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The Almighty Buck Technology

The Unhappy World of IT Professionals 981

Posted by Hemos
from the cry-me-a-river dept.
npistentis writes "According to an article on ZDNet.com, only 1 in 7 IT professionals rate themselves as "very happy" with their chosen profession- which stands in stark contrast to one in three hairdressers, plumbers and chefs, and one in four florists. But then again, very few plumbers have to deal with users who consistently download BonziBuddy, blindly click on suspicious email attachments and use their cd trays as cupholders." Of course, it should be noted that by and large IT professionals earn more money then most other jobs - which I suppose is once again a warning of money != happiness.
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The Unhappy World of IT Professionals

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  • 1 in 7 :) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#8644376) Homepage Journal

    Fortunately I'm part of that "1 in 7" and I think this comment has a lot to do with it:
    "There is an increasing trend for people to swap careers to do something more hands on,"
    A "pure IT job" of sitting in front of a screen all day would drive me bonkers. I like having to physically get into our big SGI machines, re-routing fiber & Cat-5, mounting new things in racks, etc. If I had a "screwdriver boy" to do all that while I sat at a console and worked on the equipment through the network my job satisfaction would go down 50% at least.

    That all said, I'll wager that when the "DotCom Boom" was happening, many of the "other 6 of the 7" got into IT for the money. If you don't love what you do then get out of it.
    • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IWorkForMorons (679120) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:43AM (#8644517) Journal
      Not all of us...

      I got into college for programming at the very beginning of the boom. I did it because I liked programming, not because it was going to pay me lots of money. Of course I was looking forward to the money, but I still liked the programming.

      Now, I've found that the programming is becoming stale and boring. It very well could be just this job causing those feelings, because I hardly do any real programming anymore, but until I get another programming job I won't know for sure. And I managed to graduate a year before the bust, so I couldn't build up those wages like some. I'm only making $6000 more then my starting wage 3.5 years ago. So the money definately isn't worth it. Currently, I'm considering looking for a new IT job, or going back to school for welding or something more hands-on. So at least for me, it's not so much that it's boring work, or that I'm only interested in the money. It's more that I think I need more variety and action in my job. Because god knows insurance is NOT a fun and exciting job...

      • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Unoti (731964)
        It's hard to find a good development job where you're doing "real programming" constantly. If you're working for an end user in the corporate world, you usually get shiort periods of time once every six months where you can do real programming. If you're working for a software development company, only about 1/3rd of the jobs are going to be 100% "real programming."

        Also keep in mind that at some point in life pretty much anything can get boring. At some point, you'll probably need to find other ways to

        • by killthiskid (197397) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:19AM (#8645581) Homepage Journal
          A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts:

          "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

          The man below says, "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

          "You must work in information technology" says the balloonist.

          "I do," replies the man. "How did you know?"

          "Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone."

          The man below says, "You must be a corporate manager."

          "I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

          "Well", says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."
        • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bigman2003 (671309) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#8645641) Homepage

          For the last 4 years, my job title has been 'programmer'.

          During this time, if you lump it all together, I have probably spent about 1 of those years programming.

          The rest is:

          • Sitting in meetings to find out what the users want.
          • Sitting in meetings to find out how much of what they want, we will give them.
          • Demonstrating what I have come up with.
          • Training testers to use the software.
          • Collaborting with someone else on documentation.
          • Conducting trainings for users
          • Answering the phone and telling people that no- I don't know much about Excel...yes, I am a programmer, but I have no idea how to rotate a spreadsheet.
          • Reading Slashdot

          I generally enjoy all of this. If all I did was write code all day- I think I would be bored out of my mind. Occasionally sitting in a meeting mindlessly staring out the window while they talk about our 'under-served clientele' (I work for the government, and EVERYONE is underserved...except for me) can be relaxing. If nothing else I get to learn a lot of new politically correct buzzwords.

          Like a lot of people, I don't see myself writing code for the next 20 years. I would like to be in a position like my boss has. She was a good techie, who (rightfully) got promoted up. As long as she hires other good techies, she is set. And, when she wants to, she can get her hands dirty in some interesting project.

      • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:10AM (#8644809)
        Your problem seems simple. IT != Programming. IT is a support job where you make computer and network systems work for other people. This may or may not involve programming, but it usually doesn't. If you want a job where you do more programming, you need a job closer to software development. This could be software development itself, but any good testing job will involve a decent amount of programming too. If you want to stay in IT, but still do more programming, perhaps a more specialized type of administration would work. Web site or database administration would include more programming than the average IT job.
      • by DrShasta (690288) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:49AM (#8645218)
        IT Professionals are really a wide range of jobs in my opinion. One guy replies saying he likes doing all the cabling work that he does. Another responds that he doesn't like programmer. Those are very different jobs in my opinion and the research in the article seems to lump them together. But anyway, I have a pretty good idea of why programmers are unhappy. For one thing, businesses treat programmers like crap. I got into programming about 4 years ago. I'm in a small office where I mostly work on projects myself. I like my job because it is kind of an artistic release at times. I get to put my own quality standards into the project and when I'm done I can look at my work and be very happy with it. Thats a "Craft" view of programming. But businesses hate that. I even find myself fighting with my employers on an ongoing basis because they want speed and effeciency, not quality. They also want things to be predictable. They don't like that I often spend a good portion of time at the beginning of all my projects researching "Whats new" and trying to implement new things into my work. They want reliable time constraints for my work. I'm also finishing up my degree in IT, and I'm taking a senior level course right now called Software Engineering. This course has 100% confirmed by belief that the industry wants nothing to do with craft programming. They want what they call "ego-less" programmers that don't care about their own work as much as the group as a whole's work. They want guys that follow the same processes every time and do reliable, predictable work every time. They want (and have probably succeeded in the corporate world) to turn programmers and software developers into factory workers. They want us sitting on the assembly line, pushing out code as if we are machines. What they don't realize is the human aspect of programming. People don't WANT to work that way. It is boring. Look at open source projects as an example. We use a lot of open source applications at our office, and my bosses are completely dumbfounded as to why anyone would put out work for free. I try to tell them that it is because they actually enjoy doing what they do. They enjoy getting credit for their efforts. Business people just don't understand this. If you treat programming like a craft, you'll get better results, and your employees will be more happy. That is what I'm going to live and die by in this industry, because I refuse to ever become a cubicle code monkey. I'll become a hair dresser before I let myself become a code monkey.
        • Software Engineering (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dirk Pitt (90561) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:32AM (#8645734) Homepage
          I hope you format your code better than your slashdot posts ;-).

          I somewhat disagree with your analogy. Although I do see some IT shops that view programming talent with the 'factory' mindset, I think a majority of large software products want you to apply what you're studying: Software Engineering.

          I know, I know, there are 10k /. readers out there who just rolled their eyes ("Software development is not like bridge design!" "Programmers are not engineers!") but there are engineering practices that are applicable to software development: proper QA/QC, documenting everything, spending 70% of the SDLC in requirements and design, carefully designing dependencies before implementation, etc. These are not by themselves fun or 'crafty' activities, but in the bigger picture of developing a large and mature software project, can be very fulfilling.

