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Network admin vs Programming what pays better

  1. Jul 1, 2013 #1
    So im currently a computer engineer student, with multiple IT certifications (A+, N+, S+, MCP, MCSA, MCSE, CCNA) i will finish my degree this December and im trying to make a decision, im currently working as a software engineer for a small company where the top ill make after i graduate is probably 70k-80k.... Now my question is, on the long run, what career path will pay more? network admin (it related field) or programmer? Im a better IT person than im a programmer, but im not a bad programmer, also i enjoy being a network admin (done it before, part time) a bit more than a programmer but if the salary difference is to big of a difference this could change...

    Im in Florida, US...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2013 #2
    The better question is which do you enjoy more. Trust me, making more money but being miserable is not a good life. In general it's easier to outsource programming. A senior level network admin will often net $100k+.
  4. Jul 1, 2013 #3


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    And what you actually need. If I make about 40k I have more than enough to live comfortably. I wouldn't want to sacrifice my free time or the fun bits of my job to make 20k more.
  5. Jul 1, 2013 #4
    What are you willing to put up with to make that money?

    Seriously, this is more about your willingness to travel, your willingness to work weird hours, your willingness to be on call, and yet have a viable social life...

    There are trade-offs.

    Also, DON'T STOP LEARNING. Don't rest on your certs. Keep training, keep reading about what's going on, and get involved with professional groups that set standards. You'll learn a lot that way and you'll be able to share practical experience besides.

    And the extent to which your employer is willing to put up with these extra activities will tell you a lot about who you're working for.
  6. Jul 2, 2013 #5
    Well, you deserve an answer to your question, first off. While it's good advice to pursue something you're interested in, there is nothing wrong with considering salary.

    However, I don't think it's as simple as "which pays more." As a network admin you can make anything from $30,000 (entry level) to maybe $100,000 (tons of certifications, education and experience.)

    And you can probably make around the same range in programming, perhaps with a slightly lower floor. That's because network administration is often glorified tech support, and the two jobs often overlap. Generally the field is much more saturated with network admins. We've still got plenty of not-formally educated "I have a network to play doom in my house and then got my Microsoft Certs" admins around. That got in the industry awhile ago and are still comfortably housed there. It's still easier to get in the door doing "computer guy" stuff leading up to network administration.

    Programming is a bit more specialized. A company needs you to program in languages W,X,Y and Z with exposure to some other kind of software and some other skills. (including networking, database administration, etc.) So they need somebody to fit that profile, and so you need to know quite a few languages to be competitive.

    I "downgraded" from career from Admin to tech support (For less money) because I got sick of the hours and wanted a life outside of work.

    I find programming enjoyable, though I haven't had it as a career yet. It is closer to the intellectual challenge of math or science, which is something you want to consider if you're a frequenter of these forums.

    -Dave K
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