33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

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UncleLongHair
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by UncleLongHair » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:54 pm

I've been in IT for nearly 30 years and basically agree with what others here have said. A lot of people get 10 years of experience, but it isn't great experience, so it's the same year of experience 10 times, if you know what I mean. This is what can lead to career stagnation. As others have said, the best way to both broaden your skills and make more money is to change jobs. You probably know people who have changed jobs, contact them and ask what they are doing and start networking. Don't sell yourself short, IT people are in high demand and unemployment is low. Be open to different kinds of positions, support, sales support, dev ops, etc.

I know several people that came into IT from other fields and, like you, have general skills, have learned on the fly, don't have the hard core tech background, etc. The people that I know that are doing well carved out a niche for themselves. One way is by being very reliable and dependable and doing work that sometimes other people don't want to do, like working nights or weekends or early mornings, carrying a pager, etc. There are jobs where you have to babysit overnight runs or do hardware or software installations off-hours. It can suck to work these hours but you often get a break somewhere else in the week (Mondays off for example) and by doing this you become indispensable to the company which gives you better pay and more job security.

Another way is to get into a company and learn some hardware or technology that few other people know. I know a guy who is the general IT guy for a law firm and they use some arcane document management software that is the backbone of the firm but only a few people know it.

A couple others I know got into software testing, which is a necessary but kind of thankless field. A lot of testing is automated or outsourced these days and you need good testing managers who are detail oriented, can manage an offshore team, and become familiar with a handful of automated testing frameworks. This also becomes a very secure job because every software shop needs testing but few people want to dedicate themselves to it.

Good luck.

quantAndHold
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:22 pm

I have an associate's degree in computer network engineering from a non-accredited For-Profit school which has since shut their doors (I did not know any better at the time what a rip-off this was) and earned a few IT certifications.
If this is your educational background, you're actually doing pretty well at $63k.

You aren't getting callbacks from the government jobs (and probably a lot of other jobs) because you don't have a Bachelor's degree. Long term, you should look at getting a BS in something industry related, from a regular, not for profit college.

The 3 large fast growing areas right now are security, cloud/virtualization, and big data. Become an expert in one of those areas.

killjoy2012's advice was spot on. Mostly, you need to develop your skills and move into a more skilled role. That will take some study and work outside of the office.

simas
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by simas » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:34 pm

You are getting good advice here. Regarding support, no way around it regardless of the specific IT specialty to taken (I do data/databases and there is plenty of support)

Keep improving yourself (your marketability) , certifications, training, networking.
Keep looking for opportunities as that is how you will move up the ladder
Think of what attracts you in terms of any specializations, you do better work if you do what you like
if you do the above, money comes automatically..


Also, lack of 4 year degree would sooner or later be a detriment for you

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Watty
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Watty » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:46 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:41 pm
kelvor wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:06 pm
Do you have any coding skills? I am a software developer in a LCOL area with 9 years experience and make well over 100k, and I don't consider myself exceptional. Even the average performers here usually earn 90k+ after a few years of experience. If you can take a few classes to pick up some development skills then you may be able to use your IT background + those skills to get into a development position and I think you'll earn a lot more. Full-stack web development is a great focus area right now, as is anything in Big Data. You can make really good money in embedded systems as well if that's more your interest.
Where is this location? I'm a software developer with a BS in Computer Science, in what I would call a LCOL, with two years of experience, but I make less than OP. I would consider myself an average performer.
I am not the person that posted that but I am in Atlanta which might qualify for a lowish cost of living area since you can buy a very acceptable house in the suburbs for the low 200's in a good area. In many areas $400K would be getting into McMansions. Some prime downtown areas would cost a lot more but many IT jobs are in the suburbs or in the outer perimeter area of the city.

I retired out of IT a few years ago and my son got a BS in Computer Science about five years ago and he and his CS friends from college are making around that much or higher so those numbers sound reasonable for Atlanta if you have the most current skills which most recent graduates have. They graduated from a second tier regional state university which has a good enough CS program but it isn't like they graduated from a top tier university like Georgia Tech.

brad.clarkston
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by brad.clarkston » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:32 pm

edge wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:39 am
What he is doing is not 'hardware engineering'. What he is doing is IT support, which is on the blue collar spectrum, hence the compensation.

Hardware engineering is what people at Intel or AMD or other hardware companies do.

For the OP: Look at the different categories/classes of IT work and consider training/moving to one of the higher value/higher paying ones.

I'm not sure where your getting your job descriptions from but I'm pretty sure I know what I do for a living and that is hardware engineering. I've got 15 open TAC cases with all the major vendors right now for OS and hardware bugs and I work with there dev's and engineer's to fix said issues.

