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  1. #1
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    Question IT Degree - Why does it suck???

    I have been programming for a few years now as a hobby. Some days I love it, some days I don't even want to think about it.

    I just registered for college and I will be starting in August. I originally was going to do a Computer Service Tech. program, but decided not to because there is a VERY low demand for those people in my area. Unless I want to work at a Best Buy for the rest of my life making $8.00/hr. The other repair centers around here are all "mom-and-pop" deals and they don't hire anyone.

    Then I thought that becoming a service person is going to be rather pointless in the end because computers are so easy to fix now days that any moron can just pull out the old video card, pop in the new one and be on their way, and why would someone pay me $40/hr. to fix their computer when they can buy a new one for $300.00 now days?

    I then decided to go into an Associate Science Degree program called "IT WA/P". It's a web Analyst/Programmer program.

    I'm just stuck on what I should do because I don't want to keep switching programs, and school starts in less then a month.

    What's turning me off is that I read all these threads here, and it sounds like everyone is getting burned out and completely hates their jobs. Like is such a bad thing. I mean it beats working in a factory for $10.00/hr. busting your balls all day long with underpaid overworked highschool drop out, pissed at the world, managers, or working at McDonalds dealing with idiotic customer orders and people complaining because their extra cheese, no lettuce, no tommato, easy mayo, add ketchup, no onions, add bacon, well done burger is not made correctly during the middle of a holiday lunch hour.

    I was looking at this as a fresh start, but people here seem to make it out to be such a bad thing, and its so stressful and hard to do...

    Why is that? Is this because most of you are freelance developers or work for a web development company? Do you do one website after another?

    My program qualifies me to work in many areas, such as Retail or Government, or Hospitals. If I get a job working for a Hospital handling their website and other various tasks, is it really going to be that bad as people here seem to make it out to be? They will probably not have that many websites to handle, and most of it will be maintenance work?

    I don't want to build web page after web page either, but it is a skilled job which will hopefully pay decent, and in an area that I have some skill. So I was hoping I would find a happy medium job. But after reading these threads it seems like everyone just says it sucks.

    If I am wrong and its really that bad, maybe I should try another field. Maybe I would have better luck at a Network Engineer or IT Secutiry Specalist or something...

    The economy sucks, (at least here) well over 100,000 jobs were lost in the last 6 months due to major automotive companies and about 13 other major factories going out of business, it sucks so bad that even the temporary employment agencies are going bankrupt, we already lost two of them. If you are on unemployment you have to wait at least 2 months to get your checks because they don't have enough to pay everyone. So many people are laid off and trying to go back to school that colleges in my area are in an emergency state and not taking anymore students. They are so overbooked there is a 2 year waiting list to even get accepted. They just can't handle the work load, and everyone is in a panic about the economy and trying to go back to school in hopes to get a job. Almost all of the people in my program are old men and woman, most are around their 60's. So its all these people going to school now that were laid off from factory jobs. If you are just finishing highschool you can't even get into college because the older generation is taking up all the classes. I am just in my 20s and I don't feel like I belong there, because everyone is so old.

    The bad thing is that this is a small area and most cities have about 3,000-4,000 people, a there is a couple big cities with 60,000 people but in this small area there are no businesses or colleges to handle the new workload. Its mostly farms, we just had a few big business that almost everyone you knew worked at, but now they are gone.

    I was hoping that getting an education in this field would help me get above the rest, but its hard to get excited about it, when I see so many people already in the field that are unhappy... Isn't there ANYTHING good about working as a web programmer? All I hear on the threads are people complaining about their jobs.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard cmuench's Avatar
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    take what I say with a grain of salt....
    However bit of background for me.
    I started doing php/html during my junior year in high school. Learned it all myself. Am now 21 and have done about 10 paid php sites. I would NOT get a job as a php programmer unless they were paying me very well and I would have a job after THE job was done. Anyway my day job is a computer software tech. Now with that I do printer installs, hardware installs, software installs and troubleshooting. I also get to program about 10-20% of my week in vb, C#.

