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Which is a More Secure Career Path?

Daniel Gee
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Joined: Aug 29, 2003
Posts: 202
I am a J2EE developer living in the Washington, D.C. area. Lots of jobs here are Federal Government contracts.

People at the Ranch have been talking about US losing jobs to countries where applications can be done at lesser costs. My primary concern is job security. During economic downturns, having a job is better than being unemployed.

At work, I see many of my colleagues strive to enter the managerial stream. But, the managers (at least in my company) simply go to meetings all the time. Managers (here) stop doing J2EE development. I have heard the confession of managers that they are out of touch of newer technologies after a couple of years. Besides, there are always fewer managerial positions than developer positions.

For job security, is it really good to be in the managerial stream? Which career path should I take?
[ February 08, 2006: Message edited by: Daniel Gee ]
Steve Gibson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 17, 2006
Posts: 37
That's actually a tough question. I worked through the ranks of developers into management rather rapidily, because thats where I felt you have the most influence. At my last gig I was director of development then took over a failing department (systems engineering and operations) and turned it around. I was rewarded by being fired and my responsibilites divided between the VP and the lead tech. That was three and half years ago. I decided to try something different and opened my own biz (non IT related) and it didn't work out. When I started looking to get back into the industry, I met a HUGE amount of resistance becuase management jobs are harder to find with A LOT of people applying and I wasn't current enough on my programming skills. It wasn't just the 3 years I hadn't programmed alone but included the fact that I was a "hands off the code" manager. Also alot of interviewers also told me that my prior management exp gave them reason for caution because they felt I wouldn't be happy in a developers job. Luckily I found a co that cared more about the quality of the person than a brief tenure trying something else. Unfortuanlty in todays market I am making 2/3rd's of previous good 6 figure salary (still not a bad salary, but not like it used to be). I have a few close friends that are or were delvelopers or sr. managers that are now completly in an unrelated field (selling cars, running a limo co., working in a hospital).

I've been fortunate until recently to be able to pick and choose what co's I've worked for but today I feel absolutly no safety in either the develoer or manager ranks. Even the co I work for now opened a center in Chenia India and currenty has about 30 developers currently there with 20 job offers in the works as of last friday. I think before long, I will have been Bangalored out of this co and back on the market.


Originally posted by Daniel Gee:
I am a J2EE developer living in the Washington, D.C. area. Lots of jobs here are Federal Government contracts.

People at the Ranch have been talking about US losing jobs to countries where applications can be done at lesser costs. My primary concern is job security. At economic downturns, having a job is better than being unemployed.

At work, I see many of my colleagues strive to enter the managerial stream. But, the managers (at least in my company) simply go to meetings all the time. Managers (here) stop doing J2EE development. I have heard the confession of managers that they are out of touch of newer technologies after a couple of years. Besides, there are always fewer managerial positions than developer positions.

For job security, is it really good to be in the managerial stream? Which career path should I take?


An insane man is perfectly sane in his own mind - cira 1984 a very young chemically altered S.Gibson<br /> <br />Yes we do build our software idiot proof, problem is they keep building better idiots. - (used by S.Gibson to break the tension during a confernece call with the CIO)
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18117
    
  39

For job security, is it really good to be in the managerial stream? Which career path should I take?


IMHO, I don't think you should decide whether you want to be a manager or developer based on job security. You should decide based on what you want to do.

In my case, I took the managerial track for about 5 years -- it was decent enough. But I realized that the higher I got, the more I hated it. Quite frankly, I would rather solve a problem by being on a computer, than being on the phone.

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Steve Gibson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 17, 2006
Posts: 37
Originally posted by Henry Wong:
IMHO, I don't think you should decide whether you want to be a manager or developer based on job security. You should decide based on what you want to do.



That�s excellent that you are in a position to do be able to do what you "Want to do". Unfortunately not everyone is in that position (like myself nor did you imply thet everyone was) to do this. I have a mortgage, wife, kids, bills etc (like many others) and I feel I have to make decisions based on security and the older I get, the more overwhelming those feelings are. If I were in my 20's again, I would be more concerned about doing what I want, not what I felt I had to. Now that I turn 40 this year, I feel that Security outweighs "doing what I want". Maybe I am the odd guy out here, but then again maybe not.

