back to article Sysadmins and devs: Do these job descriptions make any sense?

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has released an ICT Skills White Paper, titled “Common ICT Job Profiles & Indicators of Skills Mobility”, offering definitions of 25 jobs and what they entail. Available after registration here the document was compiled by surveying 3,629 participants and is designed to “provide a clear …


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  1. LaeMing

    This sounds like a job for....


  2. Infernoz Bronze badge


    This ranking of people by narrow, one dimensional, job classifications is archaic, people doing serious computer work don't do apprenticeships into narrow jobs now, we need to be multi-skilled, and our skills levels in each area can vary. This is really all about pay scales, lack of genuine compensation progression, and management wanting to be paid more.

    I looked at the ACS over a decade ago and they already looked irrelevant back then, so I decided not to apply to join.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: No

      Who are you Mr. Infernoz that you dare question a study done by Level 7 study makers? Huh? That's what I thought you skanky 5. In the future you will show proper respect for your betters.

      If it makes you feel better, it is perfectly acceptable to humiliate and browbeat Level's 3 and 4.

    2. solo

      Re: No

      I am fine except the ordering.

      Only if they'd have placed "Apply" at (7).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No

        "Only if they'd have placed "Apply" at (7)."

        Reminds me of a one-to-one I had with my boss at the time, about 25 years ago. Trying to make clear to him my point of view, I said something like this:

        "Look, I think of all the people in business and industry as divided into four main categories. (1) Most important, those who have new ideas and invent things - without them we'd all be in caves still. (2) Regrettably but necessarily, those who sell things; otherwise no one would get the benefit of all the great new inventions, and the inventors and makers wouldn't be rewarded and motivated. (3) The managers: those who organise everyone and keep things ticking over smoothly. (4) Last and least, the bean-counters who keep track of the accounts. They have a humble but essential role".

        My boss nodded, smiled, and replied that he accepted my four categories but placed them in exactly the opposite order of importance.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: No

      I would guess that the 10 apprentices we have here, working in development and system administration would argue with you. That said, I agree with you in priciple, ranking on narrow, one dimensional job classifications is archaic.

      On the other hand, our sysadmins can install and configure Windows and Linux servers, restart services and general sysadmin tasks. They cannot program - the best they could do is a simple bash / PowerShell script to automate a task.

      Our developers on the other hand have very deep knowledge of processes and how to implement them into code; but you wouldn't want to trust most of them with administrator privileges, they couldn't install and configure a Windows or Linux server properly if their lives depended on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: No

        It appears one of your programmers reads the Reg...

      2. rob 90

        Re: No

        Although I agree that the 1d job classification cuts out too much.

        Throughout my career as a software engineer/software developer, I have had to set computers up (both linux and windows), as well as configure system parameters to efficiently run the software I was developing. This has been the case with most of the software engineers/developers I have worked with. Yes, system admins tend to be very good with routine stuff, but change things around slightly, and they tend to become lost.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: No @Rob

          I agree, I was a programmer first, but could build a PC from scratch and have done server and workstation rollouts for the Welsh Government, among other things.

          But generally, at Cap the developers never had admin privileges, most didn't know much about the OS and each year it grew worse. In Germany it was the same. The programmer program and the admins do the admin work. I've often had the situation, where I've had to tell the admin what parameters to change, in order to get things running optimally for a new application, but a majority of the programmers I've worked with couldn't do that, which is why most projects had an infrastructure specialist, a DBA and programmers.

          In fact it has gotten so bad that most new programmers have no idea about how the OS, database or processor work. They write beautiful code and it runs like a pig.

          I worked on one Eshop, that would die under load. They had written a nice database structure to call up the menus. The query was good to read, but they wrote it for themselves to read. Just rearranging the query to be MySQL friendly, as opposed to programmer friendly, the system went from keeling over with less than 50 visitors to each of the 4 load balanced servers, to each being able to manage 250 customers without too much strain.

          The same from the PHP code, rearranging the logical operators brought more speed to the system. Knowing how the processor works, having written Assembler earlier was an advantage to students that had only been taught to write good looking code.

