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Is IT a good, safe career choice?

Is IT a good career choice? I heard from people who have been in this career for more than eight years say they regret choosing this career. They force themselves to upgrade for fear of losing their jobs in the future. Some even say if you keep updated with current skills, there is a chance that you will be replaced with younger workers with the same skills for lower wages. I find this career very confusing, and don't know if it is a safe track to pursue. If I take MCSE and CCNA and don't get hired, they become useless and I have to keep them in my showcase. My opinion is that if you have relevant certification but don't get hired then it is not a good career. One of the reasons why most people hate this career is because, unlike other professions, the experience and skills are outdated very quickly; there's a lack of entry level training; it's too demanding; and outsourcing. In my opinion this career is not a good choice, but I would like to know your point of view.

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Dear Sir or Madam:

The old saying is that "very little in life is certain, except death and taxes." This applies in spades to what you say about an IT career in the following sense: unless you are deeply interested in the subjects involved and the related day-to-day work routine that goes into an IT job, it's probably not the best career for anyone, including yourself. Indeed, there is a constant pressure to keep updating and improving one's skills, but for those who are interested in and passionate about the subject matters and technologies involved, this is something they would do anyway, whether the pressure was there or not. If you don't share that degree of interest or motivation, indeed IT is not the kind of career that comes with a guaranteed ticket to success and advancement, especially not in this era of increasing outsourcing and offshoring.

Alas, however, no career is completely safe. Though advisors and long-timers like myself can see the current situation with a certain amount of perspective, we're all at the mercy of gross, macroeconomic forces that can change those circumstances enough to make them unrecognizable in a short period of time.

My general advice to people looking for a good spot to plant their career aspirations is to look for something that really interests you, and that also engages your passion and continued involvement. On that kind of fertile ground, something may always be made to grow, even when opportunities may otherwise be scarce.

Best of luck in your decision making process.
--Ed--

This was first published in June 2007

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