resume (whether it was true or not).

    Is it a better path to focus on moving into management?
    The company I work for is unique in the respect that I am allowed to grow on one of two paths. One is a functional manager that has many people reporting to them (think Lumberg from Office Space). The other is a technical leader--one with degrees & experience implementing ideas. The latter is actually the kind of leadership I desire to fulfill. While it may be more difficult to pursue this "other" kind of management, I hope a lot more companies offer pay equivalent to their technical leaders and recognize them as being just as important as your traditional managers. Technical leaders are the Chief Engineers on projects, the "go to guys" in any scenario where you have technical questions/problems, the subject matter experts, the scientists. The traditional path are the project managers, the leaders who never have to prove themselves, the people who protect you from upper management and who, eventually, become upper management. If I ever found myself interviewing for another company, I would definitely ask them about positions available for technical leaders and, from the sound of your question, this may be something you desire also.

    Choose your path wisely.
    • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:52AM (#18457789)
      One is a functional manager that has many people reporting to them (think Lumberg from Office Space). The other is a technical leader--one with degrees & experience implementing ideas.

      There's also a third option in many larger companies: a cross-functional, multi-domain expert. While many people are familiar with the Java/Routing/InfoSec/DB2/etc. expert who has developed extensive expertise and attained mastery in the technical domain, the multi-domain expert is another option which can be quite professionally rewarding.

      Both my brother and I had IT careers (he in client app development and me in infosec and internetworking), and both of us went back to school. He added a marketing undergraduate and a MBA with a marketing focus, while I added a finance undergraduate and a Master of Science in Economics. For both of us, it was an exceptional career move. He's a marketing information systems manager for a Fortune 500 company, handling most of the IT projects for the different product brands of the company and gets to work with developing them the way he wants for his clients - architecting the solution, developing cross-functional dev teams, etc.

      The finance and economics addition to an infosec and networking background has helped me become a dual-domain expert in operational risk management (an area that needs many more experts who understand both IT operations and the whole quantitative aspect). I get to design and develop metrics that help us analyze, track and improve our operations, manage the development of the systems that collect and report these metrics and then evaluate them to assess the company's global risk.

      The cool part is if you like to set yourself apart from the crowd, it's a great way to accomplish that. It certainly isn't easy committing time to develop that second domain, and takes very careful job selection to get into a place where you can start using both domains. However, because companies seem to have serious problems communicating between different functional areas (e.g. marketing can't speak IT, and IT can't talk marketing), people who span the gap get very nicely compensated, have significant creative authority and overall get to see their ideas implemented.

      • by dankney ( 631226 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @11:05AM (#18458839) Homepage
        I get to design and develop metrics that help us analyze, track and improve our operations, manage the development of the systems that collect and report these metrics and then evaluate them to assess the company's global risk.

        And use enough buzzwords to make the tech implementer roll their eyes and mock you behind your back. . .
        • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @01:39PM (#18461093)
          And use enough buzzwords to make the tech implementer roll their eyes and mock you behind your back. . .

          It only sounds like buzzwords because you probably don't work with it. That's what we call quantified measurements, and those in operations management, finance, risk management, etc have to do that to really get at a problem. Otherwise we're practicing the behavior you're inferring by your comment: making totally subjective, qualitative guesses.

          A good piece of advice is not to mock someone for using language you don't understand, especially if it sounds like management speak. If you're going to represent more than one domain, you have to stop talking the geekspeak of your locale and be able to represent concepts in the dialect of the group you're working with. It does me no good to go rambling about GARCH models and problems with autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity in my time-series dataset, but that's ineffective and inappropriate.

          My job is to apply my expertise to find solutions for my clients, not to wow them with big terms. Nobody cares that you can talk fancy words in your area of expertise. They assume you know your stuff - that's why you're there to do the job. Whenever you work out of your locale, communicate in their language and you'll find you're much more effective.

    • the leaders who never have to prove themselves

      Wrong. All team leaders, or any kind of leader, has to answer to their superior(s). If they aren't delivering results, you can be certain they will face some sort of consequences. They have to prove their worth by what they produce.