There's a natural progression in IT it broadly looks like this:

Desktop Support --> Network Admin --> Network Engineer 1/2/3/4 --> Network Architect
-----------------------> Systems Admin --> Systems Engineer 1/2/3/4 --> Software Architect
.............................................--> VMware Admin
.............................................--> DBA
.............................................--> Specialized Admin (Redhat, Oracle, IBM, etc)

Programming is a separate beast all to itself and 99.0% does not overlap except for project design and implementation.

I think it's a disservice to both fields to recommend to a mid-career individual to hop over to the other side. Sure you can do it but 99.9% your never going to be good to excellent at it.

I think the OP needs to decide which type of Admin he wants to be and then find a bigger company with better pay/benifits to become a Engineer or specialize in a vertical.

WageSlave
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by WageSlave » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:58 pm

I have at least one contrarian viewpoint: I see lots of suggestions to "change jobs often". One of my roles is hiring manager, and I almost always toss resumes that shows someone changing jobs every two or three years. I'm nearing 20 years of post-college professional IT work, and have only worked for two employers. I will acknowledge that I am lucky to have regular pay raises at both employers, so never felt the need to switch for more pay. But the few people I or my peers have hired with such "serial" resumes get burned when the guy leaves shortly after he's been trained and capable of contributing in a meaningful way.

Seems like you're getting mixed feedback on whether or not to get bachelor's from an accredited school. Both employers I've had won't even accept a resume unless the candidate has a four-year degree, from a decent school, with a minimum GPA. Of course not every employer is like that. Furthermore, as your experience increases, your degree matters less and less. But even though this is recognized, if it comes down to you versus your effective clone that happens to have the four year degree---you know who wins. I know it's easier said than done, but if you are self-motivated, there's no shortage of useful CS/IT information available for free. Not sure if they're still doing it, but MIT used to have a lot of their courses in "open source" format. So you could learn the majority of the material for free, on your own time, then find a college that lets you take placement tests to omit a number of classes.

I've recently been offered a position change at my current employer. But I was starting to do some initial research into where I might go next. Based on my cursory research, I agree to what a lot of people are saying: the "Cloud" is hot. There are countless firms exclusively built around helping other companies move their infrastructure/applications into the cloud, and also to manage/maintain the same. And even the firms doing in-house IT are migrating to the cloud.

Extreme specialization I find to be a mixed bag. Yes, it's good for better pay and job security. That's where I'm at, and at least in my case, it has numerous downsides. For one, I'm not growing my responsibilities or learning new stuff: too much of my time is spent managing the huge collection of things that only I can do. What started as a privilege has now become a burden. I get calls on vacation because I'm the only one who can do a lot of critical things. In a perfect world, I would be teaching others how to do my job, so I could move on to new things. But my firm is very controlling, and isn't comfortable with me delegating most of these "me only" tasks.

I'll add that debugging/troubleshooting/problem-solving is an un-glamorous but indispensable skill. I'd like to think I have decent skills in this area. I've fixed a number of problems that no one else could solve. I attribute that to partially always striving for a more complete and deeper understanding of how the system or software works. With that knowledge you can construct hypotheses as to what might cause the errant behavior. A "scientific" approach is also helpful: coupled with the aforementioned deep understanding, you can quickly think of good test cases to prove/disprove your hypotheses. And persistence is the other ingredient. I think it's a great resume bullet point (or at least interview talking point) if you can describe a technical problem that had everyone perplexed for a long time, and you stepped in and solved it.

When it comes to computer science, i.e. programming, software engineering, etc: the fundamental principles are absolutely critical. Every bachelor's degree will have at least a couple required courses on data structures and their algorithms. This information never gets old. New stuff is always coming out, but it will always build on the "classics". I am of the opinion that if someone understands core CS principles, and shows a single language proficiency (consistent with their experience level), that they should be a relatively quick study on any other language. When I was starting my next-employer research, I generally immediately discounted places that said, "Need X years language Y experience, no exceptions". I suspect those places just want a warm body; that the problems aren't very interesting; and/or HR and/or management is clueless---in any of those cases, I don't want to work there.

KlangFool
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by KlangFool » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:58 pm
I have at least one contrarian viewpoint: I see lots of suggestions to "change jobs often". One of my roles is hiring manager, and I almost always toss resumes that shows someone changing jobs every two or three years. I'm nearing 20 years of post-college professional IT work, and have only worked for two employers.
WageSlave,

1) Do you work at the same job for 10+ years at each employer? I hope the answer would be no.

2) <<I see lots of suggestions to "change jobs often".>>

A person could change to a different job at the same employer. But, in the context of OP, he is working at a small company. He may have to change employer in order to change job.

