IT carreer - is it desirable

18 posts in this topic

My son is studying air & space IT (Luft- und Raumfahrtinformatik). Originally, he said he did it because he couldn´t really make up his mind abot what to choose from the disciplines that interested him (physics, astronomy, maths) and that this was a combination of all of them so that he could buy time before making a decision on where to fully dive in. Now he is in 2nd semester and it seems he considers not changing at all but rather to go for the "Master of the universe" degree, as he calls it. I´m not so sure this is a good choice as I think he would have more options if he studied physics or engineering, including starting his own business (which I guess will be difficult for a Master of air & space IT). His point is (apart from that he likes what he is doing) that there are only very few graduates in his discipline (as it´s only offered at 2 Universities worldwide) so there will probably enough jobs. I´m not so sure about the validity of that point, seiing that Boeing, Airbus, NASA etc. seem to have managed to find enough ITers even before there were any Universities at all offering that discipline. He would probably be quite restricted in terms of what companies to work for and where to work in terms of location (after all, who in their right mind would want to live in big cities where those big companies are located). Plus we will probably be an employee all his life.

 

Am I guessing rightly? Does anybody with some insight into this job market an opinion about this? If so, I´d appreciate sharing it with me.

 

 

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On 11 May 2016 at 13:23:31, jeba said:

there will probably enough jobs. I´m not so sure about the validity of that point

 

You have a good point here: there aren't many "absolutely guaranteed to find a good job" degrees (maybe surgeons?), so it's probably always best have a couple of possible options regarding the later career. That said, given that

 

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 he likes what he is doing

 

I wouldn't be worried as long as he really learns math and physics in his

 

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"Master of the universe" degree, as he calls it.

 

It will always be easier for him to become an engineer in a different field, compared to people who never studied engineering. So maybe for now he can do what he enjoys.
 

 

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I'd be cautious of these highly specialized interdisciplinary degrees. If employers already filled their slots with regular IT majors in the past, they are probably going to stick with them in the future too.

 

 

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On 11.5.2016, 13:23:31, jeba said:

Now he is in 2nd semester and it seems he considers not changing at all but rather to go for the "Master of the universe" degree, as he calls it. I´m not so sure this is a good choice as I think he would have more options if he studied physics or engineering, including starting his own business (which I guess will be difficult for a Master of air & space IT).

I strongly advise against having a fresh graduate starting his own business. I did it, I know a lot of people who did it and either it is done with a partner with a lot of business experience or otherwise it is a very bad choice.

 

 

On 11.5.2016, 13:23:31, jeba said:

His point is (apart from that he likes what he is doing) that there are only very few graduates in his discipline (as it´s only offered at 2 Universities worldwide) so there will probably enough jobs.

IMO that is not a valid point. Any good Electrotechnic Engineer with some inclination for physics could fill in those positions.

Also a interdisciplinary team can fill his role easily. You hire some physics, you hire some software developers and you can replace those highly specialized roles with more generic professionals.

 

I work on a R&D team which requires a lot of knowledge about physics. Guess what, none of the SW developers is a physics, most are Electrotechnic Engineers, which is probably the most versatile degree in the world.

 

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20 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

I strongly advise against having a fresh graduate starting his own business. I did it, I know a lot of people who did it and either it is done with a partner with a lot of business experience or otherwise it is a very bad choice.

 

Well at this point it´s a bit premature anyway to talk about starting his own business. But generally, after gaining some practical experience would there be opportunities in that field? E. g. as consultant working on projects. Is anybody working in the air & space industry who is in a position to comment on that? Is that how things can be done in this industry or are companies relying on in-house skills? I think he doesn´t understand the difference it makes if you are working for yourself. At least that was my experience. When I started my carreer I had a scholarship and could work on what I was interested in. When I was offered a regular job at the same departement all of a sudden I had to do what my boss was interested in. That took away a lot of the fun. Even though I told him that it didn´t seem to make an impression on him. I hope he won´t find out the hard way.

 

20 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

IMO that is not a valid point. Any good Electrotechnic Engineer with some inclination for physics could fill in those positions.

Also a interdisciplinary team can fill his role easily. You hire some physics, you hire some software developers and you can replace those highly specialized roles with more generic professionals.

 

Is anybody reading this working in the air & space industry? Are companies filling their positions like that rather than hiring specialists?

