How To Read MIS Titles

In the lower ranks of the MIS world, sorting out job titles is a nearly
impossible task. Some folks are called Analysts. Some are called
Programmers. Some are called Engineers. None of them has window offices.
So I have listed-from lowest to highest in order of prestige-and described
the 10 most commonly used job titles in a data processing shop. A truly
experienced high-tech professional has held five or even six of these
positions... usually all at the same time.

10. Programmer: This person holds the lowest rank in the DP field. Manages
no one. Answers to everyone. Approximately 50% of the Programmer's time 
is scheduled for testing. Another 50% is spent filling out time cards 
and progress reports. Any time left over is spent attending classes on
technologies that will never be used in the shop. The Programmer is
appraised on code quality and reliability. Never has time to write any.
Hopes to, someday, be promoted to Systems Analyst.

9. Systems Analyst: The Systems Analyst refuses to code anymore. Designs new
systems. Writes specs for new systems. Devises procedures and work flows for
new systems but ends up training users on how to get by with the old ones.
Next in line for Team Leader position.

8. Team Leader: A Team Leader manages one project. Doesn't know why he's not
called Project Leader; that's what he has on his resume.

7. Project Leader: Manages several projects at once. Analyzes Gantt charts
from the Team Leaders' projects. Coordinates schedules from the Team
Leaders' projects. Monitors deliverables from the Team Leaders' projects.
Has absolutely no idea what any of the Team Leaders' projects are about.
Wants to be a programmer again.

6. Operator: The Operator wields powers that the Project Leader can only
dream about. Makes Programmers beg for tape drives. Makes Analysts beg for
disk space. Makes Team Leaders beg for printouts. Has an uncanny
understanding of career potential in the data processing industry. Going
to law school at night.

5. Systems Programmer: Even an Operator wants to be a Systems Programmer. A
Systems Programmer has the authority to wipe out disk packs without warning.
Crash the system during user demos. Make new releases appear, then
disappear, then reappear again, especially during month-end processing.

4 DBA: No one really knows what the Database Administrator does, and no one
is smart enough to know if the DBA is doing it or not. But every shop must
have one DBA, because no place can afford two of them.

3. Manager: A department manager is sometimes called a Director. Or an
Assistant Vice-President. Or an Account Manager. Has completely lost touch
with any facsimile of technology. Wants to finish next year's budget. Wants
to finish last year's appraisals. Wants to learn the names of some of the
Programmers. But instead, only has time to interview job applicants,
especially DBAs.

2. Department Secretary: The Programmers have word processing. The Managers
have electronic mail. Everyone has automatic phone messaging. This leaves
the Department Secretary with all kinds of time to manipulate, control and
dispense the three most basic employee needs: paychecks, rumors, and
supplies. Can make copier self-destruct just by going to lunch.

1. Contract Programmer: A Contract Programmer doesn't have to wear a nice
suit. Or go to meetings. Or fill out time cards. Or keep complaints to
himself. He can make all the mistakes he wants. He doesn't get benefits. He
doesn't get training. He doesn't get respect. But after years in the
trenches, the Contract Programmer will finally achieve the ultimate goal in
the profession: He will be able to make impossible deadlines with inadequate
resources for desperate managers by putting in all kinds of extra hours...
and will be paid overtime for every one of them.

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