      If the leaders you work with don't have to prove themselves, it's either because they are the owner of their own private company (with no shareholders to answer to) and/or they've paid their dues by showing proper discretion, t
    • I think they're all pretty damn hot

      A piece of advice from a happy worker: Don't worry so much about which field is "hot" and which is "not". Spend a little time figuring out what gives you joy. Before you make any grand plan to move toward a particular position, make sure it's something that's fun for you, because you're going to be spending the great majority of your waking hours doing it.

      It astounds me to find just how many managers actually hate dealing with people and have no desire or inclination to

  • I think it all depends on the person and what they like. I'm currently an IT Project Manager while dealing with managers and I can't stand it. My goal is to get another Sr. Systems Engineer/Manager position that entails working with various Operating System environments (Solaris, RH, Windows, etc.) while doing IT projects (rollouts, migrations, etc.).

    Again, you need to decide on what you feel is right. Obviously, money always come into play here, but it seems like you already have a wealth of informatio
    • Also, what's hot today is not tomorrow (or 2 years from now). Just do something you enjoy, instead of what it seems everybody wants, or you will be in the situation of changing fields every 2 years, and having lots of breadth, but no depth.
  • by cralewyth ( 934970 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:57AM (#18457139)
    I hear it's lovely over at tech support. You get to talk to n00bs all day and make them run around in circles because it's the "fixing ritual" and stuff.

    No seriously. BOFH is the field you're after.
    • "SCO server sysadmin" is also booming, I heard.
  • Too many variables (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:00AM (#18457167) Homepage
    What's hot in my area (washington metro)? security. And based on some of the crap being pushed on us, it takes very little experience or understanding of the system to force functionally useless requirements on us. (HSPD12, anyone?)

    You then also have to look at not just region, but industry -- informatics is becoming more significant in some industries, but not in others.

    Then there's issues with the size of the company -- specialization may be good for large companies with a massive IT workforce, but it's not desired in smaller companies with a small IT staff.

    From the sounds of things, you need to look into systems analysis -- and review your organization, and your network of contacts. What's good advice for one person is most likely not what's good for anyone else.
  • Wrong Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:01AM (#18457171)
    The right question is: "Which area of IT do you LOVE?"

    Almost all areas are 'hot', but that doesnt mean anything. The one that will STAY hot for you, is the one that you love enough to continue your education throughout your career, and dont just pick someting to do for a paycheck.

    If you love a particular area, your constant learning and improvement will lead you into related areas and keep you relevant throughout your career, you can move into consulting, writing and development within your chosen area and never miss a beat.

    Never chase a paycheck.

    • You are a steaming pile of bad advice.

      I don't think economics work the way you think they work.
    • Re:Wrong Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:27AM (#18457479)
      Listen to LibertineR, he knows what he's talking about! Always do what you love. You'll be passionate about it and you will do well. There are way too many people in IT because they they heard that there are a lot of good jobs available, rather than because it is their calling in life. Finding out what you love to do is easier said than done, but it is the secret to success. (and if what you love is money, then go into sales or start your own company - that's where the money is, not management)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        But I think the original poster made it clear (and if he didn't I will) that some of us are happy doing any of the technologies we are familliar with. I got my MS concentrating on computer graphics, but in my unique position at this company, I write tons of non-graphics related apps, DB programming, intranet website development...

        I could do any of these things and be happy. I'm one of those guys who would stay up all night when I was a teenager just playing with code on my Atari 400 with the membrane keyb
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lord Ender ( 156273 )

        Always do what you love.

        Oh, that must be why our economy is made entirely of astronauts! How does the view of Earth look from your space ship, Cytotoxic?

        Good advice would be: Among career options with good economic outlooks, pursue the one you like most. "Do what you love" is terrible advice unless you just happen to love something with good economic demand (this is EXTREMELY rare). Most people would rather be making music or playing sports or inspecting bikinis.

    • Re:Wrong Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @10:46AM (#18458535) Journal

      Sadly, no.

      I went into IT because I love programming.
      I evolved into Software Engineering because it made the programming easier.
      I learned how to design because you can't do SE without it.
      I became an architect because I had to design beyond my immediate system.
      I got frustrated by the shortsightedness of the people giving me projects and became an enteprise architect so that I could influence the broader picture.
      I expect to find I lack sufficient authority and move into IT director type roles to gain that ability to make the decisions I feel are necessary.

      I still love programming. I just couldn't take a programming job any more. I'd get too annoyed at the crap development processes, the poor design, the inadequate architecture, the incompetence of the business and the inability to change things at a high enough level.

