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

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

Post by MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:49 am

I'll admit, it gets pretty depressing to see some of the salaries that other Bogleheads are earning. I would like to start making moves to get myself into another tier financially. I am open to furthering my education (if it makes financial sense) and even switching my career path (if necessary). All of my living expenses are minimized as much as they possibly can get; my only area for improvement is with more income.

My background:
My parents did not graduate high school. My dad was a union man and my mom was a stay-at-home mom during their lifetime. Fortunately for my parents, they purchased a home at a young age and my dad worked for a job with a pension for over 30 years until his retirement. They are doing well. My parents are very loving, great parents and have given all they possibly could, but they did not have the financial means or wisdom to pass onto me throughout my lifetime. Financially, I have learned everything on my own or through their mistakes. 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. 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, work 40 hours a week (sometimes I work through lunch and don't take 15 minute breaks) and I'm on-call every other weekend.

I realize money isn't everything and it's not good for the mind to compare yourself to others. I remain humble because i remember making $5.15 an hour in high school - what I make now feels like a fortune compared to back then and it is more money than my immediate family has ever seen. I'm naturally a cheap person, so it's very hard for my mind to reason why someone should be paid a larger amount.

I'm looking for the foresight/confidence to start earning more money. I would prefer a 40-ish work week with weekends off. Any tips for someone in my boat? Sometimes I feel it's time to start over with a different career path - I'm starting to feel burned out in the IT field.

kelvor
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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 kelvor » 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.

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KlingKlang
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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 KlingKlang » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm

It sounds like you are the IT Jack-of-All-Trades at your current company, are you actually doing much Systems Engineering or are you spending most of your time on support issues?

According to Glassdoor the average IT salary in the US is $64,990. so you are really not doing that badly. There is a lot of downward salary pressure from companies hiring H-1B workers.

To increase your pay substantially you would have to move into a more specialized area such as applications development or database administration.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm

No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.

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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm

As a 46 year old with 28 years in IT, making about double what you do - it's a hard slog at the point your at.

The old canard in IT is "if you want a raise, change jobs" is unfortunately true. You need to start looking at larger companies with decent budgets. The only way to get into big boy toys is to work for large 500's with the added benefit of you learn allot faster on a team than as a single IT guy.

Advanced degree's and certs are not as important at the engineering level just because it's damn expensive and company needs change every 3 years as different tools and vendors come and go. It's more about general knowledge and troubleshooting ability.

O and don't think you'll necessarily get out of on-call. I work on a tier 3 Net-ops team and we all still do two weeks of 24/7 on-call every two months.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:11 pm

KlingKlang wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
It sounds like you are the IT Jack-of-All-Trades at your current company, are you actually doing much Systems Engineering or are you spending most of your time on support issues?

According to Glassdoor the average IT salary in the US is $64,990. so you are really not doing that badly. There is a lot of downward salary pressure from companies hiring H-1B workers.

To increase your pay substantially you would have to move into a more specialized area such as applications development or database administration.
Good advice. I hear it all the time that I should be making more money, but I do see the jobs available and the payscale is not much off of mine. I noticed State/City jobs have higher pay and more benefits but I never get a callback when I apply.

I'm starting to think focusing on MCSE-related Server tasks is holding me back and I should look into Database/Development. Most of my work is Support which I will admit drives me crazy at times.

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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:13 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.
Hah, no that's not it. Dev's always think they are the bee's-nee's but in reality they make a bit more because the position is far more volatile and heavily outsourced (H1-B) unlike hardware engineering.

We are far more stable and marketable, stay the course changing complete skill-sets this late in life is not the answer.
Last edited by brad.clarkston on Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

corgimom11
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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 corgimom11 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:13 pm

I am about your age and started in IT consulting, mostly performing installations and configurations of specific software for customers.

I branched into the sales division after doing that for a couple of years. I doubled my income my first year. Now, I'm about 5 years in and am at 5X what I was making prior.

Not for everyone of course, sales does sometimes require a specific personality - but in SaaS/more technical oriented sales, it seems that my technical knowledge has very much helped me.

Definitely not a 40ish hour work week depending on what type of effort you put into it, but the flexibility I receive due to hitting my numbers is pretty phenomenal.

