Avoiding saturated IT career paths is vital for anyone who wants to succeed in IT, more so in today's IT market. It's important to put into context how the world of IT and computing has changed a lot over the past ten years from IT itself being a niche to being commonplace.
This has meant IT follows the simple rules of economics which all other sectors follow, where if there's too many people vying for opportunities in a particular IT area, then there will be too much competition to get a job.
With so many candidates applying for the various IT jobs advertised, only the experienced candidates stand much hope of being successful.
With so many experienced candidates applying for jobs, the employers have a field day, as the opportunity to pick and choose only the best candidates at a good price is increased. Employers will look for those who have the most experience and not really care about taking on the inexperienced.
When there's too many people vying for a job opportunity, employers control the market. Not literally, as price fixing salaries would be deemed illegal and there are severe penalties for doing this.
What they do instead is start out with a market figure and can try to reduce this when too many candidates with the right levels of experience apply.
So it's important to understand IT salaries for saturated IT careers can also fall and are generally less than those careers in demand.
This is down to simple economics, particularly supply and demand, where employers know there are too many suitably qualified people on the market.
As such employers know they can pay less and still get suitably qualified staff. It's a win, win, win situation for these employers but not for those who are looking for work.
Sometimes employers will pay the going rate but only to an exceptional candidate. This is a serious win for the employer, as they get the best candidate available on the market, for much lower than expected.
Some people have tried to use IT certifications to try and enhance their chances of getting into IT when they haven't had the relevant IT experience.
Whilst a few years ago, these people stood a little chance of getting into IT, armed only with certifications, times have changed. Some of these people somehow managed to sneak into the world of IT, the chances of blagging into IT as a 'paper qualified cert holder' in the current market is more or less, long gone for those with no experience.
It's not going to get any better either as competition will get fiercer. Even those with some IT experience will find that IT careers associated with common certifications such as the MCSE, CCNA and A+, are incredibly saturated.
Making it very difficult to find well paid jobs in the areas associated with these certifications.
The only winners will be the employers, who can get hire someone with several years experience cheaply. So why bother to hire someone who has no experience and only has a certification? It's a 'no brainer' for the employers.
The problem with this type of job is that you'll be competing with very highly skilled people for the decent roles. The experienced candidates will have an abundance of web development languages and a deeper understanding of web platforms. It's a bit like competing with someone who speaks English, French, German, Spanish and Italian fluently whilst you only speak English, for a multi-lingual job.
So could you really complete with someone who has the following skills?
The other issue with web based jobs is that there's a lot of students out there that will do web based work for peanuts, to subsidise their studies. This dilutes salaries further for those trying to enter entry level positions, making this another dead end computer career.
"Earn 30K working as a Network Support Engineer."
The word support in the title of the role, automatically puts me off such roles. These roles are not the most glamorous in IT and can involve working long and unsociable hours.
Network support roles involve working with networking equipment such hubs, switches, routers, proxies and so on. The rise of the internet and client/server networks has dramatically increased the need for network professionals and those involved in the design, installation and configuration of networks do get paid well.
However once the 'cool' stuff has been done, the people doing the day to day support, don't get the same level of rewards financially.
If you're really unlucky and end up working in cabling as nothing more than a 'cable monkey' then your career prospects can be seriously damaged. As the opportunity to pick up new skills on top of the day to day cabling and patching are going to be severely limited.
I've worked with many 'cable monkeys' and when I've asked them, how long they have being doing the patching of servers for example, I've not really been to surprised when they've replied along the lines of,
"Many years" or "Too long to remember."
I personally would go mad doing such a mundane job. One guy I worked with kept pictures of all the patch cables he'd done in a photo album and when he showed me his life's work of patching, I felt so sorry for him.
"Is this what your whole existence on this planet has culminated to?" was my only thoughts on this matter.
Another role with the dreaded 'Support' word in the title is the 'PC Support' role and I was offered such a role as my first step into the world of IT.
I learnt an important lesson at the time about why just by getting any IT job isn't always a step in the right direction!
At the time I was offered a job as a PC Support Engineer. It was paying a lot more than what I was earning at that time. The guy who interviewed me told me that this would be a great a first computer job for me.
This job would have given me an increase in income, as I was earning 16K a year at the time and this job would have given me 9k more with a 25K salary.
However, upon closer analysis, the long term prospects of advancement were next to nothing. It was just one of the dead end computer careers!
When I thought more about the role, I realised that I'd have to spend most of my time driving. Just to get from one site to another. Having to endure hours of traffic gridlock and congestion wasn't my idea of a career.
This job not only involved having to work long hours each day but having to work some weekends and public holidays. The more hours worked each week, the lower the actual hourly rate would become, so if I worked 40 hours per week, the salary looked fine.
Working any more hours diluted the hourly rate so much, that working in a fast food restaurant would pay more per actual hour worked.
I decided against taking this job, as the last thing I wanted to do was jump straight out of the frying pan and into the fire!
I'm so glad I didn't take this job, as I probably would still be there. Working long hours and earning a pittance to what I'm earning now.
Compare that with my job today working as an Solutions Architect,
- I earn a six figure remuneration package,
- I work only 35 hours a week,
- I get paid overtime, if I decide to work it (at time and a half or double time).
I'm not trying to boast here just point out that not all that glitters in IT is gold, sometimes what looks like an outstanding opportunity may not be all its cracked out to be. My initial thoughts on the opportunity I was first offered in IT did indeed fool me with it's glitter but it wasn't the golden opportunity I was looking for.
Each opportunity therefore needs to be carefully assessed, with the pros and cons, to make sure it is the right opportunity.
Many dead end computer careers include the dreaded "being on call". Whereby should there be any problems when you're not a work, you get called. Then it's up to you to try to fix the problem, either by connecting remotely or by actually going back to the office.
There's nothing more frustrating than being called in the early hours, dragging yourself out of bed and having to drive into work.
Some companies can be very sneaky about paying extra for being on call and actually include the on call allowance as part of the normal working conditions. Therefore they avoid having to pay any extra payments for being on call.
Others will offer an extra payment to cover being on call payment which can be quite shockingly low. So the question is, is it really worth an extra couple of bucks a day to be at the beck and call of an employer 24/7?
It's like a prison sentence. You end up having to plan your life around being on call. You can't just fly off on holiday over a weekend. How can you be contacted when you're at 35,000 feet with your mobile phone switched off?
Any job that demands being on call is a dead end computer career! I strongly advise anyone against taking such a job. You end up losing control of your life.
Check out the following computer careers which can be dead ends:
Other times the offer of computer repair training has looked good on paper but has really just been no hope option.