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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful? 158

An anonymous reader writes "Here on Slashdot we sometimes see questions about how to get IT jobs while having little experience, changing from one specialty to another, or being (gasp) middle aged. And, we see comments that bemoan various aspects of IT work and express a desire to do something entirely different. This is what I'm wondering about, and I thought I'd put my questions to Ask Slashdot. Has anyone successfully applied their years of IT experience to other lines of work? Is the field that you moved on to entirely unrelated, or is there a more substantial link to your new (but clearly not IT) role?"
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

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  • It's all "tech"-ish (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:38AM (#47146189)
    Okay, since you asked nicely.

    I've been doing IT since I chose to become a programmer. As you can see, being a programmer didn't really happen, even though I had been programming and even went to school for it since I was a mere youth. Fast forward many millions of years later and I still manage some IT systems for a select group of high-end clients whom I know personally. That's a plus and it's easy work for me. This whole time that I've been doing IT I have been doing many other projects: building custom high-end servers and workstations; doing wordpress buildouts, and running some eCommerce sites on various platforms. Somehow this morphed into driving traffic and is changing into a lucrative business. I don't worry about where I will end up, so whatever I start digging my nails is where I go.

    It's all tech-ish somehow.
    • Supply Chain Management is a field that tends to be on the tech heavy side but unfortunately most people working in it do not have an CS/Programming background. Having that background would give you a leg up if you can get hired. There are some interesting problems in this field like linear optimization and forecasting to keep you busy.
      • Agreed. You can get very technical when discussing supply chain optimization/management. And parent is absolutely correct that there are many people out there poorly managing their supply chain because most of the work is very data driven, and the people cannot understand it all.

        Biggest issue is that many smaller companies take a short view and still consider these things "purchasing"... and after all, how hard is it to buy stuff? So they don't pay much for these roles. It's getting better.
      • Supply Chain Management is a field that tends to be on the tech heavy side but unfortunately most people working in it do not have an CS/Programming background. Having that background would give you a leg up if you can get hired. There are some interesting problems in this field like linear optimization and forecasting to keep you busy.

        Good to know. I'm going to study that at university from this September. I suppose I should get in some classes programming etc while I'm there. Thanks!

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          Good to know. I'm going to study that at university from this September. I suppose I should get in some classes programming etc while I'm there. Thanks!

          My wife is in Supply Chain Management as an analyst, and here are some of the ares of IT that she feels would help her do her job better (and once the kids are in school she may have time to work on them).

          Databases are by far the most important area of IT for someone working in SCM. Understand how database schemas work. Know basic optimization techniques; you probably won't need to implement it yourself but you may need to intelligently discuss this topic with your DBAs. Know the difference between OLAP and

          • Good to know. I'm going to study that at university from this September. I suppose I should get in some classes programming etc while I'm there. Thanks!

            My wife is in Supply Chain Management as an analyst, and here are some of the ares of IT that she feels would help her do her job better (and once the kids are in school she may have time to work on them).

            Databases are by far the most important area of IT for someone working in SCM. Understand how database schemas work. Know basic optimization techniques; you probably won't need to implement it yourself but you may need to intelligently discuss this topic with your DBAs. Know the difference between OLAP and OLTP (and not just the definitions).

            Simple programming knowledge will also help immensely. Sometimes you need to manipulate data in a way that your BI tools won't allow. The difference between an SCM analyst/planner that has full control over her data and one that doesn't is immense. You will often be fighting against intuitive solutions with data driven solutions, and usually that will be hard. So far my wife has had to rely on me when she needs something done and can't get developer resources assigned at work. Usually the result is a couple hours of work on my part to allow her to solve a problem that would have literally been impossible for a team of dozens without the use of custom code.

            Okay, so either "learn some coding skills" or "get with a programmer" and I'll be good. Hah! Seriously though, thanks for the heads up. I'll probably be erring on the "get with a programmer" side of things due to my background in logistics from my time in military, a career where IT skills were...non-existent generally.

            Though I did make a nice bit of cash on the side building and repairing PCs etc for people on the camp.

  • Drinking (Score:4, Funny)

    by what2123 ( 1116571 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:39AM (#47146193)
    Mostly campfire talk and bar speak. These skills always help me find a way to keep on talking while the drinks keep pouring.
  • professional resume consulting.
    • I was thinking of using all that analitical skill could be very useful in greeting customers in certain large stores that have a tendency to wipe out local economies, and use welfare and food stamps on their balance sheet.
  • None / Driving (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:42AM (#47146201) Journal

    Business skills are not actually applicable in business. Sure, like recognizes like, but that mostly applies in golf, accounting, and working on Cisco routers. Three completely separate skill sets. Once you are pigeon-holed as IT, there you will stay.

    You can move to marketing and run reports and websites. But don't try to be creative, because you are IT.
    Senior Management won't want you around, because IT are nerds.
    HR? Well, that's a career for paid liars, so maybe you could work there.
    Accounting? Get your CPA.
    Sales? No, because you are IT.