3) Would you hire an IT person working at the same job for 10+ years? I would not. The person should at least change his/her job a few times at the same employer.

KlangFool

Dantes
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Dantes » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:28 pm

OP -

I didn't start in IT until I was older than you are now, so you are way ahead of where I was at that time, and things worked out ok for me. However, I had a BA degree; without that I would have gotten nowhere. Sure it was in English literature, and its true I also racked up a lot of math and computer science courses on the side, after the original degree, but mostly all any potential employer saw was that I had a four-year degree.

So I suggest that getting a BA would be very worthwhile for you. (Plus pretty much everything KlangFool wrote above).

WageSlave
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by WageSlave » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:01 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
1) Do you work at the same job for 10+ years at each employer? I hope the answer would be no.
First employer was five years, current employer over 11 years now.
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
2) <<I see lots of suggestions to "change jobs often".>>

A person could change to a different job at the same employer. But, in the context of OP, he is working at a small company. He may have to change employer in order to change job.
When I used the word "job", I generally meant employer.
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
3) Would you hire an IT person working at the same job for 10+ years? I would not. The person should at least change his/her job a few times at the same employer.
As I said above, I was very loosely using the word "job" and often using it when I really meant "employer".

So would I hire someone whose done the exact same thing (same employer, same position, same job) for 10 years? Maybe, maybe not: it depends on the position for which I was hiring. But I don't think there are that many jobs that stay completely static for a decade or more. I mean, I'm sure there are, but in IT particularly, change is part of the job.

I mean, take my first employer/job for example: I got promoted twice, and my title changes were completely vague: IT Analyst I, IT Analyst II, IT Analyst III. This was a huge megacorp, so there were people with these titles doing radically different things: development, support, training, system administration, network admin, security, etc. I happened to do that five years in the same team. I did development, support and training for an internal software tool. I started as "the new guy" and was the team lead when I left. So was it the "same job"? It depends on how you define "job"; but I did enough interesting and varying things that I felt I was learning most of the time. As I left we were getting into offshore development teams; had I stayed, I expect that would have taken at least a year (if not two) to get that process working effectively. It's speculation, but I can confidently say had I stayed seven years, it would have been the "same job", but the day-to-day was definitely different. It's easy for me to extrapolate then, with a decent amount of certainty, that I could have continued to grow had I stayed a decade.

How about my current employer? I was employee #4 when this company was basically a startup, over 11 years ago (now we have around 50 employees). We didn't even have titles until maybe five (?) years ago. What was my "job"? Have I had the same one for over 10 years? I don't think so; in the beginning I straddled two fairly different roles; over time I focused increasingly on one role, and when that grew too big for me, I became more of a manager, hiring others to help me.

I understand if you're at a small, not-growing company; in that case, it makes sense to change jobs if you want more pay and/or experience some career growth. But then again, if it's a small company and you find yourself doing the same thing, at some point you should have a clue how the business makes money, and how you can increase their profitability and/or reduce costs. Like the admin of the legal firm's documentation system above: obviously I don't know all the details, but it sounds like some serious technical debt... if I were there and had that job down pat, I'd be looking at ways to modernize it. I'd look to see if I could buy or build a system with all the same capabilities, but modern, standardized, and not dependent on a tiny number of key people for support and business continuity. In general, if you're in IT but not working for an IT business, you are a support cost. So you should always be looking for ways to automate, simplify, commoditize, with the goal of reducing costs (or enabling more profit). My first boss told me my goal should always be to "automate myself out of a job". It sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe smart business leaders will pay top dollar for people with this mentality.

But in the two "jobs" I've had, the roles were never turnkey: they took a solid year just to have a clue. I'd say year two was when I first started contributing in a meaningful way, and maybe not until year three when I really hit my stride. Maybe my experience is unusual, but I've always found that absorbing the "institutional knowledge" is very time-consuming.

That's why when I see a resume with five positions over 15 or fewer years, I think the person doesn't know what they want to do; or they're just job-hopping to increase pay. If I'm going to bring someone on, and spend a year or more just getting them to a competent state, I don't want them to cut out shortly thereafter.

KlangFool
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by KlangFool » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:23 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:01 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
1) Do you work at the same job for 10+ years at each employer? I hope the answer would be no.
First employer was five years, current employer over 11 years now.
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
2) <<I see lots of suggestions to "change jobs often".>>

A person could change to a different job at the same employer. But, in the context of OP, he is working at a small company. He may have to change employer in order to change job.
When I used the word "job", I generally meant employer.
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:13 pm
3) Would you hire an IT person working at the same job for 10+ years? I would not. The person should at least change his/her job a few times at the same employer.
As I said above, I was very loosely using the word "job" and often using it when I really meant "employer".