I have a close friend who is a windows GURU and game programmer, he is such demand that at 45 he does what he wants, and that�s freaking great. But for the rest of us that aren't in demand SuperStars or in demand Gurus we can't be as choosy.
[ February 08, 2006: Message edited by: Steve Gibson ]
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18117
    
  39

Originally posted by Steve Gibson:

That�s excellent that you are in a position to do be able to do what you "Want to do". Unfortunately not everyone is in that position (like myself nor did you imply thet everyone was) to do this. I have a mortgage, wife, kids, bills etc (like many others) and I feel I have to make decisions based on security and the older I get, the more overwhelming those feelings are. If I were in my 20's again, I would be more concerned about doing what I want, not what I felt I had to. Now that I turn 40 this year, I feel that Security outweighs "doing what I want". Maybe I am the odd guy out here, but then again maybe not.

I have a close friend who is a windows GURU and game programmer, he is such demand that at 45 he does what he wants, and that�s freaking great. But for the rest of us that aren't in demand SuperStars or in demand Gurus we can't be as choosy.


Steve,

Side note first... I am older than you -- not by much though. And quite frankly, I am probably just as jaded as you in many ways... ... In other ways, I probably fail into the "freaking great" category...

But we are not talking about us old folks. I am trying to answer the original poster's question. From the question, he seems to be at a crossroads. He want to decide whether he should take a particular "career path".

As such... I stand by my original answer.

My apologies if I have offended you. I personally don't know how my wife puts up with me...

Henry
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
In my experience, your job is most "secure" if you are good at it. And you are best in your job if you love it. So I'd argue that "doing what you like to do" actually is to some amount good advice for job security.

I haven't yet read it, but I've heard a lot of good things about the book "My Programming Job Went to India" - might be worth a look for you...


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Manish Hatwalne
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578

Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
In my experience, your job is most "secure" if you are good at it. And you are best in your job if you love it. So I'd argue that "doing what you like to do" actually is to some amount good advice for job security.


Exactly!!! I wholehertedly agree with this!

- Manish
Roger Johnson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 24, 2004
Posts: 311
Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
In my experience, your job is most "secure" if you are good at it. And you are best in your job if you love it. So I'd argue that "doing what you like to do" actually is to some amount good advice for job security.

I haven't yet read it, but I've heard a lot of good things about the book "My Programming Job Went to India" - might be worth a look for you...



i slightly disagree.

"secure" is all about "winning the competition against your competitor". what really matter is not "how good are you", it is "how good are you compared to your competitor".

"doing what you like to do" imply that you don't like change. it may work out, it may not.

however, we all have destiny, no matter how hard you try. so "doing what you like to do" may not be the solution, but it gives your peace of mind.
Ram Bhakt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by Daniel Gee:
I am a J2EE developer living in the Washington, D.C. area. Lots of jobs here are Federal Government contracts.

People at the Ranch have been talking about US losing jobs to countries where applications can be done at lesser costs. My primary concern is job security. During economic downturns, having a job is better than being unemployed.

At work, I see many of my colleagues strive to enter the managerial stream. But, the managers (at least in my company) simply go to meetings all the time. Managers (here) stop doing J2EE development. I have heard the confession of managers that they are out of touch of newer technologies after a couple of years. Besides, there are always fewer managerial positions than developer positions.

For job security, is it really good to be in the managerial stream? Which career path should I take?



I feel that managerial stream will give you more job security and will even be financially more rewarding. Of course, there are speciality programming streams that others have mentioned and they can give you best of both worlds (money as well as satisfaction). But I think they are very few and will become even fewer.

Rest assured that whatever can be outsourced WILL be outsourced. The source and destination of this outsourcing machine will always be richer and poorer nations (relatively) respectively. Therefore, whether you like it or not, if you jump onto the managerial laddar, you will be all set for life (assuming that you are in the source nation of outsourcing) because ideally, only the managerial jobs will survive in the source nations. Practially, some lower levels jobs will always linger around but you don't want to bet on those. Human skills, organizational skills, and political skills are what your should be looking to acquire, primarily. Good understanding of technology is also required to be a good manager.