      So find an area you love, yes. But expect it to change. Go with the flow. And remember the advice from Ferris : Stop and take a look around once in a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LibertineR ( 591918 )

        Look at your list, and it would appear that in each case, you let others influence you into doing something other than what you wanted to do.

        You love programming? Why the fuck are you not self-employed, so that YOU can decide what you do with your talents, instead of being trapped into making money for someone else by whoring out your time?

        I dont get you folks who allow yourselves to be ruled by others, when you have the ability to pick and choose what you do, AND WHO YOU DO IT FOR.

        Go with the

    • Unless your area goes away and the tech that replaces it turns you off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:04AM (#18457203)
    Any provided you live in India. Gotta love cheap phone support.
  • "Choose a job you like and you will never have to work a day of your life" - Confucius

    That's one of the better quotes out there. I've been in the Unix Sysadmin/Programming areas
    for 10 years now and while I haven't found it all easy going and wonderful, I DO like what
    I do, which is a huge advantage to quality of life in a career.

    Pick something from the areas you listed that you enjoyed and work at it. Don't be too
    concerned about "what's hot". If you have the fundamentals (such as a CS degree or equivalent ex
    • by l0rd ( 52169 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:12AM (#18457309)

      One thing I miss about the good old days when anyone who even looked at a computer was considered a nerd was that you didn't get these kinds of questions. The words IT & career in the same sentance just bring a foul taste to my mouth.

      Sure, if you just want to make a living IT is an industry that will probably always have a job for you. However if you aspire to become a master at something it has to be something you live & breathe. Just figure out what you like doing and roll with it.

      You like organizing people become a manager. You like helping people work at a helpdesk. You like figuring out how computers work get a job making device drivers. You like php become a web developer... You get the idea. Doing something just because it's hot is a sure recipie for disaster.
    • The market is hot now in a lot of fields. I do custom business software solutions, and anytime I'm on the market my phone is ringing non-stop and I'm doing multiple interviews each week. I have a bunch of buddies on the Support/Hardware/Networking side of the house too, and they're not slouching either. And I've never worked for an organization who couldn't use a technical writer or business systems analyst. Get a degree, get some hands on time in what ever field of IT you love, and you can go where ever yo
  • Cisco Voice (Score:5, Informative)

    by eggoeater ( 704775 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:05AM (#18457213) Journal
    One area that is rapidly growing is Cisco VOIP. I've been studying for my Cisco CCVP cert and it's more complicated than you might think. Most companies love the fact that they can use their existing network equipment (routers/switches) to replace all their PBXs/ACDs, not to mention free inter-network calling.

    I work for a large company and we're currently in the process of a ~5 year migration from all legacy PBXs to Cisco Call Manager. Many other companies are doing the same. Just about all new offices are built with either Cisco or Avaya VOIP systems, but most companies go with Cisco since you don't have to be concerned with compatibility. (eg. A high-end Cisco router is also your telephony gateway where the T1s are converted to VOIP.) As you can guess, this calls for some highly specialized skill sets (eg. Call Manager/ICM/IVR + Cisco Networking/IOS, etc.) which not a lot of people have. If you're certified, you will NOT have a problem finding a job.
    • We just recently outsourced our entire phone system to our phone company. Instead of maintaining Cisco call manager and the associated servers, we now have MPLS circuits at all our locations to our phone company. They interconnect our sites, and provide VOIP service with Polycom phones and Broadsoft's VOIP backend.

      It turned out to be cheaper to pay per-month, per-phone, than maintaining a huge infrastructure to support Cisco voice. We have to pay for voice service anyway, the small additional cost put ph
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:05AM (#18457219) Journal
    Seriously. Some of the worst jobs have great security and pay well. Look at COBOL programmers - it's probably better to say you're a piano player in a whorehouse than to admit you mind legacy COBOL installations, but I hear that they're pretty darned good jobs. The "coolest" jobs usually pay squat, have lousy hours, are highly competitive, and experience high burnout. (see: Elelctronic Arts).

