3 Ways to Increase Your IT Earnings in 2018

As 2018 draws near, companies go into hiring mode, and people come and go, which often leaves a lot of open positions. If you qualify to fill one of the more in-demand positions, you can often negotiate a higher salary.

My biggest salary jumps have always come in the first quarter of the year. To increase your chances of getting that salary boost, here are three tips that you should start implementing right now.

 

Tip #1 – Shun the Snake Oil Tech Fads

These are technologies that sound interesting, seem promising, but either have no real-world use case or are actually impossible. Some current examples include blockchain and quantum computing. If you’re interested in these from a theoretical perspective, by all means, indulge yourself. But don’t expect that a real company is going to hire you as a blockchain or quantum computing expert. These are fads, and like all fads, they’ll die. Don’t let your career die with them.

An easy way to spot nonsense tech fads is to ask yourself, “Is this new technology an improvement over what we have now? If so, is it even possible?” Clearly, blockchain isn’t an improvement over any other database, distributed or otherwise. Quantum computing could theoretically blow classical computing out of the water, but quantum computers require temperatures close to absolute zero, making them practically impossible.

Another tech fad that’s captured the attention of the media is artificial intelligence (AI). Not to be confused with machine learning, the AI hype claims that computers will somehow begin working as good as or better than the human brain, perhaps even to the point of developing consciousness and understanding. Machine learning, on the other hand, deals with statistical analysis and making predictions based on large data sets. It has nothing to do with mimicking the human brain or consciousness.

 

Tip #2 – Get Certified

Rid your mind of the tripe that “certifications are just paper” and “they don’t prove that you know anything.” The fact is that more certifications = more money. But you have to get certified. Just taking courses isn’t enough. I’ve interviewed people whose resumes listed what courses they took, but they didn’t have the corresponding cert. Don’t do this. It’s a huge strike against you. Take all the courses you need to attain the cert, but then go and get it.

Here are some of the most lucrative and in-demand certification categories going into 2018:

Cloud and networking

Three of the most popular certifications are the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). There’s no reason you can’t get two of these within the next 3 months.

Hybrid cloud and on-prem virtualization

The Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) and Citrix Certified Professional (CCP-V) are evergreen certifications that pertain to both cloud and on-prem virtualization and networking skills. Just having the word “Citrix” on your resume is huge. Having one of the certs is even better. With the right training, you should be able to study for and achieve one of these during the first part of the year.

Security

Information security (infosec) is hot, and it gets hotter with every Equifax hack. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a very lucrative certification that’s difficult to achieve. You won’t get it in 3 months. But if you’re dedicated and put in the time to attain it, you can write your own ticket.

How to study

Pluralsight has dozens of courses covering all of these certifications, and you can get unlimited access with a free trial. The courses also have practice exams integrated into the learning experience.

 

Tip #3 – Update your resume

Update your resume at least once a year. Remove references to obsolete technologies. People may chuckle at your references to Banyan Vines and Windows NT, but those won’t get you an interview. Needless to say, add any new technologies you’ve had a hand in implementing.

Put your certifications front and center on your resume. Put them on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Backchat, Kindler, McSpace, and whatever other job boards you use. Make sure people know you have them. It might seem a little braggy, but it will sharpen the distinction between you and everyone else who doesn’t have them.

Resumes might seem old school, but they’re still important because recruiters literally just Ctrl+F through them searching for various keywords. And guess what keywords they’re looking for. Terms like AWS, Citrix, CCNP, CCNA, Cisco, security, networking, TCP/IP, cloud, etc. Many recruiters don’t know what any of that stuff is, nor do they care. They just want to find someone who has those certs and skills!

Let it be you.

Yes, You Need IT Certifications

Certifications are often lambasted as “worthless pieces of paper” and “experience is more important.” But for some people, certifications are more important than experience.

A substitute for experience

Newcomers to the IT world face the classic problem: how do you get experience without a job? Sure, you can tinker around on your own time, but how do you prove that experience? That’s where certifications come in.

Certifications show a prospective employer that you care enough and have the initiative to spend your own time and money to become a better IT professional. You might have tons of experience with IT as a hobby. But how do you prove that?

With a piece of paper.

Certifications get you hired

They are what get your resume looked at, instead of being tossed into the shredder by HR.

They are what get you the interview.

They are the tie-breaker between you and that other equally qualified person who doesn’t have a cert.

If you have a stack of certifications under your belt, you’re going to be a step ahead of the naysayers who think certifications are a joke, a scam, or a racket.

Certifications mean higher pay

My first IT certification was the CompTIA A+ in 2002. That helped me land one very low paying job. During that time, I also got my Microsoft MCSA.

Fast-forward a few years. I got a job at a local technology reseller where I earned my Network+, Cisco CCNA, CCDA, and finally my CCNP, all within a year. Shortly after that, I was able to get a job that almost doubled my salary.

A couple years later, I got my Citrix CCA. My salary went up by 50%. It increased a few percent each year thereafter.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: no college degree.

You’re always a beginner

Even if you’ve been in the field for 20 years, you’re always a beginner when it comes to emerging technologies. You can work your tail off to get experience with the latest and greatest, but if you want to turn that experience into a raise or new position, you have to prove your skills.

When you put in your resume against someone fresh out of college – and they have that highly sought after certification and you don’t – well, you can guess who’s getting the callback.