  3. dwrjones87

    Soooooooo, they cut out the 'technobabble' by replacing it all with wish-washy don't really mean anything but make this whole exercise sound worth it words, or as I like to call, Management Bullshit (c)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just love the idea of cutting out technobabble to make it understandable for technical managers. I think that says everything about the state of the industry, and those who are appointed to manage it, so very well.

      1. Ole Juul


        The architects of this paper simply divided the problem into two parts. Techno and babble. In order to take advantage of their own expertise, they decided to focus on the second part.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not too difficult to game though, e.g.

      - Maintains an awareness of developments in the industry. (Spends half the day reading El Reg)

      1. dogged

        The Reg is pretty much last with news, as a rule. Even Anandtech is often faster and they take a fortnight to strip any and all tech that comes their way before they write anything about it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glad I'm sitting down...

    ACS finally produced something besides some half-arsed self-congratulatory... oh wait.

    Seriously, ACS could be a political and industrial force, but instead it's relegated to whimpering anytime anyone says "boo!" and extracting fees from newbie university students and IT middle management.

  5. mark 63 Silver badge

    hard to search for a job in it isnt it?

    the umbrella term for the whole industry is it

    how do you search for it?

    support? server? windows? all these bring up mostly elderly care, waitresses or glazing jobs.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: hard to search for a job in it isnt it?

      . . . all these bring up mostly elderly care, waitresses or glazing jobs.

      Yep, sounds like IT to me.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    This will tell what boxes the witlessly bored lady just out of the 4-year social studies parcours and now mysteriously in charge of interviewing your for the job wants to seehear ticked off.

    Now, one just has to pass the phrenology and graphology tests!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent!

      Now, one just has to pass the phrenology...

      Nerds everywhere will be in mourning today... news that they're never going to get their bumps felt... even by the witlessly bored HR lady... was bound to have side effects, for some this was their best hope.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Methinks this hath the smell..

    ..of undiluted bovine ordure.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I read it through several times but think I still know just as much as I did before

    1. LaeMing

      You're lucky!

      Each read-through reduces my total knowledge.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're lucky! @LaeMing

        "Each read-through reduces my total knowledge."

        Perhaps not. Maybe you're like Kelly Bundy and a new bit of knowledge pushes an old one out, leaving the total the same ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You're lucky! @LaeMing

          " Maybe you're like Kelly Bundy and a new bit of knowledge pushes an old one out, leaving the total the same ..."

          I think you have missed the point. As he was referring to the job descriptions quoted in the article, no "knowledge" was involved.

          1. Kepler

            Re: You're lucky! @LaeMing

            I'm afraid I must agree with Tom Welsh. As much as I wish to applaud any and every reference to Married . . . with Children, AC did indeed appear to miss LaeMing's point. Which in turn I think was entirely valid and well-taken.

            If we are to apply the principle of the episode in which Kelly crams for a sports trivia quiz, and then can no longer remember that it was her own father who scored 4 touchdowns in one game for Polk High, because she has filled her head with other tidbits, then upon each successive reading of the article and the ACS's jargon, one's head would take in some new piece of information at random from the surrounding universe — or else perhaps reacquire some old piece of information previously displaced.

            Either way, the point was that what the article and its extensive quotations from the ACS document put into one's head constitutes anti-information. And again, I think LaeMing probably is onto something.

            And now to quit typing, place my right hand back inside my pants, and return to watching Archer! (Who at the moment is not getting along very well with Kenny Loggins.)

  9. Bamboozled
    IT Angle

    So how come then sysadmins are paid at level 3? BS report...

  10. Ross K Silver badge

    Sounds Like...

    ...a game of Wank Word Bingo <- SFW

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I liken "ICT Manager (Level 6) to Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss. In my admittedly limited experience, one or more of the following statements applies to CIOs (Level 7)

    - never had pertinent technical skills

    - once had technical skills pertinent to systems that exist now only in museums

    - abandoned any technical skills beyond apprentice level Excel and PowerPoint in favor of those they think useful in manipulating people.