    Get it? Good. Now get a golf club and start making friends.

  • Whoredom (Score:5, Funny)

    by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:43AM (#47146203)

    1. Dealing with a wide array sockets and dongles.

    2. Freelancing more remunerative but far more risky.

    3. Constantly worrying about viruses and having to conduct frequent screenings.

    4. Coping with strange end-user requests.

    5. Getting fucked by clients AND bosses.

  • Automotive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:45AM (#47146213) Homepage Journal

    There's a waning supply of automotive technicians, especially as demand rises for electronics repair and so on. As EVs become more prevalent, and it looks like they finally will do that this time, these skills will only be in more demand. Preparation for the ASE exam on automotive electronics can be done at a trade school or sometimes through a six-unit course at a community college. If you know your way around computers in a big way, and know which end of a soldering iron is which, you'll find it a doddle.

    Granted, you'll still get your hands dirty, because all this electronic stuff still runs to and from grease pits at this point, but that's set to change. And meanwhile, it's some of the highest-billed automotive work. Generally speaking, only high-end performance, high-end body work (stainless, aluminum, metal finishing) or paint (whether custom paint or spot repair) can touch it, per-hour. You can get paid just to hook up a scanner and read out codes, at this point, mobile diagnosis is a business all on its own and it requires just a handful of stuff. If you want to do it non-hackishly you need a couple grand in scanners, but you can always work for a shop, or a dealer. Some body shops also have an electrical guy, but often that guy is also the A/C guy and that pretty much sucks. Compressor oil is hard on the skin.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      The only automotive service job that an IT guy might be able to do with no prior experience would be as the service manager. And that job usually goes to someone that worked their way up through being a mechanic, not a computer expert.

      Computers were my hobby until I made them my profession and then started disliking them. I spent a decade learning how to work on cars for my hobby, and it took a lot of effort to get to where I was any good, and that's with platforms that are fairly simple to work on, ie
      • Wow, you might want to rethink your view of IT professionals. We aren't all the stereotypical geek from Revenge of the Nerds anymore. In fact, more IT people that I know have "get your hands dirty" hobbies than salesman, managers, or others.

        And I doubt most IT professionals thought "what job can I do while being lazy and have heating/ac"... I figured out this was going to be my line of work before hitting high school.

        And not to doubt your experience, but many automotive jobs are not all that dirty a
        • I completely agree.

          2 weeks ago, I changed my oil (any tool can do that), changed my transmission fluid (not so easy anymore, requires diagnostics software, and not just a code reader, and some wrenching know how, at least on MB current models), Diagnosed secondary air injection failure (requires lots of mechanical know how, fix coming later when I get the parts), replacing AC blower (somewhat easy).

          Point being, most IT, assuming they are analytical in thinking, can easily transition to pretty much any job.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Whoopty doo you have a Mercedes. Thanks for finding a long winded way of telling us that.

        • I wish I had a hundred mod points, I would give em all to you! I have been in IT for about 25 years, I retire in about 10 more, and I plan to be a "mechanic" when I retire. I can work on cars all day and nearly not need to wash my hands to eat! The reason I got into working on cars is because they are a lot like computers. They have an issue, you figure out what it is, and fix it...and I don't require air conditioning/heat or feel sorry for myself if I have to lay under a car.
      • Re:Automotive (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rbrewrr ( 583450 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @11:04AM (#47146847)
        I don't know if I completely agree with this assessment. The mechanics that service our fleet of vehicles needs to be fairly familiar with a variety of computer systems. We use a web-based issue ticketing and tracking system and our more tech-savvy technicians provide valuable feedback to make that system better. Our Cummins, International, and other vendors for brake systems, air conditioning systems, and others use software combined with various leads and interfaces to access computer data. Our newest vehicles can report information back to our system wirelessly within our shops. Precious few of our mechanics are familiar with the systems enough to use them to their potential. One of our newest acquisitions is a Snap-On Verus, which is a WinXP based tablet with a variety of modules that interface with vehicle systems for troubleshooting. It is capable of not only gathering the symptoms, but also searches online databases for highest probability resolutions for those problems. Again, I'm not entirely sure I agree with your assessment, because you may be correct that a computer geek might not want to do this type of work, what I see in our shop is a transition from the mechanic work of my father's day (basic ODB-II scanner capable, but more at home with a dwell meter and basic timing light) to the modern mechanic who must know how to effectively search databases and extract data from complex electronic systems.
      • Sure, a computer geek can figure out how to use a CANBUS scanner, but will a computer geek be happy with busted knuckles, grease-filled lacerations, no cooling in the summer, no heat in the winter, caustic chemicals, etc?

        There is still a certain element of that, and as I alluded, not everyone wants dirty hands. But there's less of that than ever before, and virtually everyone these days is working in a shop with at least heating, if not A/C. And the electronics guy rarely has to actually do any serious wrenching, although sometimes you will have to remove a bumper or something. These days, that's usually hilariously easy.