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samsoes
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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 samsoes » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:15 pm

As an IT guy myself I can tell you that the highest percentage salary jumps come by changing jobs. The best salaries are often paid by Megacorps which can be soul-draining, however.

For now, you're young, learn all the trendy buzzword languages and networking protocols and switch jobs a few times in the next 10 years. Finally, when you're in your mid fifties and not quite ready to retire, switch from a Megacorp job into one similar to the one you have now to take yourself to the finish line.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren at Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:19 pm

corgimom11 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:13 pm
I am about your age and started in IT consulting, mostly performing installations and configurations of specific software for customers.

I branched into the sales division after doing that for a couple of years. I doubled my income my first year. Now, I'm about 5 years in and am at 5X what I was making prior.

Not for everyone of course, sales does sometimes require a specific personality - but in SaaS/more technical oriented sales, it seems that my technical knowledge has very much helped me.

Definitely not a 40ish hour work week depending on what type of effort you put into it, but the flexibility I receive due to hitting my numbers is pretty phenomenal.
I will keep an open-mind. I'm more of an introvert (especially when it comes to cold-calling) and don't feel I would do well.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:21 pm

samsoes wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:15 pm
As an IT guy myself I can tell you that the highest percentage salary jumps come by changing jobs. The best salaries are often paid by Megacorps which can be soul-draining, however.

For now, you're young, learn all the trendy buzzword languages and networking protocols and switch jobs a few times in the next 10 years. Finally, when you're in your mid fifties and not quite ready to retire, switch from a Megacorp job into one similar to the one you have now to take yourself to the finish line.
My first job I started at $12.00 an hour worked my way up to about 40k
Second job, 48k (no raise in 3.5 years)
Current job, started at 53k and got bumped to 63k after a year.

My current job has definitely been the most soul-draining so far, but I imagine it could get a lot worse in a large company.

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Conch55
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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 Conch55 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:26 pm

Study and get certified in virtualization, relational databases and Linux. Couple that with you Microsoft knowledge and you will be more well rounded. The IT field has changed greatly with the outsourcing of many services. Jobs requiring a US security clearance (Defense Department for example) can be a reasonably safe employment haven but might require relocating.

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BolderBoy
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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 BolderBoy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:29 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:49 am
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, work 40 hours a week (sometimes I work through lunch and don't take 15 minute breaks) and I'm on-call every other weekend.
Don't lose perspective here. Look at the nice return on educational investment that you've achieved. Two years of college to generate $63k/yr is not bad at all. 2 yr nursing programs are bursting at the seams with people seeking to generate the same income that you make now so they can work nights, weekends, holidays, etc.

Many of the big salaries you see bandied about on BHs have come with 10-14 years of college/grad school.

Other folks in your field have offered good suggestions for getting ahead in the IT world.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Rupert
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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 Rupert » 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.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:38 pm

BolderBoy wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:29 pm
MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:49 am
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, work 40 hours a week (sometimes I work through lunch and don't take 15 minute breaks) and I'm on-call every other weekend.
Don't lose perspective here. Look at the nice return on educational investment that you've achieved. Two years of college to generate $63k/yr is not bad at all. 2 yr nursing programs are bursting at the seams with people seeking to generate the same income that you make now so they can work nights, weekends, holidays, etc.

Many of the big salaries you see bandied about on BHs have come with 10-14 years of college/grad school.

Other folks in your field have offered good suggestions for getting ahead in the IT world.
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.

Good points. I am grateful of my position.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » 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.

CMD1
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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 CMD1 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:46 pm

It seems Bogleheads tend to be VERY high earners so don't let that get you down, I find myself feeling the same sometimes reading the posts. Celebrate your own wins and what your pacing to rather than comparing to someone with 5 times the income. A few things:

I second those that say your increases come when you switch jobs. Earlier in my career I stayed at one place nearly 5 years and didn't progress much at all. Since then I haven't held a job more than 1.5yrs and had multiple jobs at 3 different companies and have grown, advanced and learned so much more as a result. I also went from a small company to Fortune 500's and for me it has been a good move, salary is up over 60% (still below the 6 figure mark). Keep at it, but be willing to take a risk and leave your comfort zone by going to a new job.

