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IT position definitions

Since the power of Web Systems Manager now belongs to my new boss I no longer have these duties or the title. As I said before, this is all a very good thing and has been our plan for the last year or two.

I lead a team of people that support all of the core web systems for a very large university. This includes designing the infrastructure, specifying the hardware, procuring it, installing it, securing it, installing the OS, installing the main bed of applications, tuning it and monitoring the critical services it provides 24x7. This is mainly a UNIX shop using various sized hardware, hardware load balancing, SSL acceleration, Apache and dozens of applications. I'm pretty much the "go to" person when someone needs to know something technically complex and have to jump and analyze some nasty problems. Our group is well respected and we are asked to consult on a variety of other system issues inside and outside of ITS.

My first thought for a title would be something as simple as Senior System Administrator. Someone did suggest System Engineer, but that sounds a little too technical like someone who hacks kernels. However, my reasoning or image of that title could be completely flawed. I found a few definitions of System Engineer and they do seem to fit.

BTW, technically, isn't it incorrect to say Systems Engineer vs. System Engineer? I mean you don't refer to a System Administrator as a Systems Administrator, right?

How do you go about selecting the right title? My boss is giving me flexibility to here to select the right title. Is System Engineer likely a correct title for me? How do you go about selecting the most appropriate title? I don't want a title that makes it sound like hot air, but does give me some credit for 12 years of UNIX system administration.

UPDATE as of 2131: Here's one article I found interesting that talks about System Engineer vs. System Administrator. A bit old, but still interesting.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
healingdrysuits
Feb. 25th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Joe,
Glad you haven't left yet. I wanted to say have a huge crazy fun time out there! Also, in all seriousness, you won't be at UNC forever. At least I don't think you will. So, think resume for future job and grab all the hot air entitlement that you can. For real, you have earned it. Have fun out there and be safe in Whistler, you won't be in Kansas anymore.
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
I don't leave until Friday afternoon.

I'm just concerned about inflating my resume is all. With what I'm seeing, it appears justified.
healingdrysuits
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Hey, I fly out Friday as well...what time is your flight? I leave at 6:30 PM
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
2:30pm
spikejrt
Feb. 25th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
try this
go onto Monster.com or any numnber of help wanted websites - type in the job titles you are thinking about using. Select the one that has the higher salary range, or has more of whatever characteristic you want your job to evolve into..
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Re: try this
I will try that to get a sense too. Part of the problem with Monster (and some other job boards) is that they are sometimes posted by people who don't understand IT and sometimes make stuff up. Still, it will give me a sense.

Also, my job classification is different from my title, so it has no impact on my pay.
geometrician
Feb. 25th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Ahem...


"Emperor of the Universe!"
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
Good pay for that?
bradferd23
Feb. 25th, 2008 03:52 am (UTC)
So, what this boils down to is Engineer vs Administrator.

Think about the two words and which one carries more weight. When people think of the definitions, Administrators typically don't know crap about the architecture of the system. They just add people, monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot problems. Now, I would think and Engineer would build the system, install, upgrade, maintain, and also know the things an Administrator would.

I like what Spikejrt said, go to Monster or Career Builder and see what best fits what you do. That does make quite a bit of sense.
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Yep, that's what it comes down to--engineer vs. administrator.

I think someone in some other thread I found via Google commented that you can have a very skilled administrator, but they tend to work within the confines of a vendor application/OS. An engineer is thinking more outside the box and integrating all kinds of technology to bring about the best solution.

Very going point you bring up.
rbsmith77
Feb. 25th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
I would go with Engineer. In the commercial world, administrators handle simple MAC requests. Engineers tend to be the go-to people, troubleshooting base OS, applications, and hardware.

System Engineers tend to make provide input on migrations and allocations as well. Administrators implement the blueprint laid out by the engineers. I doubt you would be committing resume inflation if you decided on an SE. In the WinTel and Novell professional realm (certification doesn't count in the real world), Systems Engineers are vetted System Administrators who better have a really good explanation if things don't go according to plan. ;)
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
That's my biggest fear--resume inflating--and someone turning away from that. However, the more I research I think it's quite legitimate. I would be curious to see what kinds of hits I would get too if I listed that as my job classification, but not right now.
paterson_si
Feb. 25th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
The only correct title should be "The Brain". :)
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Hey, you, you're not helping here! Behave! :p
paterson_si
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
The MasterMind? :)
cincycub
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
I'm impressed that you get so much flexibility with job titles. Ours are stupid and not reflective of our jobs at all :)
snowboardjoe
Feb. 25th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Well, they are two different things. My job classification is "Systems Specialist" and that defines my pay grade. It's standard across all IT organizations in North Carolina (state government). My working title is different and is more flexible. So, it's just the name I'm putting on my business card and gives some sense of what I do (as opposed to just putting my classification on my business card).

Up until 5 years ago they were meaningless where my System Programmer implied that you wrote device drivers for mainframe computers! Uh, no.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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