        • ... sometimes you will have to remove a bumper or something. These days, that's usually hilariously easy.

          Not to say removing a bumper is hard, but I'd wager it is more involved now than in the past.

          • Not to say removing a bumper is hard, but I'd wager it is more involved now than in the past.

            That depends on how far into the past you go. A lot of cars have been made more modular in more recent years, so it's actually easier. Two bolts on my A8, four bolts on my F-250 :)

    • As a new(ish) owner of an EV, I fear I agree. All of the problems I've had are the results of firmware - and that takes an excessively long time for my dealer to fix.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They already know how to dispense the fertilizer.
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:47AM (#47146237)
    Jumping out of IT is difficult, but not impossible. One way to do it while still staying on 'technical' track is to jump into Information Assurance field. Most direct jump is to do network security audits, penetration testing, or security certification.
    • I'm curious exactly how narrow field such as infosec, like pen testing and software audits is not IT. How is that different from say, webdesign?

      Sure, there are the usual drones who just preach the common sense policies and oversee that things are by the book (FIPS/ISO). Social engineering is the most common vector after all, but even they need some fairly deep comprehesion of what goes on. Calling it field separate from IT sounds unrealistic, at least for now - the market is too new, basically kindergart
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        I'm curious exactly how narrow field such as infosec, like pen testing and software audits is not IT.

        You may be mistaken. Information assurance is fundamentally a management discipline that requires some technical knowledge.

        Auditing is an independent review engaged by risk managers in order to help reduce errors and ensure systems and people are adhering to policies developed by the information assurance teams in collaboration with other management and all stakeholders.

        Within an integrated organizat

  • everywhere (Score:3, Interesting)

    by St├ęphane V ( 3594053 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:53AM (#47146289) Homepage
    one of the basic IT Skills is ... "Troubleshooting". Yup that basic 101 skill that is used by every IT person that I know MUST know how to troubleshoot. You know by the amount of time the skills of a person when he applies is IT skills at work with troubleshooting. Someone who could of resolved a matter in minutes and does it in an hour, you know he needs lots of training. This troubleshooting skill can be applied in almost every field that requires some thinking.
    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      I recommend family medicine. Every time I talk to my doctor, I have flashbacks to moments when I'm trying to get a user to convey the symptoms and problems (and any recent changes to the system) to me. It's really a very similar process.

      Down side is unless you want to get arrested, you're going to have to spend 6 years in med school to be able to do this legally.

  • Finance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:56AM (#47146305)

    Not that is a major career switch because I only had two years in IT, but I have been working in Finance for 7 years now after going to school, but not finishing, for electrical engineering.

    I actually landed the finance job by selling my technical aptitude. You'd be amazed at the kind of elementary mistakes people make in other fields just because they don't know how to properly operate a computer, and how they can get hung up on the most menial tasks because they are scared of the system in front of them. It took a while to learn the finance side of things, but once I got rolling, I was able to double or triple the productivity of others with lower error rates. Add on to this that someone from IT understands enough to automate menial tasks, and you have a recipe for efficiency and process improvement. A lot of finance is simply getting the data into custom forms or formats for transmittal to the next or from the previous step, with 1 or 2 points where human intervention or review is required. The career change has worked out well for me.

    It also helps to be able to liason between departments. I noticed that in meetings between IT and Finance managers, sometimes there's a 'language barrier.' You get rewarded nicely to solve these miscommunication issues before they show up at the end of a development project.

    • I think this is the first constructive post to this entire story so far.

      Anyways, I was wondering if you were really on the finance side, or still more of an "IT guy who isn't totally clueless"? Do you decide whether deals are going to happen? Do you get a bonus at the end of the year that is based on something closely connected to your own work, that could conceivable make you rich overnight if you landed a whale? Or am I just totally off the mark about what finance really is in the first place?

      • Re:Finance (Score:4, Informative)

        by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @11:25AM (#47146985)

        You're completely off the mark and are thinking of sales and contracts, not finance. Finance from a company that sells a product or offers a service usually has a few key parts: Billing, Accounts Receivables, Collections, Accounts Payables, Accounting, Treasury, and Payroll ( which is sometimes tied to HR) are the big ones with others in tow.

        Ever wonder how your 401k and other deductions get credited every week and all those corresponding companies, including your taxes, get paid to various entities? Payroll and HR does that. Ever wonder who figured out those line items on your bills? Billing does that. Ever wonder how a company funds all of their rent/electricity/payroll/operations on time without sitting on a massive wad of wasted cash but not overdrafting? Treasury does that, AP pays it. Ever wonder how they keep track of all that shit and make sure the right stuff is getting done, nothing more or nothing less? Accounting does that. There's a lot of background stuff that has to get done to keep all this working in a big company.

        In my case, I started as what would usually be considered AP, but we had to figure out our own bills based on operational data and pay them with the backup for said bills. Lots of data sources, lots of reporting requirements, lots of special nuances in reporting, so hard to automate but useful to understand how to work with data. Now I'm doing something similar, but with payroll data instead of operations data.