Be willing to take a lateral move. My first move away from the small company I had been with for a while was barely worth it on paper from a financial perspective but 6 months later I received a promotion when someone left and 7 months after that landed at a top notch Fortune 500 company, with raises each time. Continued to take lateral moves after that which built on my skills. I will say however I am not in IT.

I did all this starting in my mid thirties, now is the time to do it if you can make it happen.

Rupert
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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 Rupert » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:49 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.
No, nepotism has been virtually eliminated from the federal civil service system by usajobs.gov. But there is an art to getting a federal government job. It's all about using the proper buzzwords in your application in order to get through the initial screening process. There are websites devoted to teaching people how to apply for federal jobs. There are even companies who specialize in writing resumes and drafting answers to application questions for federal applicants. You have to put some effort into it, for sure. State and local government application processes are totally different, and those jobs don't typically pay as well.

JimmyD
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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 JimmyD » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:02 pm

I had a very similar upbringing - even down to the Associate's degree at a for-profit college that I wish I wouldn't have pursued. I came out of school making a pittance as a web developer, but now, 15 years later, I'm doing very well for myself.

In a nutshell, the moves that have more than quadrupled my salary / annual income include the following:
- Earned a bachelor's degree (not a fancy school by any means, but enough to qualify for jobs in which a BS is the minimum requirement)
- Developed and sold a number of profitable websites
- Earned a few in-demand certifications
- Networked effectively
- ALWAYS pleasant and helpful to ALL that I encounter - attitude goes a long way
- Changed jobs when opportunities presented themselves - often for more than $10K per jump
- Specialized in a certain system / industry that is in high demand
- Worked to become an indispensable team member - the goal is to become someone your team can't function without. This alone gives you leverage
- Use that leverage to your benefit when pitting employers against each other

Best of luck to you.
Last edited by JimmyD on Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:06 pm

JimmyD wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:02 pm
I had a very similar upbringing - even down to the Associate's degree at a for-profit college that I wish I wouldn't have pursued. I came out of school making a pittance as a web developer, but now, 15 years later, I'm doing very well for myself.

In a nutshell, the moves that have more than quadrupled my salary / annual income include the following:
- Earned a bachelor's degree (not a fancy school by any means, but enough to qualify for jobs in which a BS is the minimum requirement)
- Developed and sold a number of profitable websites
- Earned a few in-demand certifications
- Networked effectively
- ALWAYS pleasant and helpful to ALL that I encounter - attitude goes a long way
- Changed jobs when opportunities provided themselves - often for more than $10K per jump
- Specialized in a certain system / industry
- Worked to become an indispensable team member - the goal is to become someone your team can't function without. This alone gives you leverage
- Use that leverage to your benefit when pitting employers against each other

Best of luck to you.
Thanks, I appreciate you sharing your experience.

p0nyboy
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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 p0nyboy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:08 pm

Rupert wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:49 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.
No, nepotism has been virtually eliminated from the federal civil service system by usajobs.gov. But there is an art to getting a federal government job. It's all about using the proper buzzwords in your application in order to get through the initial screening process. There are websites devoted to teaching people how to apply for federal jobs. There are even companies who specialize in writing resumes and drafting answers to application questions for federal applicants. You have to put some effort into it, for sure. State and local government application processes are totally different, and those jobs don't typically pay as well.
^this. When you fill out an application on usajobs for instance...you have to select expert in everything no matter what...or you will never get selected. You also have to use the right keywords so your application gets selected. My wife went through this...she had a federal employee help her out. Its a nightmare...a long process just filling everything out the correct way. But...once you're in...your'e in!

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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:11 pm

Rupert wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:49 pm


No, nepotism has been virtually eliminated from the federal civil service system by usajobs.gov. But there is an art to getting a federal government job. It's all about using the proper buzzwords in your application in order to get through the initial screening process. There are websites devoted to teaching people how to apply for federal jobs. There are even companies who specialize in writing resumes and drafting answers to application questions for federal applicants. You have to put some effort into it, for sure. State and local government application processes are totally different, and those jobs don't typically pay as well.

My wife has 20 years in as a Federal Employee and says nepotism is alive and well with the agencies as there are many ways to game usajobs.com from the inside.

