After you remove all of the specifics related to each field, they both are careers fundamentally focused around problem-solving.
Networking can be simple, it depends on the size of networks that you deal with, the number of nodes, types of physical transports, routing and security protocols.
Programming, what part do you find difficult?
Programming is a much broader subject, however, you don't need to know all of it. Just focus on the set of skills required for your job.
Don't aim towards mastering either of these fields, because there is too much to learn to ever master them. However, both fields are so broad that if you find yourself bored in one sector, give a different aspect of the field a try.
To actually give you an answer to your question, I think networking may be more difficult to get going at first, because there is quite a bit of up front knowledge that you need to perform fundamental tasks. Once you have entered and practiced a bit, you'll start to rely more on your trouble-shooting skills to find and fix problems.
Programming is probably easier to enter. With as much sample code that exists on the Internet it's not difficult for many to fake it and get a program to appear to work, and yet not know why. To become a good programmer you're still going to develop some strong problem-solving/trouble-shooting skills to succeed.
Above all, look for something that you enjoy. You're less likely to succeed if you don't enjoy what you do.
Setting up, configuring, securing, and maintaniing a large enterprise network is more difficult than software development.
So companies who have hundreds of developers and manage with say 5-10 IT professionals are doing it wrong then? Per what you said it would be more reasonable if there where hundreds of IT professionals and only 10 software developers.
Amount of effort needed and difficulty are not really correlated at all. Software development companies hire lots of developers because they are producing the item that is being sold at the end, whereas network administration is an overhead that is to be minimised.
You've probably never worked on a large enterprise network -- where the number of servers, switches, routers, load balancers, etc. approaches a half million spread across a dozen data centers world-wide. The size and complexity of which is the culmination of mergers among several large enterprise networks with differing standards. My job for the last two years has involved using the available tools to gather, correlate, and aggregate whatever data we can get (and there's not nearly enough) to detect and predict potential problems. Fortunately I never have to enter a data center and actually trace cables. :shudder:
Software is easy, but all the applications are at the mercy of the hardware.
Last Visit: 31-Dec-99 18:00 Last Update: 30-Sep-14 1:37