Looking For Alternate IT roles



  • In my job searching I was wondering what would be other good roles to step into other than a system admin?

    My current role at work at desktop support, patching, imaging, and basic network troubleshooting. I took it on myself to learn a bit of powershell to use as often as I can. As a result of powershell I don't usually have much to work on as it made me much more efficient over time. I enjoy c++ and am teaching myself python currently. I have my own cloud servers I manage and use for websites and and experimental installs. They are Fedora and I enjoy managing them.

    My current certifications are A+, CTS, and Network +. My current learning path includes working on my MCSA, then SCSP, and maybe Asterisk for voip. If I don't find a junior admin position or something similar is there something else I should be watching for to move into instead of an admin position that would also be rewarding?



  • Well at the high level there are two general types of IT jobs. Neither is a job itself. One is admin or ops, the other is engineer. The names are often thrown around loosely, and SMBs tend to put both roles on one person.

    Admin jobs work on supporting running systems. This could be a server, database, network infrastructure or what have you. Running things need to be monitored and tweaked.

    Engineers design systems to be deployed. Everything that an admin operates, an engineer decides on, designs and installs.



  • Different areas in IT, each having both an admin hat to wear and an engineering hat to wear, include...

    Generalist (literally doing it all)
    Systems (Server)
    Systems (Desktop / End User)
    End User Support
    Database
    Virtualization / Hypervisor
    Cloud
    Networking (Routers, Switching, Wireless, etc.)
    Security

    There there are app specialists that work within just one app area, again with the same two hats to wear...

    VoIP
    Email
    Messaging
    Unified Communications
    ERP

    Then there are non-internal roles to consider...

    MSP / ITSP (same jobs, different approach)
    Vendor (Pre-Sales Engineering, Product Support)

    And don't forget the non-IT, but highly connected Project Management role.

    And lastly of course there are management positions of various nature.



  • Ok thanks. So basically its an admin or development. I'm just trying to figure out what would be applicable to me. Im currently in the Systems(desktop/end user) role now. I have done it for 5 years now so rdy for something else.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So basically its an admin or development.

    Where did you pull development from? Development is not IT at all.



  • @JaredBusch I inferred it from Scott's description of an engineer (Engineers design systems to be deployed. Everything that an admin operates, an engineer decides on, designs and installs.) If I interpreted that wrong I apologize and need to understand what an engineer is better in the IT world.



  • Engineer
    Admin

    Nothign says development.



  • @JaredBusch Ok I got it then, thanks.



  • Development typically means writing code. And while PowerShell is a type of code, I don't think the kinds of scripts IT Admins write are generally considered development.

    Then there is DevOps - I'll let someone else explain that one though.



  • @Dashrender said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Development typically means writing code. And while PowerShell is a type of code, I don't think the kinds of scripts IT Admins write are generally considered development.

    Then there is DevOps - I'll let someone else explain that one though.

    PowerShell scripting is typically for IT OP's and Admin tasks. That's nothing to do with Software Engineering, programming, etc.



  • @Obsolesce said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @Dashrender said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Development typically means writing code. And while PowerShell is a type of code, I don't think the kinds of scripts IT Admins write are generally considered development.

    Then there is DevOps - I'll let someone else explain that one though.

    PowerShell scripting is typically for IT OP's and Admin tasks. That's nothing to do with Software Engineering, programming, etc.

    That was basically my point.



  • @Dashrender said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Development typically means writing code. And while PowerShell is a type of code, I don't think the kinds of scripts IT Admins write are generally considered development.

    Then there is DevOps - I'll let someone else explain that one though.

    Yes we are on same page here, I don't consider general powershell usage to be development either. I have just heard others say that IT engineering was a hybrid of development and operations. So that's how I got to that assumption from Scott's description earlier.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Ok thanks. So basically its an admin or development.

    Admin or Engineering. Dev is not part of the IT field. Development / Software Engineering is its own discipline.