But I would agree with everything else you've said.

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MortgageOnBlack
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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 MortgageOnBlack » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:14 pm

p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:08 pm
Rupert wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:49 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.
No, nepotism has been virtually eliminated from the federal civil service system by usajobs.gov. But there is an art to getting a federal government job. It's all about using the proper buzzwords in your application in order to get through the initial screening process. There are websites devoted to teaching people how to apply for federal jobs. There are even companies who specialize in writing resumes and drafting answers to application questions for federal applicants. You have to put some effort into it, for sure. State and local government application processes are totally different, and those jobs don't typically pay as well.
^this. When you fill out an application on usajobs for instance...you have to select expert in everything no matter what...or you will never get selected. You also have to use the right keywords so your application gets selected. My wife went through this...she had a federal employee help her out. Its a nightmare...a long process just filling everything out the correct way. But...once you're in...your'e in!
Lol. You would think a little honesty would be appreciated. I have 13-years solid experience and I'm by far an expert in everything. I get what you're saying though. The funny thing is, I was denied a job back in 2008 (after 3 interviews) because the owner of a small business thought I answered the personality test in a way that I thought they wanted to hear. To this day, I still don't know what this means.

ccf
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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 ccf » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:17 pm

Specialize/pick a niche and change jobs.

That'd be my advice for a path to more $. You don't necessarily have to do any extra work or education, just look for jobs that will provide some focus and prune your resume accordingly. Being the 1 IT generalist in a small shop can be fun and is a great way to start but it's tough to get anywhere and it can become kind of a drag.

TonyDAntonio
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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 TonyDAntonio » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:20 pm

No great advice here but a word of warning about jumping to a 'megacorp' company.
I had a 30 year IT career with a megacorp. Made a decent but average salary. I finally cracked into the six figure salary for my last ten years. In those last ten years megacorp1 (at&t) outsourced me to IBM. It then took megacorp2 8 years to offshore my job to someone in another country making a fraction of what I was making. IBM was even 'nice' enough to give me one of my biggest raises 6 months before they let me go.

I have no idea if it is better to just jump around from job to job in order to make money. I was able to save for retirement by staying in one place and always living below my means. Even raised two kids with a mostly stay at home mom...in the San Francisco Bay area no less (hcol). Obviously it was a different time.

Just more food for thought. Good luck.

kelvor
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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 kelvor » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:24 pm

brad.clarkston wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:13 pm
MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.
Hah, no that's not it. Dev's always think they are the bee's-nee's but in reality they make a bit more because the position is far more volatile and heavily outsourced (H1-B) unlike hardware engineering.

We are far more stable and marketable, stay the course changing complete skill-sets this late in life is not the answer.
I haven't found this to be true, at least not yet. At the companies I've worked for (one Fortune 200, one Fortune 1000), we did have a few outsourced roles, but that was because they couldn't find enough qualified US software developers to fill the positions. People recognized that they weren't getting nearly the output from the outsourced people that they were getting from the onshore folks and it wasn't worth the "savings" because it cost more for those of us onsite to clean up the mess the outsource people made than it would have to do it onsite in the first place. YMMV of course.

pepperz
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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 pepperz » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:32 pm

Are you interested in software development?

My business partner and I have degrees in Computer Science but there is so much opportunity for work in the field that you don’t even need the degree right away.

If you can get skilled / good at it on your own, you will be able to find an opportunity that pays you much more without needing to take on loans and go to school.

fatlever
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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 fatlever » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:34 pm

I've been in IT on and off in European countries and now here in the US for more than 20 years.