    • This is the correct answer. If you help the Finance team reduce cost you're their best friend.
      Automate some processes and remove 5 or 6 hours from the Month End Closeout and you have people who will always have your back.

      Always, always make sure your report balances back to the Finance team's number.
  • by gordonb ( 720772 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @09:57AM (#47146319)
    Over 50% of practices have moved to electronic medical records. Most doctors (all?) are woefully unprepared to administer their networks. Some run servers and host their own EMR; many are moving to hosted "cloud-based" EMRs. There are an increasing number of regulatory burdens such as HIPAA, meaningful use, etc. It's a growth industry.

    There are quite a number of freelance consultants and IT providers. You can provide sales, installation, support at the local level or partner with a vendor. Or, work in a large hospital or clinic system.
  • They can't afford real CEO's. They can't afford real tech people. They need smart, analytically minded people that can perform a bunch of tasks. IT people are already well versed in begging for money, so you have that base covered.

    • God no, stay away.

      Many non-profits are hobbies for bored rich housewives who fancy themselves executives. Provides a nice deduction for their husband and his friends. Fund the wives' hobbies and keep them from fucking their tennis/yoga instructors.

      The idea of non-profits is nice; the reality not so much. Can you say 'petty tyrant'? I knew you could.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:00AM (#47146333) Homepage Journal

    You can graduate from any IT field into IT Project Management if that's your bag. Just get the latest (ALWAYS the latest) PMBOK, some supplemental material (Tres Roeder's book, for example), and take a course and a test.

    Your experience may lend itself to risk management, especially if you did computer security. Infosec doesn't automatically make you good at risk management, but it does give you a lot of functional knowledge. Grab a Project Management Practice Standard for Project Risk Management, grab some books about Operational Risk Management, do some other studies. It's not about eliminating risk, but rather analyzing and understanding risk. You apply your risk appetite to risk, then decide which risks to accept and which to mitigate or reject entirely, and how to do so.

    Both of these benefit from knowing something about your subject matter. A good PM can run a project on anything; but a good PM also knows he's much more effective running a project centered around subject matter he's personally familiar with. Likewise, risk management is much easier when you can understand the shit you're trying to analyze, along with why certain actions are risky.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is more to it than that...you actually have to have 5+years of actual PM experience, not IT guy working on a Project experience. I was a Project Manager, Program Manager, and Portfolio Manager for 8 years but couldn't prove PM experience for one of the 5 required years as the company went bankrupt and my "reporting manager" had since died. I was denied a PMP.

      With that said, I make far more than most PMs as an IT Consultant and have no shortage of work.

  • Stage tech (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:02AM (#47146343) Homepage

    I started with doing stage crew as a hobby, but I've also done it professionally and found that there's a significant overlap with IT, especially in smaller houses where the whole stage system may need to be rebuilt for each production.

    If you're old enough to remember the old bus-tobology networks, you already know enough to rig DMX lights. If newer networks are your thing, you can probably set up a cat5e-based audio network easily enough. If you're more comfortable with object-oriented design, passing data between objects apply well-defined functions based on their internal state, then the processing chains in the audio rack will be easy for you to manage.

    The most important skill in IT is the ability to keep track of many pathways and failure modes. It turns out that's also a useful skill when you're trying to figure out which parts of your 500-component stage are misbehaving.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Even older setups, MIDI triggers and wiring keyboards and synths to fire off effects come to mind. Troubleshooting is key, and the one iron-clad skill you learn in IT is how to find, isolate, and maybe even solve a problem, especially things like intermittent ground loops.

  • I made the jump, at 40-something, from IT to an engineer with that-cable-company, where I now get to play with thousands of Linux boxes, and never, ever have to get viruses off someone's damn laptop after they surfed too many pr0n sites. And, while my company has a not-exactly-sterling reputation from outside, inside, it's surprisingly fun: management really *does* "get" technology, and is doing its best to both back it and see it forward.

    Bottom line: still a stressful environment with on-call, etc., but in many respects, a lot more fun.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:04AM (#47146363)

    there is always some new product coming out where you can make a lot of money selling it to sucker PHB's

    get out of IT and get a sales job and use your skills to talk some technical nonsense to PHB's in a conference room to sell them on some software or some appliance or other

    only problem is that today's money maker will be tomorrow's commodity crap so you always have to find new work with new companies as new products are released

    • This is both ethical and even moral provided you are OK with getting suckered.

      Reminder: PHB's (even annoying ones) are also people.

      Note: I am a SW dev and not a PHB.
  • by Kingkaid ( 2751527 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:04AM (#47146365)
    I moved from IT into business development and now product management. My ability to use a computer and know the underpinnings of systems allows me to translate how it should work for everyone else has proven to be exceedingly valuable. It is nice to be able to talk to the IT department, speak their language and understand how/why they have concerns, and translate those into something the bosses on the business end can understand. It puts you in a really neat role, bridging the gaps between fields. It can also provide huge value to a company as it stops them from developing stupid crap, or taking approaches to development that minimize errors or redundancy. This of course assumes that you can speak to people and can understand the more business-side of things.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Kind of "mid-range" IT skills can be useful in almost any job (like programming your own tools and having enough knowledge to not require waiting helpdesk to do every little thing for you). "High-end range" not so much (like being able to configure SAN or understanding the inner workings of Struts).