If you are just a coder/developer/team lead, no matter how good you are, you are at risk.
Steve Gibson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 17, 2006
Posts: 37
Originally posted by Henry Wong:


Steve,

Side note first... I am older than you -- not by much though. And quite frankly, I am probably just as jaded as you in many ways... ... In other ways, I probably fail into the "freaking great" category...

But we are not talking about us old folks. I am trying to answer the original poster's question. From the question, he seems to be at a crossroads. He want to decide whether he should take a particular "career path".

As such... I stand by my original answer.

My apologies if I have offended you. I personally don't know how my wife puts up with me...

Henry


Henry,

In no way did you offend me, I read your post in the light that you meant it. Please don't take my post as such, I have a habit of writing terse posts that I can't seem to break.

I understand the philosiphy of Do what you love, and you'll be sucessful and hopefully secure, but I also understand security is important to people and chose to try to err on the side of security. I feel like we have become the textile workers of the new millenium.

Anyway, like I said in my first answer to Henry if your younger, and as Henry said, Do what you want to do. The rest will come later.
[ February 08, 2006: Message edited by: Steve Gibson ]
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18117
    
  39

Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

I feel that managerial stream will give you more job security and will even be financially more rewarding. Of course, there are speciality programming streams that others have mentioned and they can give you best of both worlds (money as well as satisfaction). But I think they are very few and will become even fewer.

Rest assured that whatever can be outsourced WILL be outsourced. The source and destination of this outsourcing machine will always be richer and poorer nations (relatively) respectively. Therefore, whether you like it or not, if you jump onto the managerial laddar, you will be all set for life (assuming that you are in the source nation of outsourcing) because ideally, only the managerial jobs will survive in the source nations. Practially, some lower levels jobs will always linger around but you don't want to bet on those. Human skills, organizational skills, and political skills are what your should be looking to acquire, primarily. Good understanding of technology is also required to be a good manager.

If you are just a coder/developer/team lead, no matter how good you are, you are at risk.


I am not sure if I completely agree with this doomsday scenario... Outsourcing is not new. CGEY, PWC, Anderson, etc. via their many incarnations have been around for as long as I can remember. Heck, even management can be outsourced.

The argument has always been on-demand consultants, as needed skill sets, cost savings thru sharing resources with other clients, and the need to directly address your business instead of IT. It worked for some clients. But for many, IT was the value add of the business -- outsourcing not only didn't work well, but put the company at risk.

Off-Shoring is simply the latest incarnation of Out-Sourcing. And in many ways, it is not even that interesting. It does address the cost saving issue better than previously -- but at the same time, doesn't seem to address much else differently.

Cause the elimination of IT jobs? Yes. The doomsday scenario? probably not.

Henry
Ram Bhakt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
I actually meant offshoring but wrote outsourcing. Sorry for the confusion.

Practially, you are right. Doomsday scenerio will probably not occur. However, I believe it will get pretty close to that. Historically, that is exactly what has happened. For example, in manufacturing. I don't see any TV manufacturing plants, or garment units in the US. So I see no reason why it will not happen with any other process that can be done cheaply elsewhere.

Originally posted by Henry Wong:

It does address the cost saving issue better than previously -- but at the same time, doesn't seem to address much else differently.


But what else is there to address besides the price? I don't know but I bet that when companies started making TVs in China, people would have complained about the quality. Slowly, they improved the quality and now there won't be any difference in the quality of a US manufactured and a Chinese manufactured TV. The point is that there is nothing else to address other than price, which is what offshoring is addressing.


Yes, Management can be offshored too. It is actually same as investing in offshore companies
But for now, I think management jobs will be quite less risky than coding jobs, which is what the original poster was asking.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18117
    
  39

Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

But what else is there to address besides the price? I don't know but I bet that when companies started making TVs in China, people would have complained about the quality. Slowly, they improved the quality and now there won't be any difference in the quality of a US manufactured and a Chinese manufactured TV. The point is that there is nothing else to address other than price, which is what offshoring is addressing.


