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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.
  • Automotive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 [], I highly recommend it. (although be warned, occassionally threads get out of control).

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

  • 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.

"I'll rob that rich person and give it to some poor deserving slob. That will *prove* I'm Robin Hood." -- Daffy Duck, Looney Tunes, _Robin Hood Daffy_