Anyone successfully leave IT and start a new career?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Colin Dunn, Aug 22, 2003.

  1. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    With all the threads floating around here about the lousy employment situation in IT, I'd like to hear some stories from people who successfully transitioned OUT of the IT industry and into other jobs that pay a decent living. Right now I'm faced with a decision of whether to spend a lot of time/money training on a new technical specialization in IT, or spend that time/money getting into a new growing field where there will be opportunities. Based on what I have seen, the latter looks more promising.

    I must do things right this time. Working full-time and going to school full-time in the evenings nearly destroyed my health in the past. And for that I got a career that lasted less than 10 years before the industry fell apart. I don't think my body can take the stress of years and years more of 60-hour weeks (between school & work). So either I need to find a way to go to school on a full-ride scholarship, or retrain in something that will take less than 1-2 years of evening coursework.

    Though I've worked in IT (network administration) for almost the last nine years, I think it's time to move on. If the place where I am working falls apart, the best-case scenario would be: unemployed for over a year, followed by a job paying less than half of what I make today. With IT jobs being shipped overseas by the boatload, IT will join manufacturing as something that just isn't done in the USA anymore. That's NOT what I consider to be a promising future... [​IMG]

    Due to my introverted personality type, I am definitely more of an analytical/ideas/problem-solving person than a sales/schmoozing type person. So I need to stay away from sales/customer-service jobs and find jobs that rely on thinking/brain power.

    My bachelor's degree was in economics, and my master's degree was in information systems management. All my work experience has been in the IT industry, so I am not expert in some "business process" or particular industry.

    So what next? I need to get into a field that will offer a decent living and opportunities in the future.

    So what are careers I should consider, given my background and the future economic landscape? Here are a few I have thought about, along with pros/cons...

    Actuary:
    Pro - very good money, fits my personality well
    Con - I didn't take a strong math specialization in college, so it may take a long time to retrain sufficiently to attempt the actuarial exams. (Is there some other job that one can take in order to work up to an actuary job?)

    Pharmacist:
    Pro - very good money, excellent future opportunities in the health-care industry, less patient/customer contact than other health-care jobs
    Con - I would need to go back to school for 6 years full-time to achieve the Pharm.D. degree. The current pharmacist shortage may have been "fixed" by the time I finish schooling. I have no clue how I can go back to school for 6 years and live independently. Don't say "student loans." Graduating with $100K+ in debt is a sure path to bankruptcy... [​IMG]

    Computer/information security:
    Pro - builds upon my past experience in the IT industry
    Con - shaky future job prospects, may require a security clearance and doing conscience-violating work for military/government organizations to be employed at all

    MBA/management:
    Pro - My M.S. in MIS included about 75% of the MBA core, so this is familiar material that builds upon what I already know.
    Con - Too many MBAs floating around, and I may have the wrong personality for general business/management jobs.

    X-ray technician:
    Pro - plenty of job openings, strong future prospects in health care
    Con - Low pay, high degree of customer contact, not really a professional-level/brain-powered job. I know a guy who does this job, and his employer egregiously abuses the on-call/overtime policy.

    Architectural drafting:
    This is a job I hadn't really considered much, but one of my friends thought of this as a possible new career for me.
    Pro - Compatible with my personality. My past IT background would be valuable since this type of work is now heavily computerized.
    Con - Pay is on the low side. It would take years of going back to school while working to move up into an architect's job. The drafting jobs seem to be insecure and low-level "2-year tech school" positions rather than true professional-level jobs.

    Insurance:
    Pro - My business/economics background may help me break into this field (though I don't know much about tests/licensing required to do this kind of work).
    Cons - Not really interested in the sales aspect so much as the behind-the-scenes part. The behind-the-scenes jobs in insurance/financial may also get shipped overseas; if so, this would not be a good choice.

    Any other careers I should consider that I would find reasonably enjoyable and stand a chance of getting into???
     
