Enterprise Software

How to increase your salary without becoming a manager

If you want more money but you don't want to move into management, here are some things you can do.

Most IT pros who want to make a bigger salary feel as though the only way to do it is to move into a management role. Unfortunately, that's often the only avenue in many companies. But what if you're an IT pro who smartly realizes that he or she may not have the skill set for management? Or what if you enjoy the technical aspects of the job and don't want to move away from that? Here are some things you can do to boost your salary in the position you're already in:

Be a thought leader in your specific technical area

Create an online presence. Soup up your LinkedIn presence with affiliations with some prestigious companies and technical organizations. Create your own blog in which you write about technical issues that you're an expert in. Or contribute to online tech publications. Blogs not only showcase your knowledge, but search engines like the frequent stream of fresh content.

Give speeches. You can do this in tech organizations that you belong to. Send speech topics to event organizers and maybe they'll take you up on one.

Be the primary contact for the company's most important software application

Many tech pros consider it a good day if they don't have to interact with anyone. But if you're willing to help end-users with the software (addressing problems but also training them how to use it), you become the go-to person and your name that floats into conversations most often. And while I don't recommend hoarding important information as a way to make yourself indispensible, being the company expert on an application does make you more important.

Become an expert in the technical direction your company is moving

If a company is moving into unknown territory (like the Cloud), the stockholders will want to learn everything they can. If you're the person who can answer all the questions, you'll become prominent on the radar screens, and thereby raising your professional profile. This is particularly effective if you're in an industry that uses a particular kind of technology. It's a smaller pond in which to become the big fish.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

39 comments
smiths37
smiths37

While I HATE training end users, I have become the go to person to train on our applications when new employees come in or when we have a significant update to our software. Also, I proposed the mobile app project and am working on development now. I think that pointed my company in a direction that no one really thought of going in yet. I have long thought about starting a blog (I did have one for a while), but I haven't quite found the motivation to keep it up. Sigh.

JohnFarrell9
JohnFarrell9

It will make little bit easy to make money if you are a developer. Start learning mobile development specially for android application, certainly it will create a lot of opportunity for you. Android development is very much demanding and going to be a most useful technology for globe in coming years. So, my suggestion is to go with it....

goedpaul
goedpaul

That assumes your manager (who recommends your pay increase) does not feel threatened by your increased exposure and your company rewards your efforts to improve efficiency.

mark_frawley02
mark_frawley02

You might think that any good exposure would have to be good, and for the most part that is probably true - but I have had managers who would actually disparage such activities as were suggested, as indicating you have too much time on your hands, and/or are a geek who should learn the business instead of writing tech stuff. You might say that's bad management and you should leave, but they do exist. Also, contrary to one of "premiertechnologist"s comments, my impression is that most management, rightly or wrongly, believes it is easier for a business person to pick up any needed tech savvy, than for a techie to acquire business knowledge. This attitude can be an impediment to tech folks. Having said that, I also think it's truer than ever that IT people need to become more knowledgeable of the business they are supporting, and genuinely interested in it and its issues, than they typically are. If you do that it can only help, since so few do, and those who understand both sides are truly invaluable.

safeerahmad
safeerahmad

I would like to add even if a guy has technical skills and everybody knows it, the next step is team management or you can say management skills. if a Tech guy after he is approved with his tech skills show his managerial skills then he is definitely going to be promoted with some money.

gumbotron
gumbotron

I wanted to comment on premiertechnologist's first point and wholeheartedly agree. I am that person, the technologist lured to the "dark side" of management for the salary and perks after years of hitting a wall in terms of pay. A year ago I accepted a position with a firm that put me in charge of the entire company IT structure and it quickly became very apparent that it was not the best move for me. Instead of technical challenges, rewarding customer service and a relaxed work style, I am at a desk in my office 95% of the time when I'm not in meetings that have very little if anything to do with me, taking care of mostly petty and unimportant administrative issues that I'm growing to hate. I've been in management positions before but this is corporate, a whole new frustrating, glacial ballgame. However, my wife and child are reaping greater rewards with the situation. She works a low stress job a couple of days a week only because she wants to get out of the house, and has a lot of free time to take care of our 15 month old. We have greater insurance than we did before and we might even be able to have another due to our insurance covering maternity issues. I'm happy that we can afford for her to do this but I feel it weighing on my psyche, and can tell that as soon as I can find something else I will be gone if I don't burn out and quit in disgust before then.

