What's you SharePoint job like for you?
December 9, 2008 9:39 AM   Subscribe

SharePoint Admins & Developers: what do you do?

I've recently become unemployed.
At my last position, my title was "Systems Administrator." I was introduced to SharePoint about 2 years ago when the company installed it.
The true extent of my duties was in the line of:
-SharePoint Power User (setting up lists and sites for my colleagues to use SharePoint to capture and display information, track tasks, etc.),
-SharePoint evangelist (trying to get my colleagues to get "on board" with SharePoint and leave the messy, perilous network share behind them),
-InfoPath developer (just beginning to get into it, but I can see the power in there)
-managing permissions for a ~100 employee company
-setting and maintaining alerts for groups or the whole population (using two different third-party apps)
-front-line desktop support for WinXP, Office 2003, network share
-daily tape backups (but only as the tape-swap monkey - I didn't set up the jobs)

I see SharePoint as a big deal, growth product, and think that hitching my wagon to this pony could provide interesting work and a good paycheque for a good long while.
I'm enrolled at a local college for introductory VB.NET courses, and am considering a 5-course certification in SharePoint installation and administration.

But before I commit TOO heavily to this path I want to know what I can expect from the role in real-world situations.
-What is your day-to-day like?
-What are the headaches?
-What do you feel are the big rewards (I get satisfaction from "teaching a wo/man to fish" and sharing the knowledge, versus keeping it in the techno-priesthood)
-what's your pay range? (I'm in Toronto, ON. not looking to relocate)

any help, comments, suggestions, guidance is much appreciated.
posted by I, Credulous to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
SharePoint is definately a growth area for us (Microsoft) - it is one of the fastest growing products we have ever released.

It makes it easy for companies to rollout productive intranet solutions. That being said - some companies customize it extensively, others do not.

It is generally a big enough product that you could stick to either "Administration" or "Development/Customization" and still specialize in sub-sections of the product, but it doesn't hurt to be both.

My day-to-day consists of assisting "System (SharePoint) Administrators" and Developers who have hit the wall in terms of performance, design and/or customization. It could be anything from a simply configuration step overlooked to poorly designed code which slows down an environment dramatically.

The group I am in is "Premier Field Engineering" - we get called to resolve high-priority, critical issues. The rewards are plenty - there is great satisfaction in being an expert at this level. However - generally the role requires extensive travel (70% minimum) - but it is not onerous and you can generally still be home 3-5 days per week.

In addition to "break/fix" we do workshops and "chalk-talks" and proactive activities (health checks, code reviews) to prevent future issues.

Unfortunately, I just checked our careers website and see nothing specific for SharePoint open at this point.

Headaches? Too much work...

Pay-range? I can't discuss, sorry.
posted by jkaczor at 10:14 AM on December 9, 2008

SharePoint is a HUGE product and getting bigger. Every other job posting for Sysadmin IT jobs wants SharePoint experience. It is definitely a wagon to hitch yourself to, but try to get something like what you had. Sysadmin of a network with SharePoint. Try to get one that gives you a chance to admin Exchange and SQL as well and you'll be employable for years.
posted by ChazB at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2008

I just finished up a SharePoint development project (Calgary, AB). It's definitely a powerful tool with a bright future. That being said, I don't think the development tools are really there right now, but I'm looking forward to Visual Studio 2010, it looks like it's going to make it all a lot easier.

If you're a developer with a few years experience you shouldn't have a problem getting $55-75/hour. SharePoint admins would be a bit lower than that, but there is a big demand for people that know anything about SharePoint.

As for headaches, most basic things are fairly straight forward, it's once you get into the highly customized things that it gets a bit messy. If you're not using the built-in functionality of SharePoint you're going to spend a lot of time editing XML files, copy and pasting GUIDs, and manually copying files, etc. You'll probably also need to look into Windows Workflow Foundation and ASP.NET.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2008

It's dead simple to be the kind of administrator with the responsibilities you listed above. That's something we've actually offloaded to our different site admins. We make the site, they get training in how to make lists and set up security. We don't do customizations because 1) there are enough pretty templates out there and 2) as blue_beetle noted, the tools aren't really there to make it simple.

It's a bitch on the backend. You'll need to be able to backup, restore, import, and export from the command line when the organizational structure changes and therefore the site structure changes. I'm guessing that's going to be the bulk of your courses.

That much of it is enough of a headache that we're considering hosting most of our stuff on the Central MOSS site rather than continue our own WSS hosting. If you got some sort of certification, that would be a big help getting you a job in a larger data center.

The part I like is when people really take off on their own and do neat things with their site. They'll ask me some off the wall question "can I do this?" and I'll tell them yes or maybe, and they get all excited about making the computer do something they want to do. That's kind of rare in a place where people are told "don't do this! don't do that! You'll hurt the computer and then we'll be MAD!"

All that being said, the SP administration is about 10% of my job, and only because it's tied up in Data Managment, which is another job type you might consider, as it involves people type skills. It mainly consists of helping people keep their stuff organized, and occasionally pruning old and out of date stuff.
posted by lysdexic at 12:56 PM on December 9, 2008

Huge growth area and requires a broad set of skills to be competent: Windows Server Administration, Active Directory, SQL Server, IIS, Asp.Net, .Net, Windows Workflow Foundations along with being an ordinary power user of the product.
posted by mmascolino at 3:09 PM on December 10, 2008

in a sense you've confirmed that my experience, though useful and necessary, was somewhat superficial for the overall job market. I'm going back to school (part time) to receive more in-depth training, particularly on the back end (the dreaded mossadmin console) and on installation and configuration of the product from ground zero.

I'm also seriously considering courses in "adult training," to become a SharePoint user trainer (a skill I've been told I'm quite good at).

thanks, all, I appreciate it.
posted by I, Credulous at 9:11 AM on December 15, 2008

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