  2. Jon_Welker

    Jon_Welker Second Unit

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    Why not take a look at going into business for yourself or with a local HT store that does fancy high-end systems. A lot of these places are starting to get into home automation using products such as Elan home integration. It's similar to setting up a network, but with home theater products instead of PC's. You could be the person performing/leading the installs. I know that installers doing just basic home theater installation get anywhere between $75 - $125/hr. depending on market. I used to be in the consulting industry, and anymore this is just a little shy of what bill rates are anymore it seems like. This way you can utilize your previous experience and work with fun stuff. Just a thought.
     
  3. Ryan Witt

    Ryan Witt Agent

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    one question
    How can Network Administration be shipped overseas when the network is physically in the US?

    It seems to me, that it would be foolish to totally give up IT while we are still in an economic "funk". That said, if you can't find one in IT, you have to have a job in something!
     
  4. Tim Markley

    Tim Markley Screenwriter

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    I've thought about this myself but really can't think of another career that I would be as happy with. I'm a programmer and I've been working as a contractor the last4 years. I just found out this week that my contract is being terminated in 4-5 weeks and the prospects don't look good for finding something new in a short amount of time. Let's just hope that the economy will start to turn around.
     
  5. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Ryan -

    Network admin may be more difficult to ship overseas than software development, but it still is happening to some extent.

    A lot of the entry-level jobs that one could use to work up in the IT/network support arena have already been shipped away (such as help desk jobs). The higher-level jobs like server support can be done remotely to a large extent with remote-management interfaces (such as Compaq Remote Insight boards) and network management tools.

    In previous jobs, I worked in an organization that supported servers all across the country from centralized sites in Denver or Austin. The local presence for a lot of these other sites was just some guy who was paid barely more than minimum wage to push the "big red button" if the server couldn't be remote-controlled.

    Also, because of the glut of candidates produced by the training/certification mills, salaries for network administration have fallen to 1/2-2/3 their pre-bubble levels. Now an experienced network administrator makes about the same money as an entry-level hire, fresh out of school, in other business areas.

    So then I must ask myself the question: will it be a quicker process to work back up in a growing field, or in a stagnant one?

    While it is true I shouldn't go into a miserable line of work just to chase dollars, I believe that there are several different "jobs" I could do reasonably happily, some of which pay better than others. My objective is to find something I am reasonably happy doing, and pays as well as possible. The recession and IT bubble bursting just have me seriously questioning whether IT will be the best alternative going forward...

    Jon -

    Interesting you mention the HT/home-automation installation/design work. I would find that interesting, but don't know enough to determine if I could find steady, decent-paying work doing this. Perhaps I am too risk-averse to do this as a self-employed independent contractor. Any idea what employment arrangements are like for people who do this work under full-time employment of a firm? Do these guys make a living wage and get steady work, or is it a sporadic thing???
     
  6. Joe6pack99

    Joe6pack99 Second Unit

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    Same situation been in It for yrs but here I am 25 and just lost my job. Now its hard as hell to get hired and if you do salary wise its a joke. I am currently planning on going back to school for something in medicine.
     
  7. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    I think the trades ie, electrician, low voltage(which is what I install eg alarms and cameras, phones and cable and HT), as well as plumbing and carpentry is where the money WILL be. Most people in that industry are older. Really. Most tradespersons are in their 40's and 50's and not too many younger people are learning the trades. I have three years experience in My respective career as well as carpentry experience and when I go to college(I'm 22) Most of the people I know have not ran a single wire in their life. That is going to give me a huge advantage. You could even get in to contracting and building homes. Which is eventually what I may do
     
  8. david stark

    david stark Second Unit

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    Giving up on IT now may not be such a good idea considering the amount of resources you have already put into it. I'm 26 and work in IT doing java development at the moment. I worked for just over 3 years for 2 companies (I left the first one after a year because I didn't like it) I was laid off around 1 year ago.

    The employment laws in Belgium are quite strong so I was paid a lot of money (for me) as compensation. It only took me a couple of months to fnid another position (only a 2 month contract). That was extended to 4 months and when that finished it took me about 6 weeks to find another contract. There is work out there in IT, but you have to be more flexible than you did 2 years ago. My situation is probably different since I am single and am willing to move pretty much anywhere on a global scale if the opportunity is right.

    After working as an independant contractor for almost a year the last thing on my mind is going back and getting a permanent position again.
     
