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Salaries and Experience

By Steve Jones,

This editorial was originally published on Aug 31, 2010. It is being re-run as Steve is on vacation.

One of the main reasons that I got into IT was the salary. Honestly, there were relatively few places where I thought I had a skill AND could make good money. I graduated with an economics degree, with the idea that I'd go to Wall Street, follow Gordon Gecko, and work 140 hours a week and make a few million.

That was until I wrecked my shoulder playing rugby my senior year, realized that I wasn't invincible, and decided there were more important things than my salary. However I still wanted to have a good living, I had some skills in technology, and I moved in that direction. When I heard that our DBA was making $90k a year at a time when I was making $45k, I decided I should learn more about databases.

Across the last two decades of my career, I think I've been fortunate in my career. It's been a lot of work, , and a lot of fun. I've tried to grow my career, learn new things, and find better opportunities over time and in new positions. I've had success, and I've found the experience has resulted in higher salaries for me. I found a blog about salaries recently that says it's not only experience, but also location that matters in terms of salary. That's probably true, though I think industry, the particular company, and other factors are important as well.

For most of us, we don't necessarily want to change locations, but we can do something about our experience. I've seen it written before that for people that have 10 years of experience, it could be gained two ways. They could have one year of experience ten times, or ten different years of experience (or some combination). The point is that you should be continually expanding on your experiences, not just relying on skills you learned a long time ago.

You may or may not be able to get a job that pays you more with more experience. I'd like to think, however, that any investment in improving your skills and learning more about your craft, is never wasted.

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