Do IT People Hate Their Jobs?

from the they're-not-real-thrilled-about-them dept

A recent study suggests that IT people really don’t seem to like their jobs very much. Apparently, only 4% of IT people found themselves “highly engaged” with their jobs — a number that has dropped from the still low, but not as low, 12%, two years earlier. There are concerns, of course, for what this means for companies and their IT staff. It certainly raises some questions about whether or not this is a potential issue going forward, and how companies might deal with this. Are the problems caused by the way IT people are treated? Or does it have more to do with their own worries about the future of the IT profession? And given that so many people in IT aren’t particularly enthusiastic about their jobs, how can that be dealt with?

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Comments on “Do IT People Hate Their Jobs?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

My two cents is that is it the two different cultures interacting. Most people who are in the IT biz are used to an environment that is much less restrictive than the standard corporate work place. They don’t like dealing with the politics, paperwork, and bureaucracy of the standard office environment.

At least, that’s how I feel. I love the challenge of creating or updating a program and will lose all track of time if I’m really into it –I have worked straight through lunch without noticing– but when I’m half-way through and the requirements drastically change or I finish and I have to make a 20-page step by step test sheet for someone to follow who doesn’t want to learn more beyond the bare minimum of making a program work, or when I have to sit through multiple meetings with the customer because they don’t even know what they want the program to do I get annoyed and like my job a little less.

I smile and act professional and do all that stuff, but I sure don’t enjoy it and sometimes it takes most of my time at work, to the point where I am more than glad to get home and relax.

WammerJammer (profile) says:

Re: Do IT People Hate Their Jobs?

Really you need to go out and enjoy the world. Not to put you down or anything but you have way too much time on your hands since you respond to every new item I read in TechDirt. Maybe you should do something else. I worked IT for 30 years and got out of the corp building and went into outside support. You know the guy the IT dept calls when none of their guys can fix it. You know real network stuff. Too bad you got stuck in the corp building. I saw outside support as being the only way to get around the corp bull and still get their money. You know man! be a consultant. Get a couple of certs (MCSE, MCSI, Novell Linux, Cisco) there are lots of ways out. Kinda like being in the slums, it only takes the amount for bus fare to leave.
Have fun.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re:

but when I’m half-way through and the requirements drastically change or I finish and I have to make a 20-page step by step test sheet for someone to follow who doesn’t want to learn more beyond the bare minimum of making a program work, or when I have to sit through multiple meetings with the customer because they don’t even know what they want the program to do I get annoyed and like my job a little less.

there are guys who just sit in a corner and code all day. they live in india and make $10 a day. you want to make more than that, you have to do more than that. that means developing and using your people skills.

Poster #1 says:

Re: Re: Re:

“there are guys who just sit in a corner and code all day. they live in india and make $10 a day. you want to make more than that, you have to do more than that. that means developing and using your people skills.”

It is an issue of scale. I’ll happily write a manual for a program, sit with a customer to design what they want, and write a test script a couple pages long that consists of “test situation X”.

My problems enter when, after I have sat down, gotten a requirements and design docs signed off, and am half-way through coding they come to me saying “oh, can you add this, or that isn’t exactly how we want it, I didn’t actually read the requirement and design docs before I signed” and they go to my boss or worse, my boss’s boss to force me to add things that require major rewrites. This is easily the most annoying, I had a signed document that I spent time writing and getting signed off before I started, and coding to the document, and then they make me throw away a lot of work because they didn’t uphold their part

Or when I’m writing the test script I can’t just say:
“1:Test situation where Y is greater than Y, does Z happen properly?”
but instead have to type
“1: Enter 95 into Y box
2: Enter 55 into X box
3: Click button
4: look for and confirm that Z happens”
I get a little annoyed and don’t like those parts, it is worse when I am writing a test doc for something that isn’t a linear process so I can’t just say “1: test order of X=>Y=>Z 2: Y=>Z=>X..” and so on, but I have to write out fifteen or more steps per part, it turns what could be a 3-5 page maximum test script –if the user had read the manual I wrote for them or applied some basic logic– into a 20-30 minimum test script.

As for when I’m sitting down with a customer, I expect a little bit more than “we want to use computers/the internet for this” I need what they want to do, is it for tech-savvy-ish people who know the processes (say the organization that keeps track of some equipment), or is it for the end users (the people who check out the equipment), what do they need to track, what “gotchas” exist in the rules system. I don’t mind it when customers don’t have some of the answers, hell I expect that, I’m trained to think of all the gotchas and ask about them. What I don’t like is when they don’t com prepared at all and just know that they want to “computerize” something. I want a little bit of a starting point and not have to drag details of the system out like I’m pulling teeth.

It is the same way if I am sitting around twiddling my thumbs to get a completed test report back two weeks after I gave them it, even though the entire test only takes 10 minutes to run and I have a deadline to keep to. I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t have a deadline, but when i can’t meet a deadline because of issues out of my control and fully in the customer’s hands, i also get annoyed.

Like I said, a matter of scale, some work like that I’m fine with, but when other people’s willful ignorance (willful being the key word there) or complete apathy make me waste time or be less productive, I don’t enjoy my job as much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most IT people are idiot underlings without a clue, tied to menial Windows paradigms and doing things like telling idiot users their monitor is turned off and not dead. Which sucks. What sucks more is that because they are so clueless they can only continue to be cocky as long as the company maintains a Windows infrastructure that can procedurally manage by morons that think they’re computer geniuses because they’ve heard of the registry or can use photoshop.

Those who aren’t underlings are invariably supervisor types putting in place the idiot tech policies of clueless executives that waste money and don’t actually accomplish what the organization needs, rather than being able to implement and run anything sane as they know how to do.

Of course most IT workers aren’t happy….

Poster #1 says:

Re: Re:

I think you aren’t defining IT people correctly, while some of them are Tech support and help desk there are a lot of System Admins, Network Engineers, Programmers (some go by the title “Business Systems Analyst”), and Web Designers that you aren’t likely to see because handle things for the company behind the scenes unless you need an in-house solution.

There are certainly more people in IT than the help-desk/tech-support minions and executives. I should also mention that most of the IT workers I have worked with would be perfectly comfortable using Linux because they do all sorts of projects at home, some of which are based off of Linux.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: IT underling

I love how Windows Infrastructure to you consists of the registry and Photoshop. Forget that Windows servers run just about every corporate domain out there, with solid DNS, DHCP, even routing services (not that I would use it over a Cisco router). I’m guessing you’re going to say linux/unix is the best Operating system ever and anyone that uses Windows over Linux is some sort of Neanderthal; Well, I use both, and lets face it, Windows pretty much rules the IT Infrastructure world-wide, Unix systems only run along side it.

IT employees are unhappy because they have to deal with whiny douche-bags, unreasonable clients, short dead-lines, lack of information, Jew companies and/or owners that won’t spend the money required for a decent network, and all of the stress when the system fails and little to no gratitude when it is fixed.

Hiro Nogano (profile) says:

Re: Re: IT underling

“IT employees are unhappy because they have to deal with whiny douche-bags, unreasonable clients, short dead-lines, lack of information, Jew companies and/or owners that won’t spend the money required for a decent network, and all of the stress when the system fails and little to no gratitude when it is fixed.”

Preach it, brother!

Derek (profile) says:

Re: Re:

‘Most IT people are idiot underlings without a clue, tied to menial Windows paradigms and doing things like telling idiot users their monitor is turned off and not dead. Which sucks. What sucks more is that because they are so clueless they can only continue to be cocky as long as the company maintains a Windows infrastructure that can procedurally manage by morons that think they’re computer geniuses because they’ve heard of the registry or can use photoshop.

Those who aren’t underlings are invariably supervisor types putting in place the idiot tech policies of clueless executives that waste money and don’t actually accomplish what the organization needs, rather than being able to implement and run anything sane as they know how to do.

Doesn’t sound like anyone I’ve known in my menial 25 years in IT. I can program multple disciplines, work in multiple environments, Integrate almost any system into another… all at break neck speed – As can most of the IT dudes I know. I HAVE FOUND THAT IT’S DUDES THAT SLAG OFF OTHERS & BLAME DUMB USERS FOR EVERYTHING… are themselves menial little people that are not very good at IT – whos Boll*$ks views should never be heard…

Yes you should stay anon.. and away from IT!.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

I think that a lot of has to do with the motivations people had for entering the field in the first place. Amongst my colleagues, the ones who are fully engaged and enjoy their jobs are people who just love to program and would (and do) do it even when they aren’t getting paid.

But in the past 15 years or so, the number of people who entered the field because they saw it as a good career, as opposed to loving it for its own sake, have increased so much as to become a majority. Many of these people enjoy jobs, but a nontrivial percentage really do not. To them, it’s a kind of drudgery.

Also, the nature and methodology of many workplaces has changed in ways that tend to make things difficult to enjoy even (or particularly) if you do love the work itself. You often have to take the bad with the good in life, but some people have low tolerance for pain.

jmproffitt (profile) says:

End of an era

My take is that we’re reaching the end of the first wave of personal computing; we’ve gone as far as we can go with the current approach to operating systems, applications and expectations of computing expertise by end users.

