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When I started in IT field (support/sysadmin), I was advised that I should hold my positions for 2-5 years, and avoid job-hopping, cause it looks bad on the resume.

Fast forward 6 years, I quit my job, why? I started in tech support. I've worked night shifts, weekends, crazy schedules when someone was a on a leave or vacation. No compensation for it, crappy salary, little or no bonuses, night time work and weekend work was not paid according to the law in my country (no-one to complain about it, unfortunately). I kept working there because there was no better offer available, the team I worked in was made of great people, there was some promotion plans for me, and I had a loan to pay off. I got promoted. OK, so now I'm a sysadmin, better salary, but still no compensation for working over-time, doing half-month rotation on-call standby if something brakes (and it did), etc. Please mind that the better salary was not a good one, just better. Anyways, one of my fellow sysadmins gets called into active service (obligatory in my country), and I get stuck with constant on-call duty, same salary and again, little or no bonuses. This is where I start looking for options, and I after getting accepted at few other places, I decide to stay where I am, why? Better tech, more complicated work, challenging, etc. A year later I discover that no social service, pension plans and med-care payments were made by my company for me or other people for the last 5 or 6 years ( in my country, the company pays for it, and it isn't quite easy for you to check that on a monthly bases), and I get net income, so I actually don't care about my gross income. I raise hell, and after a few clashes with local and upper management I decide to get the hell out of there.

So, in the end, my two cents are: Loyalty, to the company, friends, team at work, family, girlfriends, etc. has to be something that is deserved on their part, not expected from day one. Dedication and commitment should not be confused with it.

Anyways, I'm now freelancing, and working towards my degree in soft. engineering.

I come from a roughly similar background, I started out fresh out of high school in tech support, though had done some programming on the side.

I enjoyed programming more though, so gravitated towards that, and so glad I did. Most of the people I knew from my time in the support / admin trenches have similar stories to tell, apart from some exceptions doing large-scale work for Google, eBay, and telecoms.

On average I think programmers are compensated better, and generally enjoy a better work environment.

When you're seen as working in a cost center as sysadmin and network admin often is, you'll always have the spectre of downsizing/outsourcing hanging over you.

Just don't work permanently at a consultancy (ugh). If you must work permanently, do so for 2-3 year stints, and at product-focused places or places where software engineering isn't just doing crappy line of business apps.

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