I've worked in small tech companies in Europe and 3 major financial services companies/banks here in the US. I took left a high paying but high stress/responsibilities position for about a 40% pay cut to something very relaxing, working from home most days of the week, etc.
  • Have confidence in yourself. Half the people in the industry are faking it, hardly know what they are doing since there are so many jobs and so it's lacking technically qualified people.
  • Get your door in a BIG financial services company even if you have to move. At least a big corporation. Even if you get in the door as a consultant, that is fine, you'll make contacts, you'll be employed with them. Once full-time you get a ton of benefits, 401K matching 7%-15%, HSA matching, bonuses and if you are ambitious or are good at brown nosing you'll get very far.
  • Your associate degree doesn't matter. For example at a major bank I worked at, you don't even need a degree. You can be a SVP without a degree so your associate's degree should not be a concern at a lot of places.
  • With your skill set, you should to get into Cybersecurity. It's hot right now, in demand, lacking qualified people and being a network engineer you can apply a lot of your skills to it. I have a development background and I got into Cybersecurity and compared to being responsible for development teams this is a vacation. I never work past 4:30, never work weekends, never think about work, etc. I wish I had more networking background like you. You should do well -- you just need to invest a little time reading some books, etc but it should come easy to you.
Last edited by fatlever on Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bogleblitz
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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 bogleblitz » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:43 pm

When was your last job change? It is time to change to a different company to get a higher salary. At 33 years old with 13 years, you should getting the maximum amount in IT for your field. Your last job hop, you only gain very little in salary. You can change jobs every 2-3 years.

Next time you are looking for a job, request a 100k salary or more. I don't know the area you live in but do some research with glassdoor salaries, linkedin salaries, etc. When you are looking for a new job, do not tell them you are only making 63k now. I think depending on the state, it may be illegal to ask. I got a 50% salary bump twice by changing companies doing the exact type of work. It shows that I was underpaid or my annual 3% salary increase does not keep up with the real tech salary.

You should not be afraid to do interviews. even have multiple interviews or multiple offers at the same time to increase your salary. The IT tech field is excellent right now, the best it has been in the past 10 years. If you can't get a salary bump jumping companies now, you won't be able to do it during the .com bust that may come anytime in a few years.

ermcgrat
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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 ermcgrat » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:52 pm

I feel your pain, I was exactly where you are a year ago. I'm 34 now, in IT. Like others have said, have confidence in yourself, and start looking around. You can use resources like Pluralsight to help advance your skill set to help in interviews.

I strongly recommend checking out Cybercoders for your job search. It's no cost to you, and the recruiters helped me find a job where I am now making more money, have 1/10th the responsibility of the old job, and am 1000x happier at work than I was before.

KingsBench
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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 KingsBench » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:53 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.
brad.clarkston wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
Advanced degree's and certs are not as important at the engineering level just because it's damn expensive and company needs change every 3 years as different tools and vendors come and go. It's more about general knowledge and troubleshooting ability.
I always thought that once out of a 2-year college with a degree in IT, what mattered going forward were the certifications, such as the A+Network/Hardware/Software, the Microsoft, Cisco, etc. certifications, for learning the new technology as well as to put on one's resume when looking for new positions. Am I wrong, or could the young OP improve his IT future by investing time and energy into obtaining these certifications (rather than more degrees)?

rgs92
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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 rgs92 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:57 pm

I don't know, since you are a FTE (not a contractor), that's a big plus and a privilege. So my advice would be to stay where you are unless you could get a gov't job (which these days is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with job security/pension and all that).

IT jobs have been hard to get. I lost mine and ended up permanently unemployed. Unless your current job is going away or there is writing on the wall for that, stay with it.

It seems like most of the IT jobs are contractor (temp) ones with minimal benefits or security. You often get fired with zero notice. It's happening to tons of friends of mine.

IT jobs (especially non-contractor ones) are notoriously hard to get (at least in Unix/Oracle/C/C++ in my experience). Even contractor jobs are hard to find.

A Masters and long experience didn't help me. Recruiters actually advised me to leave my Masters degree off my resume because they thought I would expect more money. I was also told to show a shorter work record (15 years or less).

Texanbybirth
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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 Texanbybirth » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:10 pm

I hear cybersecurity is huge right now. Have you thought about a CISSP?

brad.clarkston
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Location: Kansas City, MO

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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:19 pm

KingsBench wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:53 pm
MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.
brad.clarkston wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
Advanced degree's and certs are not as important at the engineering level just because it's damn expensive and company needs change every 3 years as different tools and vendors come and go. It's more about general knowledge and troubleshooting ability.
I always thought that once out of a 2-year college with a degree in IT, what mattered going forward were the certifications, such as the A+Network/Hardware/Software, the Microsoft, Cisco, etc. certifications, for learning the new technology as well as to put on one's resume when looking for new positions. Am I wrong, or could the young OP improve his IT future by investing time and energy into obtaining these certifications (rather than more degrees)?
College and Certs are good for younger workers as a general "I've at least been trained on something, I might be able to login" but after 20+ years they just look at your three page resume and see Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, F5/A10, etc and get into personal questions. It doesn't matter what the model or OS is I know enough to get 90% there and then hit "?" from there on most vendor platforms. Surprisingly company fit is far more important at the top tiers verses just qualifications to the bigger companies.