Smartphones and things like the iPad and Chrome OS are starting the next wave. Multitouch and speech recognition technologies are just now reaching the point where developers understand how to use them effectively. As “applications” increasingly become complete interactive environments and experiences instead of “this window that runs on your OS,” we’ll get a new kick of productivity as non-computer-science folks (nearly everyone) is saved the hassle of learning computer science to do simple things.

Consider the car metaphor. When it came around, you had to know a crap load of technical information to run them well. Enthusiasts took over. They tweaked and tinkered; they raced and redesigned. But in time, the car was made simpler. Ignition systems were developed. Automatic transmissions appeared. Cars ran longer with fewer maintenance requirements. The relative cost of cars came down and they were specialized over time, not to mention made more comfortable and functional for more people in more situations. Computers are now starting to exit the general purpose tinkering phase just as cars did.

For IT professionals, this has got to be confusing and frustrating. You train a lifetime for a career and you’re now caught between two worlds. On the one hand, you’ve got drop-dead-simple devices and interfaces appearing, and the users don’t need you anymore — indeed, you’re in their way. On the other hand, you have these legacy systems and applications that you need to maintain with an iron fist to drive out costs and force standardization on the seemingly uncontrolled masses. In one situation you’re standing in the way of progress, preventing people from experiencing happy productivity. In the other, you’re the enforcer of the factory mentality the corporation wants to exert on its workers, pushing locked-down Windows boxes and tightly-limited apps on an ungrateful bunch of users.

In short, if you’re in IT today, you can’t win. That would discourage anyone.

Burgos says:

Re: End of an era

I beg to differ. Unless software can write itself, many IT pros out there, coders primarily, will get to keep their careers. And the increasing complexity in current hardware that you’re talking about can only generate more opportunities for others in IT.

I rather think the car metaphor works the other way. While cars have become simple to operate, they have become more complex types of machinery. So complex that even enthusiasts face greater challenges in troubleshooting and maintenance. It used to be that when your car stalled under floodwater, a tune-up, oil change, and carburetor cleaning can get it back on the road. Not with today’s models. For those, most car owners will need the services of a pro to get a computer box reprogrammed or replaced.

We’re not approaching the “end of an era”. We’re simply rolling out new devices, that need new software, that allow people to do some new stuff. But while this roll-out may eliminate some old troubleshooting and maintenance issues, other issues will arise, and people will still have a use for professional services.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: End of an era

“Unless software can write itself”

uhm… what was it that I learned about people who used to think that higher programming language would eventually go away because they were too slow and then computer hardware got better and so those language pretty much took over the marketplace?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: End of an era

On the one hand, you’ve got drop-dead-simple devices and interfaces appearing, and the users don’t need you anymore — indeed, you’re in their way.

lmao…youve got to be kidding, right? These “drop-dead-simple” devices like the iPhone caused quite a headache when many of our executives started using them and then wanted us to support them. No matter how simple and “intuitive” technology becomes, there will always be a need for gurus to work on the back end, and there will always be users that need to be led by the hand…that’s just the nature of IT.

chris (profile) says:

Re: End of an era

i mostly agree. the IT world is in a state of flux, but it’s not anything new. IT is perpetually in flux because technology itself is perpetually in flux.

For IT professionals, this has got to be confusing and frustrating. You train a lifetime for a career and you’re now caught between two worlds.

this is where i disagree. i have been in the IT trenches for 13 years and i have already re-learned everything at least three times. all technology has a shelf life.

but you know, the more things change, the more they stay the same. routing and wiring problems to the mainframe have been replaced with firewall and plugin problems for web apps. irq conflicts were replaced with dll conflicts, which were replaced with java/.net/citrix versioning conflicts. virtualization is everything you hate about real computing, plus virtualization problems. in other words, technology will always need care and feeding, which means there will always be IT types.

sure, more and more of the hands on hardware type stuff will be replaced with remote software/service type stuff, but at the end of the day, your average knowledge worker will always need technical support for stuff that is beyond the scope of his or her expertise.

i don’t think significant change will happen in IT until businesses decentralize things a bit more by moving away from traditional departments and start using more contractors and consultants in purely project oriented roles.

if more of the workforce moves away from w2 type work to 1099 type consulting, IT in general will move that way as well.

mobility and cloud computing could mean fewer people working in corporate office parks on assets issued by corporate, and more people working in arbitrary locations on personally owned equipment. that could mean that instead of working for the IT department you end up being a consultant that gets hired by consultants to fix problems.

but really, all that means is that more remote and mobile work will mean more remote and mobile support.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: End of an era

“Smartphones and things like the iPad and Chrome OS are starting the next wave.”

And they still connect to some Windows Server Cluster running IIS and .NET code, behind a Nortel VPN across a routed Cisco network, etc etc etc . . . its not like magical elves are making the new technologies work either ya know

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Software Development: Corporate vs Code-Cutter vs Creative Programmers

I’m a software developer myself. Having used a great many different programming languages, it seems that each one tends to develop a different culture around it. For example, languages like C++, Java and C# tend to appeal to corporate types, who like to build elaborate class inheritance structures which probably reflect their chains of management command—Conways’s Law in action, I guess.

Then you have the cut-price code cutters, who work with languages like Visual Basic and PHP, and are mostly self-taught. Their concept of code reuse is to copy and paste—often ending up with several copies of virtually identical code in the same source file. They have no understanding of security issues like code injection attacks, that kind of thing.

Then you have the category that, I admit, I would put myself in: the “creatives”. We use languages like Perl, Python and Ruby, but we’re not afraid of C when it’s necessary. Or even (very rarely) assembler. We understand things like complexity theory and how to properly escape special characters when embedding one language inside another. And we know how to write meaningful, yet concise, comments.

I think there are a lot of creatives working in Open Source. They aren’t afraid to let others not only see their code, but critique it and improve on it. They see constructive criticism as a learning experience, not as a threat to their manhoods. How else do you get so smart, except by going through a lot of learning experiences like this?

Brad Wardle (profile) says:

Pot Meet Kettle

@#2. You sound like a bitter IT person.

I’ve had my ups and my downs, and I got into the IT industry because I liked building machines for myself and friends. As far as jobs go I think we have more than just the IT sector in jeopardy. Companies care less and push their workers harder in all sectors from what I can see. Companies will always need IT guys for hardware and setting up enterprise systems, though the number they need may go down. Virtualization and cloud computing are streamlining a lot of the help desk’s day to day work.

Jmproffitt’s analogy seems to hold water to me. Cars are much more accessible today, but there are still millions of gainfully employed mechanics. The IT guy isn’t going away. Once the baby boomers are out of the workforce I think we may see the IT job environment improve. When the workforce has used computers their whole life they tend to be a bit more savvy.

Personally, I want out of the IT industry, corporate america as a whole. It’s all a miserable crock. Going to give it up for music someday I hope.

Anonymous Coward says:

The SOLE purpose of an ‘IT’ person, aka ‘Geek’, is to solve problems. As a software engineer, I have on the brighter side of this situations. For the support staff though, they have to deal users. And while users are not necessarily ‘stupid’ they only have to deal with IT people when they have a problem. Usually something that is preventing them from doing their jobs and as such is a source of frustration for them. Therefore, seeing as it’s the IT guys responsibility to make sure their computer runs properly, they blame him when it doesn’t. So they take it out on the poor IT guy.

No wonder they hate their jobs.

I, on the other hand, learned long ago that if someone comes to me for help and has an attitude, I don’t have a problem telling them to go f^$# themselves and refuse to help. I’m sure not everyone is afforded the same tho.

Danny says:

Re: Re:

I, on the other hand, learned long ago that if someone comes to me for help and has an attitude, I don’t have a problem telling them to go f^$# themselves and refuse to help. I’m sure not everyone is afforded the same tho.
Dude/dudette I wish I had the luxury of being able to tell that to people that have an attitude. Unfortunately support people are so low on the food chain that if something goes wrong NO MATTER WHAT it will be supports fault

Simply put support staff job security depends on stupidity (because if they actually did education themselves why would they need to call support?) and arrogance (because if they were humble enough to admit they don’t know what they doing they would actually learn what they are doing so again why call support?)

Travis says:

Well when it comes to stuff like, SQL, java, PHP. I guess a special person would enjoy that, and boy I wish I knew one, most I have met purely got into it for the money/ career.

I hate that sort of stuff too, but most of the work for me is creativity, Photoshop, 3d, film whatever, and I love it.

As long as the customer knows what they want and does not make me redo work again and again till they literally see what they want, guess they need an imagination lol.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I guess a special person would enjoy that, and boy I wish I knew one, most I have met purely got into it for the money/ career.”

I’m one.

I’ve been programming for over 25 years, and do it because I love to do it. Period.

It became my career because if I had gone into any other line of work, it would have reduced the amount of time I could spend coding.

I like and need money as much as anyone, of course, but the money is not the reason I’m in this business. Not to say it doesn’t have an impact: I’ll work cheap (or free) if the project is one that is particularly interesting to me. I’ll charge in the six figures if I have to take a less interesting project because no good ones happen to be around at the moment.

I’ve always counted myself as fortunate. Software is my hobby, in the sense that it’s something I do for fun. I’m fortunate that I found a way to get paid for my playtime.

Travis says:

Well when it comes to stuff like, SQL, java, PHP. I guess a special person would enjoy that, and boy I wish I knew one, most I have met purely got into it for the money/ career.