So would I hire someone whose done the exact same thing (same employer, same position, same job) for 10 years? Maybe, maybe not: it depends on the position for which I was hiring. But I don't think there are that many jobs that stay completely static for a decade or more. I mean, I'm sure there are, but in IT particularly, change is part of the job.

I mean, take my first employer/job for example: I got promoted twice, and my title changes were completely vague: IT Analyst I, IT Analyst II, IT Analyst III. This was a huge megacorp, so there were people with these titles doing radically different things: development, support, training, system administration, network admin, security, etc. I happened to do that five years in the same team. I did development, support and training for an internal software tool. I started as "the new guy" and was the team lead when I left. So was it the "same job"? It depends on how you define "job"; but I did enough interesting and varying things that I felt I was learning most of the time. As I left we were getting into offshore development teams; had I stayed, I expect that would have taken at least a year (if not two) to get that process working effectively. It's speculation, but I can confidently say had I stayed seven years, it would have been the "same job", but the day-to-day was definitely different. It's easy for me to extrapolate then, with a decent amount of certainty, that I could have continued to grow had I stayed a decade.

How about my current employer? I was employee #4 when this company was basically a startup, over 11 years ago (now we have around 50 employees). We didn't even have titles until maybe five (?) years ago. What was my "job"? Have I had the same one for over 10 years? I don't think so; in the beginning I straddled two fairly different roles; over time I focused increasingly on one role, and when that grew too big for me, I became more of a manager, hiring others to help me.

I understand if you're at a small, not-growing company; in that case, it makes sense to change jobs if you want more pay and/or experience some career growth. But then again, if it's a small company and you find yourself doing the same thing, at some point you should have a clue how the business makes money, and how you can increase their profitability and/or reduce costs. Like the admin of the legal firm's documentation system above: obviously I don't know all the details, but it sounds like some serious technical debt... if I were there and had that job down pat, I'd be looking at ways to modernize it. I'd look to see if I could buy or build a system with all the same capabilities, but modern, standardized, and not dependent on a tiny number of key people for support and business continuity. In general, if you're in IT but not working for an IT business, you are a support cost. So you should always be looking for ways to automate, simplify, commoditize, with the goal of reducing costs (or enabling more profit). My first boss told me my goal should always be to "automate myself out of a job". It sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe smart business leaders will pay top dollar for people with this mentality.

But in the two "jobs" I've had, the roles were never turnkey: they took a solid year just to have a clue. I'd say year two was when I first started contributing in a meaningful way, and maybe not until year three when I really hit my stride. Maybe my experience is unusual, but I've always found that absorbing the "institutional knowledge" is very time-consuming.

That's why when I see a resume with five positions over 15 or fewer years, I think the person doesn't know what they want to do; or they're just job-hopping to increase pay. If I'm going to bring someone on, and spend a year or more just getting them to a competent state, I don't want them to cut out shortly thereafter.
WageSlave,

This is OP's background.

<<Since I graduated with my associate's degree in 2004 at 20 years old, I have worked for 2 other small IT business with less than 30 employees. I am the only employee of my current employer as Systems Engineer for a small IT Managed Services company. I have been with my current employer since March 2015; I earn 63k a year, >>

Would you hire him? If not, what would he need to do?

KlangFool

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DigitalJanitor
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by DigitalJanitor » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:30 pm

Learn Linux, and learn to program.

Linux: There is a world beyond Microsoft. Download Linux and install it on a junk PC. Get comfortable with a command line interface. Read "The Linux Systems Administrators Handbook" by Evi Nemeth. Learn how to install and compile software. Learn about popular open source software packages.

Programming: being able to program will put you head and shoulders above the typical system administrator. You can do a lot with a simple shell scripting language like bash. Python is very much in demand, and very versatile. You can learn enough Perl or AWK in a day to get useful things done.

Colorado Guy
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Colorado Guy » Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:52 pm

Seems like you're getting mixed feedback on whether or not to get bachelor's from an accredited school. Both employers I've had won't even accept a resume unless the candidate has a four-year degree, from a decent school, with a minimum GPA.
+1. Not discounting experience, but when 20 or more resumes land on a desk for one position opening, the initial cut is often based on education level. Going back at 33 and getting a BS shows initiative and drive. Combine that with solid work experience, and your opportunities open up. When I returned to school for a degree, it was a local university that offered most courses on-line, making it much easier to get the required credits. What made it better is the company I was with reimbursed me for the education courses. With all the positives, though, you have to sacrifice a lot of evenings and weekends to make this happen.

I would also look for local user groups interested in the same topics you are interested in. That will introduce you to multiple contacts with other companies, which could also lead in interesting directions.