    I have also gone down the route of sysadmin. doing networking, dbs, clusters, servers, storage sans, data centers, blah blah IT stuff. All very fun.

    so I say all that to say this. In october hopefully I will be starting an Information Security job. yeah I have jumped around a bit. But all this experience has helped me beyond words. Employers love that I have worked on so much stuff and am knowledgeable about so many parts of IT that is has gotten me my current job and my next one. you have to be careful with web stuff. its a very easy field to be outsourced if you are not in a niche market or if the company you are working for is satisfied with outsourced quality work. make sure when you go to school you take lots and lots of different classes.

    I have taken C#, multiple db classes, networking, Linux, Microsoft all just for my Assoc at community college. Remember have fun and participate in class.
    Feel free to PM me for any more info.

  3. #3
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    What's turning me off is that I read all these threads here, and it sounds like everyone is getting burned out and completely hates their jobs. Like is such a bad thing.
    What you need to remember is that highly skilled positions also have a high amount of responsibility, most people who work in the web industry are either freelancers, self-employed or run their own businesses (or work for a business in which they hold a great deal of responsibility within a close knit team). The reason why people get burned out so quickly in this sector is that programming or highly skilled occupations are very demanding, many programmers work long hours, sometimes into the nights to get project work complete and if you are one of the many thousands of freelancers you have no gaurantees of getting work and any work you do get is spent chasing up payments or trying to keep the work coming. Remember that many jobs have some form of "job security", if you work as a doctor or a nurse you will probably be ensured that you can continue to get work as demand will never fail. But demanding occupations like computing, science, teaching and the like put a lot of pressure on people and this can become too much.

    It's not that people hate their jobs, they just have a lot to deal with, they have to be able to juggle their skills from one day to the next, the industry evolves so quickly its too easy for your knowledge to become outdated and your always competing against many other people for the same work.

    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    I was looking at this as a fresh start, but people here seem to make it out to be such a bad thing, and its so stressful and hard to do...
    Like all technical jobs it is a hard way to earn a living and if you are looking for something easy, become a security guard or work for mcdonalds. Stress comes with all professional job roles and some people thrive on it, some people can't stand it, if you are willing to put the work in and enjoy what you do there is no reason why you would burn out. I suffered burnout from programming but I love web design and always have done so, I made the transition because my enthusiasm for the subject and the pure enjoyment of our sector and all the interesting stuff it brings helps me push past all the late nights, jars of caffine powered coding and writing into the early hours of the morning with the wonder where the next job will come from. Literally its love of the job which keeps me going (though everyone is different).

    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    Why is that? Is this because most of you are freelance developers or work for a web development company? Do you do one website after another?
    It is a mixture really, some people work for companies, some people work freelance, while freelancers have the added pressure of competition, self reliance and the need to keep the business running because coding of any kind can get repetitive, people can just get sick of doing the same thing day in day out and decide they want to move onto something better.

    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    I don't want to build web page after web page either, but it is a skilled job which will hopefully pay decent, and in an area that I have some skill. So I was hoping I would find a happy medium job. But after reading these threads it seems like everyone just says it sucks.
    Unfortunately there is no such thing as a happy medium, this is life. You don't want to build website after website but you want to be in a job you are skilled to do, what you should be doing is rather going on what you know, is following what you enjoy. If you don't enjoy the job, or if you cant handle the hours, workloads and pressures, you will burn out sooner or later (sorry but it is just the way it seems to end up).

    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    I was hoping that getting an education in this field would help me get above the rest, but its hard to get excited about it, when I see so many people already in the field that are unhappy... Isn't there ANYTHING good about working as a web programmer? All I hear on the threads are people complaining about their jobs.
    There are plenty of good things about working as a web programmer, everyone has gripes about their job, everyone has things they don't like doing but you need to take the bad with the good, decide if the good things are enough to keep going and if not you probably want to do something different. I personally love what I do... I like the ever changing things I come across, I like helping other people, I enjoy the fact that you never stop learning and it always tests me, I even like the fact that you have to keep on your toes, theres plenty to enjoy about making websites, you just need the passion and willpower to keep that enjoyment alive.

    Hope some of this is useful

  4. #4
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    Yes it helps. My program is an Associate Degree, not a Masters Degree so I am not sure how much responsibility I will have in a entry-level position. I don't want a HUGE amount of responsibility, but I want a job that I can enjoy, and still make a decent paycheck. I don't need $100,000 a year. I just want something comfterble.