If you do not have tons of experience then yes certs can be important just as a qualifier. Cisco and VMWare are always good certs followed by Microsoft and Redhat. That would be different for Dev's but that's almost so different that there not part of normal IT verticals.

knightrider
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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 knightrider » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:26 pm

JimmyD wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:02 pm
- ALWAYS pleasant and helpful to ALL that I encounter - attitude goes a long way
I agree, this is probably the most important "skill" to have. Too many IT folks have a chip on their shoulder. They are condescending to users and are always critical/negative of corporate policies.. Don't be like one of them!

stoptothink
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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 stoptothink » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:26 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:10 pm
I hear cybersecurity is huge right now. Have you thought about a CISSP?
It is huge, it is the industry my wife works in (she's in sales). That being said, to sit for the CISSP exam you have to have 5 years of industry experience, so OP better get started.

I come from a similar background, my mother had a GED and I make several times what she ever did (and she raised 5 kids on her own and then took on two step-children). You make a good living, especially for someone your age who only invested $28k in their education. You should be proud, just keep moving forward. I am a few years older, but spent 11yrs getting my university education, and don't even make twice what you do; consequently I have been accused on this board of either lying about my education/job title or about how little I make even though I alone make over twice the median household income. Don't get discouraged, contrary to what you'll read here, not everybody in their mid-30's makes $300k/yr and is worth 7-figures.

Stormbringer
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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 Stormbringer » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:48 pm

MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:49 am
I'll admit, it gets pretty depressing to see some of the salaries that other Bogleheads are earning. I would like to start making moves to get myself into another tier financially. I am open to furthering my education (if it makes financial sense) and even switching my career path (if necessary).
Contracting!

When I graduated college with a degree in computer science in 1991, my earnings progression as a developer was like this:

Age 22 ... $32K
Age 23 ... $36K
Age 24 ... $42K
Age 25 ... $60K (got Microsoft certified, switched jobs)
Age 26 ... $150K (became an independent contractor @ $75/hour)

Now I'm 48, and making about double that each year now writing custom software for MegaCorps.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." - Albert Einstein

ssquared87
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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 ssquared87 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:22 pm

A few posters mentioned big data/analytics.

I think an area which would relate to that and apply to your experience would be cloud architecture.

Getting comfortable with the Amazon stack and getting the AWS Solution Architect certification probably would not be too hard for someone with your experience. It basically puts you in position to manage cloud architecture which is in extremely high demand. A lot of companies embracing analytics are using cloud based architecture to power their analytics, and the AWS Solution Architect certification is a few hundred dollars and extremely well regarded. Between that and good interviewing skills, you should be able to land a 6 figure job fairly easily.

If you want to move away from the infrastructure side of things and enjoy statistics, learning R or Python plus knowing how to write SQL queries will put you in a great position to get a job in data science/analytics.

Even less on the technical side is data visualization, where you are building dashboards in PowerBI/Tableau.

Having all 3 of these you'd be unstoppable. It's hard for us to find people who
1.Understand database infrastructure architecture (AWS/Azure/Snowflake)
2. Can manipulate data (i.e. Informatica/Alteryx/ETL/etc.)
3. Present insights (PowerBI/Alteryx)
4.Advanced Analytics (R/Python/DataRobot)

Personally, I'm extremely knowledgeable in 2/4 of these areas, and make more than double what you do. Im also underpaid vs. market, as I've spoken with various recruiters and hiring managers over the last few weeks, but I enjoy my company, work, and team, so i'm staying put for now.

ctwhyexit
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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 ctwhyexit » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:46 pm

Make sure you take a dip in the 'cloud' as well. AWS and Azure are hot right now and knowing certain things on it can really help you a long way.