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ClevrChico
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by ClevrChico » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:28 pm

It sounds like you're most likely doing legacy work (general IT) for a sector that doesn't pay their people highly (MSP). You're working for a middleman that competes in price, so it's never going to be lucrative. $63k is not bad at all, though.

Great money in tech ($100k+) requires specialization and usually working directly for a big company. In can be quite enjoyable, but it's not all roses. You might have to move for the opportunity. A forty hour week would be an easy week.

The really big money in tech ($300k+) are for jobs in hcol areas that require top cs degrees (think Stanford), possibly multiple degrees. The people at this level are extremely talented.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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queso
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by queso » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:47 am

ClevrChico hits on an important point I think. The size of the outfits you have been working for is likely one of the factors keeping you where you are compensation wise. In general, in order to advance to the highly compensated positions in IT you need to either specialize or go into management. In smaller shops you will never have the opportunity to specialize because they simply don't have enough IT people in the department to enable specialization. Everybody is a relative generalist and has to handle everything from soup to nuts and generally the really high level stuff is farmed out because the economics of keeping people on staff that know that high level stuff don't make sense in small companies. Sometimes companies that size don't have anybody officially in IT at all and just use an outside company to handle everything. If you want to stay on the technical side of the fork (not management) I think you will need to move into a larger organization and then start working under folks that do that higher level stuff. Volunteer to take on stuff people don't want to do, maybe take a class or two, etc. and eventually one of those slots should open up. From what I've seen across a 20+ year career in IT is that the higher level specialist positions seem to exist in organizations of about 200-300 people, but are absent in companies much smaller than that. In the larger ones you will still spend some of your time doing support work, but it will mostly be helping support people with more advanced support issues that they don't understand and high level troubleshooting (which can be fun if you enjoy that sort of thing). The problem with small organizations is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease so you end up spending a lot of your time helping users because you are the IT guy and they are having a problem that they can't solve. In the midsize organizations there is enough project work, upgrades, etc. that you start to see support defined as a separate function from the folks that are working on the higher level project stuff, the latter getting to do more "engineering" type work and making the higher salaries. I'm leaving dev completely out of this because, as others have pointed out, that is a completely different beast.

tibbitts
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by tibbitts » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:56 am

I think the OP is too concerned with comparing himself to Bogleheads, who by definition are mostly people who through widely varying combinations of skill, education, experience, luck, and frankly just getting old, have been atypically successful. The wide-ranging and contradictory advice in this thread just reflects that people have become successful in ways that may not be able to be duplicated even by doing exactly the same things. In fact some of the advice seems a little stale and out of touch with the current IT environment. Having been in IT for many, many years longer than the OP, my income is only slightly more, although at times in the past it was far more and at other times far less. The more often you reprice yourself (whether by choice or not), the more variation you'll see, and that variation won't necessarily be in one direction. In any case you have to look not just at salary but the entire employment picture, and certainly there are situations where that $63k might be very attractive compensation.

edge
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by edge » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:33 pm

I disagree. What you are doing has nothing to do with any kind of engineering. If it did you would be paid more and it would likely require an engineering degree. What you are doing sounds more like Helpdesk/data center ops/IT Ops/etc. Anything operations oriented is going to be low skill and low pay. Virtually all the tracks you mention are of the low pay/low skill variety and most of them are in the process of being outsourced/shrunk in any way possible. And for good reason. They are commoditized labor that does not differentiate or help firms compete unless you work at a hosting/cloud company.

The progression you mention is somewhat off. A software architect is someone who architects software as a part of the SDLC, an extremely technical and academically rigorous activity. That doesn’t start in the low skill sys admin world.
brad.clarkston wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:32 pm
edge wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:39 am
What he is doing is not 'hardware engineering'. What he is doing is IT support, which is on the blue collar spectrum, hence the compensation.

Hardware engineering is what people at Intel or AMD or other hardware companies do.

For the OP: Look at the different categories/classes of IT work and consider training/moving to one of the higher value/higher paying ones.

I'm not sure where your getting your job descriptions from but I'm pretty sure I know what I do for a living and that is hardware engineering. I've got 15 open TAC cases with all the major vendors right now for OS and hardware bugs and I work with there dev's and engineer's to fix said issues.

There's a natural progression in IT it broadly looks like this:

Desktop Support --> Network Admin --> Network Engineer 1/2/3/4 --> Network Architect
-----------------------> Systems Admin --> Systems Engineer 1/2/3/4 --> Software Architect
.............................................--> VMware Admin
.............................................--> DBA
.............................................--> Specialized Admin (Redhat, Oracle, IBM, etc)

Programming is a separate beast all to itself and 99.0% does not overlap except for project design and implementation.

