Tech musings and other things...

Systems Administration, Part II

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So things are better…

I think.

It’s so hard to come off your favorite job ever and do something else.

So I continue…

We had a conversation on [ALE] today ( regarding sysadmins and their salaries. Some folks out there are swooning over $20/hr gigs, and I just don’t get it.

The professional demands of the sysadmin range from technologist to politician to therapist.

Sometimes I think yearly medals should be awarded.


A recruiter contacted me regarding a position in Oregon @ $20/hr. I counted that an insult. I related that fact to the LUG, and found all sorts of ballyhooing about started. Now, don’t call me a prude or high-and-mighty, but I’ve been doing this stuff for 15 years as of this month. Everything from PC’s on DOS 3.3 to watching Windows come out and then NT3… you get the picture. Let’s just say I got wise and got out of the Windows market…It’s doomed anyway.

So, I started to get interesting comments such as:

C'mon $20.. You could live like a king...
Hey, I phone-interviewed with a place in NC that wanted to pay $45K for a do-everything IT manager. I politely informed the gentlemen that I was making over $60K when I was already doing many of the specific things they said they needed done (and that was Government!) and that I know a Windows admin in Norcross who's making ~48K without a degree. They wouldn't budge. Get used to it.
Seems like I mentioned something along these lines last week during the H1B debate. Artificially driving salaries up based on pure unbridled greed is exactly what leads to periods of unemployment and the flood of immigrant workers. Feel free to take your shots at these companies, but understand that one day they might swing back and send you and half your peers to the unemployment line. Then that 40k will look pretty good. I'm not speculating on any one person's worth. That obviously varies from person to person. But sometimes a position is only worth so much money to a given employer. You can either accept it, or move on to other things. Bashing the company in question and suggesting a pseudo mutiny witin the industry is not going to change things. If anything, it helps to perpetuate the growing feeling that "computer people" are over paid prima donnas. Next thing you know, you'll be calling for a damn union.

I think that’s enough. The last quoted suggests “psuedo-mutiny” and all that, and I think that is quite laughable. There’s piles of documentation out there regarding what a UNIX administrator is, what each level of experience is worth, and what the criteria are to measure an admin’s quality. (The Systems Administrator’s Guild maintains most of this information at There’s even a certification track and everything. You’d think someone would use it.

Anyhow, the advocating of paying what someone is worth for (here’s the reference to the previous article) measurable, quantifiable work is a VERY old concept. I believe the original quote goes something like:

After all, the worker deserves to have his needs met.

Let’s look into the fact that there is a serious need for good talent. Not just book talent…not just kids with degrees, but folks with a serious dedication to their work for whatever motivation…whether just geekiness, or pride in one’s work, or a personal technical itch to be scratched. I find more people in my line of work that come from three camps:

I just got into this because there was money in it

This is pretty common right now, because we’re in the first generation of geeks that got trained right around the bust, and found themselves in a career in decline….or so they were told.

During the bust, I was working alongside folks that thought they could copy/paste perl scripts into a UNIX box, and voila! they were perl programmers. I also had a UNIX admin I worked with that thought he was God’s gift to systems folk when he could use that there “vi” editor. (pronounced it ‘veye’…some do, I’ve always found it quaint)

These will be disappointed to a degree, but will eventually get the experience and seasoning they need…in another 5 years or so. It all depends on their day of realization that this is going to be real work, and not copy/pasting other people’s work.

Can you believe I’m a sysadmin and I get PAID!!!

The perennial geek. Glad to be here, and glad to be working. Usually overworks themselves because they enjoy it. These folks progress and grow at a much faster rate than just about any other. These will be the ones taking my job considerably faster than it took me to replace the guy before me. They are in the tech for the love of it.

I got into this, and It’s a job I feel sorry for these sometimes. They don’t really have any serious joy in their gig, and are waiting for retirement. I hope it was worth it.

I just really think it’s important you have to dig what you do. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get there with this one. I’ll try , though. In the meantime, all offers in Atlanta welcome.