    Youtube Video



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Im currently in the Systems(desktop/end user) role now. I have done it for 5 years now so rdy for something else.

    While desktop support is totally a legitimate "system admin" role, it is not what the title "systems admin" implies. Desktops are systems, but that role is called "desktop support" or "desktop administrator" as it is so unique compared to mainstream system administration which refers to servers. Desktop support and server support, while technically very related under the hood, are extremely different in practice.



  • So I guess this leads to the actual definition of an IT engineer. Since I have heard different opinions on it now, what does an engineer cover? What specific areas does he cover and roles does he take?



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @JaredBusch I inferred it from Scott's description of an engineer (Engineers design systems to be deployed. Everything that an admin operates, an engineer decides on, designs and installs.) If I interpreted that wrong I apologize and need to understand what an engineer is better in the IT world.

    A system engineer is who designs the deployment of an OS and deploys it. The administrator runs it.

    In the networking world (and Cisco has different tracks for each)... the network engineer designs where routers, switches, access points will go, which models to buy, how to connect them, how they will be configured.

    The network admin monitors and maintains that system once it is up and running. Admins are focused on tweaks, tunings, replacements, fixes, upgrades, etc. Engineers are focused on design and deployment. Admins are availability focused, engineers are productivity focused. Admins are on call, engineers are not on call.

    In the desktop world, a desktop engineer designs the gold images, chooses the OS, picks the base applications, chooses the hardware, probably runs the deployment infrastructure. The admin does rebuilds, installs new apps, works with the end users, repairs broken systems, handles patching, etc.

    Youtube Video



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    I have just heard others say that IT engineering was a hybrid of development and operations. So that's how I got to that assumption from Scott's description earlier.

    Those would be some really confused people 🙂 Writing code is something all people do, even people outside of IT. You might write a little code as an accountant, a manufacturing engineer, an electrical engineer, a doctor, even a veterinarian (I know those that do.) All IT roles have times that writing code is part of what we do, just as any profession does. Being an engineer or an admin you wouldn't write more or less code than the other.

    In my engineering roles I might write a script that builds new PBXs so that I don't have to do it manually.

    In my administration role I would often write scripts to deploy massive rounds of patches or software updates every week because it made it faster and more reliable to touch hundreds of servers.

    One doesn't get closer to developers, they just use scripts for different purposes.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    Im currently in the Systems(desktop/end user) role now. I have done it for 5 years now so rdy for something else.

    While desktop support is totally a legitimate "system admin" role, it is not what the title "systems admin" implies. Desktops are systems, but that role is called "desktop support" or "desktop administrator" as it is so unique compared to mainstream system administration which refers to servers. Desktop support and server support, while technically very related under the hood, are extremely different in practice.

    Yes I agree. That's why I chose that option from your list earlier and also why I didn't say I was in the systems(server) role.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So I guess this leads to the actual definition of an IT engineer. Since I have heard different opinions on it now, what does an engineer cover? What specific areas does he cover and roles does he take?

    The term "engineer" is codified and not ambiguous at all. It has a concrete meaning. Adding "IT" after it simply means doing the engineering tasks of the IT field. There should never be "opinion" about engineering, it's not the kind of thing that can realistically have opinions. It's an extremely clear cut thing.

    It only seems ambiguous because of two key reasons...

    1. Loads of people think that engineer sounds better than admin so they alter their titles to "sound good" even though my experience is that admin is the more senior role (admins are who you call when you are losing money). Simply lying is all that there is here.

    2. Some jurisdictions legally ban most engineers from using the title because they "sell" the title, like they do with doctor, and if you don't pay for one of their engineering titles you can't use it, even if it is what you are.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    What specific areas does he cover and roles does he take?

    Engineer vs Admin is purely how they approach the solution. Engineers "engineer" the solution. Admins "administer" the solution. One designs, one maintains.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    In the desktop world, a desktop engineer designs the gold images, chooses the OS, picks the base applications, chooses the hardware, probably runs the deployment infrastructure. The admin does rebuilds, installs new apps, works with the end users, repairs broken systems, handles patching, etc.