I think it's a disservice to both fields to recommend to a mid-career individual to hop over to the other side. Sure you can do it but 99.9% your never going to be good to excellent at it.

I think the OP needs to decide which type of Admin he wants to be and then find a bigger company with better pay/benifits to become a Engineer or specialize in a vertical.

brad.clarkston
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by brad.clarkston » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:34 pm

edge wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:33 pm
I disagree. What you are doing has nothing to do with any kind of engineering. If it did you would be paid more and it would likely require an engineering degree. What you are doing sounds more like Helpdesk/data center ops/IT Ops/etc. Anything operations oriented is going to be low skill and low pay. Virtually all the tracks you mention are of the low pay/low skill variety and most of them are in the process of being outsourced/shrunk in any way possible. And for good reason. They are commoditized labor that does not differentiate or help firms compete unless you work at a hosting/cloud company.
I have no idea how to politely comment on that statement it's absurd.

I will say this tho, it's funny your calling me a "low skill and low pay non-engineer OP's guy" that actually made me laugh. I've held the rank of Engineer for about a decade making 100k+ specifically as a Netops Engineer II for a couple of Fortune 100 companies so I guess they are wrong as well.

I can guarantee no one on my team is getting outsourced next year we have way to much specialized triage skills and clearances. No one calls a programmer when parts of there 10 billion dollar+ network goes down as it's usually there fault most of the time nor would they bring in someone on a H1-B visa with a paper mill diploma with little to no practical skills other than some programming or desktop repair.

spammagnet
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by spammagnet » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:49 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:38 pm
You're absolutely right. My thoughts are I could be in the same position I'm in with an associate's from an accredited community college as opposed to the 28k For-Profit college I went to. I could have done it cheaper and have credits that could be rolled into earning a bachelor's. I will have to start all the way over to earn my bachelor's. That is main gripe.
Why waste time dwelling on this? Work on what you can change. You have the potential to improve your income but are not in a bad position.

student
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by student » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:00 pm

At your age, $63,000 place you in the 73.4 percentile. You should not feel bad. You are in solid middle class. You can check out the statistics here. https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/

srt7
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by srt7 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:18 pm

You are hardworking, driven, a team player and a no BS kinda person (not many will admit so openly about their desire to make more money). That is half the battle and you've won it. Here is my suggested plan to win the other half ...
1. Get a bachelor's degree (in CS, CIS or MIS). Yes, it is required it you want to play in the big leagues. Certs are great in the networking world but not in the software development world. Which brings me to my next point ...
2. Get in to software development. It has more money than networking. Don't just jump in to the latest fad or web/front-end or basic Java/.NET apps. Instead, use your networking background. Learn Python/Django with MySQL as a database. Tons of software work in the networking space use this combination. This might be too much too early but if possible, try getting in to SDN (software defined networking) or virtualization.
3. Switch jobs frequently (minimum 2 years at each company but no more than 4). Never, at any cost accept a pay-cut.
4. Get in to MegaCorps. It doesn't have to be a tech giant but their IT operating budget should be at least half a billion. BTW, this is where your B.S. comes in handy because most jobs at a MegaCorp require one. Stick around until you're at the principal level (or at least senior level).
5. Switch over to a smaller company but with more of a leadership/mentor type of role. You will still be an IC (Individual Contributor) but more of the go-to person in the group. Ride this one out to retirement.

Angelus359
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Angelus359 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:43 pm

Right now, infrastructure as code, with devops is huge

Without some Dev experience that doesn't work though

People shouldn't manually build or configure servers anymore
IT-DevOps System Administrator

WageSlave
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by WageSlave » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:22 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:23 pm
<<Since I graduated with my associate's degree in 2004 at 20 years old, I have worked for 2 other small IT business with less than 30 employees. I am the only employee of my current employer as Systems Engineer for a small IT Managed Services company. I have been with my current employer since March 2015; I earn 63k a year, >>

Would you hire him? If not, what would he need to do?
Hardly a fair question, as I could never make a hiring decision based solely on an informal post to a discussion forum. Maybe you're really just asking about my take on OP's particular amount of job-hopping? I'd have to see the resume, but it looks like three positions in 13 years. That's over four years per job (average). That doesn't feel too much like job-hopping to me. (But, for my firm particularly, lack of a 4-year degree and zero Linux experience would result in immediate disqualification by HR, well before I saw the resume.)

To those of you suggesting the OP deliberately hop employers to increase pay: are you yourself doing this? If so, where are you at in your career?

And furthermore, is everyone around you doing the same? If everyone in IT was jumping ship every 3ish years, how does any long-term project work get done? Doesn't that result in a significant amount of time just working around IT staff constantly being shuffled in and out? How is institutional knowledge preserved?

