Making a Lot of Money

We've been interviewing for my replacement over the last two weeks.  The short version of the results: it looks unlikely that we'll hire anyone.  Instead, the company will probably back-fill from some of the senior developers here, dealing them in on the operations team and shuffling things around on the software projects they work on.  It's not a great solution, since the company's revenue depends on programmers writing code, not on programmers running internal systems, but there just hasn't been anyone that fits the job floating around out there (there are various caveats about this, the biggest of which is the fact that the company can only afford to hire a part-time IT guy, and would-be IT guys need full-time jobs.)

Which brings me to my point: one of the many perverse elements of contemporary first-world capitalism is the division between the highly sought-after 10 - 20% of the working population, the techs and project managers and other highly skilled white-collar types who staff the so-called information economy, and the other 80-something % who drift from temp job to customer service gig to retail to unemployment and back.  One of the weirdest things you encounter trying to hire from the former class of people is that it's desperately hard to find someone.  This is because they all pretty much already have jobs.  Thus, you're confronted with the fact that even though thousands of people in, say, Portland, are unemployed and actively looking for work, we still can't find the right person.

Rather than ramble endlessly about how utterly fucked-up the situation is, though, I want to just put in a plug for a surefire get-rich scheme: become a vendor-certified network engineer.  As a young person, let's say college-age, pick a major vendor of network equipment (Cisco and Juniper are the two big ones) and, by hook or crook, learn not only everything there is to know about TCP/IP and the other essential networking protocols, but all of the vendor-specific special sauce that implements those protocols.  Then, spend a few years working in IT shops.  By the time you're, say, 25, you'll be able to charge about $50/hour to do networks.  By the time you're, say, 30, you'll be able to charge about $70/hour (and these are Portland rates; I'm sure it's higher in California, New York, etc.) 

Yes, you have to be fairly smart and have some kind of natural intuitive feel for this stuff, but neither do you need to be the proverbial rocket scientist.  This is much less complex than doing medicine, for example, and you'll end up with a less difficult job (than being a doctor) that pays almost as well and doesn't involve you going into massive debt to get the degree.  You don't even need a degree, just some technical certifications (e.g. one guy we interviewed has two Cisco certs [CCNA and CCNP] and he's my example of the $70/hour rate.)

I have no idea why I'm writing about this, I think I'm just kind of slapping my forehead about how absurd post-postmodern life is.  Duty Now For the Future.

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