    My friend has a associate degree as a lab technician at the local hospital, she makes $45/hr. and her job is not stressfull. She sits in front of the computers and inserts the blood samples, and other tests, and from time to time she will need to draw blood from paitents when there is no one else around to do it. She then translates the lab results so that the Doctors can understand them.

    I was hoping that an associate degree would be the medium level. I'm a skilled worker, and make a resonable paycheck doing something I like, but at the same time and not completely overcome with responsibility.

    I am not the type of person that will be able to do a job at all hours of the night. I have to be in bed and get sleep on a regular schedule or my body gets completely out of wack and I cannot do anything.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard cmuench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    My friend has a associate degree as a lab technician at the local hospital, she makes $45/hr. and her job is not stressfull.
    $45/hr is about $90,000/annualy(off the cuff). You won't be getting that amount of money in IT for a loong time unles you hit it big, get some really expensive and exclusive certs, or know the right people.

    And it will be alot of stress.

    most of the average IT jobs I see are about $45,000/annually that I see(PHX, AZ). Just to keep in mind.

  6. #6
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    I'm not sure how much I would be making but I have a list of IT Jobs and average salary that I got from the college, based on graduates. Its a big list, with a bunch of jobs. I'm not typing the entire list, but some samples.




    PC Technician, Help Desk Tier 1/2:
    • 27,500-43,250
    Network Admin, Webmaster, Programmer, Analyst, etc:
    • 46,400-72,100
    Senior Admin, Systems Engineer/Security, Database Developer, etc:
    • 55,200-101,700

    So I guess it works out to be pretty close to what you said until you get to the more expierenced positions. I'm not sure what I will end up doing but I do have one advantage, I am very good with software/programming, and also very good with hardware/repair/soldering, and electronics in general.

    My professor told me that I will have a unique position if I take both their hardware and software programs. Because in his 20 some years of teaching he has seen a lot of very good programmers, and a lot of very good service technicians, but has seen less then a dozen that were very good at both. Programming and Servicing usually take two types of learning style and two types of thinking about problems. Most people are not experts in both areas.

    Being expierenced in both areas might just put me ahead of the game.

  7. #7
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    I guess it depends on what kind of degree. CS will always land you a high salary job and reaching 6 figure in 5 yrs is very common. So, if you're up for a bit of programming then IT degree won't suck. For me, I would avoid any type of "admin" jobs.

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    what is cs?

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard cmuench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    what is cs?
    Computer Science(Programming and the art of it)

  10. #10
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    i always believe in the benefits of a high systematic and comprehensive learning
    it could help u to build a quite solid bases. In other ways, i believe in eudcation
    so i do think an IT degree is good
    but u know, in IT world as well as in many other fields , there are so many things can't be taught at class .u must experience by yourself and it is a pretty hard process
    not every one who got a IT degree could would well in the real competition
    based on your experiences ,and just get the conclusion that it sucks
    too hesitated , don't u think so ?

  11. #11
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    I am more into Windows progrmaming though, not so much web programming. But I don't know alot about web programming, so that may change once I start learning how to use the technology correctly.

  12. #12
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    what is cs?
    • Computer Science
    • Counter-Strike (Game)
    • Creative Suite (Adobe)
    • C Sharp (C#)
    • ChanServ (IRC)

    Take your pick

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard cmuench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    • Computer Science
    • Counter-Strike (Game)
    • Creative Suite (Adobe)
    • C Sharp (C#)
    • ChanServ (IRC)

    Take your pick
    haha hillarious

  14. #14
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    Part of the problem is figuring out what you like to do and want to do. You can't ask us about that, because we're not you. You have to figure it out for yourself.

    I think there are many people who get into this type of work because they can't think of anything else to do and someone pays them money to do this, but they really don't have the right mindset for this type of work and end up hating it. I think if you ask 10 lawyers after their first year, probably half feel the same way about their career choice.

    I got lucky and figured out what I wanted to do as a career when I was 14 years old and was first introduced to computer programming. 33 years later.... I wake up excited about the programming problems I need to solve that day. But I'm a mutant that didn't get into the X-Men (programming is a boring superpower), so there you go.

