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Learn to Earn

By Steve Jones,

Could you double or triple your salary by learning more technology skills? Sure, and here's a great story about someone learning PowerShell and dramatically increasing their earnings. This is a good read, looking at the journey of someone through their career and how they credit learning PowerShell for the changes in salary.

When I read this, I don't view this as PowerShell being the reason that Mr. Duffney increased his salary. Instead, I think the takeaway is that professional learning and regular skill development, focus across time, and producing results for an employer as being the primary reasons for raises. I think that the right part of the salary curve in the post, which has a steeper slope, is also likely due as much to speaking and giving back as it is to solving problems. The other lesson in this piece is that Mr. Duffney is constantly gaining skills, and looking to move forward in his career.

The world of technology is ever changing, with new platforms, additional features and changing paradigms constantly appearing. I'm sure many of you have experience with management that becomes excited by the latest buzzword or hot topic in the media, expecting that each of us can quickly build a proof of concept. Perhaps you've dealt with a boss that assumes we could buy a product or build a tool that easily solves some problem because they read about some other company in a publication having success.

Tackling a new project or technology is a challenge, but we can learn to ease the way for ourselves. We should be constantly learning something, anything that exercises our minds. One of the best talks on the topic I've seen is from Andy Warren, and I'd encourage you to check it out. Andy talks about directing your learning in an area that can help you. That may sound daunting, but I think that building the habit of regularly learning something is important in this business. We never know where our career may take us, and being accustomed to the idea of picking up some new technology and using it for a task is a skill you should practice and develop. The more often you try to improve your skills, the more comfortable you will be with the idea of tackling some new technology. In the first piece linked, we see that Mr. Duffney had a plan to become a CCNA, but over time that plan morphed into something else, as did the focus of his learning.

I certainly have been able to raise my salary by learning more about databases. This usually comes about not just from learning, but from applying that learning to my job, showing my employer (and potential future employers) that I provide lots of value for my salary. Using new skills in a valuable way is the method by which I've most often been able to translate learning into a raise.

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