Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Hari Bezwada

Title: Program manager, information technology systems

Organization: Pentagon Renovation & Construction Program Office, Arlington, Va.

Bezwada is this month's guest Premier 100 IT Leader, answering readers' questions about making career moves. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com and watch for this column each month.

Hari Bezwada, program manager of information technology systems at the Pentagon Renovation & Construction Program Office
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Hari Bezwada, program manager of information technology systems at the Pentagon Renovation & Construction Program Office
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I have worked as a technical support specialist for almost four years. How can I convince employers that I am more than a tech-support specialist? I have a bachelor's degree and applications, networking and programming skills. Above all, do your best in your current job. A good attitude can't be taught like skills can. Managers will recognize a good attitude and make sure you get the skills you need to advance. I make it a point to expose my employees with good attitudes to various job responsibilities so they acquire the skills they need to move up.

You can always discuss your skills with your managers or employers. However, rather than just saying that you have certain skills, offer to utilize them for upcoming opportunities and projects. That shows you have the right outlook.

I'm a CIO at a small financial firm. I would like to earn a doctorate, but I'm concerned that it might be perceived as too much education for my position and could be a detriment to my career. Your thoughts? Higher learning should never be construed as an obstacle or detriment to your career. Jobs may come and go, but no one can take away your knowledge and education.

I was a programmer/analyst until 1997 and now want to re-enter the IT field. What's the best retraining option? Which languages, operating systems and job titles are in demand now? My background includes an MBA, a bachelor of science degree in math and experience with Oracle, SQL and Cobol, but I have no experience with object-oriented technology. Oracle and SQL are in much demand. Refreshing your skills in those programs is a good way to re-enter the job market.

Also, a piece of advice: When you pursue training, don't consider only the skills that are in high demand today. By the time you've mastered them, they might be passe. Things change quickly in IT. Always be on the lookout for the next big thing, and never stop learning.

Baseless Optimism?

The practice of sending IT jobs offshore remains controversial, and the extent of the phenomenon remains murky. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a group of IT professionals and academics, released a report last month that's rather optimistic about the future of IT careers in the U.S., but it was promptly criticized for painting such a bright picture. Association President David Patterson, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "People who could have wonderful careers in the field aren't even considering computer science because they've got the wrong facts. If you've got the talents, this is a pretty exciting field with lots of exciting things to do." Patterson's upbeat assessment reflects the study's findings.

The ACM used Bureau of Labor Statistics figures to estimate that new tech jobs are being created in the U.S. as fast or faster than they are being shipped overseas, but the report also decried the lack of reliable figures showing the extent of offshoring. Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has studied offshoring, told the Chronicle, "The report was a bit overly optimistic. I find it strange that although they admit there's no good data, they come out as optimistic that this isn't that big a deal."

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2%-3%

Percentage of IT jobs being offshored each year.

3%

Growth rate of U.S. IT employment in recent years.

Source: Association for Computing Machinery, February 2006

You're not a real techie until you've had an RFID tag implanted in your arm. OK, that day isn't here yet, but it might be coming faster than you think. The Associated Press reported last month that two workers at a Cincinnati video surveillance company that serves businesses and governments had rice-size silicon chips surgically embedded just beneath the skin on their forearms. They volunteered for the procedure to test the effectiveness of radio frequency identification tags for verifying the identity of workers who have access to vaults where data and images are kept for police departments.

You have to wonder, though, what would happen if the wrong RFID tag were implanted. With The Procter & Gamble Co. also in Cincinnati, one of those workers might now be identified as a case of diapers.

Tech Support Salaries on the Rise
Title

2004

2005

Change

Senior support executive

$100,000

$112,500

12.5%

Department manager

$70,000

$75,000

7.1%

Analyst/project manager

$60,000

$65,000

8.3%

Senior support technician

$50,000

$55,000

10%

Field support technician

$50,000

$55,000

10%

Support technician

$40,000

$42,000

5%

Source: Association of Support Professionals’ Technical Support Salary Survey, February 2006. Data supplied by 171 participating support organizations with a total of more than 12,000 support employees.

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Soaring Head Counts

Source: IDC’s Talent Pulse Survey of 70 human resources executives, November 2005

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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