Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just breaking into the field, a career in configuration management (CM) can be both rewarding and challenging. This story will guide you through the questions you may have, what you can expect from a CM career, and some of its pros and cons. I use the term career because I hope you have a career rather than a job. A job is something you simply clock in to; a career is something more—it’s fulfilling and gives you a greater sense of accomplishment.
Before I get started on career specifics, let’s discuss salary. It’s hard to determine what the average salary for a CM person is, but I found a few sites that will help us. Indeed.com, as of January 10, 2013, puts the average salary at $93,000 a year. Glassdoor.com uses submissions from people in the field to get a clearer picture of salaries at different experience levels. Finally, I offer you salary.com as a gauge for pay in our field. Remember, years of service and location will play a role in determining salary.
Like any position in information technology, CM positions ebb and flow with the economy. There are a few things you must remember when searching for a CM position. Your willingness to travel and being open to relocation will make a world of difference in your job search in both quantity and quality of the positions.
For what makes a good CM employee, you should read Mario Moreira's 2005 article (OK, it’s a little dated) in which he performed a study on Myers-Briggs personality types as it applies to CM professionals. His article on CM Crossroads takes an in-depth look at CM professionals and how they compare and contrast with other study groups.
Though no test can prove whether you will be successful or not, I feel a few traits are essential for success in the CM field. You should be detail oriented and able to multitask, understand the software development lifecycle (SDLC), work with a wide array of groups and personality types, and willing to embrace change. Buzzle.com offers traits of a good manager, which also apply to CM Managers.
CM is a rewarding field both monetarily and from a job satisfaction standpoint. You do have to be willing to change and become an integral part of a much larger team.
Are you currently in the CM field? Can you add to what I've said? Please share your comments below.
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.