    On the other hand, you can always pursue what you really love, and hope that you happen to get lucky and that your obscure interest is the Next Big Thing (TM). That's how the really great ones did it. Of course, if you did a better job selecting your parents (see: Paris Hilton), the career thing wouldn't really be an issue and you wouldn't be in this boat. So based on your track record, going with the chance part isn't such a good idea for you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xzqx ( 866110 )
      What's wrong with being a piano player in a whorehouse?
    • "On the other hand, you can always pursue what you really love, and hope that you happen to get lucky and that your obscure interest is the Next Big Thing (TM). That's how the really great ones did it."

      The problem is that the people who do that and spend the rest of their life struggling to pay the bills are the ones you never hear about. For every "great one" there are LOTS of never got great ones.
  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:05AM (#18457223)
    Today's "hot" career is tomorrow's outsourced to India dead-end job. Stop caring what's popular and focus on what you like doing the most. If you like doing all sorts of different things, then keep on doing that!
    • by radtea ( 464814 )
      "Virii" isn't a word, you frigging morons.

      Neither is "frigging".

      Good advice otherwise, though. What's hot today in IT will be tomorrow's dead end. If you do something you love, and it dies out, you may well be able to get a job for life maintaining the legacy code base in some dead technology. It's a pity there isn't more FORTRAN code still used outside of academia, because I'm still kinda partial to it.
  • Loaded question (Score:4, Informative)

    by t00le ( 136364 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:05AM (#18457225)
    I think the question is somewhat loaded, but I suppose everyone has a perspective. In my opinion VOIP and Network Security are hot career paths. I have been working with both (Cisco) over the course of the last five years and the market is very good for specialized Network geeks. When looking for marketability on the job boards VOIP/NetSec are paying more than my other skills.

    The one thing I do know for a fact is if you are diversified in a couple of "hot skills" your marketability goes through the roof. If you throw management experience along with that you can make some pretty hefty sums AND find a job you like.

    My .02
  • I think the easiest way to find the answer to this question is to go to some of the Job sites like Monster.com. From here you can narrow down your search to the fields that you have experience in and get an idea of the number of jobs available for each of these fields. I would expect the ones with the most job openings would be the "hottest" jobs.

    Of course you can also take a look at some of the analyst reports who survey IT Managers to see what areas they will be focusing on over the next few years.

    I gue
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      I would expect the ones with the most job openings would be the "hottest" jobs.

      Not as much as you'd think. A good portion of openings I've seen there are from headhunter agencies that put up phony jobs for clients that don't exist. This gives them a pool of resumes to boast to their own clients about.

      Out of all the career books I've read, Ask The Headhunter is the one that struck a chord with me. His take on Monster/Careerbuilder [asktheheadhunter.com], while old, still holds true.
  • Requisite warning about getting into something for reason other than love aside, UX is the Next Big Thing(TM): usability, HCI, interaction design, UX design, etc. There are a lot of disparate sub-disciplines, but the overall theme of the movement is to put the people who use your products first. In academia that sometimes translates to taking control away from the "evil developers," but most of the UX people I talk to know that multidisciplinaranism is really where it's at. Like any other successful fiel
  • AUDITING (Score:4, Funny)

    by kalpol ( 714519 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:16AM (#18457369)
    Oh yeah...I'm coming for all your asses.
  • My Faustian deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:24AM (#18457447)
    About ten years ago, I sold my soul to Microsoft and haven't regretted it yet. I work for a healthcare organization that's a Microsoft shop. I started as a database developer, switched to SQL Server administration, and have been a web developer ever since.

    I personally prefer development over administration. Being a database administrator was a lot like being a firefighter. There were long periods of boredom where everything was running smoothly, coupled with late night crisis modes with huge pressure to get critical systems running again.

    As a web developer, I get to do database work as well as creating web applications. I create a lot of things to make people's lives easier, some of whom are patients to our hospitals. It's interesting work and I get fairly generous praise heaped on me by coworkers and customers. The really crazy thing is that they pay me quite well to keep doing it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FlavorDave ( 109495 )
      I'm in healthcare IT too, its as close as I can get to blood without getting queasy.

      I was a developer for 10 years before I decided to work as a DBA exclusively. When I developed I was always the DB "go to guy" because it was always something that interested me. I wanted to make sure what I delivered performed well and the DB was a big part of that.

      I enjoyed software development immensely but I got tired of the death marches and feature creep. One of my CEO's was nicknamed "Two Week Pete" because after visi
  • by Dareth ( 47614 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:25AM (#18457453)
    I have the same problem. I am an IT Multi-tool. I am not the best tool for any particular job, but I may be the best and only tool you currently have for the job at hand.