I hate that sort of stuff too, but most of the work for me is creativity, Photoshop, 3d, film whatever, and I love it.

As long as the customer knows what they want and does not make me redo work again and again till they literally see what they want, guess they need an imagination lol.

Travis says:

Well when it comes to stuff like, SQL, java, PHP. I guess a special person would enjoy that, and boy I wish I knew one, most I have met purely got into it for the money/ career.

I hate that sort of stuff too, but most of the work for me is creativity, Photoshop, 3d, film whatever, and I love it.

As long as the customer knows what they want and does not make me redo work again and again till they literally see what they want, guess they need an imagination lol.

Chunky Vomit says:

Working for IT providers sucks. You have to deal with programs that don’t work right (on any platform) and users who don’t work right.

Working for myself = awesome. If a client sucks, I can fire them. Almost all of my clients listen to what I tell them to do with backups, security, networking, etc. They are happy, I am happy. Politics is kept to a minimum.

Fred McTaker (profile) says:

In-house or contract?

I think IT, and perception of the role of IT, needs to transition from a worker drone style job to a valued core service provider. Experienced IT professionals should be treated more like Lawyers than Electricians. I say this because the temptation is to just hire some high-priced IT consultant to come in and set everything up, and then contract with some other bulk-rate Geeksquad style outfit for maintenance. That’s like getting a great contract lawyer to set up all the company boilerplate forms and agreements, and then hiring any ambulance-chaser available for random updates and emergency needs. That never works, because company changes and emergencies often require design changes, and these are done better with someone who already worked with the company from the start. You also need IT more quickly in emergencies, because down time is lost money. It’s better to get high-value IT service from the start, and keep them on a retainer of some form. Dragging IT expertise in-house seems like a method of accomplishing the same thing, but in practice businesses are always tempted to drag in under-trained and underpaid newbies, in the hope that they will “learn on the job.” Do you really want to be paying the salary that real high-value IT requires, at full price year-round? That’s what it will cost to keep someone that knowledgeable interested in your singular operation. It’s better to contract with a trusted firm to set you up, and a retainer allows quick call escalation when needed.

December Advocate (profile) says:

im one of the 4%

I work in a large corporate IT department in the UK servicing a good 20 buildings and almost 8000 users. i know why a lot of people hate the job and i will list why:

1. often enough, poorly executed decisions from higher up make a huge mess for us at the customer service level. we have had a poorly implemented media encryption system that doesnt work properly and actually thwarts us when we are working, but offers no real security (as any drive over 100GB is automatically allowed with full access). this frustrates our helpdesk team who basically have to tell users that “yes im sorry it doesnt work but no we cant take it off”

2. bullshit targets. we get lots of bullshit targets such as security based ones which, although a good idea, fail to stop the myriad viruses we get because we still use IE6 (goddamn legacy web based databases). this ambivalence leaves us all feeling like we arent working in the real world but in some insane manager’s hallucination!

3. shitty tools and licencing lockins: we can only use 1 antivirus tool (and it isnt very good) due to licencing. this means that if the antivirus program says the machine is clean when it isnt, we basically have to reformat the machine (we arent allowed to ‘waste time’ manually busting the virus) which takes a lot longer as we must migrate the data etc. we could fire up another tool but no: licencing issues (promote the progress my ass). if the auditors come and we have unlicenced tools, we could be bankrupted even though as a company we provide extremely important local services (the right for someone to make money trumps all of that).

4. end users are f*cking stupid and we are literally expected to hold their hand as they cannot type their own son’s name correctly (and it is their password… DOH!). they dont take responsibility for their own mistakes and everyone thinks they are a DIY networking genius and ends up screwing around with the cabling. this creates an “us vs them” mentality within the customer-facing teams which doesnt help lower anyone’s blood pressure.

5. we are undervalued as a service. when IT works, nobody notices and when stuff goes wrong it is just proof that “we dont know what we are doing”. this is sort-of correct as well, as we dont get any training (even the trainees!) official or otherwise. i can turn up 2 hours after we were called by a user (even though our Service Level Agreement is up to 5 days) and they will still chew me out over how little work they have been able to do. we get a lot of good, friendly users as well but they are sadly the minority

6. I.T.I.L is the biggest waste of time i could possibly imagine. great idea, very inflexible and treats IT as one giant entity rather than allowing seperate groups to self-direct a bit more. good ideas end up getting lost amongst the immense amounts of statistics that management has to look over every day just to be able to tell if everthing works ok or not!

i love the job, all of these pointless obstacles make the challenge require more creativity. however, a lot of my colleagues who have been here for a lot longer have become very jaded and cynical about how things work here. i dont think they have any faith left in the IT world! i relish the challenge but after only 2 years i feel i am stagnating and the opportunities to learn and create new solutions to problems are running out fast!

Altrux (user link) says:

Misery indeed

I seriously hated mine by the end – working for a small business IT support company, dealing with 98% Microsoft “solutions”. It was evil drudgery, day in, day out. No job satisfaction, no joy, no appreciation, just dealing with an endless stream of angry, stressed people and feeling like it’s always *your* fault, even when you’re there to help. I quite in 2006 and will never, ever go back to IT! Sure, there are much better places to be within the IT world, but I struggled for years to get into them, so enough was enough – career change time.

Phil says:

Outsourcing is the reason

I manage a successful helpdesk. Successful because we have happy users who like to call us.

I enjoy the aspect of helping people, even when you get the odd irate or know-it-all.

Unfortunatley the powers that be have decided they can get a massive IT organisation to run their IT cheaper and more efficiently.

This IT organisation has a Global Service Desk Model and they’re winding up my team and moving the calls abroad.

It currently takes them a week to respond to urgent emails (we respond within 2 hours). So I am unhappy at the moment not just because I’ll lose my job, but the fact that this is so-called-PROGRESS?

Brock Phillimore says:

Speaking as someone who worked as an IT Executive Recruiter for over 12 years, I have a very different take on this than most of you. What do you think the single biggest reason for someone to change jobs would be? Personally I would have thought it would be Money or Career, or some combination of the two. However I did an informal survey involving hundreds of people who left one job to go to another and single biggest reason for them to change was a lack of recognition. This is true for any industry, but it especially true for people in the IT industry.

You can call someone and tell them you have a new job that pays more than the job they have now and most will tell you they are happy were they are. However ask them if they think they are getting the respect they deserve, or if they feel their employer appreciates the effort they put in and you will find it easy to get a whole list of gripes and reasons for them to want a new job.

I could write a book on how to solve this problem.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Your observations are not just across the IT industry. Money is not often a motivator for people to change jobs in any industry. If someone is content where they are at, they are unlikely to change.

IT positions are most often invisible when they are doing a great job and visible when there is a problem. It is a difficult position for anyone to be in. I have worked in a number of different companies – from software companies to corporate IT – and have found that the IT groups that did a good job of advertising their successes had a much better retention rate for their employees.

OtherKevin says:

Everyone has their own opinions

When you say IT, who are you really talking about? Are you talking about developers? Infrastructure experts? Security experts? PC techs? They’re all very different jobs, requiring very different skills.

Programmers mostly got into the job for the love of coding. Many times these days they’re saddled with the obligation to produce more, tighter, more efficient code faster and for less money with often vague or nonsensical requirements. And if they don’t do their jobs well, the company can always outsource to Bangalore. I can see why they’re unhappy.

Security experts? Well…they see IT Armageddon coming but like Cassandra nobody believes them. Even when they’re paid to do audits and assessments and provide recommendations. Very few companies take them serously, so I can see why they’re unhappy.

Infrastructure experts? Well, we got into the business because we like the technology and want to do all sorts of interesting a cool projects. Unfortunately we are usually saddled with so much bureaucracy that we spend the minority of our time actually working with tech. At some companies it is literally “spend 30 hours documenting what you did the other 10 hours.” And on top of that most companies are not particularly interested in spending on IT training or continuing education, so as newer technologies come around we run the risk of being passed by. But probably most importantly, while infrastructure work has the potential to be extremely interesting and challenging work at most companies it is relegated to “just keep the systems that we have running.”

PC Techs? Social misfits who think that they know far more than they actually do about technology who find themselves unable to advance their careers because they don’t admit to themselves what the rest of the IT world knows about them. Instead of getting the fat salaries and fancy cars thrown at them like they heard about in Y2K, they’re stuck driving a beat-up Honda Civic and having to constantly deal with clueless users.

And then there’s the fry cooks who bought into the notion that they could make $85,000/year if all they did was get certified via this IT boot camp that costs $10,000 without realizing that you actually need work experience. Or even worse, someone who paid out $40,000 for a two year degree from a non-accredited institution because they didn’t know how else to get into the IT business. I can see why they’re not happy.

ChrisB says:

Re: Everyone has their own opinions

One group you missed are the developers who, in the mid-late 90s, thought it was a great get rich quick scheme and, to no one’s surprise but their’s, failed to product a Google or Facebook or Yahoo and now are stuck in a job they never really wanted in the first place, bitter and annoyed. Then the passionate developers who got into programming because we love to do it get to work next to these dregs all day being drug down into their volatile pessimism. These failed get-rich-quickers then produce horrible code (which we have to fix), refuse to learn/use newer practices as they become available (which we have to update), and any other of a laundry list of short comings.