I understand if someone ends up at an employer that stinks (hostile environment, terrible management, harassment, unreasonable hours, etc) and doesn't want to stay long. But either my experience is unusual, or, what I think more likely: most employers are halfway decent, and are such (in part) because employee turnover is fairly low.

KlangFool
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by KlangFool » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:30 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:22 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:23 pm
<<Since I graduated with my associate's degree in 2004 at 20 years old, I have worked for 2 other small IT business with less than 30 employees. I am the only employee of my current employer as Systems Engineer for a small IT Managed Services company. I have been with my current employer since March 2015; I earn 63k a year, >>

Would you hire him? If not, what would he need to do?
Hardly a fair question, as I could never make a hiring decision based solely on an informal post to a discussion forum. Maybe you're really just asking about my take on OP's particular amount of job-hopping? I'd have to see the resume, but it looks like three positions in 13 years. That's over four years per job (average). That doesn't feel too much like job-hopping to me. (But, for my firm particularly, lack of a 4-year degree and zero Linux experience would result in immediate disqualification by HR, well before I saw the resume.)

To those of you suggesting the OP deliberately hop employers to increase pay: are you yourself doing this? If so, where are you at in your career?

And furthermore, is everyone around you doing the same? If everyone in IT was jumping ship every 3ish years, how does any long-term project work get done? Doesn't that result in a significant amount of time just working around IT staff constantly being shuffled in and out? How is institutional knowledge preserved?

I understand if someone ends up at an employer that stinks (hostile environment, terrible management, harassment, unreasonable hours, etc) and doesn't want to stay long. But either my experience is unusual, or, what I think more likely: most employers are halfway decent, and are such (in part) because employee turnover is fairly low.
Thanks for the information.

KlangFool

Dyloot
Posts: 120
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Dyloot » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:25 pm

WageSlave wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:22 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:23 pm
<<Since I graduated with my associate's degree in 2004 at 20 years old, I have worked for 2 other small IT business with less than 30 employees. I am the only employee of my current employer as Systems Engineer for a small IT Managed Services company. I have been with my current employer since March 2015; I earn 63k a year, >>

Would you hire him? If not, what would he need to do?
Hardly a fair question, as I could never make a hiring decision based solely on an informal post to a discussion forum. Maybe you're really just asking about my take on OP's particular amount of job-hopping? I'd have to see the resume, but it looks like three positions in 13 years. That's over four years per job (average). That doesn't feel too much like job-hopping to me. (But, for my firm particularly, lack of a 4-year degree and zero Linux experience would result in immediate disqualification by HR, well before I saw the resume.)

To those of you suggesting the OP deliberately hop employers to increase pay: are you yourself doing this? If so, where are you at in your career?

And furthermore, is everyone around you doing the same? If everyone in IT was jumping ship every 3ish years, how does any long-term project work get done? Doesn't that result in a significant amount of time just working around IT staff constantly being shuffled in and out? How is institutional knowledge preserved?

I understand if someone ends up at an employer that stinks (hostile environment, terrible management, harassment, unreasonable hours, etc) and doesn't want to stay long. But either my experience is unusual, or, what I think more likely: most employers are halfway decent, and are such (in part) because employee turnover is fairly low.
I was one of the folks on page 1 to suggest job-hopping, and I've enjoyed your posts, so I'll respond.

- Five employers in 15 years is probably not what I'd recommend. Three employers in 15 years looks much better on paper (to me). With that said, for me, personally, I wouldn't even listen to job offers until I've been at the new employer for 2 years. I likely wouldn't actively look until I've hit the 5 year mark, unless something happens in the company (change in leadership or direction) that makes looking feel like the right decision.

- For me, you haven't been my target audience. Meaning, a hiring manager I don't know, who will size me up on a piece of paper instead of knowing me personally. I knew the hiring manager in my current and previous job, and they asked me to come work for them. I spent almost 6 years at my last company, and I just completed my first year at my new company. I don't plan on looking for at least another 4 years so I can vest into my current company's modest pension program. After that, I'll only look if I feel like I'm no longer being paid what the market is offering.

- I was perfectly happy at my last employer. I had a great job, working for a company that made a great product, working with people that I respected and challenged me. With that said, as I mentioned in my earlier post, the company had rigid payroll increase rules that made it very difficult to climb the compensation ladder. We had many talented individuals leave and come back 12 months later, an effective strategy to learn new skills at a different company and return to the original to a nice pay raise. I shared this with the hiring manager who hired me, and he told me I'll experience the same at the new company. And so it goes. =D

These next two paragraphs aren't directed at you, but to hiring managers in general.

