The question: Should I move from software support into testing?
I have been a IT support engineer for 10 years, but at 32 my interest in computers has diminished. This is also due to the large company I work for which has pigeonholed myself and others into desktop support, so we have no server or networking experience. I would have loved to have gone into software testing, but this would mean a drop in salary, so I am unsure which area if IT to look into or to get out and move into finance, which is where my father and brother work.
The answer: Short-term sacrifice may bring long-term benefit
Like all things, short-term sacrifices can lead to long-term career benefits. Finance is indeed a highly paid sector, so it could be well worth your while to take a lower salary to get industry-specific experience. IT departments, if you choose the right organisation, really do operate on a meritocratic basis and will always look to promote internally, so if you were to take a 10% drop in salary, you could look to receive 30% more within 12 to 18 months. If you shine in the finance sector, then you really can progress up the ladder. Of course it is important to weigh up the cost of such an undertaking, as there is a recognised increase in the number of hours worked and the workload in general in addition to higher pressure to deliver particularly in front office trading environments.
If you choose to stay within the IT sector you are currently in, then it's a decision between going for what you would ideally have liked to do in software testing or to develop your support skills further. Enquire within your current company to see whether there are any positions available with software testing in mind such a role again may lead to a slight drop in salary.
Solution by Nick Dettmar, managing director of Computer People, part of the Adecco group
This was first published in January 2008