    However, there is one field where IT skills and background is very useful: Selling those things. There is a catch of course: A big portion of those who have IT skills/background do not want to be salesmen. But if

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:20AM (#47146487)

      I tried my hand at sales once at one company... started telling prospective customers where the product is weak at and where they are going to have to throw man hours in order to get it working. Told them also where the advantage was for spending $BIGNUM for purchasing the product. Also told them the first three support calls they will be making when they start implementing.

      Turns out, I gave them the only straight answer of any of the companies they were looking at... and they made the purchase... then found out that IT people didn't get commissions...

    • I've certainly found this to be true in my experience being self-employed. Customers would buy whatever I recommended because my recommendations were clearly based on significant technical knowledge. Of course it was also important that at times I would advise them NOT to buy product X from my company. If the product wasn't a good fit, I'd definitely let them know. Sometimes I'd suggest that they add a calendar entry nine months later, to see if their business was ready for the product at a later date, bec

  • I've never made the transition myself, but I've seen others do it. You need a new profession that works closely with your current one, so you can be "The guy who knows how to talk to the techies". There are quite a few roles that can act as the buffer between management/customers and IT. It depends on where you currently work, but I've seen people do this with both Project Management and Business Analysis. If your boss is open to the idea of you filling one of these roles on a few projects, you can get
  • Depends on what you did in IT. That is such a broad range that it's hard to say specifically.

    If you were a business logic programmer, or some type of "analysts", or even just a tech that had to deal with business apps, you might look in the manufacturing industry. They are very numbers driven. Engineering documents, specs, CNC programming, etc. There is also capacity planning, scheduling, forecasting and other areas that are all very numbers driven. If you have SQL experience, especially in a tradit
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was a salaried programmer until schizophrenia, hospitilsation and institutionalisation set in.

    Fortunately I'm in England so I'm looked after by the NHS and Social Services.

    So these days I help out (as a volunteer) at a mental health charity. I provide technical support, tuition. run a self-help group for those experiencing auditory hallucinations, make hot drinks etc. I'm still studying programming because all the above leave me with time on my hands.

  • In addition to Auditing which was mentioned earlier, Accounting and Finance in modern organisations is currently organized as a large database. There is always an incentive in every organization to be more productive with less human resources and encouragement to leverage IT technologies. Knowing basic principles of Boolean logic, ability to write an excel formula, understanding indexing will put you among top 10% performers within technical knowledge criteria. This, also, also opens pathways to the manage
  • Most (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:11AM (#47146423) Homepage

    Most occupations make use of the computer.

    It is incredible how horribly bad everyone is at using computers when they are so ubiquitous and necessary.

    • Ever been at a company that has a mandatory training course on computer operation? No? Well that's why. Hiring support personnel to cover user ignorance is like sweeping the problem under the rug, but it's a hell of a lot easier I'll give them that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Consider K-12 teaching. I did it for a while and am still on a mailing list of tech-heavy people in classrooms.

    It's not an easy road at all. Low pay, horrible politics, etc. In many places, if you know tech at all, you'll be "the tech guy" for the school PLUS teaching 6 classes. But, in some states, you don't have to go through a full teacher-ed program if you have a STEM degree and can pass the PRAXIS tests and a background check. Kids can be awful, but a lot of them will grow to respect you (more tha

  • PSIM, Physical Security Information Management. Per Wiki: Physical security information management (PSIM) is a category of software that provides a platform and applications created by middleware developers, designed to integrate multiple unconnected security applications and devices and control them through one comprehensive user interface. It collects and correlates events from existing disparate security devices and information systems (video, access control, sensors, analytics, networks, building sys
  • Both these are becoming more and more about the computers that actually do the work and the production people have NO idea how to get the most out of their equipment. Even the engineering staff (that's Me), frequently has problems with networking and programming for various background functions.
  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:14AM (#47146449) Homepage

    I know it sounds strange, but there are a lot of skills that overlap:

    • trying to think about problems that might arise before they actually do
    • making sure that the stuff planned can actually get done in a reasonable amount of time
    • dealing with conflicting goals from different stakeholders
    • doing research to teach yourself strange concepts in only a week or two

    I wouldn't recommend it as a career, though. I did 6 months as a town commissioner (while working full time) before I needed to take some time off.

  • by matbury ( 3458347 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:16AM (#47146469) Homepage

    IT's encroaching on so many people's jobs these days. A lot of people need to learn to integrate IT into the regular jobs, e.g. customer relationship management, sales and PR, teaching, and training. These jobs tend to attract personality types that aren't good at figuring out how to use machines and tech. If you've got the necessary interpersonal skills and can handle working with groups of people who'll often try your patience (think of those wierd, non-sensical, and insistent end-user and client requests you get), you could try training people to use IT.
    I recommend getting some training and experience in learning and teaching theory and practice first though. Teaching and training ain't rocket science, it's more complex, however, most attempts at teaching are successful to a certain extent, especially if their teacher is personable, kind, helpful, patient, and listens carefully.