IMO, the bulk of the IT jobs are not in Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle, etc. It's in the many financial businesses, insurance companies, law firms, and even in the many manufactoring businesses that have offshored manufactoring. They may hire less IT people per company, but there are a lot more of them!

When a trader can't execute a multimillion dollar trade, when a lawyer can't get the data it needs for a client in time, when the assembly line stops, due to a IT problem... Quite frankly, outsourcing companies had never placed a high priority in addressing these issues in a proactive manner. It is not their business. They'll deal with it reactively, and they will be paid to do so.

Off-shoring companies also add timezone barriers to the problem -- probably adding to the turnaround time greatly.

Henry
Kj Reddy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 20, 2003
Posts: 1704
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

Yes, Management can be offshored too. It is actually same as investing in offshore companies
But for now, I think management jobs will be quite less risky than coding jobs, which is what the original poster was asking.


Already some companies started off-shoring management jobs. In one of my previous organization there used to be 4 technical managers, 1 director. The moment they started offshore development center they recruited 4 technical managers at offshore and reduced to 2 technical managers at onsite.

Ram, forgive me for my poor knowledge in English, I just didn't understand few words in your message: Do you mean Practically when you typed Practially and scenario when you typed scenerio?
[ February 08, 2006: Message edited by: KJ Reddy ]
Ram Bhakt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by KJ Reddy:


Ram, forgive me for my poor knowledge in English, I just didn't understand few words in your message: Do you mean Practically when you typed Practially and scenario when you typed scenerio?


OK, so you want to pick on spelling mistakes. I will try to make sure there are no spelling mistakes next time I post.

There is a difference between spelling mistakes, which any spell checker can fix, and grammatical mistakes, which one must consciously learn to avoid. For example, I think you meant, "I just didn't understand a few words in your message".

Let me address another point as well, while we are at it - there is a difference between writing BTW, YMMV, LOL and rite, neway, bcos. If you do not understand that or want to understand that, then that's fine by me. It's your loss.

The reason I was so irritated by your response was that you were asking that guy to change his perfectly valid name, while you are not following the same rule yourself. I don't go around correcting people's mistakes because I know make them too. But you were just pestering that guy for no fault of his and you are not even a moderator.

I hope this is the end of the discussion. If you want to discuss more, you may start a new topic or you may send me a PM.
Ram Bhakt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Originally posted by KJ Reddy:


Already some companies started off-shoring management jobs. In one of my previous organization there used to be 4 technical managers, 1 director. The moment they started offshore development center they recruited 4 technical managers at offshore and reduced to 2 technical managers at onsite.


Let me repeat what I wrote above, highlighting relevant parts:

Yes, Management can be offshored too. It is actually same as investing in offshore companies
But for now, I think management jobs will be quite less risky than coding jobs, which is what the original poster was asking.


Are you trying to contradict it or support it? Are you trying to say I am right or wrong? I am unable to make out the point that you are trying to make in your post.
Kj Reddy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 20, 2003
Posts: 1704
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:


Are you trying to contradict it or support it? Are you trying to say I am right or wrong? I am unable to make out the point that you are trying to make in your post.


Ram, in my previous post I mentioned that:
Already some companies started off-shoring management jobs..
I mean to say that your statement:Yes, Management can be offshored too. is 100% true. Let me know if I am missing something.
Kj Reddy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 20, 2003
Posts: 1704
Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:


OK, so you want to pick on spelling mistakes. I will try to make sure there are no spelling mistakes next time I post.


Sorry, I don�t have any personal feelings as you interpreted. I don't want that job, as I am not good in my English (in spellings and grammar). And all the time I am thankful for you whenever you are correcting my spelling and grammar mistakes.

Originally posted by Ram Bhakt:

The reason I was so irritated by your response was that you were asking that guy to change his perfectly valid name, while you are not following the same rule yourself.


I don�t understand what is there to get irritated. If you cannot agree on my views you are always welcome to express your views in a nice way.

Even I hope this is the end of our discussion. If you want to discuss more, you are welcome to send me a Private Message or start another thread.
[ February 08, 2006: Message edited by: KJ Reddy ]
 
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