My coworkers make my job great and terrible all at the same time depending on who I have to talk to at that exact moment. Add that on top of the other issues voiced about development and I can totally understand why so many people are sick of their jobs…

senshikaze (profile) says:

Re: Everyone has their own opinions

thanks for playing, jackass.
I am a PC tech and not for any stupid “social misfit” or “lack of knowledge” reason. Around here, the only way to advanced is to put in at least two years in desktop support and at least a BA degree. I have the experience, and know alot more about the larger IT world than you seem to give us credit for. I am well qualified for low end infrastructure, and the only reason I am not qualified for anything higher is that, unlike you, I understand that there is a lot I don’t know and will have to learn once I get my BA and a better job doing something I actually like (I hate desktop support).

OtherKevin says:

Re: Re: Everyone has their own opinions

Speaking as someone who got their start in IT many years ago doing desktop support and now works as an Infrastructure Architect role, I beg to differ. In my experience the people that have the knowledge, ability, and drive will advance beyond entry-level work. Those who don’t will not. In most cases anyone who is still doing entry-level work after a year or so is either a) very happy doing entry-level, menial jobs, or b) someone who doesn’t have what it takes.

I would also say that a B.S. is far more preferable degree than a B.A. for the IT workplace. I’m still working on mine, but at this point it is only so I can begin a Masters program.

TechNoFear (profile) says:

Re: Everyone has their own opinions

And then there’s the fry cooks who bought into the notion that they could make $85,000/year if all they did was get certified via this IT boot camp that costs $10,000 without realizing that you actually need work experience.

I am one of those ‘fry cooks’.

I now design asset protection and safety systems based on IPCs for mining corps (inc. parts used on the new robotic trains).

I make much, much more than $85k.

Good luck out there with that attitude…

Anonymous Coward says:

My biggest gripe is simply clients. They have valid problems but they don’t want to call IT about it because they can live with it, or the person three cubicles over “fixed” the issue for them. A small problem which takes five minutes to fix turns into a massive cockup 3 months later, and then we get blamed for it by them. We put out memos, we tell them face to face to call us if something happens, if anything happens. I’d rather field a hundred “your monitor is off” questions than one problem they created themselves by not asking for help when they needed it.

Then you have the opposite side of the spectrum, people who call you with non IT questions. Yes I know that program sucks, and yes I’m more than willing to help you if you have a problem with it, but please don’t complain to us that its sucking. Complain to your boss, we sure weren’t consulted when the company decided to install it. We’d have taken one look at it, said it sucked, and gave them a better option. But because its on their computer, its our baby to support something that doesn’t work correctly, or works perfectly for what it was designed to do but is being shoehorned into completely different role. We’ll do our best, but don’t yell at us when it doesn’t work, we didn’t create the problem, and we’re not allowed to truly fix it either.

Missinlnk says:

Re: Re:

My biggest gripe is simply clients. They have valid problems but they don’t want to call IT about it because they can live with it, or the person three cubicles over “fixed” the issue for them…Then you have the opposite side of the spectrum, people who call you with non IT questions.

Unfortunately, to a non-IT person the two examples you gave for those issues are the same problem to them. For most users, if they have a problem with their computer they go to IT. If they start getting poor responses from IT, even if it’s to the question as to why they have to use this bad software that IT has no control over, they’ll avoid talking to IT for any problems.

If you can get the communications fixed in a business, having IT be the clearing house for all issues isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your employees know they should talk to IT whenever they have a problem with their computer or the software they’re running, IT will get a feel pretty quickly about the problems with software. With that info, they can give the people who make these decisions good feedback to make sure they’re evaluating their choices properly. The employees of the business operate better, which in the end is better for the business’s bottom line. Plus, it opens up the communications line already with IT so that it becomes easier to get used to incorporating all important groups into the decision process from the beginning.

Too bad that I’ve found businesses have a hard time actually making the teamwork idea actually happen. Far too often people see teamwork not as a strength but as a weakness. I’ve seen far too many corporations that are built to reward people who are not team players. Add on top the fact that far too many IT people (frustratingly) aren’t team players, and you get a system where even the IT management (which should be one of the most important groups to be filled with people who can work well with others) is filled with people who can’t function together as a team.

IT people are frustrated with their lives because it’s nearly impossible to win in the current situation. Most other departments in a business can be looked at independently to evaluate their success and failure rates. IT is so tightly bound to every other department that it becomes almost impossible for IT to be measured by themselves.

When your department is being rated by how well you and the other departments execute a plan together, and you’re in an environment where teamwork is ignored, it becomes almost impossible to succeed. A low happiness rate is inevitable.

VT IT (profile) says:

More of a teacher some days

I think part of the problem being in IT is that the HR people that are doing the hiring don’t screen for computer skills. I have been in IT for over 15 years and this has always been a problem.
Commercial software and any current OS is relatively simple to master if you take the time. Most people don’t want to invest the time and expect they will be trained when they get to their “new job”.
This compounded by the attaboy mentality of the new workforce means that most people aren’t happy in their job. The days of competitive drive are being replaced by the “Everyone on the team deserves a trophy”. I have found that if you don’t reward people on a regular basis they feel neglected and complain about not being recognized. Whatever happened to the days of feeling good about your job because you put in an honest day’s work and got paid for it?

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Sounds to me

Sounds to me more like all the CPAs and Accounting types, and the wanna be IT people that jumped ship into IT for the Y2K money are just starting to realize what IT is all about and they are starting to wonder if that money was really worth while.

Then we have the IT people like #2 that are still trying to hold onto the illusions that without them companies would collapse and fall to their needs begging for them to return.

I have been in the IT field since 1978, I have seen the days of the self taught dedicated IT person come and go and be replaced by the forged credentials of the middle east to even them growing competent to live up to their forged resumes. I look forward to retiring in a few years because I am tired of the constant change in my work environment.

Facts are IT in general needs to have a pit poked into all the inflated heads, and have an ego check and to be reminded that they aren’t the heart of the company. IT EVEN in an IT business is nothing more than a support role. The IT departments that realize this are some of the smoothest running departments, and have some of the most successful companies built around them.

IT really should be transparent to the end users, and really should be the people that you only know when you are having issues. IT staff that hinder the end users from doing their jobs have no place in IT at all.

I have this argument with a close friend all the time. My statement is that IT’s job is to make sure that the end user has all the tools needed to do their jobs at the time those jobs need to be done. IT should NEVER be in a position to deny an end user anything that assists them in performing their jobs, that include rights, tools, etc…

My suspicion are that the people who participated in this survey are the same disgruntled egotistical people that #2 is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sounds to me

Sounds to me like you’re talking about help desk operations. You’re really not talking about the entire IT dept. and its responsibilities. Your arguments are correct as far as the help desk is concerned, but you should know by now that the IT dept must be consulted before anything is changed or implemented into a business. Support is an important part of IT and that is the purpose of having a help desk, but where I work, the help desk makes up 1/5 of our IT staff. As an IT professional who is involved in the executive decision making process, I would say that your view of IT being nothing more than a support role is very short sighted and naive. Do your company a favor and retire early.

HymieS (profile) says:

Re: Normal?

YES,,,I loved my job

I have worked as an Instructor for the last 13 years. I taught UNIX, systems administrator classes and I love that work. I woke up each morning looking forward to going to work. In 13 years I never missed a days work.
As that business has slowed down for a while I am back to being a systems administrator now. It’s not as much fun and I don’t like it as much.
As soon as the teaching business opens up some more I will leave this work in a NY minute to go back to teaching.

Anonymous Coward says:

Business models still haven't caught up

A major problem is the draconian business systems many companies keep in place that now have IT people stuffed into the ranks. Generally speaking, true IT people (people who do it because they like computers, problem solving, or making things) do not like the 1950’s corporate model of show up at 8am, grind away for hours in a cubical, deal with office politics and nonsensical rules/regulations, and then go home only to do it over again the next day. If you just want a support staff member who can do some trouble shooting, send your secretary to some computer classes. If you want higher thinking IT people, make sure they are maintained like any other skilled position. These systems work ok for very simple positions because the people in them are very simple, you start tossing creative or highly analytical minds into it and you create a good deal of hostility.

If you want to keep IT people happy and functional, offer flexible schedules, flexible dress code, and make sure the rules you have in place actually make sense…. not just ones the policy says you should have and no one can really explain. If you want to run your business like an internment camp, you will probably hemorrhage talent constantly.

Poster #1 says:

Re: Business models still haven't caught up

“offer flexible schedules, flexible dress code, and make sure the rules you have in place actually make sense”

I can’t emphasize how important this is.