    I have the following credentials:
    Degree in Computer Science - No I didn't learn everything I needed to know in college, but that paper opened a few doors.
    10+ years experience with computers in a networked environment.
    Experience using and troubleshooting computers ranging from DOS to Windows to Linux, with a sprinkle of Unix.
    Programming in C,C++,Java, VB and VBA
    Knowledge of HTML
    Experience in maintaining production servers for critical tasks.
    Experience with peer-to-peer networks, hundreds of nodes.
    Experience with Databases,MSSQL and MySQL know basic to moderate level SQL.
    Experiences with Apache and IIS.
    Command line scripting from DOS Batch to Linux Bash. ...
    Tons more things I have just "worked" with as needed.

    I have always been a "jack of all trades" in terms of computer work. Recently I have been specializing, not by choice, but by necessity in Phone and Data Networks. I have taken several weeks of training in ACD and Phone PBX systems. I have been setting up our phone ACD for about 2 years now. About to start working closer with the PBX hardware as well. It is an interesting niche.

    If you are just looking for the latest "hotness" in computers it is security. But that type of job could well leave you stressed out with gray or no hair and a coronary in your early 40-50's. I see too many green newbies fresh out of college all excited about security and their careers. I don't know if I should find them amusing or scary. I guess someone has to do that job.

    As for me, If I can keep learning and enjoying what I do, I couldn't ask for anything more.

    • If you are just looking for the latest "hotness" in computers it is security. But that type of job could well leave you stressed out with gray or no hair and a coronary in your early 40-50's.
      I know you were joking, but I just found my first gray hairs after a mere 1.5 years in the IT security field. Of course, I also have a 2-year-old at home, so that could be it as well.
  • "support; some networking; DBA; web development; project management; even working on the client side"

    These aren't fields. They're roles. They're roles that will always play a part in IT. As others have mentioned, you should focus on what you like. At the same time, don't become overly-specialized -- if you pigeonhole yourself, you risk your job security in the long run.

    Personally I'm a .NET enterprise software engineer, with solid proficiency in SQL Server 2000 and 2005 -- at a large company with a variety
    • "Be an engineer, know the technology, and desktop vs. web won't make a difference.

      It makes a difference to every HR person.
    • I have no idea of the quality of your work...

      But I am a web developer. I recently worked on a web project that was created by 'software engineers'. My client called them that..the 'engineers' called themselves that.

      They created the biggest steaming pile of crap web app I have ever seen in my life.

      Yes, the back-end worked fine. Not mind-blowingly-great, but fine.

      The front end (and the admin area) were both absolute crap. Their knowledge of HTML/CSS obviously came from some book that was at least 5 years
  • That none of your skills matter, only mine. ;)

    Actually, happiness is more important. Do whatever it is you enjoy doing the most. If you enjoy it you will be good at it. While I can program and enjoy it to an extent, I prefer what I do better and only program for short periods of time. (I revamp companies infrastructures for far less than consulting firms) What makes me happy is engineering more and better for less and it's why I do what I do. BTW, NO a white box {name your distro here} Linux server do
  • If you don't know what you want to do for a living, please stay out of management. Employees, especially employees with their own drive, hate working for a guy without direction.
  • Stupid question (Score:4, Informative)

    by __aahlyu4518 ( 74832 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:49AM (#18457739)
    Go with the job that you LIKE. Not what is the best for a career.

    A career in which you don't feel at home with will kill you before you get to retirement.
  • Based on job postings on various popular tech boards: 1. SAP 2. .NET 3. JAVA/J2EE Reports of every IT job in the US moving to India have been greatly exaggerated. Indian salaries have been experiencing double-digit growth over the last decade and are now reportedly 50% of US salaries for similar positions. I predict that in the next decade there will no longer be a compelling business case to offshore all but the largest development projects.
  • Hybrids are key (Score:2, Informative)

    by morglamb ( 1079269 )
    I'm manager of a couple of teams at top 5 bank, and my team is primarily responsible for data warehousing and ETL processing for the mutual fund division. Frankly, the best position in IT is the job that is not easy to acquire offshore, and pure IT is... I can find .NET or Java engineers both in the states or overseas; I can find sysadmins here or offshore; and while the requirements rigor is much higher for offshore resources in a development context, I can get it done cheaper, as unpopular as that may
    • I do agree that hybrids are key. People with business knowledge are the ones that get the solution right on the first or second attempt, even with incomplete specs. However, the same logic undermines the offshoring activity. Unless you have bullet-proof specs (I've never seen one in my career), offshoring will result in lower development costs but much longer development time. In most markets, the longer development time means lost business to an amount that clearly offsets the savings in developer paychec