 

20 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

I work on a R&D team which requires a lot of knowledge about physics. Guess what, none of the SW developers is a physics, most are Electrotechnic Engineers, which is probably the most versatile degree in the world.

 

Thanks, I´ll make him think about that.

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My point is that medium/big companies will have a large R&D team. In those cases, you will have experts in mechanics, experts in physics, experts in software, etc.

You son's degree only seems to fit in small teams, where there is no option to hire an expert for each field.

 

It could make sense if he already had 10 years of experience and he was advancing to management level, to coordinate large teams with different expertise. At management level it makes sense to have one guy with broad range of knowledge, who can talk with physics, software developers, etc.

 

But it is not mandatory. In my case, I am an Electric/Electrotechnic Engineer and I was hired as project manager because of my knowledge in:

- CCD cameras

- optics

- mechatronics

- advanced image processing

- scientific image acquisition, calibration and processing (from Astronomy background)

 

Guess what, I learned those skills by myself, not in college.

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But hangon, OP's kid is studying Informatik... and kid likes planes and space ships. So great. And if the death star isn't hiring, then, guess what, plenty of other opportunities for someone with a degree in Computer Science.

 

In fact, rather than (general) employers considering it overspecialized, I suspect they may be rather impressed; maybe unjustified, but Germans tend to be fond of things that have "Luft-und Raumfahrt" in the name (they may even mistake it for "Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik" or associate it with Astronomy)

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22 minutes ago, Gwaptiva said:

But hangon, OP's kid is studying Informatik...

Informatik goes from software development to helpdesk support. Just because it says informatik it does not equate to a good paycheck and an enjoyable career. 

One interesting thing is that the top positions for SW development have a lot of non-computer science people, because computer science, as it is taught, is too narrow minded. 

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Fair point. I'm a SW Developer and studied Anglistik. Again goes to show it doesn't matter what you study, but how you study

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Another more general concern I have with all IT jobs: isn´t there a lot of competition from cheap labour from countries like India, depressing wages?

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You don't have to go as far as India - my (global IT) employer is moving as many jobs as possible to Romania.  No experience but they cost 1/3rd of those in Western Europe.

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As experience at my current company showed, the alledged savings made by outsourcing code can come back to bite you in the backside, badly. We spent the past 3 years refactoring every single bit of code "our Indians" wrote for us. The "no experience" bit is endemic with those kinds of outsource companies, and if you do not spend significant resources on monitoring everything your outsourcers do, you can just as well not do it. May work for easily templated stuff (e.g. simple websites) but as soon as you have a commercial shrinkwrap product ... forget it.

 

But I know that experience may take a while to make its way around the industry

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Commercial space travel and transport seems to be an expanding industry atm but it's probably based mostly in the US, if the kid wants to move there.

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Technically the aerospace industry in Germany has around 100,000 employees and an annual turnover in the region of 35 billion Euro. It's not exactly a small industry.

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Near-shoring, off-shoring and outsourcing are key words in today's IT industry, but if you work in a smaller or medium-sized company it's not that bad.  Also, HR jobs and finance jobs are also being outsourced to Eastern Europe, so it doesn't only concern IT. 

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9 hours ago, kato said:

Technically the aerospace industry in Germany has around 100,000 employees and an annual turnover in the region of 35 billion Euro. It's not exactly a small industry.

Do you have a link to that data? I am curious, 35B€ seems a lot, although it matches the expected revenue per employee.

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On 5/11/2016, 1:23:31, jeba said:

Does anybody with some insight into this job market an opinion about this? 

You're not the first father wondering how to advise a child; I would recommend this very interesting post by Heiko Mell as well as reading other articles that he has written on that website.

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59 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

Do you have a link to that data? I am curious, 35B€ seems a lot, although it matches the expected revenue per employee.

http://www.bdli.de/en/

Federal Association of the Aerospace Industry.

 

" Combining almost all strategic key technologies, the German aerospace industry with a directly employed labor force of around 106,800, achieves an annual turnover of currently Euro 34.7 billion. "

 

The number is for 2015. Statistical view, since 1991: http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/12333/umfrage/umsatzentwicklung-der-luft--und-raumfahrtindustrie-in-deutschland/

 

Probably at least half of that revenue is in the German components of the former parts of EADS of course; Airbus Group alone, on a worldwide basis, had a turnover of 43 billion last year.

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