I have had immense job satisfaction even though I dealt with a lot of annoying issues and felt underpaid just because I was allowed to show up in a nice t-shirt and jeans and was able to start or stop an hour or two early or late or take a long lunch just to do something personal and wasn’t once questioned because I got my work done and put in my 40 hours (and I have done lots of un-clocked overtime work just because I was enjoying a part of my job)

HymieS (profile) says:

IT people do not like their jobs because of the people they have to deal with on a daily basis. There is none of the camaraderie that other professions have.
With over 40 years of IT experience behind me I can comment here with some authority.
Most IT workers deal with computers almost exclusively, and not with real people. Most contact with other people is either through email or telephone, with the email taking precedence because they don’t have to interact with a real person. Most of their co-workers are just like them. they are an elitist group of ‘ALPHA’ personalities that are snobs and so afraid of losing their status ( or their job ) that they hardly ever talk to each other, let alone share anything important. This results in corporate problems that aggravate the situation and cause finger pointing and more isolationism. The IT workplace, in general, has become more of a ‘dog eat dog’ environment more than any other business I know of, and I have worked in many arenas of business, both within the IT world and out.

aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile) says:

I am unhappy

I’ve been in IT for a while (system and network admin work mostly) and I think the great majority of my complaints have been covered. #2 sounds like the kind of person I deal with on a regular basis, not having any idea what really goes on and assuming we’re sitting in a closet jiggling wires to ensure the network stays up and running. The only thing that I didn’t see (and maybe I’ve just had a bad streak of companies that I work for) is that this job invades your personal life more than any other job I’ve ever had. There is more overtime involved, more people calling out of hours to ask stupid questions, more on call work that wakes you up in the middle of the night, more out of hours maintenance, and more neighbors and friends asking “Can you look at my personal machine?” (my reply is always “If you were a roofer, would you shingle my house for free in your spare time?”). It’s miserable giving up personal time because people really and truly believe that IT is a lifestyle, not a career. I’m a bit happier now than I was a year ago because my company brought in a few more people to help with the workload, but I still have a ton of the same complaints that were brought up in other posts.

Currently I’m trying to get out of IT. I just don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

diabolic says:

IT = Garbage Collector

IT folks are unhappy because of what they deal with. How many times can you tell one of your co-workers where the right mouse button is before you lose your mind?

IT folks receive a never ending stream of problems. Mostly folks don’t appreciate what IT does, they get what they want and then act annoyed that they had to call IT at all. When was the last time someone called IT and did not have a problem or even did something nice for IT?

After working all day then you have to work after hours to apply patches and make changes such that you create minimal impact on the business process. You also usually get to be on call because servers run 24/7 and they breakdown from time to time during those 24/7 hours.

aguywhoneedstenbucks also makes a good point that lots of folks, especially management and small business owners (no pressure right), ask you to help with their personal computer problems too. In an increasingly connected world that is more work than ever. And if the company sells an old computer to an employee then IT is definately on the hook to support it. IT folks cannot support the entire company at work and at home and still have a life.

Which other part of the company is expected to support the environment on a 24/7 basis and also gets a never ending stream of crap coming in the door? It is no wonder that IT folks are unhappy.

If you are a proactive IT person and there are minimal problems then no one notices. But in cases where you have to be reactive to a problem then its obvious and folks breath down your neck until its solved.

We need a national Be Nice to IT day.

SureW (profile) says:

Being in corporate IT for 10+ years I agree with a lot of thoughts already presented. When I read Techdirt and read about the sense of “entitlement” – I always think of corporate IT. Specifically companies that have been profitable and haven’t had to restructure yet. You’d think that after the busts that this would have already been crushed. But, this doesnt seem to be the case in a lot of places.

One of miseries some have in working in IT is that the feifdoms getting destroyed and easy rides being shut down. Yes, there will be a lot of people who have examples of Help Desks that are awesome. But, there are still help desks out there that can take a week to get back to you and think this is a fine level of service. Once budget factors start forcing people to outsource, they suddenly have to learn that they aren’t competitive on a service or price level. A lot of times they blame the consultants coming for working for pennies and claiming they can never offer the same service; as if their present level of service was good.

jsf (profile) says:

IT is not software development

I work in IT and I do mostly administrative work so I usually don’t have to deal with end users.

When you say you work in IT most people think you are a programmer. The reality is that 90%-95% of IT employees never write any code. What they do is install and support third party software and hardware.

As mentioned by others how can you possibly enjoy your job if you spend your entire day replacing toner cartridges and walking people through how to log into their email for the hundredth time.

I’ve been working a paid job of one sort or another since I was 14 and I have never had a job I actually enjoyed. I just don’t understand how anyone could actually enjoy working. It’s called a job, not a fun.

Peter Blaise (profile) says:

Complete and total disrespect by idiot bosses

As a IT staff member, how many times do I have to explain to the non-technical bosses of the technical people that an EXE slide show in email is not installing anything on the receiver’s computer; that you cannot browse the web, you browse your already-downloaded-to-your-hard-drive temp files; that I’ll take responsibility for modifications to “my” work computer since the helpless desk can’t even help with a standard install, so I don’t feel compromised at all by my own custom installation enhancements — I’ll support myself, thank you — and all they do is swap preconfigured hard dives anyway, so who cares if I have non-standard Firefox or Opera installed, they don’t deal with it or support it anyway, they just bulldoze it with a new drive? Unfixably insecure, unreliable, incompatible, arduous Microsoft products are better because …?

On the other hand, as an independent servicer for 30 years, I LOVE helping end users one-on-one. They teach me so much, and I get to bash Microsoft at their complete and total agreement and amusement.

It’s the bosses, not the end users.

I HATE zero-technical no-brain “technical” bosses, and there’s no way to make them happy except to pile on, bashing the poor end users who already get no support nor training, and who get crappy computer setups.

Conversely, I LOVE end users, and prefer to work directly for them, especially if they have checkbook in hand.

Peter Blaise

Semi-anonymous coward (user link) says:

Re: Complete and total disrespect by idiot bosses

I’ve worked in the IT industry for 30 years now, the first 20 as a programmer/analyst, and the last 10 as a business analyst, and in that time, the people who’ve given me the LEAST amount of stress are the end-users. Yes, there are some awful end-users out there, but my experience is that the large majority of them are stuck trying to use applications that are poorly designed and user unfriendly. They are almost always are grateful when someone in IT actually listens to them and tries to help them. I’ve gotten more real gratitude from end-users than any other people in my career. Far and away, the people who cause me the most gut-churning misery in IT are grand-standing managers and technical “gurus” who think that every problem can be solved with a quick implementation of the latest technical magic-bullet, that the users should adjust to the technology instead of be supported by it, and that requirements can be gathered after development is well underway, if at all.

Anonymous Coward says:


I have been in the IT field for around 15 years and am a bit surprised at alot of the angst in this thread. Yes over the last couple of years especially, compensation has been driven down significantly. Job security has taken a large hit, the work load has increased and so the chance for tech workers to feel over worked and undervalued has increased exponentially. However, this is true for ALL WORKERS.

If you think its so bad in IT I suggest you talk to your companies sales people, administrative workers, facility people and I think you will find that things are no greener in the other departments. Sure being a movie star would be a better job. Sure the CEO of my company likely has greater job satisfaction then I do (he certainly makes a few more zeros then I do). However, I still like what I do, am paid fairly well (I have a senior management roll so I recognize that I am at the upper end of average here) and still find a great deal of challenge in my day to day work.

I would say to alot of IT workers out there, stop the whinning and be thankful you have a job and some marketable skills. IT work might not be everything you dreamed of, but it beats swinging a hammer or waiting tables for a living.

senshikaze (profile) says:

I am unhappy, but...

I am unhappy in my current job. I love IT work, though. Always have and will always. I just hate doing desktop support. I hate waking up and dreading work. I would love a job working on servers (specifically *nix servers since I am much better at working with them and put way more personal time into learning them). All my problems comes back to having to work with idiots who apply their limit knowledge to these machines. “Shady websites? Bah, who cares? I want my insert stupid program here. It will fix it.” After the sixteenth virus infection, I get jaded with the whole “help desk” thing. The problem with me moving on is twofold, 1) I don’t have a BA, just an AAS, which is fine for entry level techs (help desk and some networking), but nearly impossible for any of the better jobs in IT(at least here); 2) Having working knowledge of *nix is great, but won’t land me a job in this area easily. Too many companies/govt IT depts are run by easily swayed idiots who only know Windows and couldn’t spell linux. While that is great for them, it sucks for me. I made the personal decision (and frankly, it was my decision to make) to follow and learn *nix. I don’t keep up with Windows at all, so while I am still relatively current (vista being a flop helped), I know within 5 years I will be behind. And I am willing to ride it out. I will find a better job (need that BA first) and will use only *nix. It might take some time, and I willing to put my career where my mouth is. Too many people are blinded by greed or are afraid to do what they want. I know what I want and I will work hard to make it work.

Man Who Stares at Goats says:


The problem isn’t IT, it’s the job. IT jobs USED to be IT. We’d create programs, tweak them, build servers, etc. and occasionally the boss would venture into our lair, ignoring the maps of Moria and pictures of Tron characters on the wall and tell us we were doing a good job.

Nowadays, everyone wants someone who is good at everything. Project management, time management, people skills, coding, support, etc.

It’s too much for most people. Not to mention, with your time so fractured between all of those tasks, you get about 55.43215% less work done.

Of course people are unhappy. They’re being ripped in so many different directions, we just want to scramble back into our hobbit holes and read Macbeth in it’s original Klingon.

