First, I apologize for the length and any grammar or usage errors.
At the risk of sounding self-promotional, my blog offers good IT career advice 1-2 times a week - ranging from Entry-level questions to more advanced topics. It covers consulting, marketing, scripting and automation, and other soft-skills development. Mostly it covers soft-skills development because sites like tek-tips have the technology covered and fall outside of my desired purvew or ambition.
Beware of the naysayers steering you from technology but also steer clear of the "get a cert, make $90k/year in 2 months". I cover in detail why I think IT makes a good career choice but also explain the challenges people have faced over the past 4 years.
Why is IT a good career:
- there is a lot of growth;
- the fact is IT will be 1 of the fastest and best compensated industries over the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Stats does not go beyond 10 years). Also an aging population and the push for information as a commodity means growth). All jobs are NOT going to India and over-seas that is an over-simplified, myopic viewpoint.
- it is largely a pay for performance industry, not a pay for time spent career. That is good if you are a producer and you like learning.
- it is not subjected to the time/tenure grid
- for equal time spent learning, it is a high-pay career. Meaning, the pay you can make compared to other fields with extensive schooling/training is very good.
With all that said, however, careers in IT are about value, not learning. It is not good enough to say, a x type of technologist averages $y dollars per year. If the organization you serve does not place the same value on that skill-set, complaining or moaning is not the answer. You must find an organization that views the skills you have as having the same value that you place on them. Or you must adopt skills and aptitudes that your organization values.
The late '90s skewed this perception by elevating IT professionals to a nearly hollywood fanfare level. Pay for sub-par technologists was completely out of line and many, many, many technology-based business initiatives failed due to lack of forethought and talent. Business is now much more wary of "techies" - and they should be.
It is now up to the good technology professionals to combat this perception. Doing so will mean tremendous career growth. In fact, my perception of the economic downturn and particularly the struggle in the IT field is that it is a positive correction for the industry.
As a technology professional, you can complain that you were not part of the problem or you can recognize the reality that the perception exist and deal with it. A study by KPMG & Computerworld in 2001 asked executives how they felt their IT dollars were being spent. The startling number was that more than 80% felt their technology professional's did not attempt to understand their business objectives. More than 50% indicated an actual distrust of the IT professional - claiming they felt they expanded budgets and purchased useless technology more on their interest or whim than on how it helped their busineses grow.
And sadly, as a technology professional, I believe this is true.
Business value is the product of the technology professional - not technology. Take a look at my very first blog entry - way back on June 18th of last year:http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/pm/career/archives/001024.asp
Here is a post to the same old message back in 2003http://boards.cramsession.com/boards/vbm.asp?b=0&rpg=1&wpg=1&sb=0&vt=4&sbids=&smids=&bst=&scls=0&sclb=0&aid=113106&pvm=False&sd=1%2F1%2F1900&ed=8%2F8%2F2003&m=743437
I only post these because I want you to understand that I have been "preaching" the same message since 1992. When I speak to technology groups (and I do that a lot), I am often asked what the "next hot technology" will be. I tell them I'll give the answer at the end of my presentation.
I finally explain that the Next Hot technology will never be obsolete. It is business savvy and communication skills. Everything else, the technical talent, can be mastered pretty readily if you have these first two.
As far as websites about the technical skills, you've may have found the best with Tek-tips. There are others but tek-tips is active and has the input of a lot of smart technologist.
Okay, I've ranted a bit. I don't post here that often so I figured I would try to capture as many related ideas as possible.