Honestly, if you're a hiring manager for a company where new talent comes in and is offered more to start than senior (and valued) employees are making, you're part of this problem. If you've ever uttered the words "don't share what you're making with your colleagues because it'll cause problems," to a new employee, you are acknowledging the problem even if you aren't conscious of it.

If you're a hiring manager for a company that pays talent less than other employers in your geographic area, you should expect to lose senior employees (and, as you mentioned, institutional knowledge). I've personally observed that happening in many cases, and the overall cost to the company is huge. But businesses are often inefficient in understanding costs. If a senior employee leaves, and the overall operational costs increase, is there a controller (or other gatekeeper) who tracks the correlation? Or is the company just happy because the payroll cost is low?

Personally, I think every recruiting department should have a process in place to evaluate salaries every year or two or three. But, I'm not a business owner, and there are probably many very good reasons not to do this. =D

WageSlave
Posts: 85
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by WageSlave » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:39 pm

Dyloot wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:25 pm
I was one of the folks on page 1 to suggest job-hopping, and I've enjoyed your posts, so I'll respond.
Thank you for the interesting post. However, based on what you describe (at least how you've managed yourself), I wound't consider you a job hopper. I don't have a hard definition for "job hopping", it's admittedly very much based on gut feel. But I've seen a lot of resumes where the candidate moved to a whole new employer every two or three years, sometimes even less than a year. I can't help but wonder: how reliable is this person? How long can I expect him to stay? Does he really know what he wants to do?
Dyloot wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:25 pm
- For me, you haven't been my target audience. Meaning, a hiring manager I don't know, who will size me up on a piece of paper instead of knowing me personally. I knew the hiring manager in my current and previous job, and they asked me to come work for them. I spent almost 6 years at my last company, and I just completed my first year at my new company. I don't plan on looking for at least another 4 years so I can vest into my current company's modest pension program. After that, I'll only look if I feel like I'm no longer being paid what the market is offering.
If I understand correctly: you knew the hiring manager in some capacity before formally getting into "job talk"? I'd consider that a special case, and probably the best case to find yourself in. That is, before both parties spend time on interviews and other formalities, there's an informal but invaluable means for each party to feel out if they are a good match.

I suspect a lot of people are forced to play "resume shotgun": candidates blasting out their resume to anyone and everyone that might possibly be a match. On the HR/hiring manager side, it results in getting inundated with more resumes than could possibly ever be reviewed. When I was previously at a MegaCorp, I participated in a single intern recruiting event, for my small group (50ish people): we had literally 100s of resumes. A group of us sat down and came up with some filter criteria just so we could very quickly whittle the pile down to a manageable size. I've no doubt some great candidates got passed over, and we certainly put non-serious candidates into the short pile (meaning wasted time/effort on the company's part).

I just feel that, in general, the hiring process is inefficient from both sides (kind of a negative feedback loop in many ways); both sides suffer as a result.
Dyloot wrote:
Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:25 pm
Personally, I think every recruiting department should have a process in place to evaluate salaries every year or two or three. But, I'm not a business owner, and there are probably many very good reasons not to do this. =D
They probably think it costs too much. :oops:

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Crustus
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by Crustus » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:15 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:39 pm
Rupert wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:31 pm
Have you considered federal government jobs? Some of their IT guys make well over $100,000, and they are usually 40-hour/week jobs with the best benefits you can find.
Yes I have. I have tried to apply for city/state/goverment jobs online multiple times and never get a callback. I almost get the vibe everyone who gets them are cherry-picked or knows somebody.
Retired Fed - From what I have seen for hiring, at least for the Federal gov't, is that the people most likely to be picked are the local contractors provide IT (or whatever) support on site. Over the last decade of working almost all of the new people that started in our group came from those support personnel. It's probably similar at the state and local level.
And . . .

downshiftme
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Re: 33 years old, 13 years IT experience, currently make 63k a year. I need advice to start making more money

Post by downshiftme » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:34 pm

Yes I have. I have tried to apply for city/state/government jobs online multiple times and never get a callback.
This may mean that you are applying for jobs that are not as good a fit as you thought they were, or it may mean that there is something in your resume, presentation or application that is getting you screened out. Your experience should at least get you a fair number of callback, so something is not right.

Do you have a trusted friend, preferably someone with interviewing and hiring experience, that you can show your resume, application, cover letters, and general approach and get constructive feedback. It's not uncommon for someone to become so familiar with their own resume that they "know" what it says and overlook obvious typos or mistakes. Likewise, if you have a comfortable approach, cover letter, introduction or other part of your process, you may be unaware of something that is causing HR or hiring managers to screen you out. Sometime a second, or third or more, set of eyes can help understand where something may be off that is costing you opportunities you would otherwise be a good fit.

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