ECA (profile) says:

LOVE it..
Iv been dealing with computers for 30 years, and MOST of you understand the fun of computers..
NOW try to get the USER to understand,
PUSH the power button
still not working? we have a problem.
You want your data back? are you willing to pay me for the 2-3 days of TIME??
DONT plug that in THAT port..
You plugged it in WHERE??
IF you want to keep your DATA, dont leave it on the computer.
You want PROTECTION?? redundancy?? NON-corruptible setup?? you arnt asking for much.
THIS is a business machine DONT install ANYTHING else..Blip…Oops.
You are on the net?? oops..
You want perfect protection?? give me 2 yards of concrete and CUT all the input wires and network.

Poster #1 says:

As to some Solutions

One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned much here yet is how to solve this. At my current job, i am happy with it despite all the flaws and reading this has really made me look at why, so here are some reasons that make me love my job:

  • Flexible Dress Code, I see customers for only a small part of my time, and only those within my company, why should i have to wear a suit and tie? Any clean, appropriate outfit should be fine
  • Flexible Schedule, I have something I want to do at 4, why should it be a problem if I show up early and leave early, within reason?
  • Placed in an accessible area. I actually love working in a cubicle in the IT department and where the customer can easily walk up to me. I used to have an office at an old job and let me tell you, it sucked! I never saw or talked to anyone except two people, and that was not even on a weekly basis. I wish I was exaggerating on that, I really hated that job.
  • Appreciation, when a project is over I feel accomplished, i have my boss and my customer both saying a couple words so I know I did a job well done, when people come in during the night to fix an emergency they stay long enough for the morning meeting, where the boss tells them thank you and then sends them home to get sleep
  • Community, My boss puts lots of effort making the IT department a community, we have once a month birthday parties, we do silly white elephant things, and connect with our fellow employees. Sitting in my cube hearing and contributing to the friendly banter back and forth feels a lot like college while working on a project except better.
Anonymous Coward says:

I can only speak to the situation the businesses I’ve worked for (some really large, some really small), but the main problem I’ve encountered are management people who can’t figure out how to measure the productivity of their IT workers. A lot of managers in this situation tend to flail away at the problem, trying to quantify everything six ways from Sunday, tracking this stat one quarter, another stat the next, laying out policy after policy. Working under those conditions is frustrating because you never quite know where you stand, and the stuff you track, and the way you track it change constantly.

How do you tell if your developers are working hard? Lines of code? Target dates? What about your deskside support: number of tickets handled? First ticket resolution? Average age of tickets? Your server guys: Uptime? Outage frequency? Response time? All of those metrics have weaknesses.

Also, if you’re going to determine the progress your department is making on the metric-of-the-month, you need to establish a baseline. Managers assume that any given stat that hasn’t previously been a focus of improvement must be in the fair/poor range, and they are unwilling to accept the possibility that any initial “baseline” represents a good number. So, when they try to improve on it, and fail to make progress, they never consider that it’s already maxed-out; rather, they use the tools they normally reserve for recalcitrant issues — threats, usually.

The problem is that, unless your organization is completely broken, code does get produced, servers generally stay up, and workstations do get fixed. The only real way to tell if your particular IT dept is up to snuff is if your customers (internal and external) forget it even exists, because they hardly need to talk to you, since everything is working so well, and the product releases aren’t being delayed (well, too much anyway).

But you can’t quantify that, put it in a spreadsheet, and make predictions. For example, of you’re a manager who’s lucky enough to have a well-functioning group underneath you, how do you predict whether or not you could afford to lay-off half of your staff, if customer satisfaction is the only thing you have to go on?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“The only real way to tell if your particular IT dept is up to snuff is if your customers (internal and external) forget it even exists, because they hardly need to talk to you, since everything is working so well, and the product releases aren’t being delayed (well, too much anyway).”

at this point of course you would be considered over staffed

TW Burger (profile) says:

Re: Re: over-staffed

Not really, one of the big mistakes with IT departments is to look at staff work capacity as 100% at all times. This would totally burn out a team (and often has). If, in the very rare case, an IT department has a person that has absolutely no function then your point may be valid. Although there is always an IT related improvement that an under-worked staff member can be assigned to either improve current operations or provide added value with a new service.

If the IT team is providing such good service that there are no internal or external customer complaints I would not mess with it even if I observed a great deal of solitaire and blogging during business hours. An IT team needs to be staffed at a level to ensure the ability to deal with a crisis situation and that means that when all is running well due to the IT work being well planned and well run, the atmosphere should be relaxed – but not so inactive as to be boring.

Personally, when I run a team and no one is taking a break ever, that’s when I start worrying.

Mark (user link) says:

Engagement depends on tone at the top

This is good info; thanks for sharing, Mike. Providing a good counter balance to this finding are the tech-industry and other small firms with robust IT functions that have been named winners and finalists of the top small company workplaces award the nonprofit I work for hosts each year. I wrote a blog post on how their innovative approach to human capital strategies helps keep engagement (and thus, commitment, camaraderie and productivity) high, and even their IT networks more secure because employees are less likely to try to breach it:

TylerDurden says:

OK, 20-year IT guy. What has changed to destroy job satisfaction?
The training provided and career development is barely applicable, and companies dole it out as they would their own kidneys.
Organization-wide projects seem to have been put together on a cocktail napkin on the golf course and never have adequate resources or time lines -why only 30% actually succeed.
Recognition is more than handing out a paycheck but includes involving and investing in these folks.

Crummy Helpdesk staff? Ya thought about communication and skills training? Maybe a knowledgeable HR staff that recognizes the skills and aptitudes required for the job?

Lousy programmers? Do they have the tools they need? Have you set clear goals and time lines? Quality control sound familiar?

Dumb business analysts? If you don’t ask them the right questions, they tell you what they think will make them look good.

Brain-dead Server and Network staff? Usually overworked, under trained, under staffed, and under budgeted. The good ones will find the right solutions at the best cost for the least risk.

Let’s cut costs by cutting IT? What stupid business school taught that a 5% across the board cut meant that IT workload was reduced as well as headcount?

TW Burger (profile) says:

Why I (sometimes) Hate my IT Career

I am good at programming and like the job. I am also a good systems analyst and very good at properly documenting the requirements of a project in a clear and complete manner. My team management skills are decent and I try to keep everyone happy by treating them as competent professionals that know what to do and how to do it. My job as manager is to make sure they have the tools and resources required, project milestones are met, and no-one interferes with the teams function.

So, either assign me to a job and let me do it well or let me lead a team and let me let them do the job well. If this was how IT always worked everyone would be happy.

Information technology is an odd duck. Engineering and accounts are centuries old professions with agreed upon principles, methodologies, and standards – all well documented in an agreed upon, standardized rule book. IT is barely 60 years old and still changing literally daily. This creates an environment where all sorts of nonsense can occur. Generally, IT people are almost universally dissatisfied with the job, some of the time, for several reasons. These are not all my personal experiences. Some are, but most are those of others I know in the IT business or are common experiences of most IT people:

Being expected to do the impossible with nothing – On smaller jobs the lone IT person has to do all of the design work herself as well as the coding and testing. Typically, due to the job being an afterthought and not part of the projects initial requirements the project head provides the specification document in the form of a bad photocopy of a poor screen shot of a somewhat similar design with scribbled notes in Bulgarian explaining the missing ‘stuff’.

Doing all of the work and getting little or no benefit – The sales guy promises a feature to a client that was only a brief mention in a previous design meeting about a future version he was invited to only as a courtesy. Now, the client will not sign without the feature and the VPs of sales and marketing pressure your boss to put the feature in place. You end up working to 3am for three straight weeks. The salesman gets a huge commission, and senior sales and marketing get a giant bonus. You get 14 extra pounds, eye, back and blood sugar problems, a wife that is alienated, and behavioral problems from your children.

You design something brilliant. Your boss gets the credit.

You fix a huge bug created by the indescribably bad design you pointed out a year ago to the so called system analyst/engineer making three times your salary. Your boss reprimands you for not following software development methodology protocols (he hired the fool).

Every day you attend a ‘SCRUM’ meeting because the IT department head attended a seminar on ‘AGILE’ software design methodologies and wants to be on the leading edge of software design. He, of course, has no clue what Agile is designed to achieve or how. Instead of listening to the teams’ concerns and complaints and generating solutions he spends 20 minutes each morning explaining why his designs are so great and anyone that speaks up is punished in numerous ways. If the team does start communicating concerns and creates a dialog to determine solutions he abruptly stops it because you are not following his aggenda. You think of nothing but the silent humiliation you will suffer from 8:40am to 9:00am each morning while you are on the way to work and rear-end a police cruiser at that complicated intersection two blocks from work due to your introverted rage distraction.

Every time you get ahead the specifications change. The change is always what you recommended several months ago which was ignored at the time.

Every project started in the last five years failed and the people responsible for the failures get promoted. You get sent to a software course that you could teach and has no application to the current work you do.

Your boss is ten years younger than you, talks of nothing but his new BMW, has no clue how to manage people and can’t analyze or document a project to save his life.

The project is run by proxy by a lower level team leader who is a brilliant technical worker with ambitions for management but has the personality of a kettle, people skills of a cod fish, and system analysis and design abilities of an exceptionally obtuse duck. Also, he, the proxy, is a control freak and has a dysfunctional interpersonal relationship with women. You spend half your time trying to avoid him interacting with the women on your team.