  • by rvw ( 755107 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:17AM (#47146471)

    I'm considering this as well. I think it depends on your personal skills. The past ten years I've been many times in a situation where nobody else could help me out with a particular problem (programming, sysadmin etc). The only help I got was from online resources, and to use those effectively I developed the skill to write good questions, to do basic research before asking, and to write everything out that I had tried, so people helping me wouldn't waste their time.

    I can listen, explain stuff in a simple way (which is not always simple to do), and I think these skills can be useful in very different situations. The only catch: how to find such a job?! Tips are welcome! (Netherlands, Europe)

    • Sounds like you could try technical writing, if your writing skills would be good enough. That would be the killer for me.

      I also interviewed for a job that was called "Business Technical Liaison" or something similar. I didn't get the job because I was not strong enough on the business side back then. I would nail that interview now. Basically you explained "business stuff" to IT and IT to "the business people". You translated requirements and such, helped with training, and such. It sounded like a
      • A former coworker got a job like this - he had a hobby background in computers and programming (this was early 90s), but his "real job" was in medicine (X-ray tech/CT scan guy). He got a job at Medical Manager translating between the geeks and the doctors

  • That depends on you. If you're having trouble applying your skills to things outside of programming then you likely should stick to programming. I can do anything. I could walk into whatever your business is and start doing something valuable almost immediately. My only concern when applying for a new job is the culture of the people I'll be working with. If I can get along with my co-workers and the management bureaucracy isn't too frustrating I'll do well. If it's a shop full of self aggrandizing jerks or

  • Actually, IT skills are entirely useless in any kind of an apocalypse, unless other people with other skills manage to restore power.

  • I went from being a developer & manager of 10+ years back to graduate school for public health and social psychology. In my work then and now I was able to use my skills to design and build tools that would vastly increase the efficiency and rigor of the research projects I was involved with.

    School was free as I landed an assistantship. Pay cut was a pain - only earned 25k/year + free tuition - but between savings and doing some consulting I was able to make it through without too much hardship. I was a

    1. Sales Engineer
    2. Repair Shops
    3. Consulting
    4. Anything you can find that utilizes logical think and workflow... good luck with that
  • Librarian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:25AM (#47146529) Homepage

    In larger libraries, there's often someone with the title of 'systems librarian. It might be the person who just configures the software packages that the library uses, but it's often someone with a bit of IT skills.

    It might be an IT person who slowly picks up the librarian issues (and some will go and get a library degree if at an academic library), or it's a library person with a bit of IT skills.

    If you're one of these people, and aren't already on the code4lib mailing list [code4lib.org], I highly recommend it. (although be warned, occassionally threads get out of control).

    You can also check the code4lib jobs board [code4lib.org] for what sort of skills libraries are looking for.

  • Having an IT Background whilst doing PR and marketing can be great, if you are able to handle the discrepancy between talk and knowledge by most of your collegues and customers. Being the only guy in a crew of 25 that has done web development and knows versioning and *nix CLI stuff and can help writing usecases that are actually implementable in the given timeframe and budget and helping agency folks actually organize their work can be quite rewarding. And the pay is nice too.

    Doing wordpress plugin hacks is actually quite bearable, as long as people don't expect you to do it every day all day and also give you other assignment, such as requirements analysis and such.

    I'm doing that type of work right now and it feels good. I can deliver value, the team is glad to have me and I get to learn new trends and technologies as part of my job. Customer politics can be quite anyoing though, but that's what PMs and Bosses are for. :-)

    My 2 cents.

  • google is trying to dominate all internet new supports.
  • Direct application to IT skills outside IT is going to be tough.

    However if you have studied math in depth as part of your education you have a tool that with some additional schooling you can open a lot of doors.

  • by bytethese ( 1372715 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:33AM (#47146613)
    Sure I went back, finished my undergrad degree, got my masters in Forensic Computing but my 10+ years experience in IT definitely helps.
    "We have these weird files, do you know what they are?"
    "Oh that's from the same type of document management system this company I worked at uses."

    "Oh Lotus Notes, does any one have experience with this?"
    "Why yes I do."

    Those are some small examples but registry locations, locations of where OS's and Applications keep their files, etc directly translates into useful info in Forensics/Security. We even had someone join my last company as an Associate (sort of entry level) that worked IT for 15yrs, no formal Forensics/Security training, but after a while, he was doing quite well. I think it'd be important to tailor your resume to show you know some of the requisite info and bring it home in an interview.
  • I am a Controls Department Manager. Controls Engineering is that discipline that programs the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Distributed Controls Systems (DCS) that talk to all of the instrumentation in an industrial plants.