    - have made a determination that their technical skills are such that they don't need to listen to others.

    CIOs whom I have observed to some degree are adept in promising superiors what they think those superiors wish to hear and issuing commands to their subordinates (up to three or more levels down) with little meaning and impossible deadlines.

  12. Lee D Silver badge

    The only time I've ever come across the ACS and such definitions was when I was applying for emigration to Australia.

    Part of the visa requirement for one of the easier visas leading to permanent residency was to prove that you were an IT professional of various sorts. The criteria, definition and testing were basically set by the ACS. At the time, I didn't quite qualify but I don't remember them sounding unreasonable, and they were able to distinguish between, say, some guy doing casual IT, some guy in an IT job but nothing special and a guy who could actually go places in IT. As such, only the later job titles were suitable for the more critical visas, and rightly so.

    And the job titles weren't enough - because the ACS's definition had to be met. It didn't matter that you were called "manager" or "consultant" or "analyst", if you couldn't prove that you do the things their definitions required, as a long-term professional job, then they would not class you as that job title.

    It all seemed quite sensible at the time, which is why I was double-peeved that my jobs didn't meet the definitions. Hell, I believe they even have IT tests for immigration visas given by the ACS and/or their approved international institutions. That's why I think these things exist, not just for fun.

    In the end, I was granted a Working Holiday Visa anyway (I was right to the edge of their age limits for letting you in, and technically could not have scraped through if I'd applied even a week later!) and didn't exercise it due to personal circumstances.

    But I never saw the problem with the ACS and having such definitions. They would have awful trouble otherwise determining quite what kind of job someone does if some spotty oik tells them that they're an IT consultant - it could be the next Facebook guy, or some kid off the street who walks into businesses in a smart suit and just tells them to buy all his gear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I couldn't qualify for this visa due to not having a major or minor in computer science at the time - there was me with just a not good enough Maths degree. Got in via other means and found those in the industry the ACS didn't consider me good enough for were pretty mediocre with a classroom mentality and very little practical application nouse.

  13. DiViDeD

    A resounding NO from the Aussie corner

    So what 'level' do you get to be when your job consists of trying to get the poorly defined, constantly changing 'app' that the senior level sixes and sevens have sold the clueless customer to actually fucking work?

    At least a 97.6 I'd have thought.

  14. John Tserkezis

    I had real trouble working out why they would bother, till I read "can be understood by technical managers and HR managers."

    Start with a well thought out plan, simplify it, dumb it down, dumb it down some more, then when you're done, compress that, and put it in a vice and squish it down so far it doesn't even resemble the bits it was made of.

    Then embark on a wide-scale extensive, concentrated training course, and then, maybe, the brightest of the management and (irk) HR might understand it.

    Now THAT boys and girls is what pissing money against the wall is all about.

  15. MacGyver

    Upwardly mobile?

    I also take insult with the fact that they assume that every 5 wants to be a 6 or a 7. I like my job, and like solving technical problems, I most certainly don't like dealing with people and their people problems. Why on Earth does management think that a group of people that are already prone to having Aspergers and other anti-social disorders want to be managers? Do they also think that painters and sculptors are just "working their way up" to managing and owning an art studio? I am constantly having various management classes shoved down my throat, yet just about have to beg for a technical class.

    I like money just fine, but don't feel I need to make any more than what I do, and I surely don't want to change what I do just to make a little more. It's almost like the management types always want to "move up and out" before anyone realizes that they don't do much and aren't really that necessary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Upwardly mobile?

      Do they also think that painters and sculptors are just "working their way up" to managing and owning an art studio?

      Excellent way of putting it.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Upwardly mobile? @MacGyver

      You have nailed one of the top two issues with 'ranking' systems like this. Regardless of the job title, if you can find people who want that job because they are truly happy doing that work it's better than an an anonymous box of cash left on your desk or finding someone with vast amounts of experience who does that work because a personal situation forced them to do so.

