Can I make it in the Boston IT job market?
August 16, 2014 9:10 PM   Subscribe

For my own personal reasons, I would like to move to Boston. The one obvious catch: I need to make money in order to do so. I'm in software support. It's a small company, so only one support tier before issues go to engineering. Lots of .NET and SQL Server work. I've been at it a few years. I have no idea how my skillset would measure up in a big city full of some of the brainiest people on the planet. Can I survive and thrive in Boston?

By the time I'm prepared to move, I'll have spent 2.5 to 3 years in IT (2 years at present), most in a software support role that involves finding, documenting, and fixing bugs in the code of all current customers, along with phone support and an on-call rotation. Also, occasional programming work on small product enhancements. In addition, I've been trying to advance out of support by learning as much about SQL server as I can, with an emphasis on stored-procedure and index design/tuning. Our DBA left the company, and management is trying to replace him with a part-time consultant, which is going horribly. So, I'm trying to fill the void and stand out. A couple of my optimizations and bugfixes have made it into our product framework, and I'm rapidly becoming a go-to person for all things database related. I presented a caching strategy to our VP of engineering that would speed up our slow reports. He wants it added to the framework and has emailed engineering asking if it's feasible. I've recently been tasked with analyzing the sprocs and views that drive the data panels on the admin console our product uses, and recommending schema changes to improve performance. This is part of a larger push to fix issues with a customer who is planning on a future high six to low seven figure deal with my company.

So, I have some resume credits that are unusual, given my job title. If possible, I would like to move into a database developer role (officially). I've been eating and breathing SQL for the last 18 months.

I would be more confident if I already lived in Boston and knew people there. I currently live in Pittsburgh, but could pack up and head to my parents' house in central Maine for a month or two, allowing me to interview in person on short notice. Will I be able to overcome the handicap of not living in Boston when looking for work there?

To maintain my current standard of living, which will include a car for at least the first year, I've calculated I will need to make $55,000 if I live in a one-bedroom in a place like Somerville. Given that in this previous question, everyone thought I was grossly underpaid, I assume this is doable?

Will I be competing with a glut of dues-paying college grads for work? Is it a buyers' or sellers' market for IT talent in Boston these days?
posted by UrbanEye to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Still very much a seller's market, from my experience. There are a lot of smart people here but way more jobs for skilled tech workers. I have no doubt that you will be able to make well over $55k. Not necessarily living in Boston will make it a little trickier, but working from a Maine base temporarily would probably be close enough to make interviews, etc. work.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:15 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please check your MeMail.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:01 AM on August 17, 2014

Yes, you can make it. I do IT at a hospital in Boston and we have many jobs available that have been unfilled for some time. If that's something that might interest you, rather than checking and the like, look directly on local hospital websites for job openings.

We just hired a guy from the South who didn't move here until he got a job, so I'm sure you can manage.

Good luck.
posted by bondcliff at 7:07 AM on August 17, 2014

I live an work in a suburb very close to Boston where we have tons of open reqs for developers and other IT positions. MeMail me if you're interested in the open job listings for my'd be about a 15-20-minute drive from Somerville.
posted by xingcat at 7:15 AM on August 17, 2014

Best answer: With that set of skills? Absolutely doable. For comparison, I worked in a similar environment within IT for a major corporation, had a less advanced skill set than yours and made more than what you're seeking - and that was four years ago. I have since switched careers entirely and moved to the South but entirely for personal reasons. So I should think you'd be able to earn over $55K (which itself is doable in Boston, but you might need a roommate or two.)
posted by Rewind at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work in hospital IT in Boston also and we've had some reqs open for a good while. They've recently made a some hires with about (guessing here) 30% of people coming from outside the region.

I would second bondiff's suggestion of going to the source and looking directly at hospitals' career websites. You can also try to work with a head hunter but I couldn't tell you much about that. I'm currently working with one and they seem pretty knowledgable and professional while others who have contacted me in the past have barely read my resume.

I think if you have any sort of programming experience (.net, sql, java etc...) you can command a much salary than $55k in the Boston area.
posted by eatcake at 9:00 AM on August 17, 2014

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