    Our Operator Interfaces are typically Windows boxes, or vendor specific OS and are tied to a LAN so they can talk to the controls systems. In addition, we are starting to get more and more I/O that is Ethernet I/O (plug in an e-net cable and talk to it that way).

    Add to the f

  • All companies are Information companies now. Any job that you can get will require some minimal knowledge of how to use a computer.

  • Well.. Nowdays I think people having less skills applying more in IT. IT is not just developing android java or any other networking job.. From the Data Entry jobs to a developer in Apple computers . All requires computer skills.
  • It is something I have wondered about myself. I know quite a few people who have left their career in IT behind in order to work as builders or decorators, of all things, and I begin to see why: It is a reasonably high-skilled profession, but not really difficult. You just have to be able to use tools, understand complex systems and be able to learn and follow rules. Having worked in IT means that you probably have a systematic engineering approach to solving problems, so you are already half-ways there. An

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Monday June 02, 2014 @11:06AM (#47146849)

    The first thing you should probably do is an honest skills assessment. What are you good at? What are you not so good at? What do you enjoy or not enjoy doing? Most of the IT people I know tend to be more on the analytical side, good at problem solving, meticulous, etc. If it's just programming that you don't want to do then you could maybe try your hand at IT Security, Systems Administration, maybe even teaching if you want to show others how to do what you no longer want to do :-)

    If you are comfortable taking a leadership role, can talk in front of large groups and are a bit more outgoing then you might be good at IT Sales, Project Management or Technical Management.

    On the topic of introvert vs. extrovert: if you are an extrovert you're going to have more options. It's that simple. Extroverts are generally seen as being better "management material", mainly because other managers tend to be like that. And they like to hang out with people that are like them. Nearly every Sales person I have met has been an extrovert - many of them annoyingly so.

    Being an introvert doesn't mean that you can't do these jobs. Just know that the vast majority of your peers are going to lean towards the extroverted side. Most importantly, if you're an introvert don't try to pretend that you're an extrovert. In the end, you'll be unhappy. Embrace who you are and find something you enjoy doing. That's the most important thing.

  • Holding the entire process in one's head, visualizing a change and then back inferring what that change implies you should do right now in the middle of that process. Both being a chef and being in IT require this skill.
  • I volunteer at a non-profit 1x/wk, and they struggle with technology. They have a full time "CIO" on staff, but I don't think he really knows what he's doing, and basically manages a few contracts for their website, a file server, network management, and he spends the rest of his time driving social media. The rest of the staff (about 25) come to me for help anything and everything, and I'm only there 4 hours a week.

    I'm to the point where I don't really enjoy the cube life and program management, I wouldn

  • My first "real job" was as an artist for a newspaper (even though my degree is in IT, I also do graphic & web design). Because of my IT degree, though, I was the backup for the IT person should he go on vacation/sick leave. Eventually, I became the systems manager there.

    Years later, after working for a failed dot com and getting back into the trenches as a newspaper geek doing production work, my IT experience gave me a leg up in doing a lot of troubleshooting/automation, and I was also able to suggest

  • Most offices need a "go to guy" for IT issues. If you can "be that guy" it makes you much more employable.

    Also, in you social clubs, religious organizations, etc. if you are known as the "IT guy" people can call when the church computer goes on the fritz, it can help you with networking for your next paid job or your next freelance gig.

  • Owning a pub or a restaraunt means you have systems like Micros and Aloha as your Point of Sale machines. Losing these during a night when you're expected to process $7,000 an hour in credit card transactions is basically game over. getting your PoS hacked means a sizeable number of regular customers will never, ever return. Working on the 1:8 rule (1 bad experience translates to 8 bad stories) you'll take an identifiable hit that might cost you a new draught line or a much needed walk-in freezer repair.
    • Owning a pub or a restaraunt means you have systems like Micros and Aloha as your Point of Sale machines. Losing these during a night when you're expected to process $7,000 an hour in credit card transactions is basically game over.

      It's basically time to whip out a cellphone with a square reader or similar. I mean, what year is it? Also, Micros is pure, concentrated evil. Hasn't anyone come up with a POS that isn't a complete POS, yet?

  • I mean, duh. And someone who already knows computers who is learning how to program is invariably going to be more competent than those morons taking "Learn X in Y weeks" courses with dollar signs in their eyes.

  • After all, working with computers, you're already used to dealing with other people's shit.

  • You never know where your career will take you. My cousin trained for IT, got a job doing programming for the IT accounting department of a rather large bakery firm here in Canada, and in 2-3 years was managing projects. From there he shifted to managing the department, which mean he now had both accounting and IT people reporting to him. Fast forward another 20 years and he's the director of the finance department, and hasn't touched a keyboard in over 15 years for anything other than email.

