Career Watch: A little less stress for IT workers?

Less Stress for IT?

A new survey shows that, while stress remains high for IT administrators in the U.S., it's generally down from a year earlier. The independent blind survey of 207 IT administrators in U.S. organizations with more than 10 employees was conducted in March on behalf of GFI Software. Here's a look at some of the findings:

I am considering leaving my job because of workplace stress.

• 2013: 57%• 2012: 67%

My job is stressful.

• 2013: 65%• 2012: 69%

I feel the same level of stress or more stress than others in my social circle.

• 2013: 62%• 2012: 72%

I have suffered stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure because of work.

• 2013: 21%• 2012: 20%

I have lost sleep because of work.

• 2013: 34%• 2012: 42%

OT Extremes

That survey conducted in March on behalf of GFI Software also examined the amount of overtime IT administrators put in.

The top three U.S. cities in which respondents work more than eight hours of overtime per week

• Philadelphia: 47%• Boston: 43%• Dallas: 40%

The three U.S. cities in which the greatest percentages of respondents do not experience any overtime

• Austin: 66%• Charlotte: 60%• Houston: 50%

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Cynthia Nustad

The CIO at HMS answers questions on the job prospects for a mainframe programmer and more.

What are the prospects these days for an unemployed mainframe programmer/analyst with 30 years of experience? We just had a very lengthy discussion on this topic at my company. We still successfully leverage the mainframe for some of our products and get great performance and scale from such equipment. One thing we considered in our discussion was whether there would be enough talent 10 to 15 years from now to work on those tools. Our vendor was able to put our minds at ease by telling us about universities that are growing their educational offerings to teach students these technologies. In short, I think the prospects continue to be good for experienced mainframe talent.

I have been considering a career in computer forensics and network administration. Any advice? These are very exciting areas in IT. I would recommend spending the time to get certifications pertinent to the specific areas you are passionate about. Yes, studying for certifications can be time-consuming, and clearing the testing hurdles is challenging. But certifications will set you apart from others trying to get the same job and will help advance your career. And because network administration and forensics are changing quickly, recently minted certs are a way of telling employers that you are keeping up to date.

I liken the network to the heartbeat of a company -- you don't want it to skip a beat, so maximum uptime is imperative. That means security and risk management should be part of the discipline.

Finally, you should develop your skills in public speaking, presentations and communications. This is helpful for areas like these that are routinely audited and reviewed. And being able to clearly explain key aspects of these important areas -- such as how they help drive business value -- to executive leaders and other nontechnical people will also contribute to your success.

What are the best programming languages to be familiar with for someone entering the IT field today? Currently, there is tremendous employer demand in many programming areas. The key thing to do is ensure that your capabilities are well rounded. A programmer who can do analysis, create database structures, write clean code, create testing structures and clearly communicate all that has been done is a very valuable asset.

Businesses are seeing the data that they retain and analyze proliferate. That means that people who understand the programming used to support data and analytics are particularly in demand. If your interest lies in this direction, you should get to know and understand key new data technologies, ETL languages and business intelligence tools. If your passion is to create applications and systems, we seem to be looking for Java and .Net talent constantly. Lastly, I always suggest that you investigate and leverage open-source tools. They can be excellent options for certain needs.

If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com, and watch for this column each month.

Read more about management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.

This story, "Career Watch: A little less stress for IT workers?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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