On The Job: Are Networkers Technicians or Professionals? Page 5

Deb Shinder

A new model

Perhaps the answer is for the IT world to get itself organized - but not too organized. To put in place mechanisms for standardizing testing and maintaining professional credentials, as companies such as Microsoft, Novell and Cisco have attempted to do with their certification programs. The multi-tiered Cisco program that offers a difficult-to-obtain, premium certification (CCIE), and the recent changes to the MCSE and MCT programs are, in my opinion, steps in the right direction. Government intervention and regulation (again in my opinion) are not.

I also believe it's time for the industry to address the many ethical issues that arise in the working life of an IT pro. We will never have the respect of other professionals unless we do so. Ethics and legal issues (which are not the same) should be part of network administration training curriculums just as they are part of the educational process for aspiring doctors, lawyers, police officers, etc. We work in a world where often nebulous laws govern transactions involving intangible intellectual "property," where legal jurisdiction is often unclear due to the global nature of the Internet, where the line between the world inside the computer screen and the "real" world is often blurred. 

New entrants into this complex field need guidance - not just in how to configure a router or calculate an IP subnet, but in how to navigate the turbulent waters where man and machine interact and the former's master of the latter confers a great deal of power - and responsibility.

This article was originally published on Sep 30, 2000

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