    Lol I have never heard anyone use the term desktop engineer before but I guess technically I do all this.



  • @scottalanmiller great videos though thankyou. That makes a lot of sense to me. The people here and the consultants they brought in have much different opinions on development and roles. My VP calls herself a developer vp because she fiddles with some php on our website. I can only imagine the fun you all would have with that piece of info, and I'm going to agree with you!



  • So I just need to keep learning skills in different areas until I find a position in one of those areas at a larger company. I should specifically look for an engineering role because it is not as senior as admin then?



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @scottalanmiller said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    In the desktop world, a desktop engineer designs the gold images, chooses the OS, picks the base applications, chooses the hardware, probably runs the deployment infrastructure. The admin does rebuilds, installs new apps, works with the end users, repairs broken systems, handles patching, etc.

    Lol I have never heard anyone use the term desktop engineer before but I guess technically I do all this.

    Almost no one does because it is such a rare role. Only the biggest companies have someone dedicated to that role as a normal company it might be 20 hours every few years of work.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So I just need to keep learning skills in different areas until I find a position in one of those areas at a larger company. I should specifically look for an engineering role because it is not as senior as admin then?

    Do you Want to do one more than the other? I personally more enjoy engineering and architecting. But every job I've had involves some administration. Though, I am pursuing architect.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    My VP calls herself a developer vp because she fiddles with some php on our website.

    We'd call her "not qualified to be an intern". Everyone in super low positions wants to give themselves big titles, it's all that they have to cling to. If she interviewed as a developer, she'd be walked out for falsifying her resume.



  • @Obsolesce said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So I just need to keep learning skills in different areas until I find a position in one of those areas at a larger company. I should specifically look for an engineering role because it is not as senior as admin then?

    Do you Want to do one more than the other? I personally more enjoy engineering and architecting. But every job I've had involves some administration. Though, I am pursuing architect.

    I prefer administration myself. but I like both.



  • @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So I just need to keep learning skills in different areas until I find a position in one of those areas at a larger company. I should specifically look for an engineering role because it is not as senior as admin then?

    Engineer roles will pay upwards of $350K. Admin roles will pay higher in the most demanding companies. Unless you feel constrained by $350K, I'd not worry about one being more or less senior.



  • In most places, engineer and admin functions (not always titles, as titles are generally false) are roughly equal. In places like hedge funds and investment banks where downtime means millions or billions in losses, admins make much higher money because it is admins alone, never engineers, who are in the hot seat and responsible for saving the company.

    When at the biggest firms in the world, we had an effective L1 - L5 scale. Engineers only really existed from L2-L4. Administration is the larger "hat" to wear and had a ration of like 80 admins to 6 engineers. The admins started lower with L1s (juniors), but went higher with the most senior L4s and the only L5.

    How the scale was done....

    L1 - Junior
    L2 - "Plain" Admin / Engineer
    L3 - Senior
    L4 - Subject Matter Specialist / Lead
    L5 - Chief



  • @scottalanmiller said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    @jmoore said in Looking For Alternate IT roles:

    So I just need to keep learning skills in different areas until I find a position in one of those areas at a larger company. I should specifically look for an engineering role because it is not as senior as admin then?

    Engineer roles will pay upwards of $350K. Admin roles will pay higher in the most demanding companies. Unless you feel constrained by $350K, I'd not worry about one being more or less senior.

    Keep in mind these are the hidden jobs you and I will never find or hear about other than from Scott.

    I only come across the opposite when talking to recruiters, headhunters, and hiring managers. My personal experience has been IT related Administrator roles offer less than engineering roles, architect roles being the top of the three.

    I wanted to add that it's not that I don't believe Scott, it's just in my experience and everywhere I've seen, it was the opposite.


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