          That is not to say you can ROM the time for a software project like a bridge; there are things unique to each and every large project that cannot be accounted for. But, if care is given during the software lifecycle, a project team can deliver a mature, maintainable, usable project, still allow the company to make money, and still allow the developers to practice some 'craft'. I do believe that the difference between the best packages and the average ones lie in the company's investment in that last activity.

          *BUT*, craft by itself, in anything but small to medium-small IT projects, is asking for disaster in terms of budget and schedule. The SEI level 1 nickname isn't 'folklore' for nothing. In fact, I would postulate that that's why so many jobs are going away from the Western companies: Western developers' insistence that software development is some kind of magic that cannot even be remotely predicted or estimated. Nonsense!

          • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:25PM (#8646476) Journal
            Sorry for the previous premature post.

            Western developers' insistence that software development is some kind of magic that cannot even be remotely predicted or estimated. Nonsense!

            I would be interested in hearing any links to resources that you have found really, honestly valuable when it comes to predicting time of a project, how many lines of code are involved. So far, software engineering books seem to be full of buzzwords and short on actual useful content, and I've seen only very vague rules of thumb from people that predict project time estimates.

            I can understand predicting the time to build a building. All the operations that must be performed are known roughly in advance -- laying a brick is a simple, repetitive operation, and determining the time to lay a thousand bricks is hence fairly simple. Determining the time to finish a project just seems...an almost incredible art.

            Businessmen have been trained to use specific management techniques and some simple models ("this task depends on that, we expose ourselves to 30% risk by doing this") and have systems that require tasks with bounded time. As far as I can tell, this just results in contractors and other people selling mostly bullshit estimates, and then if time needs to be extended, coming up with some sort of excuse for more time that doesn't put them at fault ("The interface documentation from this other contractor is incorrect, and will cost us a month to make up the time loss.").

            It just seems to me that currently, time estimation on a software project is closer than anything else to time estimation on pure research -- you really *don't know* very well when you'll get someone who makes a breakthrough, but it's required to fit in a corporate world that expects time limits. I just don't see this as egotism of software developers so much as the fact that the process really is just about the most complex commissioned task that you can hire someone to do -- you don't know how it will work until you're at *least* through the full design phase. People in most "creative"-class disciplines, like painters, work in a field where their output quality is somewhat analog. If they have to, they can speed up and come up with a lower-quality output, and it's hard to call them on it. A software developer is the only profession I can think of off the cuff where you have almost no idea how the system will work initially *and* it's easy for the client to come up with a boolean "this meets requirements" or "this does not meet requirements".
        • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:20PM (#8646404)
          Having "standards" and "accountability" do not a "code monkey" make. There's no conspiracy to deprive programmers of their art here, although people can certainly abuse the hell out of what are otherwise good practices. If you're in the field purely for the craft, perhaps it would be best to work for yourself.

          Working with organizations requires the practices you so despise because of the many types of people that you must effectively communicate with. This is one of the reasons there is a certain disdain for programmers--they insist on being somewhat schitzoid, shying away from working with other people. I have heard this at EVERY interview I've had for fifteen years--"we hired you over the other candidates largely because you have social skills and can speak plain_fscking_English, which we hardly ever find in programmers." If you left or died, would someone else be able to continue your work or would it be more efficient to just start over? It's almost impossible to continue the work of an "artist." You can hardly fault anyone for encouraging practices that make continuity possible over mere aesthetic appreciation for the beautiful enigmas left by some mad scientist.
    • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moviepig.com (745183) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#8644605) Homepage
      If you don't love what you do then get out of it.

      And, to generalize in a different direction...

      ...Even well-motivated IT workers must surely be a self-selected sample of personality Type 'M's. (Masochistic, meticulous, monomaniacal...) There's a reason they (we) have chosen to interface with machines ...and it probably doesn't often correlate with a smiley-faced existential view. In other words, ask IT workers if they're "very happy" about anything.

      (Was that too dark?)

      • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Golias (176380) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:35AM (#8645090)
        There's another way this data is being misread.

        It's generally understood that IT pays "a lot" of money. Whenever there is an opportunity to make a good living at a job that's not back-breaking or dangerous, you are going to attract people who are pretty much only in it for the money.

        On the other hand, nobody becomes a florist just for the money. The only people who become flortists are the sort of people who need to be doing a job that brings them contentment and happiness, and really like working with flowers, regardless of the low pay.

        So, in my mind, the real shocking story is that 2 out of 3 florists hate their job.

        In the interest of full disclosure, I'm one of the 1 in 7. I enjoy IT office work.

    • by b12arr0 (3064) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:03AM (#8644750) Homepage
      many of the "other 6 of the 7" got into IT for the money.

      Not me, I got into for the women....er...wait.

    • Re:1 in 7 :) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JudgeFurious (455868) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:21AM (#8644946)

      Ditto. I work in a small shop (300 or so users) and we have four people in our group. In some places you would have your help desk people, your network people, your pc techs, and so forth. Not here though.

      We do a little bit of all of it so things stay interesting. I do primarily work in front of a screen all day but I value highly the time I get to go out and do other things. We run our cables, we help the CAD users, it's variety that keeps me in the "satisfied with my job" group.

      I once had someone on Slashdot remark that if I was out swapping out a users broken mouse then I wasn't a network administrator which made me laugh. I bet the majority of those happy in their profession work in smaller shops where they get to do more than a single set of tasks.
      • by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle.hotmail@com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @02:22PM (#8647872) Homepage
        I bet the majority of those happy in their profession work in smaller shops where they get to do more than a single set of tasks.

        You, my friend, have hit the nail squarely on the head.

        When I started my current position, it was "a little bit of everything." I did scripting, server builds, maintenance, desktop support, planning, EVERYTHING. I was quite happy. Then slowly, we started "corporatizing" our environment to conform to the rest of our company...Our happy little well-run shop didn't match up, so we had to change. Now we've assigned the more interesting things (the server builds, the planning, and whatnot) to engineers at corporate headquarters, and I'm stuck... Pigeon-holed to desktop support (I installed Bonzi Buddy again!) password monkey (I can't remember the 8-character password I made up myself!) and backup tape duties (I erased my presentation from the server again!)

        While I grant you, all the things I have to do are neccessary for continued operation of our business, my job was about 100 times more interesting when there was a little variety involved. I used to love my job and wanted to stay and make a career here. Now that we've been merged into a corporate behemoth and I'm prevented by rule from solving 85% of our problems, it just isn't interesting or exciting any more. I'm looking elsewhere, and will go when I find the right position.
    • Other stories too... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:28AM (#8645018)
      That all said, I'll wager that when the "DotCom Boom" was happening, many of the "other 6 of the 7" got into IT for the money. If you don't love what you do then get out of it.

      There's definitely some of that -- don't even ask me how many art or business majors I knew back in the day who were "retrained" for IT -- but I think a lot of those people have been shaken out of it by now, either by leaving the industry entirely or, more frighteningly, by scurrying up to management.

      But there are other stories, too. The simple fact is, most college educations will not in the least prepare you for the realities of working as a programmer. (I'll speak to that specifically, since it's what I know -- other IT jobs may vary.)

      Some of this is relatively trivial. I was forced to take a lot of comp sci theory classes that have never and will never be useful on the job. Some of that was interesting, some of it was there simply because the university had professors that knew it and did research on it and they didn't know what else to do with them. Instead of, say, 10% of my course load being required to be physics, they could have had me take even a single class involving databases, something many professional programmers will touch on nearly every day of their working lives. That part of it though, is water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. People who like the field and want to be in it can learn and adapt to overcome those kinds of gaps.

