What’s in a Title?

What is in a title? That depends.

Perhaps much; your title is industry standard and perfectly describes your area of responsibility.

Perhaps little; an industry standard that is insufficient to describe your area of responsibility.

Perhaps nothing; an industry standard, or not, that is simply a title to confer status, income or both.

I recently had an online discussion with a person interested in transitioning from “system administrator” to “programmer.” My first response was to request a definition of “system administrator.” The reason I asked is because I know a person who told me he was a SA. When I asked him to describe his responsibilities it seemed to me he was a PC tech. He was not creating/modifying/deleting user accounts and print/job queues, or installing system software on a multiuser system; he kept PCs running

Over the years I’ve held the official titles of programmer/analyst (various levels), project manager, MIS supervisor, and MIS director. Unofficially, I’ve served as technical support, network engineer, system engineer, system administrator, and software engineer. There was a desire by one of my supervisors, when I was officially a programmer, to recommend my title be changed to reflect what I actually did: system engineering. Sadly, he left and I remained, officially, a lowly programmer. However, I continued to serve in the roles of system engineer, system administrator, network engineer and technical support, etc.

Ultimately, I don’t care about my title. I care about enjoying what I do, and being recognized for being good at what I do. Oh, and being (well) paid is nice.