    Find what you love and you'll do better at it than those that don't love it.
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    programming is a boring superpower
    So true... kahahaha. I wonder if I can still program in my 40's...maybe I'll find another super power... power to rule people and let them do the grunt work! yes!

  16. #16
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    I got a B.A. in history. Now, while I did have some formal instruction in computer science prior to switching to history as a major, this does not generally recommend one for a career in programming.

    However, I now work as a web developer for the United States Geological Survey, making a little more than the average for that field. I am allowed three days of work from home a week, I can set my own schedule, my benefits are awesome, and though my "office" is a cubicle, the rules are fairly relaxed about decoration and such.

    I really can't complain at all, especially in this economy.

    So there you have it.... someone who is working as a web developer and enjoying his job.
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  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    I am more into Windows progrmaming though, not so much web programming. But I don't know alot about web programming, so that may change once I start learning how to use the technology correctly.
    If you can do windows then web is nothing. It might be even easier.

  18. #18
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Welcome to the real world. All anyone does is complain about their jobs, yet if you ask them what they do they could go on and on about it...

    I'm a big fan of the big degrees; Medicine, Law, Biology, History, Computer Science, Mathematics, English and the rest. These are the degrees I would recommend to anyone, simply because they give me the proven knowledge that I need to succeed. If I were to take my universities Web Design degree then I'd graduate after three years with over £10K of debt with the ability to write decent HTML, but with basic PHP and Perl, not even a mention of Microsoft technologies, database theory or anything real-world. In contrast, Computer Science will teach you none of this, yet will teach you the background knowledge to be able to pick this sort of stuff up easily. The key difference between the two degrees is that one is trying to teach you a subject and one is trying to teach you a trade, and the latter is what you need to avoid as much as you can.

    Universities are teaching these degrees to keep admissions high and local businesses high. This sounds good in theory but unless you want to work in your local IT company for the rest of your life you'll be limited by what you know. The Computer Science students will learn key fundamentals and have to pick up the real world knowledge as they go. Those taking trade degrees will struggle with both.

    I'm in no way saying that those with IT related degrees know nothing, more that they know a little, and that is far worse in the world of IT. The CS students HAVE to learn their trade to ensure that they get hired, so many of the top students will take internships and program as part of their courses; the difference is that the CS students are prepared for the hard work of learning trade skills because no university can teach them. Seriously, when was the last time you hired a fresh graduate that had no outside experience with programming and they truly blew you away with their skills?

    At the end of the day any degree is fine, just be prepared to learn your trade outside of the lecture halls. Lecturers live in the world of academia and know very little about the corporate world. A lecturer told me two years ago that no one uses VB.NET because it is a security risk, forcing us all to learn classic VB and ASP (turns out that he refused to admit that he didn't know VB.NET).

    In short, if you know exactly what you want to do, take a trade degree like Web Design, Computer Servicing, Business and Information Systems and so on. If you're not sure, take Computer Science and you'll be better off.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    The key difference between the two degrees is that one is trying to teach you a subject and one is trying to teach you a trade, and the latter is what you need to avoid as much as you can.
    So, would you say that all automechanics should have four-year degrees in mechanical engineering, then?
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  20. #20
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    idiotic customer orders and people complaining because their extra cheese, no lettuce, no tommato, easy mayo, add ketchup, no onions, add bacon, well done burger is not made correctly during the middle of a holiday lunch hour.
    I LOL'd at this... that was funny
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  21. #21
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mana Trance View Post
    So, would you say that all automechanics should have four-year degrees in mechanical engineering, then?
    No, because as I've already mentioned it is near impossible to learn these trades in an academic setting. If you want to become a mechanic work at a garage, because I doubt you could service my car from within a classroom.

    Let me put it this way, if you wanted to be a Formula 1 Mechanic then yes, you do need to study Mechanical Engineering, then you need to build your trade skills by working in a garage before you can be let loose on such a machine.