  9. Dustin Wind

    Dustin Wind Stunt Coordinator

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    I took computer programming in school...couldn't land a job for the life of me.

    Now i make 6 figures a year on ebay and only work 15-25 hour weeks [​IMG]
     
  10. DavidAM

    DavidAM Second Unit

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    Dustin, out of curiosity, what are you selling? I've heard of people buying pallets of returns/refurb/open box stuff and selling it, but never really knew how good they did. What's your method?
     
  11. Joe6pack99

    Joe6pack99 Second Unit

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    David i see you also living in Tampa,Fl. I see a lot more people from our area joining the forum.
     
  12. Matthew_Millheiser

    Matthew_Millheiser Supporting Actor

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    Our company transferred 90% of our network admin duties to Bangalore, India. Since we ony have 3 developers/programmers, whom I manage out of Fort Lauderdale, I was able to keep it in-country.

    You might want to consider Project Management as an option. No matter where gruntwork is shipped, companies will always need reliable helmsmen at the wheel.
     
  13. Patrick Larkin

    Patrick Larkin Screenwriter

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    Something to think about is working in academia. Public schools are in great need of quality IT pros. The push for reform in schools has required new ways to collect and analyze data and they aren't equipped to do it. Also, many districts are woefully behind technologically and need a good infusion to talent - the trick is finding those that are big enough to have the ability to afford an IT staff....

    Another option is working in higher education in IT. Most universities will give you the benefit of free tuition for graduate programs.

    Either of these options will give you a bit more job security and offer low stress climates. I followed exactly this path - working in higher ed in IT, getting a graduate degree and moving on to work in public education.
     
  14. DavidAM

    DavidAM Second Unit

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    Yeah, I read a few different boards and there's always a few people from Tampa or the surrounding area.
     
  15. Dustin Wind

    Dustin Wind Stunt Coordinator

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    Edit: too much ramblings and too much job detail lol.
     
  16. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Keep the ideas coming.

    I've thought about this more over the weekend, and here's some stuff to narrow it down...

    I don't think I am well suited to being a small business owner / entrepreneur. I am too risk-averse for that kind of work. Also, I don't have that much creativity when it comes to finding ways to make money. [​IMG]

    My objective isn't to become filthy rich; my aspiration is to live a comfortably middle- to upper-middle-class lifestyle. That means: enough to have a nice home, a decent cash cushion in the bank, and hopes of retiring before age 65. I know too many people who are in their mid-40s and still living paycheck-to-paycheck, barely better off than a starving student. Having already worked so hard for an advanced degree and 9 years of industry experience, I don't think it is overly arrogant to expect a more secure and comfortable existence.

    It seems there aren't many suggestions of industries where decent salaries and stable employment are offered. Is this just a thing of the past, and now everyone is going to be a "consultant" or "small business owner," and the entire concept of "permanent employment" has gone by the wayside?

    Beyond a certain point, even money isn't enough to compel me to work extra-long hours. A lot of the suggestions I've seen so far involve being an "independent contractor" who doesn't make that much (except by super-long hours and overtime charges) or starting arbitrage businesses. Because I am lazy seeking a reasonable work-life balance, I get very unhappy working >50 hours per week consistently.

    Pharmacy may indeed be the last bastion of reasonable work hours and stable middle-class employment, but I still have no clue how I would support myself for SIX YEARS while I go back to school full-time for the rest of my 30s... [​IMG]
     
  17. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I'll ride my IT job to the bitter end... then, I'll pursue my dream to become an oceanographer. [​IMG]


    Of course... I'll have to move near an ocean.
     
  18. DavidAM

    DavidAM Second Unit

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    LOL Dustin, I did get to read your reply....sounded very cool. Hope all stays good for ya.
     
  19. Mike Graham

    Mike Graham Supporting Actor

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    Colin, what university were you considering for pharmacy? I only ask because the school closest to me that offers the program (Dalhousie University, 6hours away in Halifax, Nova Scotia) only accepts students after a thorough interview process, and most of the people who are accepted already have a BSc in Biology or Chemistry, meaning it would be 8 years of school (4 for the bachelor, 4 more for the pharmacy) before they get out.
     
  20. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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