When you design a new way to save time, coordinate teams, monitor progress accurately, update information using a real time multiple user interface, and create effective inter-departmental communications regarding the project your boss says he does not like the software you are using (code for not understanding it or that he can not control the information which is code that it does not allow him to lie about the development progress) and demands you go back to creating Excel spreadsheets and emailing them only to him.

You finally get the software to work after two years of effort and the head office cancels the project giving the reason as it is an unworkable design. For those two years you have been saying the design is unworkable and they were responding that you should make it work.

Another software team ‘forgets’ to build a part of the system assigned to them three months ago. They, when confronted with the deadline, complain about the technical complexities, issues with other components of the system, and a need to further study the issue and whatever other obfuscating BS they can invent. You get ambushed by a frantic project manager and, thinking you are speaking off-the-record, quip that this is a two day job at the most. You get assigned the job, do it in two days, and for the rest of your time there the other team makes sure they cause as much trouble for you as they can get away with.

Your boss makes a mistake with the dates at a head office IT project progress meeting and, too proud (or insecure) to correct himself, makes the IT team work 16 hours a day 7 days a week to meet the impossible deadline. Somehow, you and your co-workers make it. He gets a letter of commendation from the president of the company and a bonus for finishing so soon. You miss your kid’s softball tournament and your wife wants to go to couples counseling.

You have not had the time to eat lunch at a restaurant during a work day – ever.

You have not finished your work in an eight hour period – ever.

You have not been able to take your vacation at a time of your choosing – ever.

You are classified as management so you can’t be part of the union staff but you get no management authority, privileges, or benefits. This is so that during a strike, the essential IT functions can be kept operational. Union staff get pensions and medical coverage. Management get medical and stock options and golden parachutes. You make less than a fork lift operator in shipping with ten years seniority. You get fired when the company’s third quarter profit misses the street by 10% and it is determined that costs need to be cut. They have three vice presidents which are directly responsible for IT and a CIO. None of these are fired and all get a performance bonus. You get the night shift at a Chevron.

You are so good at your job that you are the go-to person for any and all technical and project management, user support, documentation, and design issues. You have not had a raise in two years and have not been promoted – ever.

You resign and they replace you with five people. Productivity still drops.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have worked in IT Support for 1 and half years. Prior to that for 5 years I wrote my own computer games and ran my own web hosting service as a hobby.

Every day is horrible, I work in a school where many of the teachers are not very good with computers. My manager gets paid three times what I do, and often comes in one or two hours late. He often buys over expensive or un-needed equipment and doesn’t buy equipment that our network really needs. My manager lies to many departments about the cause of there IT problems because they dont understand and over-charges other departments for toners and other equipment.

I have deal with all the support requests and server maintainance with no help. There is 1000 students and 200 staff.

It is driving me crazy and I don’t know how longer I can last. My managers manager never notices because she is not an IT expert and doent understand what goes on in our department.

This job is very depressing.

I am going to leave this hell hole soon. I am not sure where to go next, I hate IT now but used to enjoy it as a hobby. I am considering joining the army.

GetReal says:

IT is now filled with people from an Indian culture which brings a different dynamic to the work place. I think we are seeing a clash of cultures which leaves those raised in the American culture confused. Also the glut of IT workers allows for less learning of new things which is one of those things that most IT people really thrived on. There is no shortage of qualified IT workers in America so its time to end the H1B program and send home those folks who were unfortunate enough not to get their green cards or citizenship. There are 100 of thousands of H1Bs in IT, which at a time of high unemployment makes even less sense than the little sense it made before.

Anonymous Coward says:

IT was fun 15 years ago. Desktop support was fun, people appreciated you coming and fixing their PC, but you didn’t make a lot doing it. As I moved on into servers, it has been less and less enjoyable. Corporations want to work you more (12 hour days no OT because your salary), and the more you give the more they want, and expect it. My Co CEO cut our wages, then the very next day sent an email saying how much more they made than any previous year… Greed at the top is ruining things for those at the bottom. Constant threats of, someone else wants your job…(do this or your fired) I like many am stuck at either re-training for another field or being stuck with a-hole management until I have a stroke.

Beetlejuicey says:

Tech work is "not" good for the soul

Tech work stinks. There are only two groups that love it truly. The first is the newbie worker straight out of college, he/she still thinks it’s an amazing world, and now they’ve got their own cube and get paid to sit in front of the computer, have no life, and enjoy stale bagels. By the time they rise through the ranks, they’re usually well paid, but never have any “time” to enjoy anything because they’re in a battle against impossible learning curves. Those who figure out a niche, survive, those that don’t, leave the industry or become managers.

The second type are entrepreneurs. They make some widget and start a company, and forever parlay this into new jobs or ventures. They get a high level view of how things work early and play it for all it’s worth. In other words, they obtain the privilege to have fun with it and are paid ungawdly sums.

Everyone else, would love to leave the industry, but their brains have been turned into pudding from fighting back the learning curves. Many have traded in personality for anger and hostility, as an operating mode. Other are just insane and taking pills to compensate.

Ron (user link) says:

IT People

Part of the issue is the ‘customer support’ aspect of the job — this is general helpdesk work and the faults of the equipment or limits of the technology are usually attributed as our fault. Do you like being cussed out because someone can’t logon to facebook and harvest their garden … because their router has overheated or because their 12 year old visited yahoo and downloaded adware with the Wild Tangent video game driver?

Anonymous Coward says:

After you have been at a few years, you start to hate it. Most of the time the work is meaningless. We aren’t treated like other engineers. They are respected we aren’t. It may be the way we dress and the hours we end up working.

I have been doing this for 30 years, and havn’t done anything meaningfull in at least 15.

New technologies are no big deal. Its the same thing with a different name. Software tends to be crappy and we live with it. New versions of crap keep coming out making your knowledge obsolete

John (profile) says:

Burnt out

I’ve been doing IT for 5 years now. I am the sole IT guy at my job so I deal with everything. I’m good at my job. We use Windows mainly but I’ve integrated Ubuntu and Mac into the mix. For me, I just can’t stand it anymore. I’m burnt out.

IT used to be fun for me, as a hobby. Now, as a job, I hate it. I got this job while I was still studying for my Tech. Degree and after all that, I just want out. I haven’t had a vacation, a real vacation without remote accessing into something since forever. I’m on call 24/7, underpaid (I make $30,000 for being the companies System Administrator), I deal with rude management and clients. Not to mention the countless hours I spend on the weekend working since I am on call 24/7.

I do all this without complaining, verbally, but I’m beat. People just don’t understand that it takes time to work on issues. We live in a world where it needs to happen now. I just want out.

Fernando says:

Hate IT

I’ve been doing it for 5 years now.

Most of all I hate IT bosses, they’re clueless people who just know how to demand stuff. The job is already demanding enough, I don’t need a jerk just sucking energy out of me to pay for his big house.

The only time I enjoyed IT was when I had a manager that was actually nice and sided with us when it was fair, and didn’t place unnecessary stress on us.

The second thing I hate about IT is that people expect you to know every single thing out there about computers, and if you don’t, they act as if you are unfit for your job.

It’s like asking a chef to cook any weird dish from the Incas in Peru and have it ready in 5 minutes.

TechGuy13 says:

I have been in IT since I was 15 when I started working in the computer room of a then 800+ employee company. Since then it has been never ending learning & increasing feeling less and less appreciated. I have made great money working on my own since 2000 & IT made me a millionaire. However, my goal is to keep squirreling money away & eventually get out. It is a thankless job with more stress then most jobs in my opinion. I am probably going to make a career change in the coming years. One has to imagine the trend toward SAS / cloud can only put downward pressure on network admins, support techs, etc. Just my 2 cents.

Semi-anonymous coward says:

I’ve worked in the IT industry for 30 years now, the first 20 as a programmer/analyst, and the last 10 as a business analyst, and in that time, the people who’ve given me the LEAST amount of stress are the end-users. Yes, there are some awful end-users out there, but my experience is that the large majority of them are stuck trying to use applications that are poorly designed and user unfriendly. They are almost always are grateful when someone in IT actually listens to them and tries to help them. I’ve gotten more real gratitude from end-users than any other people in my career. Far and away, the people who cause me the most gut-churning misery in IT are grand-standing managers and tech “gurus” who think every problem can be solved, quickly!, with the latest whiz-bang vendor product or development paradigm. They have no idea how much work is involved to make this stuff work in reality, or even if it really supports the user’s needs.

Me says:

I always hate the way they treat people, no Respect as if we are slaves.
Further this in itself is not such an innovative industary being an Elecrical engineer and working in IT, seriously have deprssing consequences for me.
But to earn money, this is the most easy option available.
I do not like it here 🙁
Thanks for highlithing the issue

John says:

Veteran it guy

I’ve owned my own msp biz and became a powerhouse ticket solver as an employee of someone else later on.
I’m bitter because you only talk to the bad users. They aren’t curious what happened, they aren’t curious of what you’re about to say, they simply interrupt you with what they think is important for 80% of the conversation. Their computer habits say a lot about their personal mentality. Most of them don’t have a clue how to repeat URLs after you’ve spelled them out military style four or five times as slow as a snail, because they couldn’t care less about how computers break, or even how they’re used, so they deserve someone holding their hand every single step because of the personal crime computers committed against them by existing. Meanwhile you have deadlines and ten minutes later you’ve finally managed to get them to do anything properly because of the sheer resistance to the conversation as a whole. Anyone looking for freedom, growth or contribution to society can do none of these things while talking to these users, it’s a painful backwards motion. But you take it anyway like a good employee. Who is dutifully chastised for not getting to other things for this reason.