Slayer_
Slayer_

They will just make sure you get stuck in the same dead end job until you are completely stale.

smythet
smythet

Being a thought leader, primary contact, and technical leader doesn't always lead to higher pay - especially when the company decides to reward lower-skilled labor in lieu of top performers. The only options you have toward higher pay are: * rub elbows with mgt to make sure they know who you are and what you do * keep track of your accomplishments so they are aware of your importance to the company and it's long-term success * watch the company's forward-looking statements for guidance on your future potential and finally * keep your eyes on the job market for the next great opportunity Nothing motivates mgt better than a key employee that knows his options. However, if you've done all the above and you continue to be refused a raise/promotion, it's time to move on.

NutAdmin
NutAdmin

I found myself to be the primary technical expert in ALL directions the company is going, the expert on the Main software, and the thought leader in technical discussions. This got me some salary boost, but it also got me 70+ hour weeks, a lot of pressure, and no chance to take a vacation. The only way to boost my salary is management or another employer...

jbgisser
jbgisser

First, become a doctor... ;-)

A-mantra
A-mantra

your title is just amazing but how you will make it ?

marchin73
marchin73

make the leap and go contracting. i've been in a few jobs now where i make more than the hiring manager. if your any good you'll have no problem finding the work. smugness :-)

mckinnej
mckinnej

A high salary isn't necessarily a good thing. It can make you a target for layoffs. Very, VERY few people are so invaluable. (I've even seen 1-person IT shops get replaced.) If you manage to get a raise that moves you out of the band with your contemporaries, you're in danger. That extra $5K now could mean months of job searching down the road.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

The technological mindset and skills are far different from the managerial, but because of salary considerations, many who are technologically proficient may be tempted to move into management. Unless you really have the managerial skills profile, it is a very terrible mistake and you will probably end up being miserable. Toni, your suggestions are good ones. I would add that the basis of the problem is that those in management do not have respect for a high level of expertise in technical areas because it is completely foreign to them: If it is difficult for a technologist to be a successful manager, it is impossible for a manager to become a technologist (assuming they have managerial skills and no technological skills). The technologist may be able to adapt after a fashion, even if it is awkward, but without the skills, the manager would be completely lost. The lack of respect stems from a lack of understanding: A person without the skills, particularly if living in the realm of management, assumes that the technologist is somehow inferior (sometimes leading to a frustrated technologist to say, "Fine! If you're so smart, you fix it!" and then leave (and unless the management can find a replacement or alternative to resolving the problem, the problem won't get fixed). This did not seem to be a problem before the 1960s or maybe as late as the 1970s: Technologists seem to have earned respect and were either paid well or had opportunities to move or grow. They certainly seemed to be a happier bunch and I can remember days that it was a joy to come to work to build a project or find a solution: It was a challenge, a matter of satisfaction with a job well done and an opportunity to grow in technological expertise, exploring the frontier, so to speak. Business has become so focused on the bottom line and moving at the speed of light that excellent quality and pride in workmanship seems to have all but disappeared: Get the job done, just well enough to get by -- and don't try to build in extras for customer satisfaction! It's the actuarial approach where if products or services fail, so what? We have to expect that -- just keep the failures down to a margin that doesn't raise flags to the customers as a body. In the arena of fast, cheap and good, pick all three, but keep it cheap. Management assumes plug and play: Resources are interchangeable -- if one tech doesn't work out, then we just swap for another OR we outsource. I'm not really certain how to build respect in a dysfunctional environment where management lies, cheats, steals and has absolutely no respect with a narcissistic attitude, often bordering on the sociopath or even psychopath (there are not only a lot more psychopaths in management these days, but corporations told Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak in their research for "Snakes in Suits" that they actually preferred psychopaths -- just the kind of person we're looking for -- to which the authors noted that the companies didn't know what they were getting themselves into and it should be noted that this mindset of the corporate world is very telling: Beware... you might not be dealing with management, you might be dealing with psychopaths). Perhaps the solution for some is just to batten down the hatches and go with the flow, pumping out the work and not worrying too much about the quality -- doing just enough to get the work done. If you can find a way to build respect for your work, go for it, but if not, either be willing to accept the consequences and live within a less than desirable situation or change to either a different expertise or leave the venue entirely.

