When I started out in IT in June 2000 there were fortunes to be made if you were good at just one thing. I had friends working in the city making a lot of money supporting stuff like Windows 98, Lotus Notes (email), Windows proxy server, PIX firewall etc.
There weren’t enough IT people to go around which pushed up the rates. If you knew much about anything you would get almost daily calls from recruitment agents trying to poach you from your current job with offers of more money, company cars and benefits.
Times have changed and you are now in a very competitive industry. Even Cisco CCIEs who were once considered Gods of networking have realized that they have to diversify if they are to survive. But it’s not bad news actually. If you choose your subjects wisely you can still command a high salary.
I’ve put together a list of core skills you must possess if you want to be employable. Without these you risk either becoming obsolete and / or unemployable. As always, this is just my opinion so feel free to do what you feel is right for you.
I’ve been warning people about this for a few years. I’m afraid 99% ignored me or delayed learning it. Perhaps they felt it would be too hard and some couldn’t be bothered. Over 25% of traffic hitting Google is already using IPv6. Over 40% of USA networks are running IPv6.
If you don’t understand it then you have no business being in IT I’m afraid. Much like the people who used to know IPX/SPX addressing and refused to learn IPv4 back in the 90’s.
Take our IPv6 masterclass – beginner to expert to learn IPv6.
Having to host your own racks of servers, routers, switches as well as pay for multiple power supplies and redundancies as well as backups is not only a pain in the butt but also very expensive. And let’s not get into compliance.
Cloud computing represents a no-brainer for most companies. You only need to run end devices and a router to get you out to the cloud. All the expensive stuff is hosted by companies such as Amazon. You can scale up or down at the push of a button and there are no outages or hiring headaches.
Amazon dominates the market but Google is close behind. Both offer certifications and you can start out with the vendor-neutral CompTIA Cloud Essentials.
You used to have the choice between learning Windows or Linux. Things are changing now looking at all the cloud certifications. Many of the cloud servers are running off Linux so if you need to do any work in a Cloud environment you will need to be familiar with the Linux command line and syntax.
It isn’t too hard to learn, most of the software is free and there are a few certifications to choose from. Look at the Linux Professional Institute exams LPIC1 and LPIC2.
You might be the sort of person who avoids doing anything over and above what their job description entails but if you have just a little bit of PM knowledge you can do some really exciting things.
You don’t have to launch into a full PM role unless that’s what you want but if you can work on projects alongside your normal role a whole new world opens up to you. Meeting with company leadership, visiting vendors to test equipment and solutions and extra training and usually more pay.
Look at the CompTIA Project+ to start with before progressing onto PRINCE2 or other vendors.
Once you have the above core skills you can look to become an expert in one of them or specialize in security, collaboration or something else. If you are missing these skills then please address them in the order I listed if you want to stay in IT in the next few years.