Ask IT Career Coach

I have been in the IT industry for about 16 years now and have a pretty broad background.
I started off building custom computers and from there went into tech support for a PC manufacturer.
From there I got my Microsoft certs in Win 95 and NT 3.51 and took on the responsibilities of Network Admin.
I also taught myself Access SQL and HTML.
Next I went to work for an accounting software company as there network admin and application developer. While there I taught myself VB6.
Next I went to a Medical Education company as a SQL and Web developer and Am currently the lead developer there. Over the past 10 years I have also supported some private clients as their Network Admin.
With the exception of the PC assemble, which was about a year, I have averaged 5 years at each company.
I am now looking for the next opportunity but am having difficulty identifying what that would be.
I take pride in my diverse knowledge as most people I encounter are surprised by the wide range of my knowledge and I enjoy all the roles that I have filled.
I fear that I will get bored If I have to commit to being just a developer or just a DBA or just an Admin as each one draws on different parts of my personality, however I realize it makes me less competitive as compared to a strictly hard core Admin/ DBA or Developer when applying for jobs.
Network Admin, I find the most intuitive but also the least rewarding.
Developer I find the most rewarding but also the most challenging.
SQL Developer/DBA is somewhere right in the middle.
I have had people suggest that I get into BI but since report writing is among my least favorite activities I am concerned about that being a good fit for me.
I am happiest designing new tools or automating new processes and would like to find a position where my big picture and design skills are more important than my .NET/Javascript coding skills.
I feel like there must be some position out there that would benefit from the combination of Net Admin, DBA and developer, but I just have no idea what it is.
To further complicate things I am entirely self-taught. I went to college for Marine Biology but only completed about 2 years.
My Certifications are about 8 years old and I finally got an AS in IT from a local community college 5 years ago.
I know I need to get back to finish my BS and I also need to update my certs.
Any suggestions on a next career step would be greatly appreciated.

Subscribe to [ASK IT Career Coach] Newsletter

Get our latest posts delivered to your inbox ...

We respect your email privacy

You are a very competent hands-on individual with a lot of knowledge and technical skills.
Getting more education will not help you because what you need is more clarity. Since you like both big-picture thinking and also getting your hands dirty, I will recommend a few big picture + handson roles for you.
#1:) Think of becoming a software architect: A software architect must have big picture thinking otherwise the person will not be successful. As a software architect, you must understand the complexities and relationships between different systems in a company and at the same time be able to jump into any part of the program or process and get your hands dirty!
#2:) Think of becoming a technical project manager (TPM):A technical project manager also needs to have big picture thinking and very strong technical skills. However a TPM leans more on project management skills than on technical skills unlike a Software Architect who pays little attention to the Project Management tasks and a lot of attention to the technical tasks.
Software Architect Or Technical Project Manager, Which Is Better?However, in some companies you may actually have the freedom to get your hands dirty as much as you want. There are IT managers and Technical Project Managers who are handson in their work. E.g. when there is a persistent or urgent problem that won\'t go away, they will roll their sleeves up and go to work with the rest of their technical crew.
One subtle difference between a Technical Project Manager (TPM) and a Software Architect is that the Software Architect is often given a chunk of the technical design / development (databases, systems, software) as their deliverable and they may have to design and then develop that system while a TPM is more in charge of the team.
Going into Business Intelligence (BI) will probably not help your situation because you will just be doing what you are doing now.
From all that you\'ve said about yourself, I will recommend a Software Architect Role :-)