      The more troubling thing is that working as a programmer is a whole lot different than doing programming in college.

      I've known people who loved programming and did great with it in school and for their own projects, but who were utterly broken by the realities of dealing with clients. Some couldn't handle the (gasp) social skills tasks of having to deal with clients or non-technical people at their own companies. Others were slowly ground down towards insanity by having to continually retrofit their work to comply with the seemingly insane demands of the clients or end users. When you do programming projects in school or for yourself, the spec rarely changes fifty times partway through for (as far as you can tell) no reason. In the real world, it happens all the time.

      To take another example, I work with a guy who will probably be shaken out of the IT industry sooner or later. It's obvious to everyone, including him, that he isn't happy. It's not that he doesn't like programming in general. The problem, in his case, are the realities of enterprise level programming. He can't stand that he can write some code, test it and find it working just fine, and come in to work the next day to discover that someone else on the far side of the office working on a seemingly unrelated one of the few thousand files that make up the project has effectively broken his work. He can't take looking at something that works one day and not the next and not even (without doing a fair amount of investigation) know how or why. That's another reality of working in IT that doesn't really come up in school.

      Myself, I'm happy, but sometimes it's true what they say: If you love something, the last thing you want to try to do is do it for a living.

  • by JosKarith (757063) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#8644377)
    I had a user bothering me during my lunch break, wanting me to come and restore her Office Assistant because she "Missed the little kitty". It took a great effort of will to keep my language pg-13.
    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:14AM (#8644850) Journal
      Too true. I'd wager that one in three hairdressers wouldn't be happy if people got a new hairdo then ten minutes later found gum on the sidewalk and mashed it into their hair, then came back and complained because their 'do was messed up.

      Would florists be happy if people kept coming back and complaining that all their new plants had died (from not watering or feeding them, and keeping them in dark rooms), and that the florist had sold them crappy plants? I doubt it.

      If people played with their plumbing without turning off the water, and the plumber had to fix it for free, or if they put tabasco sauce and steak spice and a half shaker of salt on their jello and the chef had to replace it.

      The problem is that people do stupid shit with their computers (that they don't know is stupid shit), and then IT professionals have to fix it (for free, every time, because they're on contract). If IT services were contracted out and cost $50/hr, you can bet people would start being more careful about downloading shit onto their computer after a few hundred dollars.

      --Dan
      • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:03AM (#8645380)
        then IT professionals have to fix it (for free every time, because they're on contract)

        I don't get it; is it done for free or does is the IT person(s) paid a blanket fee to cover all incidents?

        In the case of an internal department doing it for 'free' this is bad internal accounting. The IT department should bill its customers for time even if this is all internal paperwork where no real cash changes hands. The IT department's budget becomes paid by other departments who get paid by external customers.
    • by Stone316 (629009) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:19AM (#8644929) Journal
      There are alot of people in IT that shouldn't be there. I have the fortune of working in the IT organization of our company. I had to explain to a co-worker how to use a 56k connection.. He kept asking me how he was supposed to hook it up to his Cable modem. Took about 10 minutes to explain to him. Get this, he's on call for our critical databases.

      It's not the work that makes me dis-satisfied with IT... 90% of the time its caused by my fellow IT colleagues. Am I alone?

      • by laddhebert (570948) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#8645640)
        Right, he's on call for critical databases, not WAN connections. How is his DB administration performance?

        One of the things that boggled me when I first got into Systems Administration was how a lot of admins were roped into just a couple of different tasks and knew absolutely nothing outside of that realm. Sure, they have college degrees and no doubt are intelligent people, but I couldn't fathom how they didn't have the desire and tenacity to learn it all.

        See, I was new and hungry. Everything around me I wanted to learn and did to the best of my ability. I got great enjoyment from my job. I got to travel, I was paid well, and things were good.

        As time passed on and the years seemed to blend together, something changed. I started noticing little things about my career... One thing was job growth..career growth.. Where was I going ? Did I want to be a manager? Was there really anything beyond Systems Administration? I looked at some of the veterans in the company, guys that have been here for 20+ years. They are still SA's.. some of them lead projects..some are stuck in their old ways, refusing to learn new technology..refusing to implement anything new. Scared to touch certain things because they are scared it will come crumbling down. Some letting their pride get in the way of good worksmanship. Some of the less technical ones have gone the way of management.

        Do I want to be an SA in 20 years from now? I dunno... I used to read man pages for fun..I don't really find that fun anymore. Can't really pinpoint why. RFC's before bed... Tech manuals like novels. Perhaps I'm burned out... but from what? I'm doing what I've always wanted to do.. Perhaps it is my current company. Maybe I'm not suited for stagnant environments. Maybe it's 8 years of sitting in a 8x8 cubicle , which is in fact smaller than a jail cell.. I've even considered a career change, hell, I'm still young enough.

        -L

    • by m.h.2 (617891) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:49AM (#8645226) Journal
      FWIW, I'm assuming you entered this field by your own volition. I don't know who promised you a day full of fun and games, but there's a reason it's called "work." When you work in a support role, you are a member of a service industry. Think about this for a minute. How many IT support personnel have you heard complain about the customer support at Dell, Compaq, (insert vendor name here)... saying that they were unhelpful and should never have a service-type job because they can't deal with their customers? Well guess what? As support personnel, WE too must provide service to our customers, whether they are company employees, or outside clients. People who whine about having to help their users with ridiculously inane "problems" give the rest of us a bad name. I know that most end-users are stupid, but it's our job to make them not feel stupid. If they understood the technology as we do, then we wouldn't have jobs. It's their job to process invoices, generate purchase orders (insert function here)... it's OUR job to help them utilize the business tools that our companies provide. If you want the company to implement computer proficiency testing during the screening process, consider the cost that will be added to employee acquisition. That cost will be reflected the next time you're due for a raise. I too get annoyed when my lunch is disrupted for something that is meaningless to me, however, it may not be meaningless to the user. If you don't want to be pestered while having your lunch, what you need to do is to communicate with your users. Establish clear guidelines for when and what you cannot be contacted. Most users will be very understanding if you put it into terms that are dear to them: "You wouldn't want me to interrupt your lunch to ask you the status of an invoice, so it's only fair that you not interrupt my lunch for a non-emergency situation." If you're not the "communicating" type, you might want to consider another career path. You will never be happy doing this.
  • by gregwbrooks (512319) * <{moc.driht-tsew} {ta} {bgerg}> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#8644380)
    Fully 7 out of 7 Bastard Operators From Hell were "just peachy keen" with making users' lives miserable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#8644387)
    ...making $19,700 a year and living in luxury in Bangalaore
  • What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beatbyte (163694) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:33AM (#8644388) Homepage
    But then again, very few plumbers have to deal with users who consistently download BonziBuddy, blindly click on suspicious email attachments and use their cd trays as cupholders.

    But then again, no IT guys have to work in feces in a sweaty, humid, tiny room. STFU you little baby.
    • Re:What?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jerf (17166) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:47AM (#8644562) Journal
      But then again, no IT guys have to work in feces in a sweaty, humid, tiny room. STFU you little baby.

      The key to understanding the comment as given is that it is the exact same people, over and over again, downloading the BonziBuddy this week, spreading MyDoom next week, and installing three other pieces of spy ware the week after.

      Then, they yell at you because they somehow, in a manner I don't fully understand, rationalize it to be your fault.

      If you're a sociopath, this doesn't bother you. If you're human, the unrelenting pounding of stupid people upset at you, and in general being obstinately stupid, can easily match most plausible physical jobs. Sure, they may not be shoveling shit, but the shit shoveler can go home, take a shower, change clothes, and be more-or-less OK. The IT-frontliner goes home, and is emotionally exhausted. This should not be trivialized just because it's not physical; in many ways its worse. (For one thing, your nose tends to adjust to bad smells, your brain and emotions tend to get sensitized to stupidity.)

      If a person makes a mistake and learns from it, it's understandable; we're all newbies. The good people never call because they fix their own problems. But if you think dealing with unrelenting and unapologetic (and sometime downright arrogant) stupidity is so easy, I invite you to spend a year doing front-line tech support. There is a reason the attrition rate of tech support is much higher then shit-shoveling.
      • Re:What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beatbyte (163694) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:52AM (#8644619) Homepage
        I can understand you not having the brainpower to not take something seriously... but think about what you would smell like coming home from sweating 9-10 hours a day working in sewage. EVERYDAY!

        Yes your coworkers (lusers) may reinstall bonzi everyday but as a plumber, people urinate, and shit, and whatever down the toilet everyday, and you have to work in it! Wouldn't you think that gets more annoying?

        The shit just keeps on coming, whichever job you may be working.
        • Us lusers (Score:5, Funny)

          by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:33AM (#8645748) Journal
          You call us lusers. I can see the smile on your faces when you think about that word.
          Self-importance has gotten you lot into the shit you are in at the moment. You all thought you were far too good to be laid off. The amount of $ you commanded made you even more expendable.

          Here's the deal. Don't call me a luser and I'll stop phoning up with phantom problems.

          1. Pull network cable out
          2. Phone service desk. Tell them my internet is down.
          3. Try and sound confused when I'm asked "Intranet or internet?"
          4. Tell phone monkey "I have checked the network cable. It is plugged in" until he/she gives up.
          5. Book 4 hours to computer problems. Use those 4 hours to drink coffee.

          Troll? I resent that too.
      • Re:What?! (Score:5, Funny)

        by a24061 (703202) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:40AM (#8645148)
        The key to understanding the comment as given is that it is the exact same people, over and over again, downloading the BonziBuddy this week, spreading MyDoom next week, and installing three other pieces of spy ware the week after.


        Not many plumbers have to "support users" who repeatedly try to flush grapefruit down the toilet.

      • Re:What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DoraLives (622001) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:42AM (#8645165)
        There is a reason the attrition rate of tech support is much higher then shit-shoveling.

        Actually, it's even worse than that. Tech support is in no wise different from working at any job where you're interacting with the Great Mass of Idiots. Motel desk clerk, 7-Eleven counter guy, McDonald's, you name it. They're ALL THE SAME, INCLUDING TECH SUPPORT. Zillions of fucking idiots who think that they've somehow "got you cornered" and vent all over you for shit they caused themselves.

        But there's a catch.

        In any of the "standard" jobs where you deal with the public, you knew you'd be doing this when you walked in the door looking to fill out an application.

        Tech support folks oftentimes have no clue where they're going to wind up, and if that's not bad enough, being technical types in the first place causes them to be less than, ummm...shall we say 'robust,' when it comes to dealing with the slings and arrows of the Great Shoal of Idiots.

        Net result: You've got somebody who's poorly adapted to deal with the emotional stresses (vastly worse than mere physical stresses, unless those consist in taking bullets to the chest or some such similar) of working with the public, working with the public. The plumber goes home from work and washes his hands. No more shit. The McDonald's clerk goes home from work secure in the knowledge that all them assholes can no longer get to him. No more shit.

        The TECH WORKER goes home from work, and grinds away mentally over all that happened and all that's going to happen again tomorrow and slowly goes down the emotional drain over a period of weeks, months, or perhaps even years, before finally blowing a fuse and bailing out.

        People who belittle the effects of this sort of thing are unable to integrate the fact that identical stimuli will have differing effects on different people, and in their ignorance of the actualities of the situation can only make things worse overall.

        Yes indeed, tech work is one of the most corrosive environments you could work at, and if you're not adapted to it the way a weight lifter adapts to plucking large masses of iron off the floor, it's going to be the death of you.

    • Re:What?! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Necrobruiser (611198)
      But then again, no IT guys have to work in feces in a sweaty, humid, tiny room.

      True. But Plumbers only have to remember the two rules:
      1. Shit flows downhill.
      2. Don't bite your nails.
  • My philosophy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TrentL (761772) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:33AM (#8644390) Homepage
    I like my IT job. But whenever I see some hot new server or piece of hardware, I think to myself, "You know what? No matter how exciting that is, there is someone somewhere who is doing the most boring thing in the world with it."
  • 1. users
    2. job security

    thankfully, I have job security because i work for state government (state government don't lay off employees) but I still have to deal with users that should know the basics of how to use a computer since they probably have a computer at home or use their computer at work enough :(
    • I have job security because i work for state government (state government don't lay off employees)

      Aaah, that's just simply not right...

      This again only underscores that government employees are not motivated to perform, because they can rely on their "job security".

      One would hope that the government would strive to become better through becoming more efficient, and more productive.

      If you are not dealing with extremely confidential information (such as national secrets), there is no reason to keep a p

    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:58AM (#8644693) Homepage
      thankfully, I have job security because i work for state government (state government don't lay off employees)

      Heh. That's what all the state employees here in California thought. They're getting laid off left and right.

    • by subjectstorm (708637) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:13AM (#8644842) Journal
      . . . (state government don't lay off employees). . .

      yeah, unless you work in arkansas. and i do. our state government just got bitch slapped by the supreme court (because of a BADLY malformed, outdated, and unconstitutional school system). Suddenly the government had to come up with several hundred million dollars - and guess where they started?

      I still remember the day that they sent fully a quarter of the employees at several buildings home with no notice. they just met them at the door and said, "sorry, you don't work here anymore." Security escorted them to their desks, stood there while they cleaned them out, then walked them back out of the building.

      doesn't that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?
  • Geek Culture (Score:5, Insightful)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:34AM (#8644408) Homepage
    Y'know, it's kinda chic to be disgruntled if you're in IT. Think about it--if you're amongst your computer-saavy peers, is it cool to say that you're very happy working your IT job, or is it cool to bitch and moan about the lusers you need to herd on a daily basis?
    • Re:Geek Culture (Score:5, Interesting)

      by torpor (458) <ibisum@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:41AM (#8644481) Homepage Journal
      This "chic" is not exclusive to IT. It appears that bitching and moaning, and taking things for granted, is common in popular spoon-fed TV-enslaved western culture.

      Personally, I find that sort of 'pleasure' abhorent. Sitting around bitching about things, or criticizing something just for the social effect ... that's fully lame.

    • re: geek culture (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ed.han (444783) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:43AM (#8644514) Journal
      that's an excellent point. it's like whining about the food in school/corp cafeteria. it's not like the stuff is literally wretched, but it's a pastime and part of the culture. you can whine about your lusers all you want, but the reason it's aggravating sometimes is b/c you know that if they just stopped to think for a nanosecond, they wouldn't open that attachment, etc. IMX, the majority of users aren't that clueless and amidst the support guys i know, the stress that comes from supporting userse is more often a function of the fact that you want to try to do right by them. of course there's always the occasional idiot, but then again, when isn't there?

      ed
    • Re:Geek Culture (Score:4, Interesting)

      by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#8644636) Homepage Journal

      Except, herding is not fun. When some idiotic thing breaks that just shouldn't or I'm answering stupid questions or fixing stupid problems caused by stupid people doing stupid things for the millionth time, I'm NOT happy. I HATE doing that.

      On the other hand, when I'm writing some tricky new piece of code or working on something that I haven't done before, I AM having fun. I think a lot of IT folks just have a low tolerance for people afflicted by learned helplessness and they spend an inordinate amount of time fixing those morons' problems instead of doing something productive that they can get a feeling of satisfaction from. It only takes one person doing something really, really dumb to screw up a whole day of otherwise productive work. When you support 1500 people, odds are pretty good that one person is out there somewhere.

  • Ouch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mbadolato (105588) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:35AM (#8644410)
    But then again, very few plumbers have to deal with users who consistently download BonziBuddy, blindly click on suspicious email attachments and use their cd trays as cupholders."

    Pretty sad that there's a higher percentage of people that are happy fixing toilets clogged with shit then the perecentage of people supporting computer users....
    • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Funny)

      by TopShelf (92521) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:48AM (#8644570) Homepage Journal
      Those happy plumbers are the ones who enjoy the exhibitionist thrill of showing butt cleavage as they bend over to unclog your drain...
    • Re:Ouch (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shic (309152)
      It is interesting to note that plumbing has become one of the most highly paid skilled trades. I wonder what proportion of plumbers responded "happy" because the rates of pay are exceptionally high at the moment? The whole of IT is a strange, young profession and doesn't suit all temperaments. I also wonder what proportion of unhappy employees would be unhappy no matter what their job happened to be?

    • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:09AM (#8644805) Homepage
      Pretty sad that there's a higher percentage of people that are happy fixing toilets clogged with shit then the perecentage of people supporting computer users....

      that is because Toilet bowls full of shit usually has a higher IQ than most computer users in the office.

      I'll take a Turd over the entier marketing department any day.
  • by supersmike (563905) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:35AM (#8644414)
    ...if this survey had been conducted just 5 or 6 years ago.
  • by budhaboy (717823) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:36AM (#8644420)
    I knew a guy who lived in OH and commuted to Manhattan to cut hair part time in the village.

    He claimed to make a lot of money, and was actually quite happy... I personally think he was running dope on the side, though, so what the hell do I know?

  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by savagedome (742194) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:37AM (#8644429)
    A lot of people moved to IT in the 90s because it was the *biggest* thing. They didn't have to like the job as the pay package was usually better than a lot of other jobs out there and it was easier to pick up a couple of books, get HTML training and boom. You were in.

    If plumbing, hairdressing or whatever becomes the next *big* thing, I am sure a lot of people would join the bandwagon without having to necessarily like it. And consequently, the percentage of people disliking this job would go up.

    The cliche' goes again. Do what you like or you will forced to like what you do.
    • Re:Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A lot of people moved to IT in the 90s because it was the *biggest* thing. They didn't have to like the job as the pay package was usually better than a lot of other jobs out there and it was easier to pick up a couple of books, get HTML training and boom. You were in.

      If plumbing, hairdressing or whatever becomes the next *big* thing, I am sure a lot of people would join the bandwagon without having to necessarily like it. And consequently, the percentage of people disliking this job would go up.


      This is
    • Re:Of course (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FortKnox (169099)
      I think you are on the right track, but my guess is that 6 out of 7 IT Professionals worked in IT during the dot-com boom, when you made a load of cash, hardly did any work, and played games all the time.
      And now, we have to EARN the money we make, and that pisses us off. Especially programmers, who are, by definition, lazy workers (and I say this as a developer). ;-)
  • Totally makes sense! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cpn2000 (660758) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:37AM (#8644435)
    I used to enjoy working in this profession. Learning new things everyday, dabbling with cutting edge technology .... you all know what I'm talking about.

    Now, I am happy I have a job, and thats where it ends. I dont enjoy what I'm doing in my current job, but I know the pickings are rather slim if I leave here, my town not being a IT hub does not help either (and I really dont want to move)

    If that's not enough, in the back of my mind, I'm always worried about the next down-sizing, and whether I'm on the radar for that or not.

    I am sure this profile is fairly typical for most people working in IT.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:37AM (#8644440) Homepage Journal
    Since they reported the percentage of respondents who said they were "very happy", I'm assuming they used categories such as "very happy", "somewhat happy", etc. I'd like to see the whole breakdown. Suppose that hypothetically, workers in Job X were 5% "very happy" but 50% "somewhat happy", 20% "somewhat unhappy", and 25% "very unhappy", while those in Job Y were 10% / 20% / 30% / 40% on the same scale -- it would be hard to argue at that point that Y's are happier than X's, but that's how the survey results would be interpreted if you only "skim the cream" and report the top category.
  • by Carnivore24 (467239) <briansho@noSpam.comcast.net> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#8644452)
    its the imcompetent coworkers who have to be constantly "retrained" how to do simple things such as imaging machines, troubleshooting laptops, and installing software.
    • by holy_smoke (694875) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#8644588)
      until the last layoff. His troubleshooting skills:

      1 reboot the machine
      2 re-image the machine
      3 replace the machine
      4 blame it on a virus or a microsoft bug
      5 ignore it

      then the users call me, and I fix it - usually something simple like a checkbox not checked or a DNS entry not typed in...

      And this guy was MCSE "certified". Yeah Right.

      I rode him so much I am sure he was not happy with his job, but like other posters have said - he got into the field for the money but didn't have a clue about computers.

      Lord I am glad he's gone!
  • Salary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peterpi (585134) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#8644455)
    "Of course, it should be noted that by and large IT professionals earn more money then most other jobs"

    Over here in the UK, plumbers make an absolute fortune (well above your average code monkey) because their skills are so in demand.

  • by SiliconJesus (1407) * <siliconjesus@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#8644463) Homepage Journal
    Here's the stats per the website.

    Position Profession Vocational/Academic % Very Happy
    1 Care Assistants Vocational 40%
    2 Hairdressers Vocational 32%
    3 Plumbers Vocational 32%
    4 Chefs Vocational 30%
    5 Florists Vocational 20%
    6 Chartered
    Engineers Professional 18%
    7 Lawyers Professional 16%
    8 Mechanics Vocational 14%
    9 IT Specialists Professional 14%
    10 Scientists/R&D Professional 14%
    11 Secretaries /
    receptionists Vocational 13%
    12 Butchers Vocational 12%
    13 Builders Vocational 10%
    14 Teachers Professional 8%
    15 Architects Professional 8%
    16 Electricians Vocational 6%
    17 Accountants Professional 4%
    18 Pharmacists Professional 4%
    19 Media Professional 4%
    20 Estate agents Professional 4%
    • sad to see so many unhappy teachers out there... And what's up with the Estate Agents???
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:49AM (#8645227)
      Well the top jobs are more feel good jobs. Or jobs that their customers easily understand. So their customers and mangagement are not giving them a hard time because of price and what it takes to do their job, because they have a basic idea on what they are paying for and the value of it. While going down to IT Scientist and down. There are jobs that people tend to underestimate and wonder why they are paying so much for their service so the workers have to always work extra hard to show the value of their work and also have to deal with increase amount of politics, for a gruging check from the customer. Unlike a Hairdresser who is happy to pay for their service for a good haircut plus a Tip. While a IT specilist will if he is lucky get what he charges for, with a frowning person seeing the pain while writting the check because they dont truly know what they are paying for.
  • Job != Life either (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#8644464) Homepage
    Of course, it should be noted that by and large IT professionals earn more money then most other jobs - which I suppose is once again a warning of money != happiness

    It should also be noted that not being happy in your job doesn't mean you're not happy with your life, either. For example, last year I left a terrible but very well paid job. Thought the job was appalling, but the money I was making from it allowed me to get on with my life in other areas, so overall I was having a good time.

    Be wary of describing people as just "IT Professionals" or "Hairdressers". They're not 2D stereotypes, they're full-blown people with all the complexity that implies.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:40AM (#8644470)

    After looking through the article (gasp, I read it!) I think the authors may have missed a significant factor. Most of the "happier" professions aren't worried about their jobs getting outsourced, and don't appear to be the type of job that have bosses breathing down your neck, forcing you to work 80 hour weeks for 40 hours of pay, which, by the way, also had your salary cut.

    Nurses are an example of a profession even less "happy" than IT. While nurses aren't worried about their jobs being outsourced, interestingly enough they tend to be overworked (usually 10-12 hour rotating shifts throughout the week) and underpaid, especially compared to their colleagues. But, according to the articles, they should be happy, as they are very hands on. Guess that hypothesis just got shot down.

    The only useful thing I found out of this study is the actual data, which I don't really know how to treat (with suspicion?). The rest is pretty much opinionated fluff.

    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#8644587) Journal
      Nurses are an example of a profession even less "happy" than IT. While nurses aren't worried about their jobs being outsourced, interestingly enough they tend to be overworked (usually 10-12 hour rotating shifts throughout the week) and underpaid, especially compared to their colleagues. But, according to the articles, they should be happy, as they are very hands on. Guess that hypothesis just got shot down.

      New studies have indicated that working people as far as you can stretch them *makes them unhappy*!

      I could never figure out why the employment situation in the US is so screwed up.

      We have this kind of go-go-GO-OR-YOU-FAIL-DAMMIT-GO! mentality that keeps being pushed. I was talking to some folks about the kind of hours that people starting off in financial services or the legal world can expect to work -- the hours are *stupid*. Sure, the jobs pay well, but what do you do with the money? Buy a bigger TV or a more expensive car, neither of which you get to use because you're at work most of the time?

      Furthermore, I claim that you can't be productive at the number of hours that people work. People cannot work 80 productive hours a week. They can push themselves to be *at* work 80 hours a week, but there's no way that they're getting that much done.

      France and Germany both seem to have much more liberal hours-of-work and vacation policies. So what if you make a bit less money if you aren't beating yourself to death trying to claw your way ahead?

      We currently have unemployment problems in the US. Lots of people out of work. We also have lots of people that are well-paid but overworked. It just seems like there should be, you know, an obvious solution to this. Hire more people and pay a lower pay rate.
      • You are right. The problem is that it's far cheaper for a company to work a single employee 80 hours, than to have 2 employees work 40 hours. Couple this with the supposed concept that an employee on average only does 3 hours of real work a day (I can't find the link anymore, this study was quite old), maybe companies think well, keep the employee here for 80 hours, we'll get 30 or so real hours of work out of them..

        The main problem is that companies are already paying people less, but they're not hiring m

  • by Underholdning (758194) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:40AM (#8644476) Homepage Journal
    So what this basically means is, that unhappy people chose a career in IT, not that IT makes you unhappy. Think about it - when we were young, the IT savvy where the geeks with no friends. They (we) are the guys working as IT professionals today. IT didn't make me unhappy. Being a nerd did.
  • by Fisher99 (580290) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:41AM (#8644490)
    pay was good but the hours were crap, so was the constant bs. So I traded my computer geek coat. Now I go around the world as a consultant fixing problems. Kind of like Macgyver. Meet interesting people, see beautiful places, do interesting things, but still use my greek knowledge to solve problems. Nobody gives you your dream job, you have to make your own dream job and make it happen. It's hard work but well worth it. We are creatures of a social network. Enlighten yourself, and you will be a lot happier.
  • by kryzx (178628) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#8644523) Homepage Journal
    "But then again, very few plumbers have to deal with users who consistently download BonziBuddy, blindly click on suspicious email attachments and use their cd trays as cupholders."

    I would guess that most IT professionals are not in tech support. I've not seen numbers on it, but if you lump together programmers, DBA's, web developers, analysts, etc, vs. sysads and tech support I bet you get something like an 80/20 ratio. Anyone seen stats on it?

    But, for those in tech support, I think there are inherent conflicts. People attracted to tech are often more introverted. You take people like that and force them to deal with users who know nothing, are resentful of their utter dependence on others, want immediate results, and blame tech support for the problem in the first place, and you get BOFH [iinet.net.au].

    • Except for the few of us who at current job are programmers, DBA's, web developers, analysts, sysads and tech support all in one.

      Ya think I would get paid better.
    • by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:02AM (#8644741)
      I would guess that most IT professionals are not in tech support. I've not seen numbers on it, but if you lump together programmers, DBA's, web developers, analysts, etc, vs. sysads and tech support I bet you get something like an 80/20 ratio. Anyone seen stats on it?
      That is in fact a fundamental part of the problem: everyone in IT is considered to be part of tech support. The CEO of Acme wouldn't call the CFO in for a meeting, and at the end of that meeting say "oh, here's my checkbook - add up those numbers for me will you" [1]. But he thinks nothing of ending a meeting with the CIO (who is directly responsible for managing larger projects, budgets, and headcounts than the CFO, and who has far more daily interaction with the "business units" than any of the other CXOs) by telling him to crawl under his desk and reconnect the printer.

      The disconnect between value provided to the business (which, despite the stereotypes, is quite high in my experience) and the perception/treatment of the "IT nerds" (what a contemptuous term BTW) is what causes a lot of the unhappiness.

      sPh

      [1] Yes, I know: you can cite a counterexample. And everyone gets the occational humiliation, particularly in smaller companies. But no - not on the daily basis that the IT people get.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:45AM (#8644535)
    Which means that it has the most to lose in the current anti-intellectual, anti-causality cultural climate. IT professionals have to battle the PHB crowd and the AOLers, people who think that computers 'should just know' how to do something, or people who 'feel like it needs to reboot', or explain THEIR failure as 'the computer didn't want to do that'. A generation raised on Star Trek, combined with a cultural disdain for anything intellectual or requiring brains, means that IT pros are nearly always playing to a hostile crowd. Since skepticism is in full swing, people who don't know how to use a computer system think that nobody knows, or worse, that nobody CAN know, what the problem is. Unfortunately, with MS products as pervasive as they are, sometimes nobody DOES know what the problem is, and often, all systems need ARE reboots.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shant3030 (414048) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:45AM (#8644540)
    Us IT people would be alot happier if we had more attractive women working in our companies. I work with 50 software engineers, 47 males and 3 women.

    Yes, we are that shallow. Nothing wrong with having some hot women in the office.

  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#8644586) Homepage
    I was offered a 6 figure job (well, 100000USD and that ain't shit in Boston) to do Location Based Services at a Boston area firm the other day. I turned it down because I want out of IT so bad I can taste it. Their PHB was flabbergasted. When I went down the laundry list of why IT sucks (1. users. 2. users. 3. clients 4. Management, and so forth and so on), his employees who were standing there started nodding in agreement. He was truly dumbfounded that these guys he was paying OK money too were sick of working at his reasonably successful company. One guy hadn't gone on holiday in 4 years. Another had a peptic ulcer (he was the sales engineering lead). And their coding lead ( a woman ) was at the ass-end of a messy divorce. Needless to say, they were all envious of my position as a poor grad student who just wants to teach undergrad classes and do a little research before opening a coffee shop when I retire. Fuck IT.
  • 7-Year Plan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blinder (153117) <blinder,dave&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:50AM (#8644589) Homepage Journal
    Heh, its funny. I have this 7-Year Plan that I have recently started... and if I can follow through with it, will mean at the 7th year I will be out of IT.

    I've been in IT for nearly 10 years, and right now, I see my career as almost at a complete stand-still. Yeah, I make a decent living (on the north side of 78k a year) -- but I'm still doing the same thing I was doing in 1997 -- the only difference is, I'm a hell of a lot better at it.

    Anyway, i formulated this 7-year plan where I would start to develop some of my side projects and hopefully be at a point within the 7 years that I can leave IT behind and never look back.

    I think my biggest problem with IT is the people. I'm a pretty friendly guy who has a very strange sense of humor and like to read, write, watch movies, talk about art and design, music, recording and other creative things -- while everyone I work with all have CS degrees and view things like that as a sickness to be avoided. Its a shame really. Plus, the managers in IT -- I swear they just stamp them out of some machine. Some are better than the others -- and the two guys that own the small consultancy I work for are great guys, very smart and just good people... but here at the client site... these people are robots! I get constantly criticized for not being more "social" here. Well there's a reason! No one gives a damn what I'm into and what I like to talk about. I'm sorry, I just am not going to become something I'm not.

    So, instead of trying to shape myself into something I'm not, I figure I need to find a way out of this IT world. I wouldn't call myself "unhappy" in fact I am a happy person -- because of my life *outside* of IT.

    Of course -- 7 years is a long time, and things are subject to change... but my current frame of mind dictates that I can't just sit around and do *nothing* -- I'm not the type who just waits for things to happen. I try my hardest to make things happen (realizing of course that control is, after all, an illusion) -- but all the same. Shit aint just gonna happen just because :)
  • by stecoop (759508) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:50AM (#8644592) Journal
    All IT people at some point shutdown. They one day wake up and say "I have learned enough, I don't want to learn anything new". And these people simply work with what they have learned.

    Now it may take 40 years for this to happen but it happens to all (alright most for those mathematicians) IT workers; People hate change and IT is all about change everyday (every hour?). It is stressful fighting for your job everyday when new college people are released ever year with fresh training and new ideas without any legacy burden. I'm not in anyway bashing College Hires but the younger you are the more resilient you are. The more resilient you are the better you perform. So as you're moving in the IT field you need to look at moving on or up to prevent yourself from being exterminated.

    Grab something to move into when you start heading into retirement age. God knows I don't want to be in IT at age 70 fending off those young whipper snappers.
  • by Noofus (114264) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:50AM (#8644598)
    I used to be a big "geek". Was always interested in the latest processor, RAM technology, etc. Now, I couldnt give a shit.

    I am a software engineer. My job is boring. I spend 8-10 hours/day staring at a computer screen. A friend asked me to help him buy a computer a while back. He asked me since I was a software guy, and was supposed to know about these things. I couldnt help him. I knew NOTHING about current computers, printers, monitors etc on the market.

    So now I sit here coding in C++ and making pretty UML diagrams all day, but have absolutly no interest in it anymore. I do it because it pays well and I am reasonably good at it. I dont do it because I enjoy it. I would love to quit and do something I enjoy, but then I realize that I wouldnt have as much disposable cash for other things. So I am resigning myself to wasting 40+ hours/week of my life so I can enjoy the remaining 80 or so hours (sleep is important).

    When I was in school I went to a research oriented university. There was some cutting edge stuff being developed that never ceased to hold my attention. Now I am designing software for systems that are nowhere near the level of sophistication as what I was used to at school. Its just all so bland now.
    • by anjrober (150253) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:34AM (#8645075)
      I couldn't agree more. Add in a mortgage, wife and kids and you aren't going anywhere. it's the trap of middle/upper class. You lock yourself into a lifestyle that requires you continue to spend more and more time in the office and enjoy it less and less.
    • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:17PM (#8646366) Journal
      Try and learn about hardware. I know it seems like a completely alien idea if you're a software "engineer" (I prefer the term software developer, and that's what I called myself, but this is possibly pedantic hair splitting, but few software "engineers" have a B.Eng or similar - most have a BSc).

      I used to be a full-time software developer, but now I've moved into the bit generically known as "IT". Some days, I can be writing C, doing low level bit-twiddling for a test suite for a custom printer we're planning on using. Friday, I installed a 48-port switch in the network rack. Today, I wired in two new servers and installed some software. Last week, I set up a system to write hard drive images 30 at a time with the help of a Knoppix CD I customized. Last Thursday, I configured a new OpenBSD firewall for a brand new test network. Today, I helped a user learn how to use WinZip. Last year, with knowledge gained from the software development experiece I had, I selected a new counter system for our franchisees.

      My job can't be outsourced - it requires physical presence. I get to do different things every day. I even get to weild a screwdriver and there's even the odd opportunity to inflict injuries on innocent electronics with a solderin iron. Two years ago, I was doing exactly what you were doing (but I had quite a lot of interest in it - creating new software systems is something I find fun). But this is more fun - I still do a little bit of software development, but I get to do an awful lot of other stuff.
  • money != power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#8644613) Journal
    money != happiness

    Power disparity in the workplace is a big factor. Here we are, we know what is going to work best, what is going to save money, what is going to make people's lives easier, what should be automated and what it a waste of time, and we have PHB's telling us they know best, decisions based on superficials or unneccesary complications, spending based on budget cycles not needs, systems too powerful or too weak. And we shut up and do it, since there are plenty out of work who want your job. Then we have to tiptoe around [L]user egos, baby boomers who fancy themselves technologists but forget how to make a printer the default.

    There was a study of "determinants of health" conducted in the early 90's in 5 different industrialized nations, which discovered that power disparity was at least as big a factor on well-being (heart disease, depression etc.) as wealth/poverty or difficulty of job--upper middle managers who felt stifled were worse off than low-income workers with relative independence and greater unfettered responsibilty. Poverty=poor health studies may be weighted wrongly due to these findings: it's not just about money, power on the interpersonal scale counts strongly.

  • It's simple really (Score:3, Informative)

    by enjo13 (444114) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#8644717) Homepage
    I hate these rather broad surverys, because they do a poor job of getting at the heart of the matter. I recently worked with our HR department to help get a handle on job satisfaction among the engineering staff, and had the chance to see more focused job satisfaction numbers.

    It appears to me that the level of job satisfaction is almost entirely dependent not on the TYPE of job, but at what company that job is being done at. For anyone in the IT industry that comes as no shock, but it was eye opening to the rest of the company.

    What we found in our internal study was that IT workers feel particularly disengaged from the rest of the company. They are forced to be very task oriented ("We've decided to install XXXXX, heres how we want you to do it") which is rather disheartening for most workers in this industry. They are trained to be problem solvers, but are often left out of the decision making process and instead become highly paid installation men.. which runs almost completely counter to their personalities. As a result they feel replacable, underutilized, and bored. That's a recipe for job dissatisfaction if I've ever seen it..

    What we've done is go to a more distributed problem solving model. At the highest levels (CTO/management) the problems are defined, and then commitees are formed consisting of the actual IT workers to solve those specific problems. When choosing a new customer support system, for example, we made sure that the end users (CSR's), IT network engineers, system administrators, and the customer support manager where all involved in evaluating and designing the system they wanted to put in place.

    After that project was complete we found a remarkable increase in satisfaction. The simple fact of engaging these people made them feel secure in their jobs (they felt valuable), engaged, and stimulated. The project was completed in record time and the rollout was nearly flawless. It was an incredibly interesting excercise for me (a software development lead), and apparently for those involved in the design as well.

    All of this is a long winded way of saying that the problem isn't IT, but those that run it. They fail to understand or utilize the value of their staffs. They force assignments on them. They treat them as disposable commidities, rather than the intellectual assets they are. This creates a job situation that is rather unpleasant for everyone involved...and management seems to be blisfully unaware that anything is wrong. Instead they complain about how hard IT workers are to manage and how they refuse to 'fit in' with the corporate culture. After all, a good marketing guy will sit there and do what he's told.. It's a severe clash of personalities, which is why you'll find much higher job satisfaction rates at technology driven companies (generally run by people with technical backgrounds).. which does beg an interesting question: "Are marketing, accounting, and other business related people more unhappy working at technology companies than at business driven companies?"
  • by havaloc (50551) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:03AM (#8644751) Homepage
    You have all the responsibility, but none of the authority.
  • I find it even more disturbing that only 8% of the people responsible for education are happy with their jobs. Maybe if they were happier, more people would be learning in school & wouldn't be such morons to us I.T. people at work. OR, perhaps the stigma behind being able to learn & answer questions as "stupid" should finally die, so that people can actually learn at school and not feel "dorky" because they are learning, thus again allowing them to gain some sense & not be morons later in life. I explained one of my work-related problems to a 6th grader who is nearly failing out, and even he was able to see how easy the probs would be to fix for those in charge. Something is wrong if the failing gradeschooler has more common sense than a college grad PHB.
  • by mytec (686565) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:12AM (#8644834) Journal

    How many of us in IT want to do a *good* job? How many of us would like to show what we can do and the quality by which we can do it? Alas, how often is the time there? Instead you do your second best, if you are lucky, to meet insane deadline.

    Contrast this with a hairdresser or any of those other positions. Those people are hired to attract customers. Take for example a plumber. When something breaks most people will trade time for a proper fix so this doesn't happen again. Those people can take pride in their jobs and are generally expected to exhibit their creativity.

    Very few in IT are in a position to take their time to adhere to best practices when managers are screaming as a group to have *something* now and not later. When their desire to rush doesn't work out, who is to blame? Not them! At the end of the day it is hard to feel good about whatever you've done especially when you know if you had a bit more time you could have done a better job.

  • by xutopia (469129) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:45AM (#8645186) Homepage
    if you did the same study in a country where they have 5 weeks of vacation (by law). I am pretty sure those French are happier than us. I worked there for 2 years. It was the best working years of my life.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:56AM (#8645302)
    I think the issue for IT workers is that they dont get much reconision for their good work. But only get Guff when they do something wrong. The server has been for for 1000 days and the tanks you will get is probably being laied off because they dont see you running to fix problems like their previous less qualified employee. But if something goes wrong then every is on you to fix it now because their job is the most important. So as IT we get to much negitive feedback from people. My day just feels great if somone says thanks this is a really cool program. Or wow sience you have been there everything seems to run so much more smoothly, but that is a rairitly.
    I like IT Programming, Administration, even helping people with all the dumb little problems. But if I dont get any thanks or apreaction at all it feels like I am not doing anything good.
  • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:19AM (#8645578) Homepage
    Zoloft.

    Mmmm, serotonin.
  • My $0.02 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:07PM (#8646221) Journal
    As I write this, there are 89 comments viewable at level 3, so it's not real likely that this will "go anywhere" - but here's my experience.

    I work as an independent consultant. My largest client has about 130 staff. I do database engineering, software design, and Linux system administration for a total customer base of around a dozen clients.

    Every day is unique. Yesterday I developed, tested, and began using a new template system for PHP [sourceforge.net] that is much, much faster than the PHPLib template system I've used for the past 4 years.

    Today, I'm going to be refining an application framework for a company I'm partner in, writing a backup system based on rsync, and working on transferring Internet services from a couple of servers to a couple of other newer replacements.

    I deal with customers directly, and get to hear the shreiks and exclamations when they realize how much easier I've just made their life...

    I spend an average about 1-3 hours on the phone every single day, dealing with clients all over North America, and I put in an average of around 4-7 hours of billable time.

    My average workday is generally between 8-12 hours a day. Sometimes, I take the day off with no prior planning. Sometimes I work 18 hours straight.

    I love my job, and it loves me!
  • by constantnormal (512494) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @01:03PM (#8647005)
    ... and you'll see a pretty good correlation to the observed rankings.

    It isn't until you get down to lawyers that the professions begin to become mired in procedural straightjackets, where what the practitioner does is dictated by a set of obsolete/seemingly unrelated set of process rules or changes in direction while the work is ongoing.

    How many plumbers (hairdressers, chefs, florists, care assistants) have the "blissful" experience of having the customer (or worse yet, some third party -- say insurance companies or HMOs in the case of MDs) butt in to change direction or tell them to hurry up or I'm not gonna pay you? Just look at how bureaucratic teaching has become, with the book used, material covered (and in what order according to a fixed timetable), and pretty much every aspect of the job dictated by someone other than the teacher.

    This is a function of the direction our society has taken -- away from individual craftsmen/women whose reputation is their bond, and into some Orwellian corporate nightmare where people are turned into interchangeable machines, leaving no room for the exceptional practitioner.

    All too sad that this should be the case when we have the perfect media for maintaining public customer satisfaction metrics -- the web.
  • by joshmccormack (75838) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @01:54PM (#8647608) Homepage Journal
    Some people work for a living, and don't find all their meaning from that job. I can't speak for them all, but I think a lot of people who have jobs like being a hairdresser or plumber think this way. They also know exactly what's expected of them, and what their prospects are.

    IT people often think of themselves as innovators and creators - but unfortunately most business/marketing types see IT people as technicians and implementers. This is especially the case when you want to program, not just dole out the work.

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