And salary is
only part of the story. In 2015, 37 percent of IT staffers received a bonus,
and the average payout was $10,194.
But not every
IT pro is bringing home nearly six figures. Salaries and bonuses can vary
widely depending on your experience level, location, industry, job title and
skill set. Plenty of IT workers find themselves earning less than they would
like, particularly when they keep reading reports about how much demand exists
for top IT talent.
if you think you are underpaid, experts say there are steps you can take that
are likely to increase your annual salary. Some of them will require you to
look for a new job, but others may help you increase your earnings with your
current employer. Here’s a look at ten things IT workers can do to bring home
frequently debate whether various certifications are worth the cost and effort
involved. There's no easy answer, but in many cases, the right cert can be very
helpful in getting your foot in the door for a new position. According to CompTIA, 96 percent of HR managers use certifications as a way to
screen potential job applicants.
Of course, some
certifications are much more valuable than others. Global Knowledge reports
that for 2016, the top-paying certifications included the following:
AWS Certified Solutions Architect
– Associate: Average pay $125, 871
Certified in Risk and Information
Systems Control (CRISC): Average pay $122,954
Certified Information Security
Manager (CISM): Average pay $122,291
Certified Information Systems
Security Professional (CISSP): Average pay $121,923
Project Management Professional
(PMP®): Average pay $116,094
2. Move to a different city
denying that where you live can have a big impact on your salary. For example, while the average technology salary in
Silicon Valley is $118,243, the average in San Antonio is just $79,668.
But before you
pack your bags for California, you might want to take cost of living into
account. According to HR services vendor TriNet,
the best place for tech workers to live is Austin, Texas, when you compare
average pay to average expenses. The company says that when adjusted for cost
of living, top technology job locations rank as follows:
Silicon Valley: $78,000
Los Angeles: $70,000
New York: $56,000
3. Ask for a raise
You don't always
have to change employers to make more money. The number one way that technology
workers increased their salaries in 2015 was with a merit raise. In fact, 38
percent of respondents got a salary increase this way, compared to 23 percent
who earned more money by changing employers.
Asking for a
raise can be tricky—and even a bit uncomfortable. Experts say it's best to
prepare ahead of time with some facts and figures that show your benefit to the
company and why you think you should be paid more. Also, don't wait for your
annual review; people who ask for a raise outside of the normal review process
often find that their managers are more willing to consider the request.
4. Apply for a promotion
Another good way
to increase your salary without leaving your current employer is by moving up
the corporate ladder. The Dice report found that 10 percent of technology
workers got a salary increase through an internal promotion in 2015. In most IT
specialties, managers make significantly more than regular staffers. For
example, the chart above from Robert
Half's 2016 Technology Salary Guide shows that
while lowly network administrators might make just $71,250, those who climb all
the way up to network architect could earn $165,250.
5. Develop an in-demand specialty
decide to stay at your current company or move to another firm, you may be able
to increase your salary by developing skills in an in-demand area. According to
Nash/KPMG 2016 CIO Survey, organizations are
experiencing the biggest skills shortages in areas like big data/analytics,
project management, business analysis, development, enterprise architecture and
security and resilience.
And according to
Robert Half Technology, the top-paying technical skills include ASP, C#, .NET,
PHP, Python and Ruby on Rails development, as well as virtualization and
Other hot areas
include DevOps, mobile development, cloud computing, the Internet of Things
(IoT) and wearables.
6. Take a class
How do you go
about acquiring the skills you need for a new specialty? Plenty of IT
professionals are self-taught, but there are more educational options than ever
to choose from. Many universities offer online degree programs or classes,
including many that are free. Websites like Coursera, EdX and OEDB consolidate access to courses from schools such as the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, University of
California Berkeley, the University of Texas, Georgetown University and others.
There are also a
host of for-profit and non-profit companies offering boot camps and one-off
courses, as well as websites like Udemy or ed2go, where almost anyone can sign up to teach a class. One
caveat: be sure to do your homework and make sure you understand what you are
getting before you pay any money for online training, because the fees and
value provided can vary significantly.
7. Contribute to an open source project
These days, most
organizations use open source software, so having worked on an open source
project can be a beneficial addition to your resume. In addition, most open
source projects have fairly tightknit communities, so by contributing to a
project you may be able to make some contacts who could help you find a new
job. And if you are a young developer, participating in an open source project
can help you hone your coding skills.
assume that you have to be a programmer to work on an open source project. Many
projects need people willing to write documentation, update the website, handle
project management tasks or help out in other ways.
To get started,
you can browse through projects on GitHub or SourceForge or check out OpenHatch, a non-profit that matches
potential open source contributors with projects that need their help.
8. Switch to a new industry
have a much higher demand for IT professionals than others, meaning that they
often pay higher salaries. The Robert Half Technology report singles out
financial services, healthcare, managed services, telecommunications and the
hospitality industry as some of the hottest sectors for IT hiring.
A Computerworld survey had a slightly different list of hot industries, which
included non-profit, retail, defense/aerospace, banking and wholesale trade. Be
aware that some of these segments have very particular needs. For example,
financial services and healthcare companies have very stringent security and
compliance requirements, and if you can demonstrate that you understand those
unique needs well, you may be able to command an even higher salary.
9. Improve your soft skills
Often IT pros
focus intently on their technical abilities, but your soft skills may actually
have a bigger impact on your earning potential over the long term. If you can't
get along with your co-workers or present your ideas well, you aren't going to
get the promotions and raises you want, no matter how solid your technical
skills are. Many job placement experts recommend that technical staff look for
training opportunities that can help them improve in these areas. The Robert
Half report calls out communication, problem-solving, collaboration, teamwork
and creativity as some of the skills that employers are looking for in new
10. Increase your visibility
If you can
establish yourself as an "expert" in your field, your job opportunities—and
earnings potential—increase significantly. Consider writing a blog,
contributing articles to a technical publication or speaking at a conference.
If those options
all seem too daunting, start by increasing your visibility inside your company.
You might volunteer to serve on a high-profile team or contribute the company
newsletter. Look for opportunities to help your colleagues out. If you can
become known as the "go-to" person for a particular topic, that gives
you leverage when you negotiate your salary.