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Blue Skies Thread, IT Support - are we underselling ourselves? in General; ...
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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    IT Support - are we underselling ourselves?

    Just pondering this really as I'm noticing more and more often that IT support jobs have what I consider to be extremely low rates of pay given the amount of skill required. Take this job description for example, it's pretty typical for a school IT tech:

    The job holder will be required to maintain Management Information Systems within the school and the provision of IT services throughout the school. Development of Information Technology as a teaching and learning tool and to provide support for the submission of school data and complex forms. Upkeep of the school web site and its systems would be a requirement of the post. You will be responsible for the general repair and maintenance of all desktop and laptop PC's and Interactive Whiteboard equipment. A forward thinking approach to new technology and learning platforms is a must
    So, in a nutshell, they want someone to:
    • Be knowledgable in the maintenance of an MIS
    • Contribute to teaching and learning in the school
    • Complete the school census
    • Be a web developer
    • Know how to upgrade and maintain PCs, laptops and IWBs


    So, what are they willing to pay for somebody with such a diverse skill set? Starting at ~£15k, pro rata.

    The question is, is that enough? It's no mean feat to acquire the knowledge that would be required to do such a job. Granted, many IT techs I know bypassed a university education in favour of getting straight in to work, but every one of them spent many, many hours of their own time learning all this stuff. They may not have a piece of paper "proving" they know it, but they damn well worked hard most of their lives to understand it all.

    Are we being massively underpaid for the skills we are required to have? Do you think the pay is adequate? Is the fact that many of us accept these low paid jobs early in our careers partly to blame for the wages remaining so low (and seemingly getting lower, or at least extra responsibilities being added with no increase in pay).

    Just something I pondered this morning whilst looking through our job bulletin.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    In a word, yes. £15k is too low for that post if they want someone who can fulfil that job spec competently.

    Unfortunately there is a long history of schools paying as little as possible for staff due to limited budgets, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. They'd pay the teachers less too if they could get away with it. That combined with the fact that industry looks down on school IT as 'too basic' to allow us to move easily into non-school roles (partly due to the low pay making us look underskilled) means that the route out isn't as easy as it should be, so people get stuck in low-paying jobs and the school thinks "well, they're still here, we must be paying them enough".
    Last edited by AngryTechnician; 7th March 2013 at 11:33 AM.

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    Are we being massively underpaid for the skills we are required to have?
    Yes.

    But, it's not a case of techs underselling themselves, it's a case of this being what the pay is because of XYZ reason. Until we get an IT union who will push for proper pay [like the teachers have] it's going to be this way.

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    CamelMan's Avatar
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    For basic IT pay (which I would class to be around 15k as above above) I would class as a technician role. I would only expect hardware maintaince, desktop support and basic server task skillsets.

    For the skills required above I would see as a Senior Tech / Leading Tech / NM type role and then looking at somewhere between 20k and 30K depending on the size of the school, budget responsibilities etc.

    However there is a recession and there are alot of good people out of work.

    Also if this is a small primary school then the jobs might sound big (like web developer) but are actually lower level (such as updating the news section) and therefore are reflected in the pay.

    I think in general IT support is underpaid - but then its seen as a kind of "anyone can do it" type job, with high turn over of personal. Sadly many management level people dont see or understand what you actually do all day - simply because generally if you do an IT support job well, no one see's you!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    Are we being massively underpaid for the skills we are required to have?
    Not sure about massively, but IMO schools IT support is generally underpaid for what is being asked. However ...
    Is the fact that many of us accept these low paid jobs early in our careers partly to blame for the wages remaining so low (and seemingly getting lower, or at least extra responsibilities being added with no increase in pay).
    Yes and I don't think it is confined to early in peoples careers. But there are obviously side benefits because people put up with it and staff turnover in many institutions is surprisingly low.

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamelMan View Post
    Also if this is a small primary school then the jobs might sound big (like web developer) but are actually lower level (such as updating the news section) and therefore are reflected in the pay.
    This isn't always the case. I was expected to fully design the website while employed as a part-time [15 hours], term time only tech.


    It was only passed on to a proper web company when, after being told it wasn't good enough, I told them that if they wanted a professional looking website then needed to pay me proper web-designer money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    Are we being massively underpaid for the skills we are required to have?
    No, because people happily go for the jobs. If there was a skills shortage the price would go up. There are plenty of people who would happily work term time only and click next next finish all day long. Windows admin isn't highly paid because it is very easy - thats part of MS selling point. If you want more money as an administrator get some unix skills.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    There are plenty of people who would happily work term time only and click next next finish all day long.
    Do hope you are not implying that us term-time only people are only good enough to click next finish all day. Besides, the point is that the job description was far more than just a next finish sort of job and yet the salary is derisory.
    Not quite sure what you mean by "windows admin" but I don't think it is that easy unless you know how to do it - like anything in this world. There is little or no call for unix skills in any tech job I have seen around here.
    Outside education, at least around here, salaries aren't much better. I just went for an interview for a full-time job which was roughly the level I am on, and it was only about £2k more a year at the very most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Do hope you are not implying that us term-time only people are only good enough to click next finish all day. Besides, the point is that the job description was far more than just a next finish sort of job and yet the salary is derisory.
    Not quite sure what you mean by "windows admin" but I don't think it is that easy unless you know how to do it - like anything in this world. There is little or no call for unix skills in any tech job I have seen around here.
    Outside education, at least around here, salaries aren't much better. I just went for an interview for a full-time job which was roughly the level I am on, and it was only about £2k more a year at the very most.
    No not at all. I wasn't trying to imply that term time only is 2nd rate, or in any way trying to say that windows skills are not valuable - just that there are a LOT of people who can use windows, it's NOT a highly skilled area in schools or in industry.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Use windows in what way though? Not many people can do what we do - at least not outside our geeky circles!

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    No not at all. I wasn't trying to imply that term time only is 2nd rate, or in any way trying to say that windows skills are not valuable - just that there are a LOT of people who can use windows, it's NOT a highly skilled area in schools or in industry.
    Yeah, it is easy to follow the Windows wizards, as you say just click next, next finish. But what when it doesn't work? That's where knowledge is essential.

    There's a huge difference between using Windows and administrating a network - I'm quite surprised to hear such a shallow explanation of the role from a fellow geek...

    In fact I'd argue that good knowledge of how a network works, how to diagnose problems and fix them and why they happen in the first place is infinitely more important than the platform you apply it to - the principles are the same, only the toolset changes
    Last edited by LosOjos; 7th March 2013 at 03:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Use windows in what way though? Not many people can do what we do - at least not outside our geeky circles!
    Think of it this way - there is nothing in MS land that is more difficult than reading a manual. One book and you know exchange, one book you know AD etc. Finding the anwsers is easy if you can use google. it isn't hard to do and a lot of people do it, therefore the pay isn't so good. Compare that to a teacher where you (currently) NEED a degree and a PGCE (ok, there are exceptions with this) or a Doctor where you need a medical degree and a Ph.D - there is more demand for these jobs and less people able to do it, hence the pay is more. logic.

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    glennda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Use windows in what way though? Not many people can do what we do - at least not outside our geeky circles!
    the common misconception with windows is that while yes it can be very easy to setup and have it run happily it is when it goes wrong where you earn your stripes as IMHO is can be harder to figure out what has gone wrong than with linux (depending on your linux knowledge that is). As with linux as so much more is involved in the installation and configuration you tend to know more about how and where it does things whereas windows and its wizards you don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    the common misconception with windows is that while yes it can be very easy to setup and have it run happily it is when it goes wrong where you earn your stripes as IMHO is can be harder to figure out what has gone wrong than with linux (depending on your linux knowledge that is). As with linux as so much more is involved in the installation and configuration you tend to know more about how and where it does things whereas windows and its wizards you don't.
    That's definitely true. I went from installing windows 2000 for the first time to installing a domain within about 6months. It all worked ok, but it essentially only took a few days 'training' to learn how to do it.

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    FishCustard's Avatar
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    Absolutely. Some bits of IT are a bit like flying an airliner. When everything is going fine, very little needs to be done beyond keeping an eye on various metrics and pointing things in the right direction (i.e. autopilot does 99% of the work).

    However, when the excrement hits the AC unit, that's where specialist knowledge and experience is really necessary. When 3 of 4 engines are on fire, you want an experienced pilot at the helm. When your PDC explodes, you want an experienced IT techie putting things back together.



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