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Are networking jobs being outsourced as much as developer jobs?

Having lost my programmer/analyst job (PowerBuilder and Visual Basic) and not being able to get a job for almost three years now -- does it make much sense for me to move over into networking? Are networking jobs being outsourced as much as developer jobs?

Development work is particularly easy to outsource because to some extent coding works like a black box (given certain inputs, you must receive certain outputs). Since a black box can be built and maintained anywhere, it's as easy for Indian or Chinese programmers to do such work as for American ones. But since networks are located at specific sites, though some parts of management (and I mean network management, not MBA-style people management) and support can be outsourced, somebody has to be onsite to install, maintain, repair, and upgrade these networks.

Even if network jobs are outsourced, the people who go onsite still have to be relatively close to the work to make it cost-effective. One could therefore argue that some networking jobs are less prone to be outsourced far away than some programming jobs.

But jobs in networking are tight, and employers are increasingly insistent on hiring IT professionals with real, documented networking experience as well as certifications or other kinds of credentials. With that idea in mind, be sure to address how you can up your experience quotient as you're learning more about the systems, tools, technologies, and so forth, that are involved in networking. This is the crux of deciding whether the move from programming to networking makes sense for you: are you willing to gain experience by hook or by crook, or even as an unpaid volunteer, to ready yourself for the career change? If not, maybe that switch is not the best one you could make!

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What are the best strategies for outsourcing developers?

This was last published in March 2004

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