Dyloot
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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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:50 pm

Where do you live? Are you in HCOL area? How much does a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom 1,400 square foot starter home cost in your area?

I totally agree with all the previous posters who suggested changing jobs. I garnered a 40% raise in my last job change, pushing me over the 100k goal that had alluded me at my last job. I started in support roles and ended up veering away from an engineer path to an analyst path. It's been a blast.

I will say that it's been my experience that companies use specific strategies to curb payroll costs. I was a high performer at my last job, winning quarterly awards numerous times and serving as one of the technical leads on award-winning projects. Regardless, my raises each year weren't based on these merits--they were totally disconnected from my reviews. My whole team basically got the same 3% raise each year. Promotions (title changes) only led to 10% max raises, so if you were making 60k and applied for a job that should pay 80k, you'd end up at a max of 66k.

The joke around work has always been: "if you want a raise, you need to leave the company and come back a year later."

In the end, I learned this: don't get mad. Just play the game. Join a company, master the role, volunteer for every project and opportunity that helps grow your skill set, and start looking around after you've been there 2-5 years to see if the grass is green elsewhere. If it isn't, smile and enjoy your current role. If it is, put yourself out there. Be a life-long learner, always looking to learn something new. I promise you, someone will pay you for it down the road.

jayk238
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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 jayk238 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:53 pm

I'm no engineer and not in IT by any means but I have thought about getting an Online BS in math and an MS in engineering at some point.

There are reputable schools (ie academic nonprofits) that offer these classes u can take after work. See if that fits you.

Or, if you can teach yourself programming either online or elsewhere and go from there. I think these skills will definitely help you

jayk238
Posts: 95
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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 jayk238 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:54 pm

Dyloot wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:50 pm
Where do you live? Are you in HCOL area? How much does a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom 1,400 square foot starter home cost in your area?

I totally agree with all the previous posters who suggested changing jobs. I garnered a 40% raise in my last job change, pushing me over the 100k goal that had alluded me at my last job. I started in support roles and ended up veering away from an engineer path to an analyst path. It's been a blast.

I will say that it's been my experience that companies use specific strategies to curb payroll costs. I was a high performer at my last job, winning quarterly awards numerous times and serving as one of the technical leads on award-winning projects. Regardless, my raises each year weren't based on these merits--they were totally disconnected from my reviews. My whole team basically got the same 3% raise each year. Promotions (title changes) only led to 10% max raises, so if you were making 60k and applied for a job that should pay 80k, you'd end up at a max of 66k.

The joke around work has always been: "if you want a raise, you need to leave the company and come back a year later."

In the end, I learned this: don't get mad. Just play the game. Join a company, master the role, volunteer for every project and opportunity that helps grow your skill set, and start looking around after you've been there 2-5 years to see if the grass is green elsewhere. If it isn't, smile and enjoy your current role. If it is, put yourself out there. Be a life-long learner, always looking to learn something new. I promise you, someone will pay you for it down the road.
This. Positivity is key. And saving a lot in the case of lay offs!

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 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:41 pm

OP,

1) What kind of certification do you have?

2) What are you capable of after 13 years in IT?

3) How can the future employer verify your capability in (2)?

4) What do you want out of your career?

5) What are you good at?

6) After 13 years, you should be able to answer (4) and (5).

KlangFool

killjoy2012
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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 killjoy2012 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:55 pm

I'd suggest you look at IT as having several distinct employment tiers, figuring out where you are in that system and where you want to be, then executing whatever development or actions you need to take to get from here to there. By tiers, I mean classes of jobs... L1 helpdesk, L2-3 helpdesk, administration, system engineer, architect, principal architect, manager, director, VP, etc. The names/titles change, but every tower within IT has a tiered system in place. Each tier has pros & cons, different types of work, pay scales, etc.

My point is you may be the best L1 helpdesk person in the world, with the highest A+ cert score ever seen, and unfortunately you'll still be at the top of your pay scale. If you want more money, you need to do whatever you need to in order to move up the tiering. And know that move often comes with pluses & minuses - it's not always about the money.

