Networking or programming: which has the better prospects?

My employer is training me in Microsoft Visual Fox Pro and I want to know how widely it is used. I have also started MCSE...

My employer is training me in Microsoft Visual Fox Pro and I want to know how widely it is used. I have also started MCSE training and can build and configure PCs and have some networking experience. My heart really lies with networking. Are there more prospects and money in networking or programming?

Strong interest = healthy career

Firstly, it is good news that your employer is prepared to invest in your career development, although you have not mentioned whether it is sponsoring your MCSE. Either way, careers in IT are set to boom and it is imperative that you maintain and enhance your technical skills to fully exploit this - having a supportive employer will help you.

The latest figures from the SSP/Computer Weekly jobs survey shows that there are few opportunities to use Visual Fox Pro - only 113 jobs were advertised for this skill in 1999. It is probably the only Microsoft product that has not sold like hot cakes and Access and Visual Basic have superseded it. The average salary for analyst programmers with this skill was £25,830 in 1999.

However, it tends to pay more than low-level network support roles (average salary £20,143 for network support technicians) though there are many more opportunities in this area. Salary prospects are very good at more senior levels, especially if you can get involved in Internet protcol.

You are much more likely to have a fulfilling career if you have a strong interest - in your case, networking. So be happy that you are being trained, maintain and develop your skills and go with your heart.

Solution by Michael Bennett, director, Best International Group

The panel: Elan, Best International Group, Apex, Computer Futures, Computer People, Monarch Recruitment and ITNTO

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