  • Suggestions from the c2-dot-com wiki (AlternativeJobsForProgrammers):

    Technology Related:

    - ProjectManager
    - ChiefArchitect / TechnicalLead
    - development team coach
    - DBA
    - TechnicalWriter or TechnicalEditor?
    - consultant
    - teacher/trainer
    - OpenSourceDeveloper
    - marketing (of software or development tools)
    - test engineer
    - system/network/web/database administration
    - CTO/technologist/IT manager
    - hardware designer
    - technical recruiter
    - technical/sales support
    - web site de

  • by Anonymous Coward

    c/c++ for 10 years then back to school for veterinary medicine

    • I work as a lab tech in a veterinary clinical pharmacology lab, and I can see what you mean.

      Personally, I spend a large portion of my time working on our pharmacology database. One of my favorite projects was using VBA to make MS Access fax results to our clients. Other projects include generating lists of samples and the tests they need to run, as well as scripts to integrate chromatograms.
  • Craft brewing increasingly has IT bits and gadgets in it -- from tracking and delivery systems to cell counters (and even PCR widgets in larger breweries) to controllers on the brewing equipment (solenoids and the like), often controlled through what looks suspiciously like cheap Android tablets.

    I don't know if you could make a living out of solely implementing an IT infrastructures at small breweries (seriously, I know of lots that get into trouble with the feds over poor record keeping), but it's somethin

  • Recipes require technical skill to follow. Words matter. Mincing is different than chopping. Internal temperatures, resting, and precise amounts are all very familiar concepts. Recipes are documentation. Anyone who can't cook simply can't figure out how to follow very precise directions in-sequence.

    In my kitchen, I re-write/re-format recipes into documentation -- I lay things out in a manner consistent with technical writing, which makes things oh so much easier and faster to follow. None of these lon

  • I can do pretty much everyone's job better than them at my entire company just on the basis of typing speed, internet information lookup speed, and MS Office proficiency. So you can basically get any job. I'm insisting to my HR department only hire people with moderate to advanced computer skills because we've hired some real winners that don't even have a computer at home. I am not kidding when I say they are incapable of doing their job because of it.

    My #1 suggestion is importing computer parts from
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@@@yahoo...com> on Monday June 02, 2014 @05:56PM (#47150103) Homepage Journal

    Ha! Fooled you! I never post short answers!

    Seriously, I have used IT skills in archaeology. You are basically examining a system where some components are black-box and some are white-box, where you have fragments of state information at given points in time, a library of studies into systems containing similar components, and another library of studies into system dynamics.

    Archaeologists trained only in archaeology have only recently started to grasp the importance of systems analysis and reverse engineering. They are still not too clued-up on how to perform rigorous testing of black-box environments, which is why most of them view the subject as a pure humanity and haven't quite figured out that pure humanities don't actually exist.

    They are also not very good at understanding how to store, retrieve or correctly associate vast amounts of information. A rather essential skill, one might think, when you can be gathering hundreds - sometimes thousands - of fragments in a relatively small area. It's why reassembled objects tend to be rare, even though pieces that fit together are a lot more common. The data is incompletely collected or never examined for patterns.

    I do not recommend barging in and telling them how to do their job. Even though sometimes I wish someone would. Not Invented Here Syndrome and the usual evil of Office Politics applies just as much to the Mediocre Outdoors as to the Even More Mediocre Indoors.

    On the other hand, applying the skills, making the necessary observations, making the necessary records, installing a database with just a tad more oomph than Microsoft Access (though leave the basic card entry screen) - that will help you not miss the blindingly obvious.

    Hardware Engineer? Pffft! It is not that complex to convert the Open Source hardware spectrometer into an Open Source hardware thermoluminescence ceramic dating device. Might not be as good as the high-end commercial rigs, but high-end commercial rigs are very expensive to buy time on and archaeologists don't have the cash to even afford a decent hat and bull whip any more. But if you can, through decent approximation, show that there's something interesting going on, cash will materialize.

    Please bear in mind, though, that although it's not complex to do the conversion, it's not hard to screw it up either. Do test things and do use a better camera than the one the prefab kit comes with.

  • Fiction. Although I primarily write science fiction, I've also dabbled in fantasy, horror, paranormal, and all manner of genres over the years. Sure, my sci-fi series has a sentient robot as an antagonist and my IT knowledge has been invaluable, but even in the paranormal and horror genres I can usually wiggle something in. "Approximate knowledge of many things" is by far the most useful skill for a writer to have, but it also helps to have a specailisation too.

  • After ~20 years working in every area of IT, for a number of reasons I've recently transitioned over to "Online Content Developer" as a career track.

    I'm just starting a new job with a major supplier of accounting / tax software. Most of the reason I was hired was my IT background, since a big part of my job will be helping manage the flow of information (internally and, eventually, to the public) from the tech support and consulting departments to other areas of the company.

    In this new role, I use some of

    • by bscott ( 460706 )

      By the way - the coolest thing about transitioning OUT of IT is that when the office network goes down, it's neither your fault nor your problem... you get to hang around the coffee machine and complain with everyone else!

      I don't tell most of my coworkers about my background. If they know you can fix computers... well, it's like owning a pickup truck, and everyone asks you to help them move!

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson