Hello Good People - I am in the middle of a mid life career change (which was preceded by a mid life crisis wherein I purchased a Harley) and am trying to figure out next steps. I just posted in the "hello I'm new here" if you want to read some of that drivel about my school and district.
In my previous life I completed a 2yr degree in Electronics in '84 and did 24yrs in private sector high tech focused in HW. The last 16 were at Intel doing HW design where I eventually earned obscene amounts of money (explains the Harley) + obscene amounts of stress which culminated in an extreme burn-out. I would rather sell my soul than ever work for a publicly traded company again.
I am really quite lucky to have landed my current job providing direct support at a large high school (about 2000 students). When I was hired 4yrs ago the district did not even have an official position description for my job (Computer Support Tech) and I was hired as a Instructional Assistant. The district certainly had tech positions etc. but for senior roving techs who might support 2 - 4 schools and who report directly to district IT. The initial pay level was very low at $12.50/hr - but I needed a job and more importantly needed a IT job to start my career switch. For 2yrs we survived by pulling money out of our retirement to make ends meet. About a year ago the district recognized the need for dedicated local support and defined a position + pay scale -- but the school board has indicated they cannot officially fund the positions (yet) out of the districts main pot of money.
Luckily my Principle is a great guy and he funded me at the new position level - AND - the guy who hired me recommended I also get the optional $5K yearly tech stipend. Now all of that pushed my gross pay to $32K a year. And that was adequate combined with my wifes income. Life looked promising - then we had the current economic melt down and the $5K stipends were eliminated. So we are back to running in the red and I'm going to start moonlighting as a tech guy to bring in extra dough. This obviously cannot continue and I may need to move on - my current gross is $27K.
I am a jack-of-all trades guy and certified geek: OSX - XP - Linux - build clients or servers - manage servers - basic networking - home networking - just set up a Mythbuntu DVR - etc. I'm not looking to earn a fortune --- but my gross needs to meet $32K+. Economic times are tight but even as things moderate I doubt those 5K stipends will ever return.
So how does all this stack up against what some of you are experiencing ? I've been lazy but over the Winter I'm going to pick up my A+ and Network certs just to have those on my resume. Anything else I can work on or do ? I want to work in an educational setting if possible. Certainly I know that taking a job at district IT would pay better - but I do love my little kingdom at the high school and the students and staff. The thought of returning to powerpoint land - status reports - and 2 hour meetings (at IT central) chills my spine ....
I know pay levels and all that can sensitive so PM me if you want to.
It's can be very similar for all of us, so i'm certain many will sympathise with your case.
The sitution in the UK is quite similar and only in recent times have IT jobs been recognised for their worth and pay become closer to a worthy level.
Th best thing you can do is get some experience in the sector and prove yourself invaluable / get promoted. Certification isn't always necessary unless you are looking to change jobs, if you already have a foot in the door, then you're one step ahead. Pursuing further qualifications however does look good on your CV and can keep you sane though.
I struggled to find work some years back (2004) and struggled to get into IT, but chanced upon a job at a school through a friend. It paid £13k per year basic and i'd recently turned down a job offering £17.5k thinking i wanted more! I ended up doing lots of private work, basic stuff, home builds, consultancy, sometimes just for beer money nothing more, but it kept me going.
Keep fighting the good fight, and stick around here, we'll keep you amused, and there's lots to learn and plenty of opportunities to pass your skills and knowledge on to others to help them on their way too.
Good luck :O)
Last edited by vikpaw; 6th December 2009 at 05:26 AM.
Thanks for the comments - the certifications are primarily a preparation should I need to take another job. Come Spring / Summer I may look at jobs with other districts - community colleges - or universities. I might even look at city or county level IT positions.
And yes I believe all school districts are awakening to the need for proper IT support from the classroom to central office - but each district is a special case some ahead of the curve others (most) not.