peg110
peg110

You have mentioned ways to increase my exposure, but there is nothing that indicates that it will boost my salary. I happen to BE the expert in a major software package that our company uses. I have been for 4+ years. In that time I have not even gotten a pay raise (in fact due to economic situations I had to take a pay cut). I am not necessarily relishing the prospect of going into management, but that seems to be the real only alternative (at least for me).

steve
steve

Forgot to say, The greatest enemy of Knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge ~Prof. Stephen Hawking

steve
steve

Do what most other people do, B&&llSH1t Or write blogs for TechRepublic ;) Steve

pocjoc
pocjoc

Thanks Toni, I like the article and push me to create my blog!

smiths37
smiths37

This is has resulted in 2 raises with the promise (although, it's not set in stone, so I guess it's not really a promise) of a promotion after the app is completed.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

You could learn to become a psychopath and everyone's friend, including the top dog and displace everyone without having to do much of anything. The total loss of conscience and empathy is but a small price to pay for the benefits, which are glorious and go far beyond mere salary. Of course, it's not a good strategy in the long term if you are addicted to stability, since you will be responsible for the whole venue's eventual collapse, but the up side is that you can start over elsewhere all over again and hope to heaven you don't encounter another dark soul like yourself along the way.

dogknees
dogknees

That there should be some path for those who have technical skills but not management skills. What do you suggest for these people?

poisson59
poisson59

... in all its glory (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle): You accept a managerial position only to discover that you either suck at it or are unhappy in it (or both, the former leading to the latter). Here are a few reasons why it's hard to get a raise once you reach a certain pay grade: - there is some kind of scale or ceiling that management is very hesitant to break for fear of creating a precedent - management being perceived as more important or more glamorous, it is difficult to justify higher salaries for managed people than for their manager - a manager that was promoted from a technical function may feel threatened if you become better at your job than he/she can ever hope to be Even if your market value is higher, what are you worth where you are? In other words, what is your perceived value in relation to your surroundings? Often, once your reach the top pay grade, whatever your technical expertise, this is the end of the road. Then, the only solution is to move to another employer. But it's hard to do after 10, 15 or 20 years, when you have accumulated retirement, vacation weeks, and other priviledges. One more thought: cemeteries are full of indispensable people...

gechurch
gechurch

Sure, doing those things may not get you a pay rise. But the opposite is true - if you don't provide value to your company, then you can rest assured that you won't get one.

symowallo
symowallo

...and then discover a marvellous cure for something...

David A. Pimentel
David A. Pimentel

If one's greatest fear is losing one's job due to being compensated for outstanding effort, then then it's time to prepare for change. Complacency and apathy (even the perception/projection of such) in the workplace are undesirable qualities if the organization promotes and rewards excellence.

maj37
maj37

I believe one of the biggest reasons for company management to do the things you have stated is that they now care mostly about 1 thing, getting and keeping the stock price high. All else pales in comparison to this one all important consideration, and the higher up the person is the more this is their one and only concern.

dbashyal
dbashyal

The blog mentions my situation too, i am a senior dev here but don't want to move to management. Boss wants to stop pay rise and even once was saying could reduce pay as he now have an overseas office where people work for lot less.

gechurch
gechurch

It's not explicitely stated in the article, but I think the answer is implicit - if you want your company to pay you more, you need to provide more value AND have relevant people notice it. Any sensible discussion on increasing salary should start with this premise. If you really do provide more value than your wage suggests, and the relevent people in your company are aware of this then the way to actually get your pay increased should be fairly obvious: go to your boss, objectively state the value you provide to the business (from their point of view) and start a discussion about renumeration. If they dismiss you it means one of the following: - You don't actually provide the value you think you do - You do provide the value, but the right people aren't noticing - Other - they can't afford to pay you more, of they don't care about you and would rather have more profit, maybe there is a freeze on pay increases etc.. One thing the author didn't mention was the simple approach of going to your boss and having a frank discussion about your future. Let them know you want your career to be progressing, that you want and can handle more responsibility and that you'd like to stay with the company (assuming that's true). This will plant the seed in a good managers head, and next time an opportunity comes up they will be more likely to think of you. If you meet with resistance, it's probably not a company where you will advance no matter what you do.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

