IT career choices: Startup or established company?

Most survey respondents prefer established companies over startups. Young IT pros disagree.

Stability trumps all other workplace attributes, according to a poll of IT professionals -- many of whom are, presumably, on the lookout for new job opportunities.

Among 750 tech pros surveyed by careers site Dice.com, 69% said they would rather work for an established company, if given the choice, while 31% said they would prefer a startup.

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The preference for established companies is dominant in four out of five age groups (25-36, 37-49, 50-61, over 62). Only the youngest subset of respondents, ages 18-24, disagreed. In this age group, 63% would choose a startup and 38% would choose an established company. Startups are least popular (27%) among the ages 37-49 crowd.

The majority of respondents (74%) said they like the stability that an established company offers, while respondents also appreciated corporate life for its greater structure (18%) and fewer risks (8%).

On the other side of the fence, the appeal of startup life is the workplace environment. When asked the biggest reason why they would prefer to work at a startup, 42% of respondents said they thrive in an entrepreneurial environment.

The over-62 crowd gravitated to a different aspect of startup life, however. In this age group, the most popular reason for working at a startup is the ability to get things done faster (cited by 53%).

The closer tech workers got to retirement age, the more likely they were to see a startup as their best choice, Dice.com notes in its report. "You've heard that with age comes wisdom. For tech workers, it also seems to bring the need for a looser, freer workplace and a dash of startup risk," says Alice Hill, managing director at Dice.com.

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