    Now, some would say that programming in itself is a trade as there is no shortage of fantastic programmers that have worked their way through the ranks without a degree, and billions of awful programmers that have excelled in academics. However, a full grounding in the concepts and fundamentals of Computer Science has helped these programmers further their trade skills. Very few self-taught programmers can do this unless they've studied CS fundamentals. In the same vein very few Mechanics will move into the world of Formula 1 without relevant experience, in a classroom or on-the-job. What people forget is that within the next five years everything is going to change! If you've spent your time learning ASP.NET at university Microsoft will come out with something new and then your time has been spent learning something that is already out of date, and with academia being so far behind the corporate world you're probably learning something that's already out of date. Fundamental subjects don't change all that much, and anything that does change is hammered into you during your last years at university and throughout your entire professional career.

    I suppose what I'm saying is why waste money learning something you can learn by yourself? The degree itself is nothing more than a sheet of paper, so you could get a sheet of paper that works well now but won't last, or a general sheet of normal paper that will keep its quality for a long time.

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    I received my degree in Computer Science back in 1998. When I started out, I was really big into programming. College kind of killed that for me. I was interested in system administration and ended up in a job as a BASIS administrator for SAP. Eventually the company was not a good fit for me and I left, eventually ending up in my current government job. I wear many hats in this job - help desk support, project management, web design/content, and a touch of web programming here and there (much more enjoyable than the programming I did in college).

    Many of these hats that I wear require skills that I did not pick up in college - people skills, design theory, and databases (I wish I had taken the class back in college). Most of this I learned from reading, others just came naturally to me.

    You are probably going to have difficult customers wherever you go. It can be in the form of stressed out users that just had a hard drive crash and is now screaming in your ear, people who will do their own thing despite what you say, or people who can't specify what they want for a program or complain later on that it is not what they wanted. Thankfully, since I support a department, difficult customers are rare, but it can be challenging sometimes.

    Web work in government can be challenging as well. I had rarely touched any kind of web work before this job but got really interested in it when I started this job. While a lot of it is maintenance, I have expanded it. While I do not have a mandate (yet) to enforce accessibility, I am trying to implement it where I can to avoid pain later (and because it is the right thing to do). I'm trying to make the site more usable. Having to deal with a government agency that uses a calendar with weeks that are not consistent with how weeks come up in PHP.

    I am happy with my job, though I admit things have been difficult - I've had to take on the workload of two other people since December 2007 and I've been burning out quicker. Thankfully I see some relief coming in the next few months.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Member aliceslipped's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K358 View Post
    What's turning me off is that I read all these threads here, and it sounds like everyone is getting burned out and completely hates their jobs.
    ...
    I was looking at this as a fresh start, but people here seem to make it out to be such a bad thing, and its so stressful and hard to do...
    I think that people complain here not because they necessarily hate their jobs, but because this is a place to vent. There are so many people here who have the same or similar jobs, so they feel like everyone will understand and have experienced it before. I think they assume people know that they don't really HATE their jobs, they can just be frustrating, because some days everyone feels like that.

    Either way, almost any position in an IT or CS career is going to be a lot of work. You can't just be a slacker and expect to succeed. But if you learn your stuff and like what you're doing, I don't think there should be a problem. Every career comes with stress, we just all have to deal with it.
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard Darren884's Avatar
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    I think you shouldn't base a degree on what you are going to do because a degree doesn't really define you, I just find it provides more solidarity when trying to get a job or maintain a reasonable salary.

    I am working on an AS in network systems and then I will get an AS in computer science. Most the people however I find in college only know the basics and when it comes to doing something advanced or out of the ordinary they don't know what the hell they are doing, so it really is all about you learning it. I have had a job as a PHP developer in-house and it didn't nearly as pay as much what I get as being a freelancer, but it got my foot in the door before I even got out of college. The truth is getting a good job is all about how well you do what you do, and college degrees don't choose that. Also don't count your college teaching you anything extraordinary in terms of programming, because most just teach the basics of the basic languages and call it "programming". Personally I think database administration is a good thing to get into now if you are wanting to make good money, but I could be wrong.
    Have a good day.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Thats why you learn young! So, you can rock those skills when ur 30,40 years old. =]
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
    Software Studio, Inc. C# - Fanatic!
    http://www.sancsoft.com/



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