  • The overall trend is MS either going the way of the dodo or bogging down the overall developement with the IT industry. Which boils down to the same.
    I'd avoid MS whereever possible nowadays. If you do stuff with MS then do it for data migration into open formats or something. Use OSS and you'll never learn stuff that's obsolete 4 years later - this actually is one of the big reasons to switch to Linux aswell. Aside from that do anything you like. Business programming/ERP, Web Stuff, RIA, Admin/Maintainance,
  • I just finished up a career move and have to say that where you're at matters a great deal in terms of "what's hot".

    For instance I was working as a developer for an advertising company doing PHP, Perl, Linux, Javascript, etc where I live now. When that job dried up I needed to find work in my area but 90% of what's going on in Baton Rouge is in the Microsoft environment. I couldn't find a job for quite a while because I didn't have 2+ years of Microsoft development.

    I got plenty of job offers out of st

  • IT/finance (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wilson777 ( 1079305 )
    Jobs in the finance side of IT are, and will, remain very strong. Jobs such as "quant developer" that combine strong IT skills with business knowledge will always be in demand from investment banks and other financial services companies. These roles involve C++ and VBA development plus quite good mathematical skills to be able to understand and implement the pricing models but if you have the skills you can get the money, one thousand pounds sterling per day in London at the moment if you're really good..
  • IT is extremely specialized. The list of skills you learn at one company probably won't be useful to another company. Also, IT is pretty much glutted, and getting worse.

    As an MBA level manager, you're not tied to any specific technology. And you're not just another java developer that they can replace with somebody from India. How often do you see an IT director's job being done by somebody overseas, or by an H1B?

    If you ever decided that IT was not for you, you could move into finance, or operations, or wha
  • I work for a IT cooperative in Washington state as a sysadmin. I make about $70K/year, and I thought that was pretty good. But then I took a look at the 'pay band' sheet and see that the payscale for DBA is nearly double what mine is. And Citrix engineers are always in high demand in the medical industry, or so I'm told.
  • And no, I don't mean an MBA. I think in the future a lot of IT is very closely integrated with the business processes of the organization and less of a separate IT department/entity. If you can be in that interface, understanding both and translating between them, you're golden and unlikely to be outsourced or offshored.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @11:11AM (#18458913)
    A lot of people disagree with me, but if you want to stay technical, chasing the latest specialty is not always the best way to go. If you really want to build a technical career that will last you through outsourcing, technology shifts, etc., then you need to have a broad background.

    Smart people will always find work. I've bounced all over the IT world...support, sysadmin, design and architecture, and it's really hard keeping your skills truly sharp. Someone who's truly valuable picks a few key areas to get really good at, and knows _something_ about the rest. If you're a network guru, learn a little about the machines you're connecting. If you're a systems genius, learn enough about databases to realize your DBA is BSing you. :-)

    Take the latest fads...SOA and security. You can learn everything about these two areas, but what happens to all that knowledge when it becomes a commodity? When the execs realize SOA is just a rehash of centralized computing with some XML and the web thrown in, where will you be? Keeping yourself open keeps you employed.

    I learned through a really tough experience that management was not for me 2 years ago. Technical people generally don't make good people-managers. It's not lack of social skills, but management is a completely different job. You will never touch a machine again. You will be in meetings, answering e-mails, making phone calls, and "separating the kindergarteners" when they get into conflicts. If you burn out on technology, then it's an excellent career path. Otherwise, don't let people convince you it's a good move. Rememeber all the bad bosses you have/had? Just like some people aren't suited for IT, they're not suited for managing either.

    One good overspecialization example I like to cite is OpenVMS system administrators. OpenVMS is still in active use, but it's really declining. Truth is, it's easier to write new applications to run on Linux/Windows Server than to pay for expert system administrators. One of the first IT jobs I had before moving on was VMS support. I don't know how DEC trained these guys, but they're some of the best, most vigilant admins I've ever seen. However, finding a paying job working with those systems is getting harder. I world love to have that kind of sysadmin in the Linux and Windows world I work in, but a lot of them are totally specialized and don't want to learn new systems.