As someone with close to 20 years post-bachelors experience in IT, with you still being fairly young, my suggestion would be improve your formal education (get a BS in CS, even online) and figure out which of the hot areas interests you the most, and start focusing on it. And while some may want to debate the value/applicibility of a BS degree, the reality is that many large companies will not even consider hiring you w/o one (or only for entry level jobs). Which means you're limiting yourself to small/medium, or trying to find a company that doesn't care. OTOH, if college is off the table, then my suggestion is focus on a move to software development, as that domain seems to be the most liberal WRT to education vs. skills/experience -- but, of cource, that assumes you have the skills/experience to justify the money you're looking for.

I would also caution on certs. While some certs certainly have/show value, others may give hiring managers a bad first impression. Again, I would decide on which hot area of IT you want to focus, then focus on certs in that area - and the more difficult ones, the better. CNEs used to all the rage, but if I saw that on someone's resume today, I'd initially think their skills are outdated. MCSE is a dime a dozen, so unless you're going to focus on being the best Window SA or AD architect in the world, it doesn't carry a lot of weight. In the network space, if you're a CCIE, I'd lean heavily on that cert... but if you only have a CCNA, then no, I wouldn't make that the headline or top emphasis in your resume, etc. Hopefully this makes sense...

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Top99%
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Location: Austin, TX

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

Post by Top99% » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:22 am

fatlever wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:34 pm
  • With your skill set, you should to get into Cybersecurity. It's hot right now, in demand, lacking qualified people and being a network engineer you can apply a lot of your skills to it. I have a development background and I got into Cybersecurity and compared to being responsible for development teams this is a vacation. I never work past 4:30, never work weekends, never think about work, etc. I wish I had more networking background like you. You should do well -- you just need to invest a little time reading some books, etc but it should come easy to you.
I will cast another vote for heading down the cyber security path. It is hot and I find the work very interesting. With your back ground either network security or web security would be a good fit. For the former, the Cisco CCNA type certs would be a good place to start. For the latter, owasp.org and isc2.org are a great place to start. Any company that has a network and a web interface needs people with expertise in securing these. A fair number of companies have those :wink:
Adapt or perish

edge
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Location: Great Falls VA

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

Post by edge » 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.

brad.clarkston wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:13 pm
MortgageOnBlack wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:09 pm
No development skills. Most of my skills are Microsoft/Hardware/Network/Various Software Support. Perhaps this has held me back a bit.
Hah, no that's not it. Dev's always think they are the bee's-nee's but in reality they make a bit more because the position is far more volatile and heavily outsourced (H1-B) unlike hardware engineering.

We are far more stable and marketable, stay the course changing complete skill-sets this late in life is not the answer.

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buccimane
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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 buccimane » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:05 pm

Working HR at a state govt job currently, and a private company previously, I can say that education requirements are much more prevalent in the public sector.

edge wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:39 am
What he is doing is IT support, which is on the blue collar spectrum
I guess there are alternate definitions of a blue collar job..
A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still

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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 12:56 pm

With your background I would add another vote to get into cyber security. There is so much demand for that now that once you can get your foot in the door you can learn a lot on the job.

In many other areas of IT there may be a checklist of skills that an employer will want you have to ALL of to even be considered for a position. In cyber security if you can a a few of the wishlist of skills that could be enough to get a new position.

One thing to watch out for when looking at your years of experience is that it is not uncommon for someone to have ten years of work history but as far as actual experience it may be the same two years five times so you really need to be careful about adding NEW experience each year.

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 1:08 pm

Watty wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:56 pm
With your background I would add another vote to get into cyber security. There is so much demand for that now that once you can get your foot in the door you can learn a lot on the job.

In many other areas of IT there may be a checklist of skills that an employer will want you have to ALL of to even be considered for a position. In cyber security if you can a a few of the wishlist of skills that could be enough to get a new position.

One thing to watch out for when looking at your years of experience is that it is not uncommon for someone to have ten years of work history but as far as actual experience it may be the same two years five times so you really need to be careful about adding NEW experience each year.
Watty,

The common joke in the industry.

When you said that you have 10 years of experience, is it

A) 10 years of new and different experience

Or,

B) 1 year of experience repeated 10 times.

KlangFool

LiterallyIronic
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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 LiterallyIronic » 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.

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