How Much Are You Worth?

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As many of you already know, forums are a great place to get an idea of what you should be earning based on what you do and where you live. Your IT colleagues who are in a similar role right now or might have been in a corresponding position a few years ago can help you figure out if you’re not making enough, just the right amount or even too much (yeah, right). Because of its focus, CertMag’s Virtual Village is an especially good place to mine for information regarding your income. In fact, we have a discussion board devoted solely to our annual salary survey, in which conversations around pay continue long after that feature is published.

A recent example of this is CertMag.com member Dmytro’s recent thread in that forum. He wrote, “I am working consistently on my career and professional education, and although I study in college majoring in Computer Systems and Networks, I pay attention to certification programs. I have achieved MCP certification 70-270 (Windows XP Professional), and now I am studying for CompTIA A+ exam, which I am going to take in mid-July of this year. I also read professional IT magazines, Web sites and try always to be on the edge. How much do I think I can get as a NOC technician in Miami, Fla.? Also I would appreciate your salary estimates for the areas you live in or have some ideas about. In particular, I am also interested what could be the salary expectations in Texas, as I am considering moving over there.”

CertMag.com member Wagnerk responded, “In the U.K., IT tech’s in whatever area/industry can expect to get anywhere from £12,500.00 up to £28,500.00 (approx $22,730 to $51,824) with the average technicians salary being £15,000.00 to £18,000.00 ($27,276 to $32,731). Before I became the IT Network Manager at my current place, I was on £18,000.00. I was the Senior IT Tech, I had my BSc, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST, A+ & Network+ (just to name a few) and had just under five years experience in the IT industry. In the IT field, my experience included help desk, workshop, field engineer, installation engineer, etc. I don’t want to sound big-headed, I just wanted to ‘paint a picture’ of my experience.”

Also, as member zedsdead said, “This site’s got a salary calculator that can tell ya exactly that, as a matter of fact.” Indeed it does — you can assess what you’re worth based on our own survey data according to your job title and place of residence. You can find it under the Members Only menu option on the home page. Give it shot to see if you’re making what you ought to be.

Career Development
Whether you’re an independent contractor trying to drum up new business or a 9-to-5 employee vying for a promotion, it pays to know how to promote your skills, expertise and experience to succeed professionally in any venue. One of the keys is to aggressively market yourself without looking like you’re trying too hard or taxing your target’s patience. For more tips on self-aggrandizement from CertMag contributor David Garrett, check out the Career Development community feature this month at www.certmag.com/careers.

CRM & E-Commerce
In this day and age, not doing business on the Internet is hardly an option. Because of their size and scale, though, small- and medium-sized companies generally can’t rely on the same e-commerce strategies and solutions that Fortune 500 companies and other very large enterprises use. However, regardless of the dimensions of their capital, workforce or operations, organizations have to prepare to compete virtually. How can small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) differentiate themselves on the World Wide Web without the resources available to the big boys? The August 2006 CRM & E-Commerce community article will take a look at what strategies SMBs need to succeed. For more information, go to www.certmag.com/crm.

Help Desk & Support
Perhaps no other job roles in IT are so consistently customer-facing as those within the help-desk and support field. Therefore, it’s clear that professionals in these areas need to have robust sets of soft skills to deal with all kinds of clients in all kinds of situations. The Help Desk & Support feature this month will examine the interpersonal and communications skills that every individual in this field ought to equip themselves with to provide the best service to customers. Read all about it at www.certmag.com/helpdesk.

Independents
Last month, the Independents community feature took up the question of whether it’s better for IT contractors to possess a broad base of tech skills or to specialize in a certain area. The first story of the two-part point-counterpoint series examined the benefits of being a generalist. This month, the spotlight will shift to the specialist side, explaining why it might be better to hone your expertise in a single area. Check out this article at www.certmag.com/independents.

Open Source
Who’s designing, developing and using open-source software (OSS)? And why are they drawn to it in the first place? Those are questions this month’s Open Source community feature will seek to answer. Have a look at www.certmag.com/opensource.

Project Management
So you’ve shown a little initiative by spotting a problem or issue and devising a system to deal with it. That’s great, but now you have to sell your company’s leaders on your idea as well in order to get authorization, resources, personnel and support to execute on it. How do you convince them that your project will benefit your organization? The Project Management community feature this month will show you how to make that pitch. Find out more at www.certmag.com/projectmanagement.

Systems & Networks
In the Systems & Networks community forum, we’ve got an ongoing conversation about what certs our readers hold and which ones they’d recommend to others. CertMag.com member sumedh_vsk from Chennai, India, wrote, “Right now I am doing my final year of my bachelor degree. I am interested in doing cert exams in anything related to networking. I plan to do CCNA, Network+, MCSE, etc. Which one would you guys suggest I do first?”

New site member its_a_doozy wasted no time in submitting a response to sumedh_vsk’s question: “I would strongly recommend anybody who can gain hands-on experience with Cisco products to go for their CCIE. I did this in 1997 and never looked back. Today I am in Security with specialism in Cisco Security and also hold a CISSP from (ISC)2. Other tracks to aim for would be mobile communications, and wireless, however a lot of the technologies are becoming commoditized, and as such the need for highly skilled designers and support staff has become less. With such things as Security, the field is still so diverse. This is a hot growth area. The world we live in today is a lot different from the days of the Millennium Bug, and 9/11 has helped focus people’s minds on securing their fairly new infrastructures and assets.”

Anyone else with advice for sumedh_vsk or comments on their own certification path can go to the “Credentials” thread in the Systems & Networks community discussion board and offer their thoughts.

Trainers
In the Trainers community, member aaronspace got a couple of responses to his question about computer-based training programs for the MCSE.

From Wagnerk (man, that guy is everywhere): “I also use CBT to study. Currently I’m studying for my upgrades to the MCSE 2k3 from 2k. To be honest, the two main CBT CDs that I use are CBT nuggets & Learnkey. I’ve found those two to be very informative and easy to follow. On a l

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