      Here in the US it is very common for people to stay in jobs they hate because it provides their family with healthcare insurance. Inevitably those unhappy people cause logjams, accidents and lawsuits due simply being forced to do work they hate. People will take extreme measures to get out of those situations if they think they can do so & get a big wad of cash as a parting gift.

      Every year I tell our interns to do the work they want to do, the work they enjoy and you can take that as far as you want. From part time 'mad money' generating roles to global dominance and riches, the work you love will always take you further than short term 'more money now' attitudes. Why do you think so many of the ultra wealthy people like Bill Gates or Larry Ellison don't take their billions and get out of the rat race? It's because the money is just a bonus they get for doing the work they love.

      Things almost always collapse when people try to force themselves to do jobs they hate just for money or insurance or something. That's possible for a while, but as they advance upward they start slipping because they've already devoted so many resources to perseverance they can't compete with the guy who does it because they like it. Things like this are bad for everyone.

      If you're doing work you want to do then you've most certainly got my respect. Good on you.

  16. bigtimehustler

    Utter nonsense, take a web developer working in a startup company for example, they may use skills for all 7 levels on a daily basis. Then compare that to a web developer working at a large organisation, the levels may not reach as high as 4 or 5 then. You can not classify things like this as it depends where you work as to how much responsibility you have for a specific role.

  17. Rogue Jedi

    I dislike those definitions

    the respoinsbiilities I have suggest I am levels 3, 5 and 6 on that scale. however I am paid as a level 1

  18. Blitterbug

    Utter Bollocks

    ...That is all

  19. Sandpit

    Chiefs and Indians

    One day we will start paying the people with the technical skills that actually do the work more than the upwardly mobile gobshites that think they add value in managing them.

    Until then the industry will stay in the same retarded mess that it has been in since the 90s.

    And I'm an IT manager!

    1. Kepler
      Thumb Up

      Re: Chiefs and Indians

      During a stint I had working at Dell, I repeatedly had the experience of observing 8 "chiefs" standing around just watching, as 3 "indians" did actual work. Arms folded, whispering to each other, occasionally taking notes. But never doing any actual work themselves.

      They were, of course, studying work methods and procedures, as a prelude to going off to analyze and discuss these methods and procedures with a view toward improving them — something I have no objection to in principle, but that clearly had gotten totally out of hand at Dell. They frequently held meetings to discuss quality circles, kaizen, lean (using the word by itself — as a noun, not an adjective), TQM, and I believe at least one other Japanese word that I have since forgotten. (It clearly was considered much cooler and more insightful to say anything possible in Japanese rather than in English.) I could not count all the buzzwords that appeared on the meeting announcements that were tacked to the bulletin board, but these folks clearly were determined to be 100% buzzword-compliant.* The elevation of jargon over substance was so obvious a blind man could see it.

      If — as I strongly suspect — the entire company is managed this way, it's no wonder that HP and Lenovo are eating its lunch.


      * If I remember correctly, I first encountered the phrase "buzzword-compliant" in an article here at El Reg. I instantly realized what it meant, and immediately thought of all the mid-level bureaucrats I had seen at Dell. (As well as of several press releases I had read over the years announcing some new DBMS! — usually some kind of object database.) The phenomenon of buzzword-compliance is of course the epitome of shallowness and lack of understanding.

      1. Kepler

        Re: Chiefs and Indians

        P.S. Every time I read a story here at El Reg quoting any of the new upper-level management at Microsoft, I am instantly reminded of the people at Dell. Microsoft appears to have caught the same disease.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a spam comment bot

    "Facilitates collaboration between stakeholders.. diverse objectives... effectively at all levels... initiative in identifying and negotiating appropriate... organisation and promotes compliance with... inovation in applying solutions for..." etc, etc.

    Hmm. Sounds like the sort off non-jobbery monologue popular with large public sector organizations.

    " is used by organisations like the UK government"


  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So if my boss is not meeting all those level 6/7 criteria, can I complain that they are under-performing ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: alternatively...

      So if my boss is not meeting all those level 6/7 criteria, can I complain that they are under-performing ?

      You know you're in IT when the answer to that question is "would complaining about my manager make any difference..."

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