And of course there are politics. CEOs are surrounded by people trained how to wipe their ass at the perfect angle. The slightest bit of information presented in the order that it comes In can lead everything spiraling out of control. “It’s fine” is the only acceptable answer. You might even be questioned for working 48 hrs straight to make it “fine” when they’ve already freely passed judgement on your tasks as being “Isn’t it just a simple fix? Isn’t it just” what they perceive as computing reality supersedes professionals in the field.

myke says:

dodos must go

most of the places i’ve worked at (large corporations with dedicated IT department) the CIO and his underling managers are absolutely clueless. When the time comes around to cut cost they get rid of people not on their merits as a worker but upon how sociable they are and how well they get along with management. It doesn’t matter if they are:

1. lazy and incompetent
2. take 2 hour lunch breaks
3. are always in pointless meetings
4. are sick every fortnight
5. get absolutely nothing done

So long as they know how to shift the blame, so long as they know who’s joke to laugh and who to ignore. So long as they dress about three levels above their pay grade and hang around the right people they remain behind while the honest worker who is socially awkward or just stays to himself gets the cut. To top it off, they’ll find the handful of honest workers and wring blood from stone. So after a few cost cutting phases the IT department looks kinda like an inverted pyramid, i.e. 5 or more layers of managers with one or two technicians or workers beneath them. The ratio between managers and workers becomes close to 1:1.

A good majority of my colleagues in the IT industry hate their jobs with a passion. You can’t not be cynical after having worked in an “IT department” for more than 3 to 4 years.

Don’t get me started on the non technical IT project managers and the CIO. They like the dodo must go.

vanilla gorilla says:

I hate the management in IT, they are fucking clueless. Our CIO is a two faced moron who left and came back because he couldnt find another job. His right hand man is a fucking gorilla with an attention span of about 2 seconds. Talking to him is quite amusing, he’d try to get what you were saying but fail miserably, even if it was jargon free english like “good morning, how are you this fine day?”. He’s only good at kicking ass and yelling and screaming and demanding shit be done.

It’s the management in any department that people hate. IT is not immune to this. If they replaced the CIO, project managers, managers and team leads with giant fucking potatoes the IT department would operate better than it was right now.

trololo says:

Yes we really hate our tech jobs

I work in IT, every fucker I’ve known in “sys admin wintel 3rd level support server guy” role hates his job. They’re all dying to get into team leader management positions. Why? because system administration is just that, glorified “admin” role, similar to “office admin”… you do shit that other people are just too lazy to do because they have to read a manual. This is a slight over exaggeration but it is true. This new sys admin at our job was like all excited to get the role, he was in his late 20s and thought he was king shit; the older guys knew that after a few years he’ll look back and think he’s wasted his life. Building servers, ensuring data is backed up, configuring switches, virtualising servers etc any idiot who can read a manual can do it. Think about it…

The only happy people in the IT industry i know are those who specialise and more often than not the developers / programmers. It goes a little like this…

1. you graduate from call centre into helpdesk role
a. you think you’re king shit cause you’re more “tech” focused now.
b. you work there a few years and hate every aspect about it and think getting to 2nd level support or desktopsupport will be the best thing in the world.

2. you graduate to 2nd level desktop support role.
a. you think you’re now king shit cause you’re off the phones and am dealing with physical techology not just software and also face to face problems! (whoopie doo).
b. you work there a few years and hate every aspect about it. crawling under desks and being covered in dust and fluff. You think getting into 3rd level system admin role would be the best thing in the world.

3. you graduate to 3rd level system admin role.
a. you think you’ve made it in life. You’re cocky as hell and love throwing jargon at managers to make them look stupid.
b. you work there a few years and hate everything about it. By now you’re married and with kids. You have no time to read up on shit and studying any new tech feels like “deja vu” … which it is! You want an easier “less technical” job because you’re getting old and want to get more for doing less… next step management role!

Don’t waste your life kids with tech roles. You’re better off becoming a programmer or not getting into IT at all.

Speaking from experience

kupi says:

i Hate IT support job


I Hate IT support job. I have been working as a IT operation engineer since 4 years.

Everyday i’m doing same kind of job.. Installation, troubleshooting (very rare) software/OS/hardware issues, supporting customers & making them to understand the tech issues,………., etc.,

very boring.. I dont use my brain when I’m in office.

But i have good programming knowledge.. I’m thinking to change my career from IT support to a different domain where i can create/innovate/develop something. But i dont have a good guidance.

I’m not a fresher. I cant attend fresher interview. Can anyone suggest me to change my career?


Mike Smith says:

Stupid users

i am desktop support tech. I had a ticket to install Symantec endpoint protection on some computers that for some reason never got it when they were imaged. She keep asking why couldnt it be pushed remotely. I explained that it could not be push and had to be installed locally. then i had to explain why she needs antivirus. But this dumb user acted like i was a spy trying to hack her computer and would not let me install it. I have a badge and an admin account, obviously i am an IT person. So i just left, closed the ticket as user refused service. sucks for her, they will disable accounts of any computer that is not in compliance. What a moron, i hate end user support, helpdesk more like helldesk, then desktop support though not as bad as helpdesk, but i dont want to deal with users at all, to many cry babies that always expect us to magically fix their issues in seconds. i had a ticket for no sound, when i got their the damn speakers were turned off, stupid user. i had another ticket for computer wont turn on, the damn monitor was off, sick of these clueless morons. i cant wait to get to the networking side.

knowITall says:


Working for 4 years as sysadmin, and it´s is great, because it´s simple as you just need to be expert at:

Linux, Windows, Unix, Lola 8;
Networks {(all possible nodes)(of all layers and vendors)};
Mails server (all);Web servers (all);Load balancers (all);
Application servers (all); Git; SVN; Hadoop; BI; DI; Puppet; Jenkins; Atlasian (all of it);Ansible; Bash; Java; PHP; Python, Ruby; Databases (all); Asterisx; Free Switch; Oh yes hardware too (all there is)…. There are about 30 more tech stuff that I forgot.

Working with a simple user; working with a client; working with a developer; working with manager.

Then you need maintain yourself, a girlfriend and eventually your car…. Oh yes parrents.

So, let´s be honest. It simply sucks and it sucks hard. I´d be better off if I were a dog.

Now. How do I change career in Serbia? Any idea, not so smart now huh?

Burned OUT says:

Outsourcing is the reason

Corporate America mentality is a large reason why IT sucks. They want instant gratification, at no cost, with no people to support it. They don’t want to pay for training their employee’s, (which most of the time are treated like crap). They kill the spirit of the employee by contracting out, cutting benefits, and salaries. Then they wonder why no one wants to work for them, around them, or take their phone calls. WAKE UP! people are NOT numbers. You want more profit get a second job, and quit screwing over the people who have you back.

krim says:

IT underling

I will have to agree with this. You take over for stupid people that didnt know what they’re doing. Then they take forever to hire extra help so you’re stuck with being yelled at for not being able to help 300+ people maintain a network, keep a server from crashing, program another server in the timeframe they want or expect and have to deal with diarea mouthed, hypersensitive peckerheads. They don’t ask for help instead they demand it. obviously all of them dont do it but those douchebags out there act as if they matter more than everyone else and when you cant deliver by when they want it, they attempt to get you fired. It’s no wonder why IT people are mean and hate everyone.

IT Worker says:

You're all wrong.

Hate to break it to you “IT” people, but if you’re a software developer, you’re not an IT professional.

An IT professional is the guy you call when the box you code on can’t connect to the domain.

An IT professional is the guy you call when the server your shitty app runs on gets bogged down by all the memory leaks in your spaghetti code.

An IT professional is the guy you call when you don’t know how to project to the TV screen using a simple fucking Chromecast during your bullshit meeting.

You look down on us because we make shit money to support you so you can sit there on your fucking IDE autocompleting your way into generating us a never ending stream of pointless support tickets.

You call us to upgrade your box to 16GB of RAM because you don’t know how to write code in notepad.

You need us to update your permissions on a network folder because even though you have the permissions to do so, you don’t know how.

You sit in meetings with software vendors learning how to write scripts for their shitty software, while we keep that shitty software and your stupid hacks actually running.

We could do your job, while still doing ours, because we actually know how to use a fucking computer, and know how to make the fucking computer instantaneously do the shit you take a week to figure out, an month to plan an implementation, another month to actually implement, another month to bugfix, and a lifetime to support.

Want to cut costs? Let the actual IT professionals run your fucking IT department instead of catering to “software developers.”

Want to cut costs? Stop running your company based off software licensing costs and let your IT professionals implement a solution that “just fucking works.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Got out.

IT sucks, unless you can keep up with relearning the wheel every 12-18 months (on your time and dime) its not worth it. Its also a struggle to get a decent salary for the crappy and expensive locations all these jobs are in, unless you are in the top 10%. I ended up getting my CDL, did OTR for 8 months, now I own my own truck and pull local loads. I make just about the same money and its a much easier job. No ageism either, so I will actually be able to retire from this.

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