Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

Making It In IT: Advice for an IT Contractor from India Working in U.S.

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Ed Tittel provides career planning and advancement advice to Shankar, an IT contractor from India currently working in the U.S. Ed suggests Shankar pursue a PhD or, perhaps, advanced and mid-tier architectural and project management certifications.

Making It In IT: Advice for an IT Contractor from India Working in U.S.Making It In IT: Advice for an IT Contractor from India Working in U.S.Dear Ed,

I read about how you help many people in IT through Tom’s IT Pro. I am quite impressed and would like your honest opinion my path towards a tech career (especially point seven below). Here are my answers to your questionnaire:

1. Educational Background:

MCA - Master of Computer Applications (College in India)

2. Work Experience in technologies:

Started my career as a teaching staff member (class room instructor) on various technical topics including Oracle, Java/j2ee, VB, ASP, I then shifted to real-time development, bug fixing and enhancement type of work.

3. What kind of work I did:

Hard core development: Seven years, including my current work. Technologies used before: EJB (2.0), JMS, JMX, Java, J2EE, Unix shell scripting (not so strong but managed to write few), Followed OOAD and design patterns, used UML, XML, XSL.
Technologies that I am currently working on (1.5 years):Ext JS, Object oriented JS, Java, mxGraph

Support and Enhancement work like defect fixing, and small to complex enhancements (four years).

Technologies used: Shell script, Java, J2ee, XSL, XML, XQL, Java web services.

4. Current location:

The U.S. on a contract basis through an Indian company; have not analyzed the job market in the U.S. since my base location is India  In India, the job market is dull and pretty overcrowded withlot of people having multiple skill sets and their floating resumes.

5. Area of interest:

Technical stream and I am not good at management.

6. Certifications:

Weblogic Specialist (weblogic version 7) on deploying J2EE applications (did this during the year 2003)

7. Current type of job that I do, expectations:

I am in a service company (base location India) and working as a contractor for a company in the U.S., and I am into hardcore development on UI technologies (Ext Js, Mxgraph, object oriented JS and few core java parts).  Salary, to a certain extent, is important for me. I am getting a decent salary now and I would like to focus on a constructing a strong career path.I am have 11 years of development experience and three years of teaching experience (IT only).

Now that I am on my technical career path, I need your best advice on which technology or area that I can focus on.The technology keeps changing in this fast-paced world and nowadays very frequently new frameworks are coming up.  It’s difficult to judge which one is better for me to focus on.

8. How do I see myself?

I am a technical person who wants to know about cloud computing, virtualization, etc. Currently, I don’t know any of these

I am good at java and J2EE. We have a million strong developers, architects in the world. A technical person who is good at domains, SAN, ITIL, etc.        

Which certifications can I choose from and have a learning curve to stay up to date; for example, ITIL, TOGAF or anything relevant. 

How can I differentiate myself as an architect from other architects?

Will getting the ITIL foundation certification will help a software architect?

I only want to pursue a technical path as an architect and then to go up the ladder.

Please advise.


Dear Shankar:

Thanks for your recent e-mail, and for taking the time to fill out my questionnaire. I am always glad to help out Tom’s IT Pro readers, doubly so when they provide me with the information I need to be of most use! It sounds to me like you might either want to go after your PhD, or to think about pursuing a combination of advanced and mid-tier architectural and project management certifications.

Given your strong background in Java and XML, for example, I should think you’d be ideally suited to go after the Oracle Certified Master: Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect credential. If your horizons are somewhat broader than that, take a look at the architect-level credentials covered in my article dated February 2011 entitled “Senior-Level Certification: IT Architect Credentials Can Open Career Doors.”

In addition, you mention some interest in cloud-related topics and credentials. These are also well worth chasing down, and you’ll find some good options in my Tom’s IT Pro article dated April 17, 2012. It’s entitled “Top 5 Cloud-Related IT Certifications,” where I believe you’ll find the CompTIA and CloudSchool items to be good starting points, but where you’ll want to look to Oracle or perhaps to the Open Group’s Certified Architect credential as a possible capstone cert for your cloud track.

On another front, your interest in ITIL is quite apt, and can lead you into senior level work when coupled with your strong development background and other architectural interests. You should also find the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification of great interest and relevance as well. Despite your professed interest in staying technical and away from management, you must understand that to reach the level of seniority, responsibility, and pay you apparently wish to attain, you will have to get involved in communicating with and sometimes managing others (though perhaps not as the kind of manager to whom subordinates report, but rather, a technical leader who takes responsibility for project design and delivery).

I hope you find this information helpful, and I wish you the best of luck in your career planning and advancement. If you can make progress toward these various goals, you may also find the path to obtaining a B2 visa for permanent residence in the U.S. is somewhat eased as well.

Best wishes,


Ed TittelEd Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

E-mail Ed at with your request for IT certification or career info, or your ideas for future blogs. If your e-mail leads him to a blog topic, he’ll have the Tom’s staff send you your very own Tom’s IT Pro t-shirt! Be the envy of your friends and colleagues, and help him help you with your IT career! If you do have a request for Ed, please read his How to Help Me Help You blog posting, and answer as many of the questions this post contains as are applicable to your situation and inquiry. Thanks in advance for helping make his job easier that way!

(Shutterstock cover image credit: Education)

Check Out These Recent IT Slide Shows

(Shutterstock image credit: Learning Poster)