If your expertise is in using someone else's product then anyone can do that. If your expertise is in a product you produce then it's harder to replace you. Our company makes a software product we sell for our industry but one of our clients also works in other industries and just doubled their license pool for use in those other industries. We are having to suddenly do a lot more training and adapt it to be more usable for these new industries. Being the expert on a product used by your company is good but it's an internal service and therefore overhead while being the expert on a product that is making money is going to make people notice you in a good way and try to keep you around especially if your product means the company is not flowing with red ink this year.

highlander718
highlander718

for a new position/company that is. In my opinion is the only way and it is definitely quicker. Normaly there is no reason why in the same company you would get a raise above 4-5% at a time.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Most of the time, people become incompetent in place: It's called entropy. In this case, it was not a promotion, it was a lateral move into another science fiction like dimension. The Peter Principle would be true if a technologist accepted a higher technology position that he or she couldn't handle -- and that almost never happens. Instead, people abandon their core aptitudes and do something entirely foreign -- that's not a quantum leap (smallest increment) -- that's a faster than light worm hole traverse to an alternate reality where, like through the looking glass, nothing makes sense any longer, from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party of endless meetings to the Queen's irrational responses where, if anyone displeases her, it's off with their heads.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

if I hated management because I sucked at it or if I sucked at management because I hated it.

gechurch
gechurch

... is a bit more complicated than that. If you're facing going out of business unless you lay off a certain amount of your workforce (or find some other way of lowering costs) then it doesn't matter how good you are. If holding on to a great employee means the company will go bust in the short term anyway then it's not an option.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Government agencies have the same problem, so it's not about stock prices -- it's about having perceived problem pressures of producing more and more on less and less and still making it turn out. This has to do with budgets, whether artificially constrained as in attempting to increase profit or real difficulties as when the revenue stream drops to nothing in an economy. Of course, when the perceived problems become great enough, management panics and doesn't really know how to handle the problems. The looming solution they see as the low hanging fruit is to decimate their biggest expense: Salaries. The reality that perhaps the technologists might be able to contrieve solutions is counterintuitive to management, partially because they exist in a bubble of short-sighted activities which demand answers NOW and the real long term solutions take time -- more time than they think they can afford. Therefore, because management panics and they feel they have to take immediate remedial knee-jerk reaction, they dump respect for the people who might be able to help them. I would conclude that if you want a salary increase as a technologist, what you are going to have to do is to model the future of where your business / agency is going, prepare valid solutions to the problems that you foresee and then -- and this is crucial -- force management to see that you have the solutions to their problems so they don't panic and you can "save" them. That last part -- convincing management -- is going to be the hardest part of the job. Finding technological solutions is the easy part.

highlander718
highlander718

well, I missed a couple years here on TR, but coming back, I see Toni is the same old :-). Stating the obvious. Glad she did not mention being on time and dressing up nicely :-)

highlander718
highlander718

are we ? Relax man, the idea is that there is no magic pill, except the exceptional, you do your work as good as you can, you show interest, you learn continuosly, you are socializing, make friends .... got the picture ? And yes, you do not dress in rags and show off your piercings and tatoos :-). There is no need for somebody to tell the obvious. Oh, andnot being sarcastic is a good idea too.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Being on time and dressing up nicely! Sure to increase salaries! In fact, our manager of IT Operations stood before 40 of us in the weekly meeting and declared that the reason we all got paid as much as we did was because of how she dressed! You just can't argue with success!

gechurch
gechurch

I take it you have something more useful to add to this discussion then, given that all the author could muster was something so obvious to you? Feel free to elaborate - I'm sure there are plenty of people here who'll gladly listen to any pearls of wisdom that will get them a better salary. I think most things are obvious when you take the time to sit down and apply thought to them. In fact, pretty much everything I've learnt in life has been obvious... it just took someone smarter than me to point it out!