    One other thing...outsourcing is here to stay. If you're a developer, become a crack genius developer so you can get the contract jobs rewriting outsourced code that doesn't work. If you're a procedural system admin, become an operations wizard that designs systems that don't randomly blow up. In short, truly earn your money!
  • IT jobs going begging at Oil & Oil service companies. Perhaps people havent forgotten the two decades of downsizing.
  • Security is pretty damn hot at the moment - however, having decided to switch career tracks, it's taken me six or seven years to get my salary back up to what I was earning in 1999-2000 as a web dev.) Now that I know my stuff and have a couple of big name employers on my CV, I could earn quite a lot more.) However there's a reason for that:
    • Security is hard, much harder than you think, because the obvious instant answers are usually impossible for political reasons.
    • Your main role in security is to give
  • IT employers are cherry-picking. If you don't already have 5 years experience in a specific area, it's not even worth considering.

    For example, let's suppose you want to go into project management, but you have no experience in PM. So you take some graduate classes, and get a few certs, and . . . nothing. Take a look at the job boards, there is no such thing as starting in new field - you must have expereince in that field. In fact, most tech have a landry list of skills, and you need experience in all of
  • As others have mentioned, you should choose what you like doing. Also personally I would stay away from "hot jobs" because you know what? Those are exactly the jobs all the other cattle will flock too because they are "hot", and you'll wind up with a 100 people applying for the same job. With a little luck you could try seeking out some little niche area where for whatever reason (most people don't know about it, it's not "sexy", whatever) the demand is always high even if the number of jobs in the area is
  • Or, is that just ready made convential wisdom, that doesn't really pan out in the real world?

    I've known people who have decided to make a living out of doing what they love - and hated it. Why? Because when you do what you love by your own rules, it's fun. When it's a job: everything is different, you can't do what *you* want. For example, if you do software developement as a job, you may find yourself being a "cog" tediously working on some tiny part of a giant system.

    Furthermore, most people love stuff th
  • First of all I will say that I have worked mostly in software development in my career, although I also have some UNIX system administration experience in my background. Because of that, this is focused mostly towards software development although some of it applies to other IT functions as well.

    Next I want to clarify my own personal definitions. I define Information Technology (IT) as the group that provides technical expertise to a company in order to support their business needs. For example, if you

  • My advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @11:59AM (#18459661) Homepage
    I've had a pretty successful career, totally by accident, so here is my advice.

    Do what you enjoy. That's it.

    Everyone I know in IT who really enjoys what they do (to the point where they would probably do it as a hobby for free if they were independently wealthy), ends up being successful. They are passionate and competent, likely not because they are inherently smarter than anyone else, just that they spend more time learning, experimenting, and playing around with the technology they like and work with.

    I also know people who picked their IT career (and decided to go into IT to begin with) based solely on the job market. Will I make more money with .net or Java? Are the more jobs available for an Oracle DBA or a Microsoft SQL DBA? If that is your primary consideration then you will probably be beaten out by the people who are passionate about their career choice and made it for other reasons. Honestly if you are really excited by databases (you sick bastard) then you should be interested in working with all of them and learning as much about both DB theory and the specific implementations as you can.

    There are jobs out there for everything. If there is something out there that really gets you excited go for it. If you learn quick, really throw yourself into it and know your stuff, you will find employment. It might be more lucrative in the short term to trend hop, but if all you are interested in is the possibility of making big bucks then you should forgo IT and go into something like hedge fund management.

    Me? I really dig identity management stuff. I've worked in academia with SAML, Kerberos, and PKI and in the corporate world with Oracle and Sun's IdM tools. A word of warning though: Find a field you enjoy, but do not get too hung up on a specific technology. I'm happy using my knowledge and experience in IdM to work with Infocard, SAML, PKI, LDAP, NIS, Xellerate, CoreID, Kerberos, AD, etc. I have my opinions as to what is best for what need, but I try to not be too much of a snob about it and limit my career that way. I've seen a lot of people go the "horse and buggy" way by latching on to a specific technology and refusing to let go when the world moved on.


"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell