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The Career Path


The Career Path

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Rod
Rod
Ten Centuries
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Very timely article, Steve. I'm a Programmer Analyst 3; have been for several years. And I've hit the ceiling where I am, as there is no Programmer Analyst 4 position. My boss, who will be leaving here in about 6 months, has even told me that when he leaves I probably shouldn't apply for his position, as he and I are at the same grade level, so I get nothing, financially speaking, in moving into his position. So, all I can hope for is the incremental pay raises that we used to get some years ago. This discussion hits upon my major, professional issue right now; I'm seriously thinking I should do something different. I don't know where this will lead, but will follow this discussion with lots of interest.

Kindest Regards,RodConnect with me on LinkedIn.
phonetictalk
phonetictalk
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Paying what the work is worth is certainly important but I don't know if making up new titles just to give the impression of a career path is worthwhile. I'd rather be a "senior" DBA than a DBA II - when there are numbers after a title, it doesn't say much. You could be the most senior DBA in the department as a DBA II, or you could be the most junior.

If you're doing valuable work and your salary reflects that, that's what is important. Honestly I'd rather the structure is more flat for technical roles - everyone has the same title. It's good to have a pyramid when you're talking about management and who reports to who. But in technical roles the individuals with more experience or technical expertise stand out as natural leaders anyway - why does anyone need a formal title to say "Hey, you're more senior than person y".

Leonard
Madison, WI
OCTom
OCTom
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I am in the waning years of my career. I had my goals and path defined very clearly early on. Every fews years or so, something happened to interrupt that. I never realized what I thought was my final career goal. Looking back, though, it's obvious to me that one can only plan 2 to 3 years out. Life changes things.

As I wind down my career, I would like to semi-retire and teach. I have always enjoyed that part of what I do. I'd like to give that a go in a few years.
pjcrout
pjcrout
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Personally, I think there should be a certain level of stratification and career pathing within any department. This has become a much more common practice at my company recently, with everyone getting a 1, 2, 3, etc... after their title based on a number of things (time with company, experience, education, salary, etc...) which I am happy about.

However, it's important to note that you can't just have the destinations... you need a path to get from point A to point B as well! This I think is where my company has not put as much thought, as it is not clear to anyone how to get from A to B to C at this point (part of the growing pains of adopting a completely new HR/Payroll system and letting the vendor tell them how they should be organizing their company... fun times).

The path doesn't have to be a 4 lane highway with clearly marked exits, but a dirt path with a few sign posts would be nice Wink

Also, I would echo the sentiment that technical people should not be so quick to dismiss the notion of taking a role in management. Granted, there will be those who have a bad experience with the transition (some of whom have posted above), but I think it has less to do with the concept that "most technical people make bad managers", and more to do with the concept that "most management organizations are technically bad" :-P

If you can find a niche in the right spot within management, get yourself a team of good people to lead (junior developers/DBAs), a certain level of autonomy, and have a desire to fix that which is broken, you can do alright. If you are fortunate enough to work at a company that actually invests in their people and technology (instead of half-@$$ing it) then you are even more likely to do well Wink

I have seen it go both ways at the company I work for.

In one scenario, a few good developers (personality faults aside) were put into Supervisor/Manager roles over a team of developers/DBAs. They had the team, they had the autonomy, but they (IMO) did not have the desire to simply make things better/fix things, and were more concerned with exerting control and authority (personality faults). Also, they were in a bad spot from a management perspective as they we're the lynch-pin of a serious corporate power play with some heavy bureaucracy coming down on them. Long story short, the whole department imploded, several of the best developers on that team were fired (wrongfully so IMO), others just up and left the company, and eventually the department was cannibalized by another in the midst of a multi-divisional merger.

However, in the other scenario (at a much lower level in the company mind you) a good developer, with a great personality and a desire to "do the right thang", took on a supervisor role under a director who also wanted to "do the right thang" and support her people and get things done (although very little autonomy as she wants things done her way Wink heh). He has fostered up several of his analysts to become junior developers and is still going strong years later. To start he didn't have the team, or the autonomy, but he had the desire to fix that which was broken, and his management team supported him well. Sure, he had to deal with the minutia of reviews and time-off approvals, etc... but he still gets to code, and more importantly he gets to be a teacher/mentor to the next generation of technical talent, setting a good example for them, not just showing them how to be a good developer, but how to be a good person as well... how to "do the right thang" Cool

/soapbox off
ganotedp
ganotedp
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andreas_ (8/5/2011)
...I once worked as a team manager once but that was not for me ...One thing that has struck me is that I haven't seen many persons in their 50s-60s working striktly with software-/database development. However, I hope I still do that when I close in on that age, though maybe by then I will have more say over what I should work with and how it should be done thanks to my experience. Who knows?


As one of the "gray beards" here, I find that I get the most complex work assigned to me, which is just fine. That's how I perceive my "value added". For example, I once saved the company an estimated half-million dollar, multi-month project by re-writing a query in the existing critical application so that run-time decreased from 18 hours to 1. Sure, it took 18 hours work on my part, but suddenly we were hitting our SLA again. My salary is considerably lower (nuts!) than the cost of that now-indefinitely-deferred project.

Certainly, there are older workers who aren't "senior" developers. That's fine; there are managers who will never be CEO either.

"A man's got to know his limitations," as Harry Callahan said.
suneesudhyi
suneesudhyi
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Eye opening picture ! Good article!
call.copse
call.copse
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@Tom.Thomson

Thanks for your first post - this was very helpful to clarify my thinking.
perny.dieudonne
perny.dieudonne
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I'am 52 and like you I realised that I want to stay with the technical stuff, just keep up with the technology and keep learning. I just love to find solutions to technical problems.

I also struck me that there aren't many persons around in their 50s-60s working striktly with software-/database development.
Then I realised why those people are so rare that you do not see a lot of them. First of all, they did theirs studies in computer engineering at a period where you programmed using paper card with holes in. It was a subject among others.

Then with the years a good part of these few students went over to administrative tasks. Well, that's my explanation. ;-)
xandyxeno
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Planning our career on a right path was really very helpful to have a bright future. For that, We have to follow professional's suggestion, develop our communication and technical skills and through practice of subject also very important to develop our career in a right paths.




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